Most people do not know how to water succulent plants. The biggest question is, how often should you water your succulent plant?
I’ve gotten this question a few times & the answer is: it depends.
It sounds tricky, but the secret to watering succulents is easier than you think.
Find out about how to water succulents growing both indoors & out in different climate zones.
Succulents are all the rage right now, and it isn’t hard to understand why.
They are beautiful, unique, and versatile. But they are also different from ordinary plants.
Succulents require a different way of watering than the average houseplant.
Getting this wrong will not only lead to unhealthy-looking succulents but, in some cases, the death of your plant.
Now you may be wondering how often to water succulents?
Or are you worried that your succulents are dying due to over or underwatering?
Related post: How to Save and Revive Succulents
That’s why I’m here to teach you the proper ways to water your succulents both indoors and outdoors to keep them alive and thriving!
I’ll also help define some standard terms used with succulents, like watering deeply and the soak and dry method.
But before we start talking about how often you should water succulents, here are some basics you should know to avoid the silly watering mistakes I made before.
TLDR; the easiest way to water your succulents is to get yourself a self-watering planter. See below for our best choices for some self-watering planters.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Succulent?
- 2 What is the difference between a succulent and a cactus?
- 3 What do Overwatered Succulents look like?
- 4 How To Tell If My Succulent Is Underwatered?
- 5 How to Water Succulent Plants and Mistakes to Avoid
- 6 How do I Deeply water Succulents?
- 7 What is the Soak and Dry Method?
- 8 how long can succulents go without water?
- 9 how to water succulents?
- 10 How Much And How Often Should I Water My Indoor Succulents?
- 11 How do I water my outdoor succulent?
- 12 Watering Succulent Propagation Leaves
- 13 How do the seasons affect watering schedule for succulents?
- 14 other factors When watering succulents
- 15 Conclusion: How often do you water succulents?
- 16 Sources
What is a Succulent?
There is some disagreement on the exact definition of a succulent as there is no scientific or phylogenetic classification for succulents.
But most agree that succulents are plants that have certain qualities rather than a specific species.
The qualities include an ability to suck up and store water in their leaves, stems, and or roots.
Are there different types of succulents?
Because the succulent is not a species but any plant that retains water in the leaves, roots, and stems, there are many types of succulents.
Examples of succulents include Sedum, Aloe, Sempervivum, Haworthia, Graptopetalum, Pachyveria, Aeonium, Zwarthop, and Cacti.
What is the difference between a succulent and a cactus?
We all know a cactus retains water, so it is classified as a succulent.
So all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.
Related post: Differences Between Cactus Plants and Succulents
This is because the cactus is a defined species classified by its spines, no leaves, and the ability to go with little water.
Cacti are also the only species with an areole, a specialized type of branch or shoot.
Because only the cactus has this feature, any succulent without this is not a cactus.
You can plant cacti alongside other types of succulents, but some species require much less water.
Related post: How Often Should You Water Cactus Plants?
So I recommend leaving a good amount of space between them.
What do Overwatered Succulents look like?
A succulent stores its water in balloon-like sacs.
When overwatered, these balloons will burst and damage the cells.
This leads to rotting in the root and leaf structure in the plants.
Signs of this happening begin with discoloring in the leaves.
They will continue to discolor until they are almost translucent.
Another way to tell they’ve been overwatered is to touch the leaves.
They will feel squishy rather than the typical firm.
It is nearly impossible to come back from this amount of damage.
We recommend you propagate your plant to grow a new succulent and start fresh.
How To Tell If My Succulent Is Underwatered?
Succulents cannot survive without water, and though they can survive with less than most plants, it is essential to watch for signs of dehydration.
This includes leaves wrinkling and withering as the balloon cell depletes its stored supply and decreases in size.
I recommend that you slowly increase the amount of water you are giving it rather than drowning it as the roots will not be able to take in a lot of water anymore.
