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why does my succulent have black spots written on a picture of a succulent plant

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Succulents are beloved for their easy care and unique look, but when mysterious black spots start appearing on their leaves, it can be a worrying sign. As someone who has had a succulent affected by black spots, I understand how frightening it can be to see your beloved plant deteriorating. 

If you’re wondering why does my succulent have black spots, let’s talk about the most common problems. 

Black spots on succulents can be caused by a number of things, from too much sun to fungal disease. Often the issue is lacking proper care, such as insufficient drainage or watering in an improper manner. Too much heat or humidity can also lead to black spots. 

Fortunately, the good news is that are effective ways to treat the problem.

I’ll discuss more in depth why succulents develop black spots, the potential causes of the problem, and what you can do to cure it.

Spots on Succulent Leaf: Causes

If you’ve noticed your succulent plants’ leaves have been affected by black spots, you may be wondering why it’s happening and how to stop it.

After all, succulents are a unique and hardy type of plant that generally doesn’t need much care or effort – yet, for some reason, yours is developing unsightly blotches. 

I have definitely been there. I picked up a succulent at Costco to start off the new year. Here it is before I started having any problems. Isn’t it beautiful? I set it on my desk in my office and watered it.

Well, I started noticing black spots on my succulent leaves shortly afterward. 


Overwatering succulents can cause black spots or root rot on the leaves, stems, and roots of the plants. These spots may start off small but will eventually spread and take over the entire succulent. The signs of overwatering are yellowing or wilting black leaves, soft stems, soggy soil that is dark in color, and a foul smell.

To treat an overwatered succulent, it’s important to ensure proper drainage by removing excess water from the soil. Additionally, reduce the amount of water given to the plant as too much moisture can inhibit air circulation.

If potting soil is used, it should be well-draining and aerated to prevent root rot. In some cases, replanting may be necessary if dark spots have already formed on the plant due to overwatering. 


Sunburn can be a problematic cause of black spots on succulents. Succulents generally require bright light, but the direct full sun can scorch their tender leaves and cause brown spots or black patches to appear. 

The affected areas become dry and brittle, posing a risk to the health of the plant if not addressed quickly. 

To avoid this, keep an eye on how much sun your succulents get each day and adjust accordingly. If you notice your succulent getting too much sun, try moving it away from the window or providing some partial shade with a sheer curtain. 

If you do discover that your succulent has been burned by the sun, make sure to carefully trim off any damaged leaves and provide extra water as needed in order to help it heal properly.

Fungal infections 

Fungal diseases can be one of the most common causes of black spots on succulents. When a fungus takes hold of the plant, it can cause dark spots that start to spread.

The fungus typically starts with one spot and then spreads outward as the infection progresses. This is why it’s important to identify problems with their succulents early on before the infection has a chance to spread. 

Look for black spots on succulents that have a raised margin around them and are surrounded by discolored or yellow areas. These signs indicate that there is an active fungal infection present, damaged plant tissue and it needs to be treated immediately.

Also look for other signs such as wilting, drooping, or browning leaves which could also point to an underlying fungal infection. 

To treat fungal infections, avoid overwatering plants as this can worsen the infection and encourage further growth of the fungus. Keep your succulent’s soil dry between waterings and clean any tools used for pruning or repotting in order to prevent re-infection from occurring. 

If necessary, fungicide sprays can be used to control the spread of fungi but these should only be used as a last resort when all else has failed. 

If you think your succulent has root rot, it is usually best to repot the succulent in fresh soil. The ideal situation for repotting a succulent with black spots would be if the roots are healthy and not completely rotted, as this indicates that the plant may still have a chance of survival when given new soil.

If the roots are severely rotted, it may be best to discard the plant and replace it with a healthier one.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are a common cause of black spots on succulents. Unfortunately, bacterial infections can spread quickly and cause significant damage to the plants. 

Bacterial infections in succulents are most commonly caused by poor air circulation, excessive moisture, and poorly draining soil. Poor air circulation occurs when plants are too close together, or when they are in an enclosed area with limited air flow. 

Excessive moisture can be caused by over-watering, or by keeping the plant in a location with high humidity levels. Poorly draining soil will retain too much water and create conditions that are conducive to bacterial infections.  

Common signs of bacterial infections include dark or black spots on leaves as well as wilting, yellowing, and distorted leaves. Other symptoms that may point to a bacterial infection include leaves that look shiny or slimy due to the presence of what is known as microbial slime.

If left untreated, these bacterial infections can cause entire leaves or sections of leaves to become discolored, mushy, and eventually die off. 

Immediately remove any affected parts of the plant with a pair of sterilized scissors and discard them in an area away from other plants. Then treat the rest of the succulent with an appropriate fungicide solution according to package instructions. 

How do you treat black spots on succulents?

