Why Are My Hens And Chicks Turning Brown? (Causes+Fix)

Hens and Chicks have gained popularity due to their endurance for difficult situations. But browning in the plant is a matter of concern. If you find that your Hens and Chicks are turning brown, try to fix it quickly before the problem increases.

So, in this article, we shall understand why are your hens and chicks turning brown and how you can fix the same?

The primary cause of brown leaves in hens and chicks is sunburn due to intense heat. Hens and Chicks enjoy growing under the full sun, but intense heat can damage the leaves, turning them brown. Other reasons include overwatering, underwatering, rotting of leaves, and extreme temperature.

You don’t need to panic as the solution is easy. Since Hens and Chicks are sturdy succulents, they will return to health. This article will help you know the reasons and solutions to the problem.

Hens and chicks wilting

Why have my Hens and Chicks turned brown?

There are five reasons behind Hens and Chicks turning brown.

If you keep neglecting the plant just because it can tolerate challenging situations, you push the plant towards its death.

Let’s discuss the reasons one by one.


Sunburn is the primary cause behind the browning of the leaves at the tips, middle, or edges.

Not all the varieties of Hens and Chicks are fans of full sun.

Some varieties will enjoy only 4-6 hours of the morning sun.

They won’t tolerate the full sun of the mid-day and afternoon. 

Especially during the summers, the heat intensity increases to a great extent.

Such extreme heat can burn the leaves, resulting in dark brown patches all over the foliage.

Some large varieties can tolerate the mid-day and afternoon sun.

But at one point in time, they too will require shade when the heat becomes unbearable.

Sometimes, the plants will also suffer sunburn when you suddenly change their location.

They won’t adapt to the punishing sun so quickly. It will cause sunburn. 

The young offsets are even more sensitive to sunburn.

Since they have not developed all roots yet, they will burn if exposed to full sun.

You must protect them from direct sunlight.

Hens and chicks hanging basket

Identifying sunburn

  • You will notice brown spots at the tips and edges of the leaves.
  • Leaves will turn crispy and shriveled.
  • Colors will turn pale due to getting bleached by the sun.

How to fix the problem?

Fix shading nets to filter the sunlight.

The large varieties will need full sun.

But you must still fix the shading net until the intensity starts decreasing.

Fix the shade when the temperature reaches 80°F.

Set it so it can be removed and put on quickly.

Water the plant more often to reduce the risk of sunburns.

Don’t water during the daytime.

Water either in the early morning or when the sun begins setting. 

Do it gradually if you want to change the plant’s location under the full sun.

First, keep them in bright shade, then partial sunlight, then again direct sun for some hours.

Since young plants are vulnerable to such harsh conditions, you must shade them for at least 1-2 weeks.

Once they start growing roots, you can expose them under the sun, as per their need.

Also read: Hens And Chicks Temperature Tolerance: (How Cold, How Hot?)

Winter season

The winter season is when the leaves become brown, dry, and shriveled. 

This happens with those plants with lots of leaves.

Most of the leaves become brown and dry due to the cold.

In some circumstances, the leaves will freeze due to low temperatures. 

However, it won’t harm the plant’s health, especially if you don’t water them.

Since Hens and Chicks stay dormant in the winters, they will not require watering.

Browning in the leaves due to such reasons is not unusual, and there is no fixation for it.

But you can take some precautions not to do anything wrong.

Hens and chicks pots

Winter care tips:

  • Don’t water the plant in the winters, especially if your garden is full of snow.
  • Remove the brown dried leaves from the plant.
  • If your region doesn’t get too cold or snowfall, you can water a little.
  • Always check the moisture of the soil. The plant will need relatively less water compared to other seasons.
  • Keep removing the dried and fallen leaves from the soil bed to avoid fungus development.

Also read: Can You Leave Hens And Chicks Outside In Winter?


If your croton is still facing browning after you stopped exposing it to excessive sunlight, it could be due to underwatering.

