Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: All my succulents are dying!

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Name: Sophia Taylor

Jun 28, 2017 8:54 PM CST
I've had succulents for awhile and about 4 months ago I realized a few small ones were dying. I didn't worry about it until more became like that. I went through, got rid of the dead an replanted the 6 pots I had. Eventually I got more plants, but they were still dying. A month ago I realized almost every one of them had root mealy bugs, so I got stuff to get rid of them. Sadly that did nothing and they kept dying. I recently removed all of the from their pots, cleaned the roots or cut them off, scraped the soil that was replaced with new soil for succulents I had just bought and cleaned all the pots. I replanted the 2 weeks ago and they are all still dying. Most of them are rotting even though I removed all of the rotted part. They also all in separate pots at this point. They are inside on a windowsill and watered once a week. If anybody has any information or advice, I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!!! Smiling
Name: Daisy I
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Jun 28, 2017 9:16 PM CST

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Name: Sophia Taylor

Jun 28, 2017 9:34 PM CST
Here is what I have left. I just got back to them yesterday. A got rid of a cactus since it was a pile of mush and the other succulents are out of leaves. I got rid of more rotted parts and almost all the leaves where if the ground. A few were very tall and leafy when I first got them.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Jun 29, 2017 11:59 AM CST


Root mealy bugs can get into your plants by a couple of different mechanisms. They may come into your garden unobserved with new plants (how are you going to know until you repot?), or they may spread within your garden from pot to pot (often associated with dry soil, or soil that does not go completely moist when you water). Look for ant activity as a telltale sign.

The solution to the first concern is to repot plants (or at least unpot them for a quick inspection) when you receive them, and avoid sources that are selling infected plants. The solution to the second problem is a little more difficult. For starters, you need to re-examine how you are watering, to make sure that you are allowing the soil to go dry between watering but not allowing it to sit bone dry for any extended period. An adjustment in watering is often the best solution for bug issues, especially underground.

You can do a couple of things to get rid of the mealies. First, you can submerge the whole pot in soapy water (dilute mild dish soap) for half an hour or whatever, allowing the soap to work its magic below ground and eventually kill the bugs. Do this instead of watering some time but make sure you let them soil go dry like normal afterwards. Second, you can treat the plant with a systemic like imidacloprid (various brand names) which you water into the soil and then allow the plant to take up, making it poisonous for the bugs trying to eat it. The more you handle and injure the roots, the more fragile the plants will be afterwards. It's very important not to water immediately after root wrangling -- allow the roots some time to recover before you leave them in dirty water. Things can go wrong and the result can be quick and ugly: rot.

At this point the best course is probably discipline with the water so the survivors come out of this okay. Try to provide as much light as possible inside, like right by a sunny unobstructed window. And try to water when the soil is going dry, rather than on any fixed schedule. Unless of course you have checked the soil and found a useful time interval that gives the right results.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 29, 2017 12:17 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Jun 29, 2017 7:24 PM CST
Hello Sophia! Sorry to read that about your plants. Looks like you have done what you can replacing the soil, but you may have to find smaller, shallower container size for your succulents. What is your typical daytime and overnight temps? At times, there is better reaction and growth when these plants are outside but position in a warm, dry, part shade area first.

Just remove any dried out dead leaves, keep it clean. In time they should bounce back. Watering succulents is not a fixed time, got to allow them to dry, sometimes hard to see since top part dries out faster, so you can use bamboo skewers, stick it in soil, if it comes out wet, delay watering.
Name: Ed
Central ,NJ (Zone 6b)
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Jun 30, 2017 9:34 PM CST
Being new to container plants I found using a water meter helped me to understand soil wetness . I have been doing this for about 6-8 months any I can judge how much water to use better now by eye or with skewers as Tarev suggested but still use the meter sometimes.
I also found that different soil mixes & different types of pots have a lot to do with water retention and therefore can vary soil wetness even with similar plants
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Name: Kristi
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Jul 1, 2017 5:55 AM CST
herrwood said:
I also found that different soil mixes & different types of pots have a lot to do with water retention and therefore can vary soil wetness even with similar plants

I agree... and have also found that the temperature and humidity also plays a part in it. That is why it is so difficult to explain when/how to water succulents.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Jul 1, 2017 12:01 PM CST
At times, got to understand too, that some succulents are summer dormant, and some are cool weather growers.
There is a period of seasonal transition too, when the succulents will deliberately drop older lower leaves, making us panic is it thirsty, dying? But it is not, just doing its own seasonal adjustment. I think this is the time most new succulent growers fail, not seeing that, so the tendency is to either overwater or suddenly position them in full direct sun, making it much more stressful for the plant to adjust.

I like to think of it as the plant dropping its old winter leaves and it will grow its shorter leaves, since there is now enough light around, unlike in winter where sunlight duration is much lesser, so they seem to grow longer leaves.
Cacti and euphorbias, these ones love the warmth and light, so they really thrive better outdoors during the warmer months.

I am more worried when the cool weather is here, got to really scale back watering, even for winter growers, that cold and wet combo is not their preference especially when temps goes way lower than 40F.

But in warmer months, more light, not necessarily direct sun, they still can get fried by the direct sun. Only a few types of desert growing succulents can endure that. Nursery grown little ones even more, since they are not yet hardened to such extreme conditions. Good drainage by using a grittier mix is important so the base of the plants are not sitting longer in moist conditions, especially in areas with much higher humidity and rainfall during summertime.

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