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Succulents suddenly dying from spreading rot - not over watering

14 years ago

I am at the end of my rope! Please forgive me for being overly wordy, but I want to describe this mystery as fully as possible, in hopes that someone can help me...

For the last couple of months, I have been desperately trying to control *something* that is killing my succulents. I have been keeping succulents successfully for years and have never seen anything like this before. I am definitely not over watering, and in fact, since this has been happening, I have been watering even less.

I do not see bugs of any sort on the plants (no mites, aphids or mealy bugs), nor any mold/fungus. What happens is just a sort of sudden collapse, seemingly over the course of a day or less. From the bottoms up, the plans basically liquefy, to the point that when I try to pluck an "infected" plan out of the pot, it almost runs through my fingers. (Of course, I have been careful to isolate any affected plant from other plants.)

This started with one large sempervivum cluster I had on a shelf. The whole plant (over the course of a few days) turned transparent and squishy and died. I threw it away, soil and all and sterilized the pot. Then about a week and half later, some other sempervivums I had in a "garden-like" planting in a shallow large dish somewhat nearby (about 5 ft away) began to succumb.

In this new pot, one after another rotted away and liquefied --- ones nearby the others that had dies would die too, but not just spreading from one area, but in multiple patchy locations. Other succulents have been affected too, mostly semperviumums, and now a wonderful 5 year old Haworthia cymbiformis is dying. Again, it has been dying in patches, with individual plantlings collapsing very rapidly. There is also an odd musky smell, somewhat akin to that of neem oil (though my husband claims it smalls like BBQ charcoal) that may or may not be associated, coming from the dying Haworthia.

I have taken clusters that seem unaffected out of the potting medium and washed them thoroughly in hot-ish water of all the soil and set them aside from all other plants. I am considering soaking them or spritzing them with rubbing alcohol.

As of yet, this "sudden death" has not affected any of my non-succulent plants.

At this point, I'm thinking it may be a bacteria or virus, as I really can't see anything on the plants. Maybe it's something in the soil? Is it spreading in the air? I am really stumped. Does anyone know what this is and even better --- any ideas on how I can treat this and save my beloved succulents? Many of these were clippings grown over a long time that were given to me by my grandmother, and have a lot of value to me.

Help me GardenWeb, you're my only hope!

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