Cactus and Succulents forum→I take it my Echeveria is suffering from overwatering?

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Name: Ross
Lancashire, England, UK
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RPK82
Jun 3, 2020 5:16 PM CST
Some of the leaves fall off really easily and are translucent.

The stem itself has black bits from where the leaves used to be. Has the stem rotted?

The rest of the plant looks fine.

I don't understand how it could've been over watered, as I always wait until the soil is really dry and that the leaves are feeling a bit soft before watering, and then when I water it I try to not really soak the soil right through.

The plant is in a plastic pot with drainage holes, and that pot is in a ceramic pot. I always check to see if there is any water at the bottom of the ceramic pot after watering, and if there is any I will pour it away.

The soil that it's in is a cacti and succulents soil. And I'm sure I didn't compact the soil too much when I repotted it.

I can't understand how this could've happened. This is why I'm so conservative with watering because it's happened to a couple of other plants in the past too.

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 3, 2020 6:34 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, it looks like the stem has rotted. There is still a chance you can save the rosette at the top if you can cut through healthy stem above the dark part (sterilize the knife with alcohol if your first cut does not look good).

Sometimes when a plant gets so big that it completely covers the container, it can block the exit of moisture from the soil through evaporation. Depending on the plant (it very much varies) evaporation may be the primary route water exits the soil. I try to leave a small ring of soil exposed around the edges of the plant for most Echeverias, which helps make it easier to water and helps ensure unblocked evaporation.

Some brands of cactus soil are not really suited to Echeverias without modification. If there is less than 50% rock in the soil to start with, add however much perlite/pumice/gritty equivalent you need in order to arrive at that approximate amount.

I always water to completion (until water comes out the holes at the bottom) and believe that not doing so (except perhaps in the winter if it's cold and dark) does not really serve the needs of the plant. I try to judge by soil moisture, not the firmness of the leaves, when it is time to water again. If I've waited until the leaves are going soft, I've allowed the plant to slip out of its comfort zone.

These things happen to even the most expert growers, though less often than the rest of us. The most you can do is observe and tweak the variables that are under your control and try again.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 3, 2020 6:38 PM (+)]
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Name: Ross
Lancashire, England, UK
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RPK82
Jun 4, 2020 4:35 AM CST
Thanks Baja_Costero, it feels good to have an explanation for how it could've happened.

I've also just thought, that maybe when I would water it whenever the bottom leaves felt soft, sometimes they may have been soft because they were just dying off, which is a normal thing for Echeverias, rather than the plant actually needing water.

I will get some grit or whatever to mix with soil, cut off the head and try and grow that in a wider pot, put the leaves onto soil and see if any new plants will grow from them, and I will get one of those electronic things that you can stick in the soil which let you know how dry/wet the soil is.

[Last edited by RPK82 - Jun 4, 2020 4:50 AM (+)]
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Name: Ross
Lancashire, England, UK
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RPK82
Jun 4, 2020 7:32 AM CST
I've sterilized some scissors and cut off some of the stem, but there is still a small black spot where I cut. Will it be okay like this or shall I remove even more leaves and cut off more of the stem, even though there wont be much of a rosette left?


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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 4, 2020 9:34 AM CST

Moderator

The stem has to be completely free of discoloration. Try cutting higher. You don't need any exposed stem for the cutting to root properly.
Name: Ross
Lancashire, England, UK
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RPK82
Jun 4, 2020 9:58 AM CST
Thanks. :)

I've just cut some more off and I only had to cut a little further down for the stem to look fine, I was worried that I might have to cut so much off that there would barely be any stem left.


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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 4, 2020 9:59 AM CST

Moderator

Good. Thumbs up Now leave it out of soil for a week or so, and don't water for another week or so after you pot it up.
Name: Ross
Lancashire, England, UK
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RPK82
Jun 11, 2020 12:04 PM CST
It's not looking good, I picked it up today and part of the stem has turned black.

I've cut it off and there's not much left. Maybe if I could get where I cut to dry quicker it wont turn black again? Maybe if I put it on dry soil the dry soil would suck up some of the moisture, or I could put it next to a hot radiator to get it to dry quickly?

There's always the leaves, they all seem to have callused now, some are black at the ends and some aren't, I'm not sure if the leaves for this particular plant will be easy to propagate or not (I've never managed to get leaves from other succulents to even root so far).

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Image
Baja_Costero
Jun 11, 2020 4:02 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, I think your best option is the leaves. Find the biggest, plumpest, healthiest ones of the bunch and place them on top of new clean soil (no part buried) in bright light, and water when the soil has gone dry at depth. The base of the leaf should be touching the soil. Leaves do not have to callus at all (zero) if you wait a few days to water.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 11, 2020 4:02 PM (+)]
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Name: Ross
Lancashire, England, UK
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RPK82
Jul 5, 2020 9:08 AM CST
I ended up placing the leaves on soil, and I did sometimes water the soil, but lot of the leaves and the rosette just ended up turning black and rotting.

I'm unsure whether wetting the soil can make rot more likely or not, but I'm guessing the rot was already there in those leaves and the rosette and just wasn't visible at first, as the rot came back in the rosette even though I was keeping it completely dry while waiting for it to callous.

I thought maybe I should stop wetting the soil and see what happens, just in case keeping things dry may make rot less likely. It seems the way things are going I'm probably going to loose them all anyway, so I might as well try something different, and I have heard that leaves can still grow roots even if you never wet them because there is already moisture and nutrients in the leaves. So that's what I did, but I didn't have much hope, it seemed very likely that all the leaves would just fail.

The weeks go by, and I think some more leaves rotted. The leaves that were hanging in there and not going rotten still had no roots.

But then when I had a look at them last night to my surprise a couple or more of them have started rooting!

Also, one of the leaves on the soil (the biggest one) I actually took off a supermarket shelf, I saw it there and thought it will probably just get thrown away, so why not take it and see if I can propagate it.

It already had some roots on it when I took it, but now it has grown more roots and it looks like there is a tiny baby plant on the end of it (you can see this in the last pic).

Now I don't know whether I should just continue to never wet the soil or to start wetting it. But today I thought since the soil has been dry for several weeks I'll just mist the leaves and soil, just in case.

So the potential for new plants to grow from these and for them to be successful is there, I just hope I don't mess things up.

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[Last edited by RPK82 - Jul 5, 2020 9:13 AM (+)]
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