How to Water Succulent Plants and Mistakes to Avoid
Before we go ahead with the exact method of watering, below are the most common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
You never want to see your succulent standing in water. Standing water will kill your succulents.
So you should always watch how much water you are using and make sure there isn’t a build-up of water around the succulents.
A succulent may come back to better health after watering, but this amount of overwatering succulents is always a death sentence.
This will lead to root rot and destroys the cells inside your succulents.
using Spray bottles for watering
I never advise you to use a spray bottle to water succulents unless propagating (we will discuss that later).
Spray bottles do not adequately provide water for succulents and will not allow for healthy root growth.
This method of watering will drastically shorten the lifespan of a succulent and leave it looking less than vibrant.
Related post: Automatic Watering System for Indoor Plants
Completely closed containers without any drainage hole
If your succulent is going to be potted rather than planted in the ground.
It is essential to have a hole in the bottom of the container for drainage.
Succulents love a lot of water, but you need to ensure the excess water can escape somewhere.
How do I Deeply water Succulents?
Watering deeply is the act of watering directly into the soil rather than watering over the top of the plant.
This helps promotes healthy root growth.
If you use a spray bottle to water succulents, it’ll cause the plant to sprout tiny and thin roots, which will soak up water as quickly as possible but will not satisfy the plant’s needs.
This means poor water storage and the need for more frequent watering.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it will considerably reduce the lifespan of your succulent.
Succulents need thick, healthy roots to thrive, and the only way to get them is to water deeply with a watering can into the soil.
What is the Soak and Dry Method?
The succulent plant naturally expects a drought, so it will soak up as much water as possible when water is provided.
So the soak and dry method is the preferred schedule for watering succulents.
This means thoroughly soaking the soil and allowing the succulents to soak up the water until the soil is completely dry.
Do not water the succulents again until the soil is completely dry.
how long can succulents go without water?
A succulent can go a couple of days without water after the soil is completely dry, as it helps promote healthy root growth.
It would help if you did not go weeks without watering unless explicitly called for, like in the winter months.
how to water succulents?
Succulents need the break between watering so the plants can soak up the water and grow healthy roots.
Whether or not you plan on transferring the succulents outside.
You should always maintain and strive for root growth and strength so the succulent can take in water and stay healthy.
I recommend using a container with an open bottom to drain excess water and watering directly into the soil with a watering can.
This container or pot is the one that we use and recommend.
It is also a self-watering planter so that you don’t have to worry about watering your succulents.
If you don’t have a watering can, you can place a tray of water under the container so the succulents can soak up the water through the hole in the bottom.
But I’m not too fond of this method as it is harder to tell if the water provided is enough or too much since there is no place to drain out.
How Much And How Often Should I Water My Indoor Succulents?
Homes with a more humid climate or cooler temperature will require less frequent watering than succulents in dry and hot climates as they maintain moisture for a more extended period.
On average, you should be giving your succulents ¼ cup – especially if you have small or mini succulents – and one to 1 ½ cups if large with thick leaves every other week.
How do I water my outdoor succulent?
As I said before, you need a watering can with a spout that allows you to get into the soil.
Make sure you have a good amount of space between plants and proper drainage in the soil.
Once you know the water can drain, you can soak the soil and then wait until it is completely dry to soak again.
How Much And How Often Should I Water My Outdoor Succulent Plants?
This should be about three to four days in between watering, depending on the weather and humidity.
Check the soil, and if it is hotter, you will have to water more frequently.
Also, keep in mind that the airflow is better outside, so the moisture will dry faster.
This means that outdoor plants must be checked more regularly and watered accordingly as they are subject to elements that indoor succulents are not.
The outdoor succulents should be getting around 2 cups of water per plant during watering.
Watering Succulent Propagation Leaves
Propagating is when you cut a leaf off of your succulent and plant it to grow a separate succulent plant.
This should be done indoors and is the only exception to the no-spray bottle rule with succulents.
