Succulent Leaves Splitting: Cause and Solution

Remember the day you first took a succulent home? That first pretty, little Echeveria you couldn’t stop staring at.

Some months after that, what had begun as a single plant evolved into a vast collection of unique succulents. But as your succulent collection increases, so do your gardening troubles.

When you aren’t fighting mealybugs, you’re either cutting up your succulents because of etiolation or panicking from their root rots. Whatever the case may be, cultivating succulents is a roller coaster ride (as you may be well aware already).

For the most part, succulent leaves splitting is a result of excessive care. Ironic, right?

To resolve this issue, you first need to know what care regimen you’re doing excessively and need to reduce.

Let’s get down to it.

Why Are Succulent Leaves Splitting?

succulent leaves splitting

Watering is one of the most essential plant care routines – for good reasons. But more often than not, it is the main cause of split leaves in succulents.

By nature, succulents have become accustomed to live even with the lack of water. These plants transpire way more slowly than other plants; which means, the water that is absorbed by succulents is deposited (in the leaves and stems) while awaiting use.

Now, in cases where excessive water is given to succulents, more water is then absorbed and stored. But remember, there is no way for succulents to expel the extra water. They can but store. And as more water builds up in the leaves, this results in an elevated turgor pressure that splits them apart.

Besides that, if the succulent is grown in soil that doesn’t drain well, it can also lead to waterlogging and subsequently, split leaves (and rot, too!).

Whichever way, the succulent’s aesthetic value is certainly facing a threat. Thankfully, there are remedies for it, and below are some of them.

How to Fix Succulent Leaves Splitting Issue

Increasing the interval between watering, as you may have already gathered from above, is a reasonable step to take when you see your succulent leaves splitting.

It just may not resolve the issue, any more than it’s the right path to take. Since the succulent has already absorbed more water than it could store or use, adding more water, however infrequently, may even prove to be harmful depending on the soil composition.

Even if the soil composition is right, as it stands there is already excess water in the succulent. Also, there is no way to know whether this water has been fully used up when it’s time for the next watering.

Below are some helpful suggestions in your battle against succulent leaves splitting.

  • Assuming you use the right soil with excellent drainage, stop watering for around a week. A well-draining soil ought to be dry by the end of this period. To test, stick your finger into the soil. If the soil has already dried out, check if the leaves are firm. If the leaves have started to wrinkle, it is time to water the succulents again. If the leaves are still firm, refrain from watering as the plant is in no need of water at the moment. If, however, the soil is still damp, then proceed to the next step below.
  • If the soil is still damp after a week, you are using poor-draining soil. In this case, take the succulent out of its current pot and remove all the damp soil. Then, place the succulent somewhere dry with bright, indirect light for about a week. Repot the succulent in a well-draining soil mix this time and wait another week before you water it. Reduce the watering frequency and observe any further signs of leaves splitting.

How to Prevent Succulent Leaves Splitting

When coping with the splitting of succulent leaves, you should adopt a preventive method. In particular, pay attention to the matters below:

Soil Composition

To prevent excessive water in the substrate, it is important to use a substrate which has good drainage. Remember, the safest option is to opt for commercial solutions. Use commercial succulent soil with excellent drainage. If you have trouble deciding which soil to get, we have a complete guide on the best soils for succulents in pots here.

If you don’t wish to buy ready-made soil mixtures, you can make your own homemade succulent soil blend with a good ratio of potting soil, gravel, and perlite.

To boost drainage even more, grow your succulents in appropriately-sized containers – allowing only a little extra room. Do not grow succulents in containers that are larger than necessary as the soil will remain wet for longer periods of time. Repot your succulents into bigger pots only when they have outgrown them.

Read also:
Best Drainage Pots for Succulents
How to Know When to Repot Succulents

Growth Cycle

Succulents have specific water requirements depending on the stages of their growth. They need more frequent watering during their growth phase. However, the substrate should be allowed to dry out partially between irrigations, also known as the soak-and-dry method.

Very little water is needed in their periods of dormancy and hence the soil should be kept almost bone dry during that stage.

Watering Schedule

As mentioned above, this depends on where the succulent is in its growth cycle. In both phases (the growth and dormant phase), the condition of the upper part of the soil will tell you if it is time to water again.

The upper part of the soil must be dry. If the succulent is in the growth phase, this dryness should reach 2 inches (5 centimeters) into the soil. You can gauge this with your finger or a bamboo stick. Just stick your finger or bamboo stick into the soil to see if it is damp. If it is, do not water yet until it becomes fully dry.

Read also:
How to Plant in Pots without Drainage Holes
How to Keep Succulents Small

Hope this helps solve your succulent leaves splitting problem!