Why are my succulent leaves wrinkly (Cause and Solution)

Why are my succulent leaves wrinkly

There are various reasons why a succulent has wrinkled leaves, such as dehydration, root pests, aging of the leaves, high temperatures, or excess water.

But don't worry, wrinkled or raisin-like leaves don't mean your succulent is going to die. It just indicates that the plant needs attention and some care to return to having healthy and thick leaves.

Although succulents are known for being hardy and long-lasting plants, there are many situations that can cause them harm, especially in their leaves, which are the most visible part.

If you are wondering why your succulent leaves are wrinkly, keep reading this article. I will analyze in detail each of the possible causes and the most effective solution in each case.


Lack of watering

Succulents store a reserve of water in their leaves for prolonged droughts. When succulents do not get water from the roots, they use the water accumulated in their leaves as a defense to survive.

After several days using this accumulated water, some wrinkled leaves begin to appear in the succulent. If the drought continues, their reserves will run out and all or most of their leaves will look wrinkled.

To solve this problem, water the succulent with twice the amount of water you normally give it.

Succulent with shriveled leaves due to lack of watering
Photo by @bibadaubs

Repeat the abundant watering as many times as necessary but remember to wait until the substrate is dry again. This will prevent your succulent from rotting from too much watering.

Once the leaves have regained their original shape and thickness, it's time to resume regular watering for the succulent.

Problem with its roots

If you have given constant watering and the substrate remains moist, but the leaves of your succulent are wrinkled, it is most likely that the problem is in its roots.

Check its roots to see if it has any pests like nematodes that are stealing the nutrients that the plant takes from the water and substrate.

If you detect any type of pest, move your succulent to a new pot. Place a new substrate and remove smaller roots before transplanting it to its new home.

In case you have to reuse the same pot later, don’t forget to disinfect it first to eliminate any bacteria that may have remained.

Succulent with wrinkled leaves due to root problem
Photo by @succulynne

To learn more about pests, how to get rid of them and prevent them from reappearing, I recommend our guide on common pests in succulents and how to solve them.

High temperatures

In hot seasons, depending on the conditions of the place where you live, high temperatures can dehydrate your succulents more intensely causing their leaves to look wrinkled.

It is a fact that succulents are more resilient plants than others and can last for many days without receiving water.

However, water evaporates more quickly in very high temperatures, and they need to be watered more frequently, but always waiting for the substrate to be completely dry before watering them again.

Note: Due to the rapid evaporation of water in these seasons, I recommend not watering them when the sun is shining directly on them, especially during the strongest sun from 12:00 to 3:00 pm. If you do, the water will evaporate even more quickly, and your succulents could start to dehydrate before you realize it.

Succulent with wrinkled leaves due to high temperatures
Photo by @plantsofamyville


Just like the lack of water, overwatering also causes wrinkled and soft leaves.

If you detect this problem, avoid watering until your succulent looks healthier and remove any leaves that are in poor condition, you'll usually see them being transparent or tending to be transparent.

At a more severe stage of the problem, if touching your succulent causes its leaves to fall off, it's starting to rot.

In these cases, the best thing to do is change the substrate to a dry one to remove moisture. When you do, don't forget that your pot must have holes underneath and the substrate must be porous and well-drained.

Aging of its leaves

Over time, some succulent leaves tend to wrinkle as a normal part of their life cycle. New leaves will sprout and replace the old ones, similar to how hair growth works on our scalps where old hairs fall out and new hairs grow in their place.

Try to remove the leaves that start to dry out to prevent potential future pest problems and only pull out leaves that are easily removable.

Severe dehydration

If you see that most of the leaves of your succulent are wrinkled, it is most likely very dehydrated. But even if you see it in very poor condition or almost dead, don’t throw it away. There is a way to revive your succulent: water therapy.

This therapy can help you to save your succulent even in very high dehydration levels. The technique mainly consists of completely submerging the roots of the succulent in water.

Place your succulent's pot in a container with water that covers the substrate completely. If you prefer, you can also directly submerge the roots in a container with water (without soil or pot). Once placed in the container, let it rest for 24-72 hours.

It is important that the time is not greater than necessary to avoid rotting the plant. The time to notice improvement will depend on how dehydrated it is. During the process, you must be very patient and frequently monitor the condition of the succulent.

Once its leaves are once again plump and radiant, look for a suitable pot for it and replant it.

Remember this always

As a summary, if the leaves of your succulent are wrinkled, always keep these points in mind:

  1. Uncover your succulent to check if the substrate is moist. If it is, it means that it is not a humidity problem. On the other hand, if it is dry, it means that the succulent needs to be watered more because it is dehydrated.
  2. Check its roots to make sure it doesn't have any pests like nematodes, small bugs that cause potato-like protuberances, and inside them are bacteria that take away your succulent’s nutrients.
  3. Be very patient and give it care while its leaves return to normal.
Succulent with wrinkled leaves due to severe dehydration

Save your succulent

Remember, succulents like other plants communicate through their leaves, and it's very important to know what's happening with them in order to care for them properly.

The meaning of wrinkled leaves in your succulent is an alert sign that something is happening inside of it.

Whether it needs more watering, has some pest in its roots or another problem, most of them can be resolved with your patience and by giving them special attention and care in those moments.

If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with other succulent enthusiasts on your social networks. All the best taking care of your plants!

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Yizet Castañeda

I am passionate about travel, decoration and plants. In this blog I share everything I experience and learn about succulents. I hope it will help especially those who are just starting in this world.

  1. Bandırma Haber says:

    Very good nice blog page, thank you!

    1. Thank you, Bandırma! 🙂

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