If you propagate leaf cuttings, they need to be watered every day, and a spray bottle is beneficial as the leaves can get water out of the air while in this state.
The goal with propagating is to grow plump and shiny roots of pink or white color. I suggest checking your roots occasionally to see what they look like.
If your roots do not look like this, you need to water more frequently.
As the roots grow and sprout, you can gradually cut back on watering and get into a standard succulent watering schedule.
How do the seasons affect watering schedule for succulents?
As the weather changes, so do the succulent’s needs.
The soil will dry much quicker in hotter months, so I recommend you physically check them and the dampness of the soil more often.
Water as the soil dries out.
It depends on where you live as to just how fast the soil is going to dry up.
In months where it is warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you should water every other week.
Succulents are dormant during the winter, so they only need to be watered once a month at most.
This also applies when the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as the cold helps the soil stay moist longer.
Spring showers may impact how much you have to water your plants, but you should water them every week unless the ground is already wet.
This is because they are “waking up” and need the extra water to grow.
other factors When watering succulents
Types of Soil you’re using
Soil is a crucial factor in proper watering.
The soil needs to breathe and drain so it can dry out once the succulent has gotten its fill.
Remove the existing soil and see if the subsoil is draining correctly. If it is not, you need to find better quality succulent soil.
Standing water and excess moisture are succulent, so make sure the soil is up to the task.
Potting soil retains moisture far more than other succulent soils, so it is not recommended for use.
Succulent fertilizer is not required for healthy succulents, so if you do choose to use it should be very sparingly of one spoonful no more than once a month.
I don’t think you need it if the soil is good enough.
Below are some of the good brands of succulent potting soil you can use. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
how much Light Do Succuelnts Need?
Succulents need to get direct sunlight to help dry the soil and shade to keep the soil from drying out too fast.
I would consider the locations you want your succulents in and check to see throughout the day.
How much sun and shade the spot gets before planting.
Besides this, if you have a dim or dark household, you can try growing low-light succulents.
Climate: Where You Live
The soil will take longer to dry out in humid or cold locations, so it’ll not have to be watered as frequently as dry, hot climates.
This may mean you’ve to go by touch rather than a fixed schedule, but it is crucial to let the soil fully dry before adding more water to it.
Types of Container you’ve
Best pots for succulents include clay pots.
Clay pots dry out the soil faster and require more frequent watering.
Very small or shallow containers also evaporate water quicker, so they should get about
Pea gravel is a great way to add some security from overwatering your succulents.
This creates a place for the excess water rather than holding it in the soil.
It also allows air to flow more freely through the container.
I recommend using this for beginners and experts.
It is only beneficial for the succulent and allows you to play around with how much water your particular succulent needs.
Location of your Succulents
Outdoor succulents require more watering than their indoor counterparts because they are subject to direct wind and heat.
But I believe succulents planted into the ground often have better results because they allow greater breathing room.
Size and shape of your succulent
Larger succulents need more water than more miniature succulents.
The smaller the succulent leaves, the less water they can absorb, so they must receive water more frequently.
Succulents with spindly leaves need to be watered once a week, while succulents with thicker leaves can get water every other week.
Conclusion: How often do you water succulents?
I truly believe anyone can grow beautiful, healthy succulents if you understand what your succulent needs.
Related post: How Fast Do Succulents Grow?
The rule of thumb with succulents is to soak the soil and then wait for it to dry out.
However, you should underwater and slowly increase the amount if your succulent shows signs of wilting when in doubt.
You can always come back from an under-watered succulent, but overwatering doesn’t end well.
Get good soil, water deeply, and follow the tips I’ve provided, and your succulents will be with you for a very long time.
- Croissant, S., 2014., Cactus versus Succulent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California.
- Read, A., 2020. How To Care For Succulents, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications, Texas A&M University
- Perry, L., Watering Houseplants Properly, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont
- Welch, A.W., 1993, Care of Non-Hardy Cacti & Succulents, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.