Ask a Question forum: Burned Echeveria?

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Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Jul 16, 2017 11:23 AM CST
Hi- I've had what I believe is an echeveria "tippy" (could be wrong though) for about a month now. It was doing pretty well, except for the bottom leaves turning translucent & yellowish right after buying it, so I removed those. I've watered it once since getting it & all seemed to be well, until I noticed the tips were darkening. Since it naturally has red tips, I assumed it was just part of the process. Then the bottom leaves turned translucent & yellow, again. (I know that's generally associated w/ over watering, but since I almost never water it I found that hard to process). Today I saw that those bottom leaves appear to be burned- unsightly brown spots all over- as well as the tips in the very center of the rosette turning dark brown, along with one of the 2 babies turning dark brown & drying out. My plants are all indoors in an East facing window & are doing pretty well, with the exception of this little guy. Any tips/advice/suggestions/even criticism would be appreciated, as I'm very new to the whole "plant world". I will try to attach pics but I'm also new to this site & trying to figure out how to navigate through it properly. I apologize if the pics are blurry, phone takes terrible photos, and apologize for the long-winded post. Thank you so much in advance, if anyone feels so inclined as to read & reply to me.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jul 16, 2017 2:26 PM CST
As long as your plant is very close to the east window and that window is completely uncovered during the day, then light should not be a problem. Likewise, if you have watered it only once in a month, then keeping the soil too moist is not the source of the problem. That leaves either underwatering or some other problem with the roots.

Your plant's roots do like to get quite dry between waterings, but if you are not watering thoroughly every 1-2 weeks, then they may not be getting adequate water.

It appears that your plant was repotted into the terra cotta pot either by you or someone prior to sale. That is often problematic for fragile succulent root hairs that are easily damaged if repotting is not done correctly. So, it is possible that is the source of the problem.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Jul 16, 2017 6:35 PM CST
Thank you so much Will. I was wondering if I had maybe under watered it but since I generally stick to (around) the same time frame for watering all my succulents, and they are all (so far, don't wanna jinx anything) doing very well- with the exception of this guy, id be surprised if that was the case. And this one had the most "fleshy", thick leaves of all of em, so I thought if any could tolerate drought like conditions, it would be him. It is very possible that I damaged the roots upon repotting. I really try to be careful, but this one had very small & very few roots to begin with, so I guess any abuse to them was too much or let in some kind of gross fungal problem. Do you think it would show the effects of root damage a month after I repotted though? I did it the night he was purchased and he's been looking pretty handsome all this time (or should I say, she was looking very pretty- having 2 babies, and all) until the other day. Maybe it takes a few weeks to show signs of the damage? I would've thought it would be sooner, but what do I know? I am, after all, a complete novice. If it was root damage, do you think there's any way to salvage the rest? Or have I doomed her to a terminal fate? Thanks again, so much, for your reply
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
Jul 17, 2017 10:40 AM CST
Sometimes Echeverias go through a sort of crisis where the lower leaves go brown and it's temporary (plant is kind of shrugging off a bunch of leaves from the bottom of the rosette, in slow motion). This process may take weeks. Sometimes they look similar but the problem is actually within the stem, which is more serious because it threatens the survival of the plant. I try not to remove the dying leaves until they are dry, for two reasons: one, the plant may still be able to extract some moisture from its reserves, and two, if they are rotting and you break them open next to the plant, you're likely to release a whole bunch of rot organisms in the wrong place. It is actually hard to effect a clean removal of rotting leaves, and reasonably hard to tell the difference between rot and housekeeping at a distance. Avoid this unless they release easily from the base.

At this time of year outdoor Echeverias may show some of the same features you're seeing because they are responding to summer sun and summer heat. A lot of them are higher altitude plants and they respond poorly to high temperatures (most are impossible in the desert). But indoors this should not be an issue, esp. with climate control. It is basically impossible to give your plant too much light indoors, given good air flow and mild temps. So if you've picked the brightest spot right next to your east facing window, keep the plant there.

Regarding watering, you can follow a pretty simple set of rules and the plant should do well. Water well, saturating the soil, until water comes out the bottom of the pot (and then make sure the plant does not sit in water afterwards). Wait however long it takes for the soil to dry out at depth. This could be a week, or two weeks maybe, in a mild bright situation. Water again when the soil is dry, or going dry, but try not to leave it sitting bone dry for too long. When the soil goes properly wet and dry like that on a regular basis, the plant has the best chance to thrive.

