Black Spots on Succulents

Sunburns and fungus and virus, oh my. Here’s what to do when black spots spoil your succulents.


Those pesky black spots! Is this succulent overwatered, virus-infected or sunburned? Find out below.

Those pesky black spots! Is this succulent overwatered, virus-infected or sunburned? Find out below.

Last week your jade plant was gorgeous. This week, there are black spots on its leaves. Gah! What’s happening? Succulents are supposed to be easy to grow and hard to kill and yours looks terrible. Here are some possible problems.


If the spots are mushy, the plant has gotten too much water. It’s drowning. See, succulents store extra water in their leaves, roots and stems so they can survive the arid conditions of their native desert. Too much water overfills the plant’s water storage tissue and causes it to bloat and explode. The black spots are a fungus that has developed in the damaged plant tissue.

Solution: You may not be able to save your succulent. Unpot the plant and check its roots to see if they are still healthy. If they are, trim off all damaged leaves and stems and repot the succulent in dry soil. Go lighter on the watering this time. If the roots are mushy, they’re dead and the plant’s a lost cause. Trim some cuttings off any remaining healthy parts of the plant, let the cut ends callous over and root them in new soil. Yep, just start over by making a new plant. Throw out the mother plant along with the soil it was in because both are probably infected by fungus from the plant rot.


If the spots on the leaves are dry, the leaves may be sunburned. Yep, your sun-loving succulent can get too much sun. This happens when the plant is put in strong light before it’s had time to acclimate to it. If you buy a plant that’s been in partial shade at a nursery and put it on your sunny deck, or move an indoor succulent outdoors, you could end up with burned leaves.

Solution: You can save a sunburned succulent. Remove the burned leaves, because they won’t heal, and put the plant in the shade. You need to give your succulent a couple of days to adjust to full sun, so put it in the sun for three or four hours in the morning on the first day, and increase its sun time by one to two hours per day. Bring the plant inside or place it in full shade at night. By the fourth or fifth day, your succulent will be adjusted, and you can let the sun shine in with no worries of sunburned succulent.

More Advice

How to Care for Succulents

Succulents are often regarded as the ultimate low-maintenance plant, but even seasoned gardeners have seen them perish under their care. Read our growing guide to help keep them happy indoors and out.


If the spots are small and look like a cascade of freckles, insects may be the problem. Mealybugs, spider mites and aphids feed on succulent leaves, leaving little areas of dead tissue that then grow sooty black mold.

Solution: Remove the damaged leaves and throw them away. To kill the bugs, wipe the leaves with cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol, or use insecticidal soap. Repeat the treatment daily till the little buggers are gone.


If the spots are on the underside of the leaves, they may be black ring virus. Tospovirus, the same one that causes tomato wilt, can also infect succulents.

Solution: There’s no cure. Cut the affected leaves off the plant and sterilize your clippers with alcohol when you’re done so you don’t spread the disease to other plants.

Get the Most Out of Your Succulents

How to Transplant Succulents

Most succulents have very shallow roots, making them easy to dig carefully and replant.

Best Soil for Succulents in Pots

No two gardeners use the same potting mix for succulents, but they all start with similar basic ingredients.

Next Up

How Often Do You Water Succulents?

These tough plants don’t need daily water. Here’s how to give them the amount they need to keep them thriving.

Do Plant Seeds Go Bad?

Will last year’s flower and veggie seeds grow? Learn what you need to know about seed package dates, germination tests and seed storage.

Effective Fungicides

Got fungal disease on your favorite garden roses or vegetables? Master gardener Paul James offers simple and easy-to-use fungicide treatments to resolve these pesky problems.

Killer Plants

Some plants -- such as black walnut -- like to squelch the growth of other plants. Here's how to have a garden where all the plants get along.

How to Care for a Cactus

Cacti are easy to grow as long as you play by their rules.

Common Agave Pests

Plants that seem the most cast iron can indeed have an Achilles' heel. Just like so many mighty giants of history it is often the littlest things that ultimately bring them down.

Garden Invaders

Be on the lookout for these invasive pests and learn how to avoid them.

Rust Fungus on Roses

What to do if you find rust on your rose bush.

Q&A: Christmas Cactus Bud Drop

Here's a tip on preserving the colorful blooms of Christmas cacti.

How to Get Rid of Fungus in Garden Soil

Of all the problems that plague a garden, soil-borne pathogens are the worst. Here’s what to do when a fungus wrecks your plants.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


My Lottery Dream Home

10:30am | 9:30c

My Lottery Dream Home

11:30am | 10:30c

Bargain Block

1pm | 12c

House Hunters

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

House Hunters

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

8:30pm | 7:30c

House Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

House Hunters

12am | 11c

House Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.