Ask a Question forum: Succulent Leaves Curling

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ivoryella21
Oct 7, 2017 4:09 PM CST
Hello! I recently purchased a succulent and after repotting it, it's leaves have started to curl inward. I am working on propagating some of my other succulents under a grow light (blue/red light) and have been keeping this plant along side of them. The leaves are firm and the plant looks healthy otherwise so I have no idea what could be causing the leaves to curl like this. I have attached a picture. I would love any suggestions on how I can keep the leaves from curling like this! Also if anyone knows what species of succulent it is, I would love to know!
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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 7, 2017 5:09 PM CST
Your plant needs more light, like hours of daily sun. This will become more and more of an issue toward the end of fall and start of winter, when days are shorter and the sun reaches a lower point in the sky. Ideally right by an unobstructed south-facing window. Otherwise think about giving it a more direct exposure to the lights you have in use.

The plant looks like an Echeveria or closely related member of the family. They are not great house plants without strong light. A couple of hours a day through the window would be a good starting point, or consider lights.

The Echeverias Database
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 7, 2017 5:22 PM CST
You may be over-watering also.
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Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Oct 7, 2017 6:04 PM CST
I ditto suspected over watering. What kind of soil is it in? Is it a succulent/high sand/fast draining mix? I won't judge- I'll be the first to admit I have succulents in regular potting soil too even though I'm not supposed to- it just means you have to water a lot less at a time and water less often...You can really let it get BONE dry.

I have kept echiveria in less than ideal light situations over the winter, and the bottom leaves will curl up and die, the plant gets leggy (like everything EXCEPT ME in the winter, lol) but the crown should stay nice and healthy and upright... that's why I think its too much water rather than not enough light.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 8, 2017 10:09 AM CST
Most succulents have small, fine root systems that are best left undisturbed and in small pots. It is certainly possible to repot them successfully, but most folks make common mistakes such as damaging the roots, using improper potting mix and a pot that is too large or lacking a drain hole. I suspect that yours is reacting to the trauma of the repotting that you did. The risk of inadvertent over watering is much greater now that it is in a larger pot.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Oct 12, 2017 8:27 AM CST
None of the succulents I've potted (fall) and unpotted (spring, to go in the ground temporarily) have shown any signs of distress from the disturbances, beyond mechanical damages from my clumsiness. That is one of the things that makes them so easy for me to get along with.

Any risk of overwatering (for succulents or any other type of plant confined to a pot) would be dependent upon the type/texture of the soil. If it has plenty of air in it while moist, the volume of the soil is irrelevant. Succulent plants can sacrifice the older foliage prematurely when needed, by absorbing the moisture to sustain the plant until more is available to roots, but if ones does not like the look of naked stems, maintaining a more even moisture around the roots can allow plants to retain as much foliage as possible for as long as possible.
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The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 14, 2017 10:57 AM CST
Tiffany - Your thoughtful comment affirms the warning I posted about repotting. Clearly you know what you are doing and are successful. My experience is that most folks that post questions here do not have the experience needed to successfully repot succulents.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 14, 2017 1:24 PM CST
My experience is that there is no benefit in telling people to be afraid of repotting succulents. There is great benefit in telling people how to repot and when to repot. The advice not to do it is not only unhelpful, it retards the growth of the plants and it gets novice growers anxious about something which deserves little to no anxiety, only understanding.

I give away a couple hundred succulents a year to the neighbors and when I pass them on, I give instructions. Because I want the plants to survive and thrive in their new location. That is the point, right? Smiling I bring this up so you are aware I'm not operating in a bubble. The people who adopt those plants (generally novices) learn when a plant is too big for its pot, and they know how to repot. I show them examples, I say what's important. It's not rocket science. The whole conversation is over in minutes. Nobody has problems with it.

We've been down this road before, but I can tell you exactly when too small a pot will retard the growth of your average succulent because I am constantly seeing that, because I prefer to use pots that are the minimum size for the application. (Economics.)