If your succulent has already developed black spots, there are steps you can take to save it:

  • Inspect the whole plant, including lower leaves, and carefully trim away any affected leaves or stems using a sterilized pair of scissors or pruning shears.
  • Spray the plant with a fungicide or bactericide solution and ensure that it is protected from further moisture damage. For more severe cases, consider removing the entire succulent from its pot and soaking it in a solution of warm water mixed with hydrogen peroxide for 3-5 minutes before repotting it with fresh soil.
  • Allow the plant to dry out completely before resuming watering. This will help prevent further spread of infections and encourage new, healthy growth.
  • Consider propagating healthy sections of the succulent to ensure its survival.

Prevention tips   

Now your succulent turning black is something you’d rather avoid. The best approach is prevention so let’s talk about the ways we can keep these hardy plants looking good.

Watering tips   

To remove excess water from the soil of succulents, allow the soil to dry out completely before watering it again. When watering succulents, make sure you only give them enough water to wet the soil and that any excess is emptied from the tray or pot after a few minutes so that the roots are not sitting in standing water.

Watering your succulent with an ice cube can be a good idea.

To water succulents with an ice cube, place an ice cube directly on the soil near the succulent’s base. This will slowly melt and provide enough moisture for the plant. Be careful not to put too much as this may lead to root rot. You may also need to adjust your watering schedule depending on the size of the succulent and its environment.

Your watering schedule should be based on the type of succulent you have, as different types require different amounts of water. Your particular plant may prefer to dry out completely between watering and only need to be watered every few weeks or once a month.

Be sure to check your plant’s specific needs before deciding on when to water and adjust accordingly if needed.

You can look into a self watering pot for succulents if you are extremly busy, but I would weigh the pros and cons first.

Soil type   

The best type of soil for succulents is a well-draining soil mix. A typical succulent mix is composed of one part potting soil, one part coarse sand, and one part perlite or pumice. This allows for the optimal amount of drainage while still providing enough air to the roots. If your soil does not have good drainage, you may want to consider adding some organic matter such as peat moss or compost to help improve drainage.

Top Pick


Espoma Organic Cactus Potting Soil Mix

✅ Contains a rich blend of sphagnum peat moss, humus & perlite

✅ Promotes root growth

✅ Provides optimum aeration & drainage

A succulent potting mix can be purchased from most garden centers or online.   

Finally, you have to provide proper drainage for your succulents. This can be done by using a pot with drainage holes, placing a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot, or using an elevated potting tray. 

​Plant Placement 

Succulents can be great indoor plants, but they need to placed in areas that offer plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. This is important for their growth and health since they need access to light for photosynthesis.

In addition, it is important to be mindful of the temperature in which you place your succulent. Succulents do not like extreme temperatures and should be kept away from radiators, fans, or hot windowsills. 

Treating Pest Infestations

If pests are causing black spots on your succulents, consider using organic pest control methods such as neem oil or insecticidal soap. Remove any heavily infested leaves or sections of the plant.

The ideal environment and care for succulents are not complicated, but it does require a little extra effort from the gardener. With the right potting tray, bright light, warmth and pest control methods, any gardener can take their succulent collection to the next level.

With proper care and attention, succulents can be a beautiful addition to your home or garden.  When cared for properly, succulents will last for many years. so treat them with love and they’ll be sure to reward you in return!

FAQs about Black Spots on Succulents

What causes black spots on succulents?

Black spots can be a sign of pests, sunburn or fungal diseases. Small insects such as mealybugs, tiny aphids and spider mites can feed on succulents and cause discolouration. Sunburn can occur when exposure to direct sunlight is too long, while fungal diseases are caused by overwatering or a lack of air circulation. 

How do I control pests on my succulent?

Organic pest control methods such as neem oil or insecticidal soap are effective for controlling pests on succulents. Remove any heavily infested leaves or sections of the plant and check for signs of bugs or disease regularly to make sure your plants stay healthy and free of pests. 

How do I care for my succulent to prevent black spots?

Succulents need bright light, warmth and proper drainage in order to thrive. Avoid overwatering and make sure your potting tray has holes so that the water can escape easily, preventing fungal diseases from taking root in the soil. Additionally, it’s important to provide adequate airflow around the plant to ensure proper ventilation.

How often should I check my succulent for black spots?

Regularly inspecting your succulent is essential to catch any signs of black spots or other issues early on. Check the leaves, stems, and roots regularly, especially after watering or when introducing the plant to a new environment. Prompt detection and action can prevent further damage and save your succulent.

How do I know if the black spots on my succulent are due to sunburn?

Sunburn on succulents appears as dry, hard black spots or lesions on the leaves. These spots are typically caused by intense and sudden exposure to direct sunlight. Gradual acclimatization to sunlight can help prevent sunburn.

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