Succulents are beautiful plants that come in many shapes, sizes and colors.

And it can often be tempting to give your lovely succulent a quick squeeze as you walk past.

But depending on the type of succulent you have, that could be a very bad idea.

Does Touching Succulents Hurt Them?

A woman touching a succulent

Touching succulents that have a dusty coating on them does hurt them. When you touch your succulent’s leaves it can remove the powdery coating (farina), which protects your succulent from sunburn.

Farina protects your succulent from pests, pathogens, and intense sunlight. It also does not come back once rubbed off the leaves.

It is best to avoid touching your succulents unless you know they will react positively.

The leaves of a succulent are very delicate, and scratches or other damage to succulent leaves are permanent.

Not all succulents have this coating but if yours does, it is best to avoid touching the leaves.

Related Article: Why Are My Succulents Falling Apart?

Why Does My Succulent Look Dusty?

The dusty coating found on some succulents is referred to as “farina” or “bloom” and is produced by the succulent to protect it from intense sunlight

But not all succulents have this protective coating.

Once rubbed off from contact with the succulent’s leaves, this powdery farina does not come back so try not to touch the leaves and only handle the succulent by its stem.

What Are The Effects Of Human Touch On Plants

Plants are sensitive to human touch.

We know this is true because touching certain plants can hurt them, while other plants can benefit from human contact.

Depending on the type of plant, it may not be a good idea to touch its leaves.

In some cases, touching the plant removes a protective coating, leaving the plant vulnerable to pests and sunburn.

In other cases, the chemical release from human touch can damage the plant.

The best way to figure out if your plant should or should not be touched is to look up its species online and research its reaction to human touch.

This is especially true with succulents.

Some succulents benefit from touch while others react negatively to touch.

In research from 2018, by La Trobe University, it was found that even the lightest of touches from a human, an animal, insect, or just other plants bumping off each other in the wind, will trigger a massive gene response that stunts the plant’s growth.

And with continued touching, a plant’s growth can be reduced by as much as 30%.

Should I Touch My Succulents?

Some plants really don’t seem to mind human touch while others react negatively.

When it comes to succulents, it is important to know what kind of succulent it is before you try to touch it.

Researching your succulent will help you determine if you can touch it or not.

If your succulent has a powdery coating on its leaves, you should not touch it.

When you touch succulents that have this coating, or farina, you are rubbing off their protective coating.

This makes your succulent more vulnerable to its environment.

Your succulent needs this wax-like layer to protect itself from pests, getting too much water, and getting too much sun.

Some succulents have spikes on their leaves, which are a sign that they do not want to be touched.

Some species of succulents react positively when they are touched.

The best way to know for sure is to research it.

When Should You Touch Your Succulents?

Once you know the type of succulent you are dealing with and whether it reacts positively or negatively to touch, you can determine if you can touch it or not.

If it will not react negatively to your touch, you can handle its leaves for various reasons.

To Remove Dust

If your succulents are indoor plants, they will gather dust.

You can touch your succulents to wipe off the dust and dirt that has collected on their sticky leaves.

To Determine If They Are Getting Enough Water

You can tell by how your succulent’s leaves feel if it is getting enough water or getting too much.

if the leaves feel like rubber and they bend easily, it’s a sign that it needs more water.

And the leaves of your succulent looking translucent is a sign that it is being overwatered.

To Determine If They Need More Sun

If your succulent has droopy leaves and does not respond to your touch, it may need more sunlight.

To Determine If They Are Healthy

You can touch your succulents to decide whether they are healthy or not.

A healthy succulent will be rigid when you touch it.

An unhealthy succulent will be flaccid.

To Determine If They Are Stressed

You should check underneath the leaves for discoloration if you are concerned that your succulent is heat-stressed.

To Pluck Its Dead Leaves

Removing your succulent’s dead leaves can help new ones grow and reduce the risk of pests and disease.

To Re-Pot It

After a while, your succulent will get too big for its pot.

When this happens, you will need to put it in a bigger pot so it has room to grow.

Are There Any Succulents That I Can Touch?

There are some succulents that can tolerate touch better than others.

Haworthias are a lot more tolerant to touch than the likes of echeverias.

Haworthias might not be the most colorful but they have many different textures and feel quite nice. Some have a rough texture, some are fussy and some are smooth to the touch.

Some haworthia succulents like attenuate and fasciata are covered in white nodules and don’t mind being touched.

Some cactus plants, such as Astrophytum Capricorne and Eriosyce Senilis, also have lovely textures and soft spines that won’t prick you.

Final Thoughts

It can often be tempting to show affection to your succulents by touching and squeezing them.

But if your succulent has a protective dusty coating that rubs off on contact, it’s best to avoid touching their leaves at all.