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Succulent Leaves Wrinkle and Soft? (9 Reasons & Solution)

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Last updated on September 26th, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Succulent plants have gained popularity worldwide as perfect houseplants. One reason for this is that they require very little care to thrive.

Yet sometimes, we see the leaves wrinkling and becoming soft, and you may begin to wonder what causes this anomaly.

The leaves of succulents tend to curl, bend, wrinkle and become soft due to water conditions, root rot, root-bound syndrome, and even weather conditions at times. Even though succulents thrive easily, they still need tender care to remain healthy.

9 Reasons for Wrinkling and Softening of Succulent Leaves.

One of the best ways to know and identify the state of your succulent leaves is by touching them regularly.

A healthy succulent should always feel firm and rigid to the hands. Anything else would mean that your succulent leaves are not in the best conditions.

It is important to know what causes succulent leaves to wrinkle or soften to help prevent its occurrence.

Just below, I will outline nine carefully explained reasons why succulent leaves may wrinkle or soften.

1. Underwatering

A remarkable distinction that sets succulents apart from other plants is their awesome ability to thrive even in the aridest regions. Their specialized cells can store water in the leaves, stems, and roots during drought.

The stored water is used to carry out cellular activities until an opportunity arises to absorb water again. But when you forget to water your succulents, it will use the reserved water within it.

Then, as a result of no more water, the cells of succulents will become flaccid, causing the leaves to sag and curl downwards.

2. Overwatering

Overwatering occurs when so much water fills all the pores in the soil, preventing the passage of air and depriving the roots of succulent plants access to the needed oxygen.

Overwatering can become detrimental to your succulents, causing the leaves to curl downwards, become soft, and turn yellow or brown with black spots.

When the cells in the leaves of your succulents become engorged with water, it becomes too soft and falls off with the slightest touch.

3. Excess light

Succulents thrive best with access to light. Although there are various opinions about how much access to light a succulent should have, it is believed that depending on the succulent the rate may differ.

Nonetheless, generally speaking, your succulents should have at least about six to eight hours of light daily. Excess sunlight may lead to scorching of the leaves, loss of water, and cause leaves to curl downward.

4. Insufficient Sunlight

Now, because succulents thrive best under bright sunlight, if you keep it in a location with poor light, the top leaves tend to stretch out towards where they will gain access to sunlight.

This poor access to light will cause the leaves to arch downwards toward the light instead of going upwards.

This condition will also cause stress for the plant because photosynthetic action will be reduced and food production hindered.

If this condition remains, the leaves will turn light green or yellow, curl downwards, and shed off.

5. Root Rot

Root rot occurs due to poorly drained, poorly functioning root systems and sometimes because of overwatering.

Waterlogging will interfere with the aeration of the roots by cutting oxygen supply, thereby, leading to decay.

When root rot occurs, this cuts off oxygen intake, also causing less water production by the leaves during respiration since the product of respiration of water.

Root rot will cause the leaves of your succulents to soften and curl downwards.

6. Rootbound Syndrome

Your succulent will become root-bound when it outgrows the container it is growing in. The roots become tangled, coming out of the soil, leading to frequent wilting, stunted growth, poor quality or lack of flower, smaller leaves, yellowing, and curling leaves.

The point here is, when the roots become larger inside the container or pot, the plants’ moisture and nutrient contents become limited.

This situation results in a root-bound syndrome in your succulents which immediately affects the leaves.

7. Pests

Root mealy bugs, mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, and fungus gnats are common pests that cause heavy damage, especially to succulents.

Among these pests are mealy bugs and scale that damage your succulent by sucking the plant juices, thereby, causing the weakening of the plant with wrinkled, shriveled leaves that curl and bend.

8. Acclimatization

It is a factor that you are not allowed to undermine if you intend to move your succulents from one place to another.

If your succulent has been in a place with a cool temperature, like your porch, for some time, then you decide to change its location to where it receives direct sunlight.

You may be causing more harm than good to it. Furthermore, this instant change will cause the leaves to bend downwards since the heat will cause a loss of water from the plant and soil in which you grow your succulents.

9. Soil Condition

A well-draining potting mix is the best soil for growing your succulent, also using very porous soil is very advantageous in preventing overwatering.

Poor drainage ability of soil will lead to waterlogging, a situation that negatively affects the leaves of succulents.

It may also result in the roots being deprived of oxygen, thereby, affecting transpiration. When water is not produced through transpiration, leaves will begin to curl and bend downward.

Solutions for Restoring Leaves of Your Succulents

When the leaves of succulent plants begin to soften, wrinkle and curl, the ornamental value of that plant is lost. Also, if the underlying causes are not properly tackled, it could result in the death of your succulent.

Therefore, it is paramount that we discuss ways to prevent and restore wrinkling leaves of succulents.

Below is a list of solutions that helps you both prevent and correct the wrinkling and softening of succulent leaves.

1. Establishing a schedule that will help in maintaining regular watering and tackling the issue of under-watering in succulents.

2. Watering schedule and bottom watering will aid in uniformly distributing water through capillary movements in the soil and tackling overwatering.

3. You would need to introduce your young succulents gradually to full sunlight or use a sheer curtain to provide shade to prevent scorching. It will help you to deal with the issue of excess sunlight.

4. Putting your plant where it can receive an adequate amount of sunlight like the porch or windowsill, giving it at least six hours of light daily will tackle insufficient light.

5. Repotting your succulent is the best solution for your succulents when handling the issue of root rot.

6. Providing a larger container or pot will promote growth, and repotting your succulent in a larger container will prevent the root-bound syndrome.

7. You will need to quarantine infected succulents. It can be done using a sticky fly trap for fungus gnats and spraying soap water or alcohol will prevent pests like mealy bugs.

8. Your gradual introduction of succulents that have been grown with partial light into full sunlight is done beginning with the morning light to full daylight in two weeks. It will help you in solving issues associated with acclimatization.

9. To handle your soil condition, you need a well-drained soil, which will be a composition of sand, potting soil, and pumice or perlite in a ratio of 3:3:0.5. It will ensure water retention, optimal growth, and absorption of nutrients.


Succulents wrinkle and begin to soften when exposed to factors such as overwatering, under watering, excess light, insufficient light, root rot, root-bound syndrome, soil condition, and acclimatization.

Nevertheless, you handle these issues by carrying out the best management practices required by succulents like proper watering, providing access to light, and quarantining infected plants.

All you need to know has been outlined in this article. Just read and apply!

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