Why is my succulent stem dried out?

Succulent stem dried out

The two most common reasons why a succulent stem dries out are either lack of watering or the appearance of some pest that steals its nutrients and causes this behavior in the stem.

Don't worry, you can recover it if you detect the problem in time. Below, I explain in detail the most common reasons why a succulent stem dries out, how to identify them in time, and what to do to solve them and prevent them from happening again.


Lack of water or drought

Although succulents don't require frequent watering like other plants, it doesn't mean you can leave them without water for very prolonged periods.

If you neglect to water your succulent for a long time and it begins to suffer from drought, the first sign where you can detect it is in its leaves, which will start to wrinkle and change to an opaquer color.

Succulent stem dried out with green grass in the background
Photo by @maux65

If you continue without watering it, the drought will spread to the rest of the plant and reach the stem, leaving it dry too. All this happens because, as a survival mechanism, the succulent absorbs all the water it has stored in both its leaves and stem.

But even if you reach this level where the stem of your succulent is dry, it is still possible to save it using the water therapy.

What is the water therapy for succulents?

Water therapy is a widely used constant hydration technique in the world of succulents. This method, in addition to serving other purposes such as saving rootless succulents, also helps to recover them when they have severe levels of drought that reach the stem.

The technique consists of placing the succulent inside a container with enough water for it to absorb all the water that its stem and leaves have lost.

Water therapy to fix a succulent stem dried out
Photo by @aki_s_place

You can apply this technique in two ways, in direct contact with water or through the substrate:

Direct without substrate

In this first option, you remove the substrate from the succulent and directly immerse the roots in water, leaving the plant to rest for a couple of hours and then return it to its pot.

Monitor the progress of its recovery for 1 or 2 days and, if necessary, repeat the process several times until you see a noticeable improvement. It will depend on how dehydrated the succulent is if it will be necessary to repeat the process one or more times until it recovers.

Through the substrate

As an alternative, you can place the pot with the succulent in a larger container that contains water. When doing so, you must immerse a third of the pot to allow the substrate to become thoroughly moistened and able to hydrate the roots of the succulent.

Leave it to rest for 3 to 4 hours and remove it. Like the previous option, monitor the progress of its recovery for 1 or 2 days and, if necessary, repeat the process several times until you see a noticeable improvement.

Of course, to be able to apply this technique, the pot must have bottom holes to allow water to enter.

Root infestation

Sometimes, the dry stem of a succulent can be a sign that something is wrong inside it, even when you are giving it adequate watering. The most common cause is the existence of pests in its roots, with nematodes being the most frequent.

In this case, it will not be easy to detect the problem at first sight. So, to get rid of this pest, you must remove the succulent from the substrate and carefully check its roots.

Nematodes are small protuberances or potato-shaped bulges that are generated inside the roots. So, if you detect these deformities in the roots of your succulent, the most viable solution will be to decapitate it.

Nematodes succulent pest
Photo by @udplantpath

What is succulent decapitation?

Decapitating a succulent is a way of saving it when it has some type of pest or rot from too much water. This is because the roots and/or stem of the succulent are damaged to a degree that it is impossible for it to recover on its own.

In the event of detecting this pest, you should chop off the roots of the succulent so that only the stem with its leaves remains. Plant the stem in a new pot to stimulate the growth of healthy new roots.

It is important not to reuse the current pot and substrate as they are infected by the pest. Also remember to disinfect your hands and the scissors with which you will cut the damaged roots or stems, nematodes are a very contagious pest that can damage your succulent again and even infect the rest of your plants.

How do healthy succulent roots look like?

In order to detect pests in your succulent roots, it is important to know how healthy roots look like.

Healthy roots are thin stripes with uniform thickness and light colors, generally white or yellow. On the other hand, sick roots are misshapen, with different thicknesses or protuberances and more opaque colors like black or dark brown.

Healthy succulent roots
Photo by @goldleafclouds

5 tips to avoid dried out stem in your succulent

Now that you know the reasons why the stem of your succulent is dried out and what to do to fix it, you can return it to its normal state with a little patience and proper care.

However, if you want to avoid this from happening in the future, follow these recommendations and your succulents will never have this problem again:

  1. Water plentifully but only when necessary: Although there is no general rule for how often to water a succulent, the stick technique is the best way to know when to water. To do this, insert a small wooden stick into the substrate, when the stick comes out completely clean it's time to water, and when it comes out with soil residues, it means it's still damp, and you'll have to wait a few more days. When you water, always do it to the point where the water drains through the bottom holes, this way you'll make sure that the water reached all its roots.
  2. Keep your succulent in a good pot: A pot with good drainage is the key to keeping a succulent healthy and allowing its roots to breathe properly. Plastic pots don't retain as much moisture compared to other materials such as gypsum or ceramic. Also, always make sure they have holes for good drainage, this will avoid the roots and stems from suffering from excess water and ending up rotting.
  3. Check the roots of your succulent: At least 2 or 3 times a year, check the roots of your succulent to rule out the presence of pests. Remember that healthy roots should have a uniform thickness and be of light colors, usually white or yellow.
  4. Give it enough exposure to sunlight: Place your succulent in a well-lit place where it receives at least 4 to 6 hours of sun, this will help it stay healthy and develop properly.
  5. Keep its soil well-nourished: A nutrient-rich soil will help avoid plant pests. Keep its soil well-nourished by renewing it one time a year or by using some homemade fertilizer.


To summarize, when the stem of your succulent is dry, it can mean that it needs water or there is some pest in its roots whose damage extends to the stem.

Regardless of the cause, it is possible to save your succulent by applying any of the methods mentioned in this article. Also, remember to follow the 5 tips to prevent the problem from happening again.

If you liked this article, don't forget to share it on your social networks and let us know in the comments below how you managed to save the dry stem of your succulent.

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Luis Camacho

I'm passionate about traveling, trekking and gardening. In this blog i want to share everything I learn throughout my journey and help you get the best of your plants.

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