A plant that is suffering both underwatering and sunburn will become extremely weak.

The leaves will shrivel and burn, resulting in brown patches.

Hens and Chicks will undoubtedly stay without water for a week or two. 

But, letting them stay thirsty for more than 14-15 days will cause underwatering.

As a result, the leaves turn brown due to the lack of water. 

If your plant is suffering sunburn and underwatering together, along with browning, the leaves will start to wither and die.

The leaves will have brown burning signs all over.

Identifying underwatering:

  • Browning at the tips
  • Shriveling and dry look
  • A plant that is both underwatered and sunburned will have more brown marks.
  • The soil will be dry and hard.

How to solve underwatering?

Solving underwatering is easy. You just need to give your Hens and chicks a good drink.

Water deeply and thoroughly so that water reaches the root system.

If you have potted Hens and Chicks, provide water to the plant thoroughly until the excess water drains out.

Allow the water to dry before you water the plant next.

Otherwise, it can cause overwatering and root rot, another reason behind brown leaves.

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Root rot

Hens and chicks roots

Generally, when the Hens and Chicks undergo overwatering, the leaves first turn yellow.

It is the most common sign of overwatering.

But when the leaves start turning brown, it means that they have stayed moist for a long time and are rotting.

Due to too much moisture, the leaves will turn brown and mushy.

When you inspect the roots, you will find that most of them have turned dark and are releasing a foul smell.

Other than overwatering, root rot can also happen due to poor drainage. 

You must ensure that the substrate you use for these succulents should contain porous materials to drain excess water.

Identifying root rot

  • Leaves will first turn yellow and mushy. It is a sign of overwatering and an early sign for root rot.
  • The leaves will, later on, turn brown, indicating the beginning of rot.
  • The center of the rosette will turn dark brown.
  • The plant base, soil, and roots will release a foul smell.

How to solve root rot issues?

If you take early steps, your plant might get saved from root rot.

Stop watering when you find signs of overwatering. 

Take the plant out to inspect the roots.

If there are rotten roots, remove them and plant your Hens and chicks in a dry location.

Don’t hesitate to remove the roots, even if it involves removing all the roots.

These succulents will again grow back once they come back to good health.

When you plant them in a new location, dig the planting site and add porous and gritty materials like sand, gravel, perlite, or pumice.

These ingredients will improve the drainage and prevent root rot.

If you use a container, use commercial cactus and succulent soil.

Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

Remove the brown leaves from the plant as they will not become healthy.


Hens and chicks turning brown

Hens and Chicks rot for many other reasons except overwatering or poor soil – low light issues, high humidity, or pest infestation.

When you place the Hens and Chicks under low light conditions, they tend to absorb water very slowly.

As a result, they will stay wet for a long time and start rotting.

Moreover, they need full sun to develop colors.

Without proper sunlight, they will look pale yellow and start rotting.

Soon, you will see the leaves, and the middle of the rosette will show signs of rotting, i.e., browning.

Slowly browning progresses to blackening.

Though Hens and Chicks are resistant to pests and will not become weak so quickly, you still need to check out of their presence.

If you don’t observe the plant daily, they will stay and feed on your plant without your knowledge.

They will continue to feed on the leaves their juices and make the plant susceptible to rotting and diseases.

Identifying rotting

  • The leaves will turn pale and then dark brown.
  • The center will rot.
  • The leaves will fall off when touched.

How to save the plant from rotting?

If the problem is root rot, follow the point of root rot I discussed before.

If rotting is due to low light, shift the plant from shade to sunlight.

Do it gradually. Otherwise, the plant might suffer sunburns.

For pest infestations, use neem oil, rubbing alcohol, Safer Soap, and dishwashing soap water.

Spray in the infected area. 

If you use neem oil, don’t do it in the daytime.

A plant sprayed with neem oil under direct sunlight will burn the leaves. 

Spray it at night.

Also read: Why Are My Hens And Chicks Rotting? (Causes+How To Fix)

How do I care for Hens and Chicks to prevent brown leaves?

