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Why Are My Succulent Leaves Wrinkled

Succulents are one of the most aesthetically pretty plants to keep in your home, so it can be frustrating if, several months into owning a succulent, you notice the leaves have started to wrinkle, shrivel, or dry up. Not only is this not attractive for your succulent, but it is also a big warning sign that your succulent is not healthy. 

Your succulent leaves get wrinkled most often when the plant needs water. Succulents stores water in their leaves as a conservation method, but if there is no water to conserve, the plant will start to show signs of dehydration. 

Succulents are typically one of the easiest houseplants to keep alive, so do not despair if your succulent is starting to shrivel. The great thing about succulents is that they are very hearty plants, and you will likely be able to get your succulent to return to good health with some tender love and care. 

If you notice wrinkled leaves on your succulent, your succulent may likely have some watering problems. Many succulent owners struggle to find the right balance for their plants, as they are used to needing to water other plants in their homes much more frequently. Succulents do not need much water to survive, but they are susceptible to overwatering and underwatering. 

What Causes Wrinkled Leaves? 

With most plants, when they are not receiving enough water and nutrients, it causes alarm bells to go off that signal the plant that they need to conserve energy. When a succulent does not receive enough water, it will start trying to conserve energy by dropping leaves.

Before leaves fully drop off a succulent, they will usually dry out and turn wrinkly. You can usually tell if your succulent is about to drop a leaf as it will feel wrinkly, flat, and brittle to the touch and often will start changing color. 

Wrinkled leaves can also be caused by overwatering. While this may initially seem counterintuitive, there is a way to differentiate whether your succulent has wrinkled leaves because it is being overwatered instead of underwatered. 

An overwatered succulent will also shrivel up with wrinkled leaves, but the key difference is that it will be soggy. Overwatered succulents will be weighed down with the excess moisture in the plant and soil and are often still wet or moist to the touch.

If you notice this has happened to your succulent, the best thing to do is to bring the succulent out into a sunny place and allow it to begin drying out. You will want to avoid watering the plant until the soil is fully dry to the touch. Depending on how long it takes your succulent to dry out, this may take somewhere between a few weeks to a month. 

Other Causes of Wrinkled Succulent Leaves:

Beyond watering issues, there can be other reasons your succulent is starting to get wrinkled leaves and is struggling to survive. 

  1. It is winter, and your succulent needs more sunlight. If you have a succulent that is having health issues during the colder winter months of the year, it could be that your succulent needs some additional sunlight each day. During the winter, the sun’s rays are weaker, and the light your plant is receiving might be less direct. Moving your succulent to a sunny window or somewhere that it will receive the maximum sunlight during the day could help bring your succulent back to good health. 
  2. Your succulent soil could benefit from perlite. Perlite is used to help aerate compost for succulents to prevent the soil from staying too moist. You need the water to quickly move through the succulent’s roots when you water it to avoid it from staying wet, and this chunky volcanic glass substance is great to add to a succulent, especially one that is struggling. 
  3. Your succulent has come to the end of its lifespan. Most succulents are perennials, meaning they have a lifespan that can last for multiple years. However, even with a lot of love and care, sometimes succulents are just beyond saving. 

Can I Save a Plant With Wrinkled Leaves?

You can save a plant with wrinkled leaves if you catch the problem with your succulent in a timely manner. Noticing that your succulent has a problem is the first step, and from there, you must take action to rectify the problem with your succulent. 

Wrinkled and shriveled leaves on a succulent can pop up quickly. You might have a plant that looks healthy at the beginning of the week and suddenly looks wrinkled and unhealthy only a few days later.

Once you notice, immediately begin tweaking the growing conditions for your plant to prevent it from dying entirely. When in doubt, err on the side of underwatering a succulent, as it is easier to save a succulent that is dehydrated versus one that has rot root from overwatering. 

Final Thoughts

Many issues with succulents can be resolved once you make sure that your succulent is potted in the right soil, getting the proper amount of sunlight for the season, and being watered a healthy amount.

Succulents benefit from having a layer of rocks or small pebbles on the top of the soil around the plant, and adding that to your plant’s pot can often resolve issues you are having with your succulent leaves. The key to a long and healthy life for a potted succulent is to ensure the plant’s environment closely matches the natural habitat of a succulent living outdoors.