There are a few reasons why your plant may have a small root system. It may depend on the treatment it received before you got it (a cutting may not have been properly rooted). Or if you're not watering deeply enough to compel the roots to explore further, they may not develop right. If that's an unglazed clay pot, it could be drying out too fast (because water can exit the sides of the pot as well as the top of the soil). Try to keep the plant in a pot matching the size of the roots (looks like the current one is good until the plant recovers). Do not handle the roots any more than necessary, especially once you've seen what they look like. Repotting is the last thing to consider at this point.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jul 17, 2017 10:49 AM (+)]
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Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
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Jas84
Jul 17, 2017 11:39 AM CST
Thank you Baja!! That was all very helpful. I have just discovered what you said about the leaves not ripping off properly until fully dried out. I tried removing the yellow/brown leaves but was quite disappointed to not only not get a clean break but to also cause the moisture from inside the leaf to spill out into pot. I will now just wait until they're completely dried & shriveled. You bring up a good point about summer sun- although my plants are all indoors, theres a few I take out to enjoy the sun on occasion, all of my succulents included. I started wondering if I burned this one from the last time,especially after realizing how dumb it is to take them from inside to out
, occasionally, without any acclimation time. But I havent brought them outside in over a week, can it take that long to show the effect of sun damage? Or would it be more immediate. With regards to watering, I do water until it comes out of the drainage holes but stop immediately upon seeing that. I've been having some bug issues and have been trying to water as minimally as possible. Maybe I should water until it flows from the holes, as opposed to just dripping? Your info and advice was just what I was hoping for, thank you so much!
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
Jul 17, 2017 12:27 PM CST
You might see the results of too much sun the same day in extreme cases, but usually (here) that's a process which takes weeks to unfold. The best care would be consistent and regular, in terms of both light and water. Comparing indoor sun (which passes through regular window glass) and outdoor sun with the same angle and direction, you might imagine them to be roughly equivalent, based on what your eyes can see. But your eyes can't see the UV, which is where most of the harmful rays can be found (for both humans and plants). Regular window glass cuts most of the UV and as a result indoor sun is much kinder. If you want to provide some outdoor sun (to indoor plants which are doing well in indoor sun) then avoid the mid day sun and stick to morning sun or filtered light, which are much softer and less likely to stress out your plants. Each one has a different limit so experience will help you figure this out.

Try watering until a reasonable amount has passed through the hole at the bottom. I usually aim for about 25% flowthrough. This is helpful because it reduces the concentration of salts inside the container. And try watering more than once, especially if you're allowing the soil to go completely dry (which might happen after two weeks). Wait 5-10 minutes after watering to the point you're doing it now (to allow the water to enter the dry soil and moisten it) then water again to really fully saturate it. And then wait another few minutes afterwards to empty out all the water from the saucer. If you're having problems with fungus gnats (little pesky flying insects) then I would recommend sticky flypaper near the surface of the soil as a way to subtract some adults from the equation, while you work out the watering.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jul 17, 2017 6:53 PM CST
Jasmine - Even plants of the same species do not have identical water requirements and cannot be kept on the same schedule. Plant size, pot size, and soil consistency can all affect how often a plant needs water. Follow Baja's advice and treat each of your plants as unique individuals.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jasmine
Greenville, NY (Zone 5a)
Image
Jas84
Jul 17, 2017 8:50 PM CST
Thank you both!! It's all very helpful. Baja- if it can take some time to show sun damage, then I'm positive that's what this was from. Just yesterday (before seeing your reply) I took the little guys out for some sun, but once again, managed to give them too much. My perle von nurnberg (?) aka Pearl, showed immediate damage to several leaves and one already fell off. And she was looking quite beautiful before I did that. I guess I fall under that annoying category of people who hear something once about plants or even just believe it to be true, and go for it, no second guessing- ie, "these succulents come from Mexico so they must love & need lots of sun!" (a) not even positive they originate from Mexico & (b) who am I to just subject these poor little guys to whatever I personally deem as important, without any knowledge on the topic whatsoever. I usually dont do stuff like that but since my 1st 2 echeverias seemed to love a day of sun here & there, I categorized them all as being the same, in that respect. Dumb move. That's great to know, about how to properly water them, thank you!! I needed that. And it's funny (ish) that you bring up fungus gnats- just last night I was looking at my ever deteriorating spearmint, wondering if it's in bad shape due to the goddamn springtails which NOTHING will get rid of- when I saw some slime at the base of the plant. The slime then began to inch its way up & fully out of the soil, it was a freakin worm! Completely transparent, I got to see its innards and all. This thing perched up its upper body, stared right at me, and seemed to say "why you so scared, lady?". It was almost cute but the revulsion & near hysterics were enough to immediately counter that thought. Anyway, turns out it was fungus gnat larvae- gross, that's what I said. Today I saw my 1st adult fungus gnat in action & knew I had a problem. The damn spearmint is so finnicky & she pouts immediately upon some soil drying. I knew her watering schedule would lead to bigger problems, but little miss priss just had to have her every 2-3 day drink, and now here we are, fungus gnats & springtails galore. Just before I removed all potting mix, washed her & pot, trimmed decaying roots, etc. Guaranteed I screwed it up though & she'll be dead by tomorrow evening. Are you supposed to water plants when repotting after trimming roots? I know w/ succulents you shouldn't water for some time after repotting & never heard the same for other plants and i wasn't sure how to handle it. Back to the creepy crawlies- if I've seen 1 larvae, 1 adult & several springtails a day, would that indicate an infestation? Probably, right? I'm just hoping not, obviously. This is, after all, our house and so the whole thing is, well, beyond repulsive. Thank you Will- I should clarify, I dont actually stick to the same watering schedule, I dont even have a schedule. The succulents just tend to dry out around the same time (all similar sizes in same sized & type of pots), but you have validated my initial thought that plants should not be kept on any kind of schedule & need to be handled on a case by case basis, so thank you! I apologize for the rambling- I posted all this on gardenweb & got completely ignored (again!) so figured I'd just go for it now that there's at least an audience :-)

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