When and How To Water Succulents

Most people do not know how to water succulent plants. The biggest question is, how often should you water your succulent plant?

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.

But how do you water succulents? In this post, you will learn how to water your succulent plants.

How Much And How Often To Water Succulents Overwatering Or Underwatering Tips

How Do You Water Succulent Plants?

The first step to watering succulents is to check the soil every day and make sure there is no water simply sitting in the bottom of the pot.

If it appears as though there’s water sitting at the bottom, don’t worry!

Simply pour out any excess water and let the soil dry out before adding more.

This will prevent your plant from getting too much moisture or having root rot.

Succulents require a different method of watering than the average houseplant.

Watering your succulent wrong will lead to unhealthy-looking succulents and in some cases, the death of your plant.

The two most common questions are:

  1. How do you water succulents, and
  2. How often should you water succulents?

The short answer is: it depends. However, the secret to watering succulents is easier than you think.

How to Water Succulents?

There are two main ways to water succulents.

The first is to ‘soak and dry’ way of watering your succulents.

The second is bottom watering.

Both methods work, but the key is not to overwater your succulents. Succulents need a break between waterings so they can properly absorb the water.

If there is too much water, the excess moisture can lead to problems like root rot.

The ultimate goal in watering succulents is to strive to maintain healthy root growth so the succulent has the ability to uptake water and nutrients.

This means you’ll need to pay attention to when your succulent needs water.

What is the Soak and Dry Method of Watering Succulents?

The “soak and dry” method means thoroughly soaking the soil and allowing the succulents to soak up the water until the soil is completely dry.

The “soak and dry” approach is the best way to irrigate succulents. The succulent plant is designed to withstand drought.

So naturally, it will soak up as much water as possible when water is provided.

How to Water Your Succulents by Soak and Dry Method

First, soak (i.e. deep watering) the soil deeply by pouring enough water that any excess water drains out of the bottom of the pot.

By watering deeply, you are pouring water directly into the soil, rather than over the top or on the leaves of the plant.

Obviously, the key is to make sure your succulents are in a pot with a drainage hole and in well-draining soil (more on drainage holes and soils to use further down).

Next, you will need to be patient and let the soil completely dry before watering your succulents again.

Absolutely do not water the succulents at this point.

You won’t give your succulent a chance to absorb as much water as it can. 

Once the top of the soil is dry, you can repeat the steps above by watering your succulent until the soil is soaked.

If you ask any succulent expert, the soak and dry method is the preferred way of watering succulents.

What is Bottom Watering?

Bottom-watering, also known as reverse watering, is the practice of placing a plant in a bowl or tray of water and allowing the soil and roots to absorb water from the bottom up.

Of course, your pot must have drainage holes at the bottom for this method to work. 

Although this method works, it is a little more difficult to determine when your succulent has fully absorbed the water.

Why bottom water succulents?

Bottom watering your succulents ensures that all of the soil is moistened.

This will allow the succulent’s roots to develop and receive nutrients to allow them to flourish in their natural environment.

How Often Should You Water Succulents?

Water your succulents when the top portion of the soil is completely dry.

Again, it is recommended that you let the soil dry fully between each watering.

A good rule of thumb is when to water your succulent is when you notice your soil crumbly and dry.

Succulents get water and nutrients from the soil around them.

Depending on the season, this means that succulents only need to be watered every 1-3 weeks or so.

Succulents are sensitive to over-watering.

Make sure your succulent is in a well-drained potting mix of pebbles or sand, and avoid letting water sit for prolonged periods of time on the surface of the pot.

Can You Water Succulents Too Much?

Yes, you can water succulents too much.

One thing that can be difficult about owning succulents is knowing how much water you should provide them.

If they are not watered often enough, they will shrivel up and look like small rocks.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a succulent gets over-watered, then its leaves may start to curl or wilt.

This happens because when the soil dries out, the roots become parched and begin to die off.

The plant’s ability to absorb nutrients from its environment decreases as it dies. When this occurs, the plant begins to lose color and turn brownish in appearance.

It also becomes more susceptible to disease.

The best way to know if your succulent needs more water is to check its leaves and roots.

If they are droopy or curled up, then it is time to water again.

If you have succulents that are thriving and looking good, then you may want to check on them every now and then to see if they need watering again. 

What Do Overwatered Succulents Look Like?

The leaves of an overwatered succulent turn brown, mushy, and soft.

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 roots and leaf structure of the plants.

Signs of this happening begin with discoloring or succulent leaves falling off.

What Do Succulents Look Like When Overwatered?

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. 

Alternatively, if you have a succulent that is beginning to show signs of stress, then you might want to consider re-potting the plant. 

This can be a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before.

But, if you have a succulent that is making you miserable, then you have no choice but to give it a try. 

How to Tell A Succulent is Underwatered?

The leaves on an under-watered succulent look wrinkled and dry.

