We hear this quite often from concerned succulent owners who have confused dead and dying leaves-Bad vs naturally dead outer leaves-Good.
The Echeveria in this blog is potted in 2.5 gallon container. It sat outside all winter in temps down to 26 degrees, and did just fine(most succulents won't do so well at these temps). It's been neglected and forgotten, and is a great example of "Help! My Succulent is dying, it has dead leaves"!
Notice all those dead leaves! If they are in the center of the rosette, this would be bad! Succulents naturally grow new leaves from their center and lose their outer leaves as they grow and mature. The dead leaves on this plant are on the outside, so we can leave them alone, or we can give a little TLC and see what's hiding under all that mess.
Dead leaves usually pull away easily, so go at it! Sometimes 90% of the leaf can be dried up w/ a little green still left at the stem, leave alone for another month or so, or gently pull it away, whatever you are comfortable doing. As we get rid of theses dead leaves, we are removing great hiding spots for bugs/pests, as well as allowing new growth underneath to see some light and have room to grow.
Lots of dead leaves on this guy/gal, but now I can see the pups at the base and notice all the little guys on the stem that are starting to pop out. In another month they'll be a dozen or so new rosettes forming, these pups are the ones you want to cut for propagation(creating new plants) but allow them to get bigger before doing so, at least an inch is a good idea. This big mama plant will continue producing plants, the extra lighting down in there will help them grow as well!
So... the next time you feel like yelling "Help! My Succulent is dying, it has dead leaves"! remember, it just may need a little haircut and cleanup around the edges.
don't hesitate to ever ask us succulent related questions!
The Succulent Source