To the extent Tiffany surely has some experience doing this stuff, her thoughtful comment did exactly the opposite of what you said it did, Will. If anything. Everyone's entitled to their opinion but just as a point of strategy, I would like it if we could enable productive gardening. Smiling
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Oct 14, 2017 5:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 14, 2017 1:37 PM CST
My experience is very different than yours, Baja. Not better, but different and I am happy to share that with others.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 14, 2017 1:45 PM CST
Of course. I'm just explaining very explicitly why every time you give that advice, I'm going to disagree. The novice grower can decide what they think is the right thing to do.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Oct 15, 2017 5:26 AM CST
I hope I did not affirm a warning in which I do not believe. I don't think I did.

People gain experience by doing. Mistakes will be made, but getting started is the only way to start gaining experience.

The hardest thing for me to finally "own" was not watering disturbed plants until the next day. Goes against every natural urge of an overwaterer-always-in-recovery like me. Unless something like watering too soon causes rotting to subsequently occur, damaging roots is not a problem because plants will grow new roots. Plants are always growing new roots, and plants that are unable, due to constriction, to continue growing new roots, become stagnant in their foliage growth as well.

Being underpotted absolutely retards growth. These little Sansevieria pups have been in this pot for a year, as a novelty in a mini garden, but also left this way to be an example of the result of underpotting. The parent plants are 3-4 feet tall, and other pups "born" at the same time but not restricted by minuscule pots are nearly full size by now.

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๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚ - SMILE! -โ˜บ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ปโ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ŒโœŒโˆžโ˜ฏ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿพ
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
๐Ÿ‘’๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿก๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿโฆโง ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒฝโ€โ˜€๐ŸŒบ
โ˜•๐Ÿ‘“ The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Oct 15, 2017 10:14 AM CST
I almost never bother repotting succulents... but not becasue I am afraid to damage roots.
I don't think I have any single species pots- all are mixed, so I'm not trying to grow specimin plants except for jade and snake plants.
Everyone gets one repotting into their permanent pot when they arrive home, but once they're set, they're set- that's it I dont dig in that dirt ever again. I like that the size of the container impacts the size of the plant. Makes my life easier. If they grow too big or leggy I just cut them up or snap off the babies for another pot. With ehiveria (which I think this one is) I can cut the whole top off, lay it on some soil.. the base will throw up new rosettes (usually many) and the top will re-root itself,
so I wonder how the plant could tolerate that much stress and flourish for it, but disturbing or damaging roots through repotting would cause this level of shock? If a single leaf can fall off and grow a whole new plant- stems leaves and roots- Can they react this badly to a little inadvertent root damage? If I can remove all of the roots (by topping the plant) without harm, why would damaging SOME of the roots have such a drastic impact?

I'm not saying its not possible, I'm just trying to figure out why the whole plant would react that badly to root disturbances when removing ALL connection to the roots doesn't.

I have one plant that looks like a spiky baby aloe, I don't know the name, but I just rip out the plantlet rosettes at the base with varying degrees of broken off roots coming with them, and they don't mind. Sempervivim will tolerate it too- and thats a lot of root ripping.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 15, 2017 11:23 AM CST
Turbosaurus said:I'm just trying to figure out why the whole plant would react that badly to root disturbances when removing ALL connection to the roots doesn't.


That is a really good practical question. It must have to do with timing to some extent. When you cut the head off an Echeveria, do you leave it to heal somewhere before you set it up to root?

The healing which takes place within that relatively short window (up to a week) is sufficient for the cutting to tolerate being placed on soil. Even if you are just not watering for that period, narrow-stemmed cuttings tend to have the ability to heal pretty fast on their own.

Some plants are going to tolerate root mangling much better than others. It sounds like you have found a few that really don't mind being manhandled down there. There are certain plants which are notorious for rotting if you don't give the roots time to heal before watering (for example Euphorbia bupleurifolia), and they seem to be quite the opposite. As Tiffany suggested, a little trial and error is often how we learn these things.

Similarly: when in doubt about the ability of a plant to bounce back from root damage, the number one thing is to not water immediately afterwards. Wait a few days or a week to do so. Very few plants are going to be sensitive out beyond that period. The mysterious principles that govern whether a plant may be sensitive to root damage become mostly moot after a few days have passed. Imagine an open wound submerged in dirty water and you get an idea of how this might work.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Oct 15, 2017 11:26 AM (+)]
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