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.

We recommend that you slowly increase the amount of water you are giving it rather than drowning it as the roots will not take in a lot of water anymore.

How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?

Despite their drought resistance, succulents can survive for several weeks without receiving any water.

Because they don’t require as much water as other plants, they can be left outside all year without losing their attractiveness or appearance.

However, the answer is really dependent on two factors: (a) the type of succulent and (b) the amount of time that has passed since the last irrigation.

Cactus, for example, will die if left without water for more than three days. However, an aloe vera plant can survive for up to six months without receiving any water whatsoever.

Another consideration is how well your specific succulent has been cared for before you decide to let it go for an extended period of time without water.

After not watering the plant for more than 2 or 3 weeks, you should be prepared to water it as soon as signs of stress are noticed.

How to Water Succulent Babies and Newly Propagated Succulents

Newly propagated succulents, succulent babies, and leaf and stem cuttings will need daily watering until they are able to establish roots.

Water the propagated leaf or stem cutting often enough to keep it from drying out, but not so often that there is standing water.

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.

This is similar to mature succulents, where they store water in their leaves, stems, or roots, which means they do not have as much water.

However, because succulent babies and newly propagated succulents are still growing and developing their root systems it is important to be mindful of the soil moisture.

Succulents need to be watered less frequently than other plants but can go longer without being watered.

How to Water Succulents Without Drainage Holes

When watering succulents with no drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, use a cup to pour water directly onto the soil.

After pouring water, run your fingers along the top layer of soil to make sure it is soaked, but not soggy. If the soil is too wet, obviously don’t add any more water.

Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves or stems, so you will need to give them a chance to absorb the water.

If you can, keep your plants in a sunny spot.

How Do I Water Deeply?

Plants grown in direct sunlight will dry out faster and need less watering than those that get less light.

Wait until the next day and check again; if there’s still no sign of moisture on the surface, then you’re good to go!

How to Water Succulents After Repotting?

After repotting your succulents, you should wait a few days before watering

The amount of water required to establish a new succulent in a container may vary based on the kind of plant and when it was last watered.

It is typically suggested, however, that you wait a few days to one week after re-potting your succulent before watering it again.

Make sure the soil is completely dry before properly wetting it without drowning it.

Use Well Draining Soil For Succulent Container Gardens

If you are unsure how much water your succulent needs, use an eyedropper or other small measuring device to test the soil for dampness.

Once the soil has dried sufficiently, add enough water so that it runs through the pot but does not soak into the bottom of the pot.

How to Water Succulents When Watering Outdoors?

Succulents grown outside may need less water. Succulents are usually grown in pots and can be left outside year-round.

However, they need to be watered less often than other plants because they store water in their leaves, stems, or roots.

They are not like regular plants, where they store water in their leaves and stems.

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.

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 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.

How Often to Water in Each Season of the Year?

Spring

Water succulents once a week in the spring unless the soil is already wet.

This is due to the fact that they are “waking up,” and succulents, in general, are entering their growing season, so they will require more water to grow.

It’s worth noting that watering succulents do not require regular watering, but they should be watered at least once a week to avoid drought stress.

If you have your succulents outside, spring showers may affect how much water you have to water your plants, so check the soil to see how moist it is.

Summer

In the summer, water succulents as soon as the soil completely dries out.

Due to evaporation and absorption by the plant, the soil will dry much faster in hotter months.

As a result, I recommend that you check them and the soil’s moisture content more frequently.

If you keep your succulents indoors, you can use a humidifier to increase the humidity around the plant.

However, if you have your plants outside, you must exercise caution when watering during hot weather because it is easy for your succulents to become overly wet or dehydrated.

Obviously, depending on where you live, the rate at which the soil dries out will vary.

However, if it’s hot outside, your succulent will require plenty of water. As a general rule, keep an eye on the moisture level in the potting mix as well as inside the leaves.

The best way to accomplish this is to spend some time each day inspecting the condition of the leaves to see how they’re doing.

Fall and Winter

You should not water your succulents as much in the fall and winter as you should in the spring and summer.

Succulents hibernate (or go dormant) during the fall and winter, so they only require watering once a month at most.

Again, the general rule is to water the plants lightly if the soil feels dry. If the soil is wet, avoid watering at all.

Watering succulents in the winter, on the other hand, can actually prevent them from growing because they require less water during this time.

When the temperature falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the cold helps the soil stay moist for longer by reducing evaporation.

The cold temperature will also slow their growth, making them take in water more slowly.

Common Mistakes in Watering Succulents

Standing water 

If your succulent is submerged in water, you should remove the excess water immediately.

Standing water (also known as overwatering) will cause your succulents to wither.

Depending on the size of the succulent, the time of year, and the local climate, it will require different amounts of water.

Succulents require water only once every two or three weeks in the winter and once a week in the summer, depending on the climate.

