Why have the leaves on my succulent turned brown?

Why have the leaves on my succulent turned brown?

There are a few reasons why your succulent leaves have turned brown.  The first and most common is that the older leaves on the underside of the plant have died.  The second is that the leaves have sun burn.

Why are the leaves dying on the bottom of my succulent?
It is natural for leaves to die on any plant and is part of the cycle of the plant as it makes way for new growth.  On a succulent they are on the underside/outside of the plant.  Succulents naturally grow new leaves from their centre. Once they have turned brown and dried they can be gently pulled off. You can also snip them off with a pair of secateurs. Secateurs are required for succulents such as Agave as their leaves stay firmly attached to the stem of the plant.  If you do not pull/snip the leaves off they will eventually dry and fall off by themselves and rot into the soil/ground. The benefits of pulling them off, when they are ready, is two fold.  Firstly, they can be unsightly so the look of the succulent is much more pleasing. Secondly, without the dead leaves, there is better air flow to the underside of the plant and this discourages any bugs/diseases to take up residence.  It also makes more room for new plants (pups) to grow.

dead leaves on succulent dried leaves on succulent

Examples of dead leaves on underside of succulents.

dying succulent leaf kalanchoe with dying leaf

Examples of dead leaves on underside of succulents.

Why are there brown patches on my succulent leaves?
If you’ve recently purchased a succulent and have had it for a week (or less) and the plant suddenly has brown patches on the leaves – do not worry.  This is probably sun burn on the leaves.  Many succulents are propagated under shade cloth and therefore used to these growing conditions.  If the succulent is then put in direct sun, the leaves (which are not used to direct sun) can then burn.  See below for two examples of sun burnt leaves.

Echevveria with sun burnt leaves sun burnt succulent leaves

The leaves which have been burnt cannot be repaired.  However, most succulents will enjoy the direct sun and in time become used to it.  As long as you can see new growth in the middle of the plant then the succulent will survive.  Eventually the sun burnt leaves will mature, turn brown and drop off.  As per the above paragraph.

For more in depth information see post: (My succulent is sun burnt – what should I do?)

suburnt echeveria sunburnt echeveria agavoides

If your succulent looks similar to the one below this is not good. It is a dead succulent and there is nothing you can do. If you are unsure what went wrong read the following posts which may identify the reason:  Succulents 101: A Beginners Guide to Succulents – Part 1 and Succulents 101: A Beginners Guide to Succulents – Part II.

Dying Succulent

If the leaves turn any other colour such as yellow/orange and feel quite spongy this means the plant has probably been over watered. These leaves will fall off very easily.  It may be too late for the succulent.  The best remedy for this is to stop watering or to move the pot under the eaves if it is Winter and getting too much natural rainfall.