Can Succulents Die From Lack of Water or Underwatering?

Succulents are used to dry environments. So, they can live longer without water than others. However, succulents still need water, or else they’ll start getting sick.  

So, can succulents die from underwatering

Yes, they can. Without water, succulents won’t be able to produce food for themselves. Therefore, they’ll start getting weak and will show signs that they need water. For example, their leaves will dry out, discolor, and fall out. Lastly, the other physical parts of the plant will start falling out too. 

Now, this much info might not convince you how serious the issue is. That’s why we provided how badly underwatering affects your succulent. We’ve also explained how you can save them from dying. 

Thus, stay with us and keep reading! 

How Important Is Water to Succulents? 

Succulents have adapted themselves to lack of water. Mostly because they normally grow in areas that are prone to drought. 

Furthermore, they have the ability to absorb, hold and manage water properly. That’s why succulents can survive without water for long. However, they can’t live without water forever. 

That’s because water helps them in two ways-

Healthy Growth of the Plant

This is the very first reason why water is necessary for succulents. Water helps them in photosynthesis. 

Because of photosynthesis, a plant makes its food. By which they gain energy to grow healthily. 

Sometimes succulents also receive the necessary amount of energy from water. And that’s important for cell enlargement. Now, if you didn’t know what cell enlargement means- 

It basically means cell division. So, this process makes your succulent grow. 

Incredible Strength of Succulent Roots

Succulent roots are quite important when it comes to absorbing water from the soil. Thus, it’s necessary for the roots to stay healthy. 

Deep watering your succulents makes sure of that. More specifically-

Watering the plant deeply makes the roots reach deeper into the plant’s soil.  This way it can absorb the nutrients and water from the soil. 

So, water basically activates the roots. This helps it to be a better and stronger base for your succulent. 

Moreover, strong and healthy roots present a healthy plant. That’s why it’s really important for you to provide the plant with sufficient water. 

What Are The Signs of Underwatered Succulents? 


Now, you might not know when to water the succulents. But you can easily figure that out by observing them.

Because they’ll show you some specific signs. They are- 

The Appearance of Wrinkled and Crispy Leaves 

Now, the leaves will start drying out inside out. Furthermore, the leaves start to get wrinkly and crispy pretty soon because of drying out.

Dead and Discolored Leaves at the Bottom 

After that, you’ll see your succulent leaves losing their usual color. Commonly the discoloration starts from the bottom of the stem base. 

Succulent leaves might turn yellow at first. However, you’ll also see the leaves becoming brown. Quickly, the discoloration will start spreading to the top of the plant. 

Succulent Will Seem Sick

Now, as the plant isn’t getting any water, it’s not able to make food for itself. So, it won’t gain any energy. 

Therefore, the succulent will look sick. The leaves of the succulent will fall out with just a touch of your finger or hand. Plus, the water storage tissues of the plant will start losing their firmness.  

The Other Parts of the Plant Will Start Falling out 

After all of the above signs, the drying will be at its extreme phase. Because of that, the succulent will start to cut out its other body parts. This way the plant believes it can survive a little longer. 

Sounds tragic, doesn’t it?

Nonetheless, the plant cuts out the extra parts by shedding its leaves at first. The shedding will then take place in the branches. Also, if the plant has any flowers on it, those will dry out and drop too. 

Lastly, the whole plant will dry up, shrink, turn dark brown, and lose body parts. This literally means your succulent is dead. 

How to Revive a Dying And Underwatered Succulent? 

Now, don’t be sad, it’s possible to save your succulents. Whether your plant suffered from underwatering or overwatering, you revive it. 

But remember, you can only help the plant if it’s in the drying or dried leaves phase. Because saving a dead plant is impossible. 

Plus saving an underwatered succulent is much easier than saving an overwatered one. You’ll just need to be a little careful while dealing with the succulent. 

Now, let’s focus on how to save an underwatered succulent-

Start Removing the Discolored Dead Leaves 

So, firstly, you have to discard all the dry leaves. But while doing so, make sure to be extra gentle. Only pull out the leaves that are completely dead. 

Now, figuring out which leaves are 100% dead can seem difficult to you. However, it’s not! All you’ll have to do is gently pull a leaf that seems dead to you. 

If it doesn’t resist and you can easily pull it out, it’s dead. Otherwise, you’ll have to move onto another leaf. 

After taking out the fully dead leaves, head on to the half-dead and dried-out leaves. To remove these ones, you’ll need to grab a pair of sterilized scissors. Then prune the dried-up and dead parts on the leaves. 

Now, if you’re worried about where to get plant scissors, we’ve got your back. To help you out, here are some of our recommendations-

So, get the scissors and carefully trim the leaves! 

Also, remember to discard the leaves while the plant is potted. Because you don’t want to disturb the roots. That’ll only make it worse for your succulent. For example, it can go into shock and eventually die. 

Time to Water the Plant Deeply 

Once you’ve removed all the dead leaves, start watering the plant. Now, here’s a catch-

It’s important to always grow plants in a pot that has 3-4 drainage holes. So, if the pot you have your succulent in doesn’t contain holes, change it. 

For that, you’ll first have to prepare the right pot or container. Then fill that with soil. We suggest using a cactus potting mix or soil for the succulent. However, you can even make succulent soil. Either way, they’re both fine. 

Next, carefully lift up the plant without harming the roots. Then replant the succulent in a new pot. That’s 5-10% bigger than the plant’s size at the surface. Now, grab your water source and start watering deeply. This way the roots will get water. 

Now, keep the water coming until you see it leaking out of those drainage holes. The excess water will be in the saucer under the pot. To avoid overwatering, you’ll need to remove that saucer. Throw out the remaining water and place the saucer where it was. 

This much watering will surely be enough to satisfy your thirsty succulent. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to water the plant every 7-10 days from now on. Otherwise, the plant won’t recover fast and the situation can get worse. 

How to Prevent Underwatering Next Time? 

Now, we assume you have learned your lesson. And you surely don’t want to go through this scary situation again. That’s why we gathered some tips for you-

  • Firstly, always keep an eye on your succulents. Water them properly and check how they’re looking. 
  • Before watering the plant, always check whether the soil is dry or wet. You can use a moisture meter for that. Or just check it by using your hands.
  • Make a watering schedule based on your succulent’s water-holding capability. For example, if it can survive without water for 2 weeks. Note that down, so you don’t cross that time. 

Well, that’s about it! Follow these simple tips while taking care of your succulent. And it’ll live a happy and healthy life!


Question: Why is my succulent dying?

Answer: Well, your succulent can start dying because of various reasons. But lack of water is one of the top reasons. Underwatering your succulent will soon cause the leaves and stems of the plant to dry out. After that, the leaves will change colors and become dead. Lastly, the leaves will fall out along with the dried-out body parts. 

Question: Can underwatering cause succulent leaves drooping?

Answer: Yes, it most certainly can. Because leaves will start drooping only if they’re dried out and dead. And lack of water is responsible for drying out your plant. 

Question: Can succulents recover from underwatering?

Answer: Yup, succulents can recover from underwatering. But only if the plant hasn’t reached a serious stage. You can revive the dying succulent by removing its dead leaves. Then you’ll have to water the plant properly. This way the plant will start getting better. 

Bottom Line 

Well, we have nothing more to say on the succulents die underwatering issue. Hopefully, you got our point! 

By the way, underwatered succulents can get infected with fungal diseases easily. Because lack of water means reduced immunity. 

Now, don’t forget to share your thoughts with us. Good luck looking after your succulent!! 

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