Alternatively, if the succulent is grown in a pot, it will require more water due to the fact that the soil will dry out more quickly.

As a result, you should always keep an eye on how much water you are using and make sure there isn’t a pool of water accumulating around the succulent plants.

A succulent’s health may improve after being overwatered, but this level of overwatering is always a death sentence for succulents.

This will cause root rot and the death of the cells in your succulent plants.

Another issue that overwatering causes is that it attracts succulent pests. Pests always like a moist area to live and breed.

Using Spray Bottles for Watering

Do not use a spray bottle to water succulents unless you are propagating them.

Spray bottles do not provide enough water for succulents and will not allow for the development of healthy root systems.

Generally speaking, succulents do not like it when they are exposed to water. It is possible that spraying them with water will cause the leaves to rot or mold to grow on them.

Using Spray Bottles For Watering
Do not use a mister or sprayer on succulents!!

Furthermore, because succulents tend to absorb water through their roots, spraying them with a bottle can be ineffective and wasteful of time and resources.

When watering succulents, it is preferable to water them from the bottom up by incorporating water into their soil rather than spraying them from above.

This method of watering will drastically shorten the lifespan of a succulent leave it looking less than vibrant, and slow down the growth rate of a succulent.

Watering Succulents in closed containers such as a terraium

It can be difficult to water a succulent plant in a completely closed container with no drainage hole.

We actually advise you against doing so. If your succulent is going to be potted in a closed pot rather than planted in the ground, you must water it a little bit at a time.

Overwatering causes the succulent soil to become soggy, making it difficult to drain all of the moisture from the root system.

This makes for an unhealthy environment and may cause roots to rot or even kill off some succulents. 

Other Factors That Affect Watering Succulents

Type of Succulent Soil Mix Used

Proper watering is dependent on the quality of the succulent soil.

The soil must be able to breathe and drain quickly in order for the succulent to be able to dry out once it has consumed its food supply.

Remove the existing soil and check to see if it is a well-draining soil mix before proceeding.

If the soil is not well-draining, you will need to find a higher quality succulent soil.

If it’s not well-drained, the standing water and excessive moisture will keep the soil moist, which is detrimental to the plant’s health.

It is not recommended to use potting soil because it holds on to moisture much better than succulent soil.

Succulent soil is soil that drains well.

You can, however, make your own succulent soil by using 1 part potting soil and 1 part organic material such as peat moss or perlite.

The soil amendment will help the soil drain the excess water, while the potting soil will retain some water. 

Amount of Lighting Affects Watering

Light and sunshine for succulents aid in the drying of the soil, as well as shade to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

I would think about the locations you want your succulents to be in and check to see how they are performing throughout the day.

Before planting, determine how much sun and shade the location receives.

Aside from that, if you live in a dim or dark environment, you can experiment with growing low-light succulents.

Climate: Where You Live Affects Watering?

Moisture-retentive soil in humid or cold climates will require less watering than soil in dry or hot climates because the soil will take longer to dry out.

This may necessitate feeling the dampness of the soil before watering rather than following a strict schedule, but it is critical to allow the soil to completely dry before adding additional water to it.

Types of Container or Pot

Clay pots are among the best containers for succulents.

Clay pots dry out the soil more quickly and require more frequent watering than other types of pots.

It is also important to note that very small or shallow containers evaporate water more quickly, so they should be moved around.

Pea gravel is a great way to prevent overwatering your succulents. Instead of retaining the excess water in the soil, this method allows it to be released into the environment.

Additionally, it allows for a more free flow of air through the container.

This is a tool that I recommend for both beginners and experts.

It is only beneficial to the succulent, and it allows you to experiment with the amount of water that each individual succulent requires.

Location of your Succulents (Indoors or Outdoors)

Because they are exposed to direct sunlight and heat, succulents grown outdoors require more watering than those grown indoors.

However, succulents that are planted outdoors often have better growth because they allow for more air circulation.

Size and Shape of your succulent

Succulents that are larger in size require more water than smaller succulents.

The smaller the succulent leaves are, the less water they are able to absorb, requiring them to be watered on a more frequent basis.

Related post: 9 Mini Succulents That You Should Know About

If you have succulents with spindly leaves, they should be watered once a week; if you have succulents with thicker leaves, they should be watered every two weeks.

Conclusion

I truly believe that anyone can grow beautiful, healthy succulents if they understand the requirements of their particular succulent.

When growing succulents, the general rule of thumb is to soak the soil and then wait for it to dry out.

If your succulent shows signs of wilting, you should cut back on the water, let the soil dry out, and gradually increase the amount of water it receives.

A succulent that has been underwatered can always be revived, but an over-watered succulent is destined for failure.

Get good succulent soil, water deeply, and pay attention to the instructions we’ve discussed, and your succulents will last for a very long period of time.

References

Show More