If you’ve got a succulent whose leaves have been damaged, started to fall off, or have dried up completely at the bottom, you might wonder whether the plant will look okay once those leaves have dropped off, or if you pull them off yourself to make the plant look a better short term.
I’ll cut to the chase by letting you know off the bat that leaves don’t regrow on succulents the same way they might on other plants.
If the leaves at the bottom of the plant have become damaged – say if they were snacked on by snails – and you choose to pull them off, new leaves won’t grow back in their place.
Succulents grow new leaves from the their heads, not from anywhere else on the plant.
That being said, even though succulents won’t regrow leaves at the base or in the middle of the plant where leaves have fallen off or been removed, that doesn’t mean the plant will necessarily always have a “bald patch” in the spot that the leaves have dropped off.
Sometimes, succulents will grow offshoots, second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.) heads on the part of the stem where leaves have fallen off.
Other times, as the plant continues to grow new leaves from the top, the bottom begins to fill out, looking more full and less bald than it once did.
There’s also a simple, quick, and easy trick to make a succulent look better aesthetically immediately if your plant is otherwise healthy (not over- or under-watered, not sunburned, and not battling pests or diseases).
If your healthy plant ends up with a bald spot that hasn’t grown back in to your liking or if you don’t want to bother taking the time to see if the bald patch fills in on it’s own over time, you can give your succulent a straight cut with a knife or pruning scissors just underneath the section you think is still quite pretty, plop the head that’s left in dry soil, wait two weeks, then resume watering your plant the way you had been.
The new, pretty section will begin to grow new roots, and you’ll have a lovely looking plant in the meantime.
Once a succulent cutting has established a new root system, it will then begin to grow at it’s regular pace, increasing in size again.
Thus, if you’re hoping for a bigger plant, or really want your succulent to grow as quickly as possible, you shouldn’t cut off it’s head, and will be better off waiting to see if the new leaves end up filling in the bald spot created from the leaves falling or being pulled off.
Your Thoughts on Succulent Leaves Growing Back?
Do you have experience with succulent leaves falling off a plant and growing back heads or filling out over time?
Do you find this happens often or are bald spots more common and is re-setting a plant by cutting it off underneath the pretty part a better solution in your opinion?
Do you have advice for those who have succulents whose leaves have fallen off and are hoping their succulents will re-grow enough leaves for the full plant to look more aesthetically pleasing over time? Do you have any tips or tricks in this department?
Would love to hear what you think in the comments down below!
rose boy says
my succulent’s leaves have completely fallen off, and i don’t know what to do. i always seem to have trouble with succulents. a little backstory, i got my succulent in a tea garden. the plant was in a small pot (without drainage) with 3 other tall succulent stems growing around it. i figured since somebody else potted the plant, it should be fine. (all my other succulents had been potted by me so i figured i must’ve done something wrong with the potting) anyways, after a few week i saw the leaves of the succulent falling off. it was a flat succulent, with wide fan-like leaves, and it was pretty small too. at first i figured i’d take the dead ones off and check the watering, but the top of the soil was covered with moss so i couldnt see. anyways, i held off watering for a little because underwatering is usually easier to deal with than overwatering, but still watered it weekly. now my succulents leaves have all wilted and fallen off, and the short stem is bare. meanwhile, my remaining 2 tall succulents with circle like oval leaves have started to drop their leaves too. there’s still a lot on them but i really don’t know what to do. the soi seems damp at the touch, but will my flat succulent’s stem grow back leaves or resprout? what about the other 2 tall succulents?
Elise Xavier says
It sounds to me – especially due to the fact that you said there was moss on the soil – that they’re still getting way too much water. If I were you I would scale back watering to once every two weeks for the next month to see how that goes.
See the issue with a hard and fast rule like watering every x days is that some soil will dry out more quickly, other soil will dry out more slowly. I water my outdoor succulents once a week, and that has all the elements to help dry them out (wind, lots of sun, well-draining soil with lots of perlite; they’re even in terracotta pots with drainage holes and no saucers underneath). So I’ve got much more advantage.
If you’re having issues with keeping them dry and would like to give yourself a little help, try repotting the plants (once they’re in a less weak state) into soil that has about 50% sand, rocks, or perlite and 50% regular potting soil. Try mixing the soil and rocks/sand/perlite in a bowl, then do this test: wet the soil with water, then try picking it up with your hands. Does it stick to your hands? You need more rocks/sand/perlite, or it’ll continue holding too much water for your succulents. Does it fall back into the bowl and barely anything stay stuck to your hands? You’ve got your mix right, pot ’em up.
The right soil will really help overwatering, but I would say once a week is probably still the maximum I would do for indoor succulents, maybe even once every 10 days to 2 weeks to be on the safe side. Like I said, I do once a week with my outdoor succulents. There’s a way to tell if your plants need water – their leaves sort of look a little wrinkly and not so fat and plump anymore. If you want to be really, really safe you can wait until you see that (though it might take a good 3 weeks) until you next water.
And definitely do switch to a pot with a drainage hole. If you keep a saucer on the bottom, empty the saucer after you water, don’t leave water there, because that will lead to overwatering as well.
There’s no guarantee that the stem will regrow leaves, but it is possible. The other two tall succulents there’s still hope for. Don’t pull off any more leaves (just let them fall off on their own if they’re going to for now). And do not water for a minimum of two weeks this time. Get into the habit of touching the soil right before you’re thinking of watering. If it’s damp to the touch, literally any moisture – do not water. Wait a few more days. Usually the soil dries out most quickly on the top as well, so if you feel moisture on the top, the bottom might still be completely drenched.
Once you repot, you should be able not only to feel the moisture on top, but actually stick your finger through the soil (that’s another benefit of having rocks/perlite/sand in the mix) to know if there’s any moisture anywhere in the pot. Do that to test if you should water. It should be completely dry the entire way through before you give your succulents any water.
I have a few succulents that were planted together that lost all of their leaves and are now just bare stems. Yesterday I repotted them in smaller, individual, terracotta pots and haven’t watered them (I usually do the soak and dry method with my succulents). When do you think I should water them? If I understood correctly, there’s a chance that new heads will grow from where spots the leaves fell from?