Following the proper care tips will not only prevent brown leaves but will also keep the plant healthy.

So, without further delay, let’s begin.

Light requirements

Hens and chicks turning red 2

Hens and Chicks love to grow under bright sunlight, either dappled or direct.

Let them have a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight.

Without proper sunlight, the leaves will turn transparent and then brown, indicating signs of rotting.

You should provide them shade according to the intensity of the heat.

If the temperature rises above 80°F, fix shading nets to avoid sunburn. 

Also read: How Much Sun Do Hen And Chicks Need? (Light Requirement)

Water requirements

If you want to follow a routine, water the Hens and Chicks at least once a week during the spring and summer.

Sometimes, they will need twice a week, depending on the weather conditions.

From the second half of the fall, reduce watering.

Once the temperature starts getting low, the plant will require less watering.

I would suggest a different way, i.e., checking the soil moisture daily.

I hope you’ll have that much time in your hand.

Checking the moisture level helps you understand the plant’s water needs more precisely.

Whenever the soil’s top 2 inches feel dry, you can water your plant.

It will save your plant from turning brown due to water issues.

Another method is to drench the whole soil bed thoroughly and then water again when the whole soil bed gets dry. 

Also read: How Much Water Do Hens And Chicks Need? (Underwatering+Overwatering)

Good drainage is essential.

Hens and chicks soil 2

Sometimes, other than overwatering, soil also becomes responsible for root rot.

Hens and Chicks need well-drained soil to stay fit.

When the soil bed fails to do so, the water will stay in the soil and wet the roots for a long time, resulting in root rot.

Mix some gravel or sand with the soil bed before planting.

It will improve drainage.

For your potted Hens and Chicks, use commercial succulent soil.

It contains perlite and pumice, which helps in good drainage.

Also read: What Kind Of Soil Do You Use For Hens And Chicks? (+Best Soil Mix)

Check for pests

By the time you see rotting signs, the pests are already present in the plant.

Observing the plant every day will help you to know whether it got attacked by any pests or not.

Whenever you find such signs, fix the problem quickly.

Don’t let your plant suffer the problems for too long.

Ignoring it just because it is immune will result in its demise.

So, it is better to watch the plant’s daily reaction and conditions so that you can identify problems and fix them quickly.

Also read: Hens And Chicks Pests (Common Bugs+How To Get Rid)

Final thoughts

Hens and Chicks turning brown is a common problem like the other leaf problems. But the good news is your Hens and Chicks will quickly revive with proper maintenance.

Don’t expose your Hens and Chicks to direct sunlight, especially when the temperature in your region is too high during the summers. Check the soil moisture to understand the plant’s watering needs instead of following any strict regime. 

Make sure the substrate is well-drained. It will stop root rot. Also, observe your plant daily and closely to check out for pest infestation.

Hens and Chicks turning brown – FAQs.

Should I remove the brown leaves from the plant?

Yes, you can remove them.

It helps the plant to breathe correctly and focuses on making new leaves. 

Moreover, these brown leaves are not going to turn back green.

However, if there are some tiny spots, you can let the leaves stay in the plant.

They are still in good health.

What to do when Hens and Chicks turn brown?

Inspect the plant.

Try investigating the exact problem behind browning.

Most probably you will find the above-discussed reasons.

Identify the real problem and treat it as per need.

How do I find the exact reason behind browning?

Since there are various reasons behind brown leaves, it may be confusing, but it’s not that tough. 

There are not many causes responsible. Along with brown leaves, the problems will show other signs.

For example, if it is underwatering, along with brown leaves, the leaves will feel dry and brittle; the soil will be dry.

These symptoms are not visible for other issues. So like this, identify the real cause and treat it.

Reference: WikipediaIowa State University of Science and TechnologyThe University of Arkansas Division of AgricultureNSDUThe Ohio State UniversityMissouri Botanical Garden.


Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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