Split rocks are beautiful succulents but can be very tricky to keep alive. So, educating yourself about this South African native is critical to ensure you have a happy and healthy plant.
I recently had a split rock that was doing very well up until I moved house. The new house I moved to didn’t have a window with a lot of natural light.
I continued with the same watering schedule as I had at my old place – unfortunately the lack of light meant I was watering it too frequently. By the time I realized this, it was too late. My split rock was mushy and the leaves started oozing some brown sticky substance.
While my split rock died, I learned a lot about the signs of rotting, and what to do if you see them. That’s why I put this post together. It will help you recognize the signs of rotting, address potential causes, and give you some tips on what you can do to save a mushy or rotting split rock.
Top 3 Signs Your Split Rock May Be Rotting:
It Has More Than 2 Sets Of Leaves
As soon as your split rock forms an extra set of leaves, you might be delighted to see your succulent growing. But unfortunately, alarm bells should be going off instead.
Happy split rock succulents generally only have two sets of leaves at a time. If you see any extra sets of leaves growing, or if you see a crack forming in the outer set of leaves, avoid watering entirely for at least a week.
When a split rock grows another set of leaves, it’s called stacking. This is unnatural for this type of succulent and may lead to rotting.
The Soil Is Always Damp
Succulent pests thrive in soil that’s always damp. So you must wait for the soil to dry before watering again.
Not waiting for the soil to be completely dry also means the roots will stay wet for longer. Wet roots cannot get enough air, leading them to drown and eventually rot.
The Leaves Feel Mushy Or Squishy
If the leaves feel mushy or squishy, your split rock succulent could be dealing with a fungal infection.
Because split rocks naturally tear themselves, they are especially susceptible to fungal infections. It’s like having an open wound that you need to protect and prevent from getting wet. In moist environments such as your home, fungal spores can quickly come into contact with any little open cut on your plant.
Reasons Your Split Rock May Be Mushy And Rotting:
You Have Overwatered It
One of the main reasons you might have any issues with your succulent is due to its very particular water needs. Remember that split rocks Are native to the semi-arid parts of South Africa, meaning they have adapted to surviving on very little rain per year.
When you are tempted to water your succulents, err on the side of caution with this drought-resistant plant. It’s best to use the “soak and dry” method to allow the soil to dry completely before watering.
In the perfect environment, these succulents will only be watered during spring and fall — their growing season. Therefore, hold off on the water during winter and summer when the temperatures are more extreme.
You now know that stacking is a sign of overwatering, and this might feel a bit counterintuitive at first. The reason for this is that this drought-resistant plant consumes the old leaves as nutrition when they are shed. So, when you are overwatering, the plant may not need to consume the shed leaves. But unfortunately, the stacking eventually leads to rotting.
You’re Using The Wrong Type Of Soil
As with other succulents, split rocks also need well-draining soil. However, they do better in soil that drains even faster than the usual type of succulent potting mixes you may use. Therefore, it’s better to make your own potting mixture and remember the less organic matter you include, the better. These succulents naturally grow in soil with little organic matter to feed on.
The ideal mixture is around 20-25% cactus mix and 75-80% pumice or other organic matter such as gravel. Avoid soil that contain water-absorbing materials such as peat moss, as this may lead to overwatering your split rock.
Once you have the right potting mix, it’s essential that you pick a pot that allows for proper drainage. Avoid using rocks at the bottom of your pot as this won’t improve drainage – instead, it will actually raise the water table in the pot. Your pot should be at least three to four inches deep so that the taproot has enough space to grow, but it’s not so big that it will keep excess moisture.
You might also want to consider adding some rocks to the top of the soil to emulate a Split Rock’s natural environment. These rocks will also help protect the plants by providing shade in the hot summer months.
Your Split Rock Isn’t Getting Enough Sunlight
Split rocks can also be fussy about getting the right amount of light and warmth. Remember, they are from an area with plenty of sunshine – so the position you place them in should emulate their natural environment as much as possible.
If you grow your succulent inside, partial to full sun is perfect. If you live in the northern hemisphere, place your split rock in a spot near a south-facing window. If you live in the southern hemisphere, a north-facing window is best.
If you don’t have a spot that’s sunny enough, you can consider using artificial growth lights to ensure it stays healthy.
While split rock succulents need plenty of light, you should also take care to protect it from excessive amounts of sun in summer. Direct sun from a south-facing window can easily scorch your plants on a hot summer afternoon – so consider moving it to a position with less sun if there are a number of super hot days in a row.
If you live in a zone where it never gets colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degree celsius), you could actually plant your split rock outdoors so it can soak up natural bright light. But it needs to be a position that doesn’t expose it to too much hot afternoon sun during summer. If you’re unsure, your safest bet is to keep your split rock in a pot so you can quickly move it when the weather becomes too hot or too cold.
Can You Save A Mushy or Rotting Split Rock?
You can save a mushy or rotting split rock if the stem is unharmed. However, if the stem is rotting, it’s time to say goodbye as this plant can’t be beheaded like other succulents.
Once you’ve verified that the stem is still intact, you can start the rescue operation. First, carefully take your plant out of the pot and dust off any extra dirt. Then use a clean knife to gently cut away any rotting bits.
You must eliminate all the rotting tissue; otherwise, it will keep spreading. Sanitize your knife between cuts to ensure that you don’t accidentally transfer pathogens to healthy sections of the plant.
Once you’ve removed all rotting parts, leave the plants on a paper towel, and cover the open wounds with cinnamon. Cinnamon is a fantastic anti-fungal and anti-bacterial product.
Let the split rock rest for about a week before replanting.
If you don’t detect any rotting, but the succulent starts to become mushy, simply ceasing to water it may solve the problem. By doing so, the succulent will use up its stored water and, if it has extra leaves, make them dry up and disappear.
Split rocks are beautiful succulents – but they can be difficult to care for. If you’re not wary, your split rock may rot and die. Remember to give it a good amount of natural light, the right type of potting mix, and only water once the soil has completely dried. Follow these rules of thumb, and your split rock should avoid all risk of rotting!