Learn everything about how to water succulents so you will never overwater or underwater your beloved plants again. Most people think succulents are easy to care for but they are actually not.
Water succulents about every 14 days indoors. This way you will not overwater your plant and the soil has a chance to dry out in between waterings. This is how to water succulents.
They can survive a long time in-between waterings as they store water differently than most plants. We have a cactus, they are also succulents, that we didn’t water for half a year during autumn and winter. When spring came it still looked perfectly fine and was thriving.
Although they can be a long time without watering doesn’t mean that this is the way you should take care of your succulents. For succulents to thrive, watering frequently is key. Once you are watering, water thoroughly. The soak & dry method is recommended.
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But why is it important to water thoroughly as part of how to water succulents?
The simple reason is that weak and more frequent watering will prevent cacti and succulents from forming strong adventitious roots. A dry period in between waterings will encourage your cacti and succulents to build a stronger root system.
In nature, succulents are often found in arid conditions where it doesn’t rain for weeks and sometimes even months. Once it rains, it is often torrential, very heavy rain. This is what we need to emulate for our indoor succulents for them to feel at home. This is how to water succulents.
- 1 How to water succulents?
- 2 How to water indoor succulents
- 3 How to water succulents during the different seasons
- 4 Watering succulents with ice cubes
- 5 How do you know a succulent needs water?
- 6 How long succulents can go without water
- 7 The right potting soil
- 8 Choose the right pot
- 9 Conclusion on how to water succulents
How to water succulents?
There are only very few plants that are easier to overwater than succulent plants. If you show your succulents too much love and not hold on to your regular watering schedule, it will usually not result in more love back from your succulents but stunted growth and other problems.
If you check your succulents very frequently you might tend to water more often than requires. With succulents, this often results in root rot. Because succulent plants store water in their leaves stems and roots. Furthermore, succulents often have small root systems and only can take in a limited amount of water at a time.
Let’s now looking into our best tips&tricks how to water succulents so they are neither too dry not too wet.
How to water indoor succulents
Succulents do not need to be watered a whole lot, but when you are watering water thoroughly. The best way how to water succulents is by watering your succulents through and through.
How to water succulents in pots
When you are watering take the pot where your succulent is in into a sink or water directly where your plant is if you have a saucer underneath that can hold water. Water thoroughly so water starts to come out of the drainage holes.
Drainage holes are an absolute must as you do not want too much water to remain in the soil as it will become soggy.
Once water is flowing out of the drainage holes you know that you watered your succulent sufficiently. If you watered directly in the pot make sure no excess water remains in the saucer. Dispose of the water in the saucer as otherwise, it might be soaked by the soil of your succulent leading to soggy soil.
This is easily avoided by watering in the sink where you can let the pot sit for a couple of minutes to make sure all excess water is gone and your pot is not dripping anymore.
Keep the leaves dry when watering
One thing succulents don’t like is when your are spilling water over their leaves. Always water from the side and make sure that you are not wetting any part of your succulent that is above the soil.
Wait until you are watering your succulents again
After watering your succulents will be fine for several days and in general for at least a week. Watering again too early might cause root rot and your plant might eventually die.
It is therefore essential to refrain from watering until the soil is completely dry again. The pot you are using also plays an essential part. Shallow pots will dry out quicker than deeper larger pots.
How to water succulents without drainage
If you have no drainage holes, you need to be careful to not overwater your succulents. But how to water succulents then? Only water the top 3 inches of soil and make sure to only water once the soil is is completely dry.
Generally, it is not the best idea to use pots without drainage holes. But sometimes you just don’t have a choice as your favourite pot might not have them. However, the more experienced you are with succulents the easier it will be to get the right amount of water right.
How to water succulents in a terrarium
We are obviously looking for a general rule of thumb here as the watering frequency and amount depends on many different factors. One important factor is your climate obviously.
The hotter and drier it is, the more frequent you have to water your succulents. How to water succulents in a terrarium then?
Generally having succulents in a terrarium requires you to water them every couple of days. As general guidance, we would say about once a week.
Make sure to always check the soil first by sticking a finger into the soil. If the soil still feels wet, do not water. Water only if the top 1-2 inches is dry.
Watering succulents after repotting
Do not water succulents right after repotting. You might risk rotting as succulents like to be left alone directly after the repotting process.
The best is to check the succulent leaves regularity by slightly pressing them. Succulents save water in leaves as well as in their stems and roots.
When you succulent has sufficient water the leaves
So over time your succulent leaves will be bulging and hard to the touch. The closer you come to the next watering the softer the leaves will get. Once the leaves feel a little bit soft to the touch, it is time to drench you succulent in its new pot.
The reason is that if any roots are getting damaged by the repotting and are not calloused over, they might start to rot in the new pot when you water immediately.
It is therefore always better to wait a week or so and give you succulent sufficient chance to callous over any wound on its roots first.
How to water succulents during the different seasons
Different season requires different watering schedules as plants grow most during spring and summer and reduce their growth or even go dormant in autumn and winter.
Let’s now look into how to water your succulents depending on the season.
Watering succulents in spring
Water your succulents about once a week. The amount of sunlight, as well as temperature, are increasing in spring. Succulents are getting into growing mode after a period of limited to no growth during wintertime.
Watering needs of succulents in summer
I summer succulents should be watered in the morning. The reason is that if any water is amassing in the crowns of your succulents it might burn your plant.
Water drops might act as magnifying glasses when the sun rays hit them and can thus burn your precious succulents. When watering in the morning these drops will most likely already be gone by noon when the sun gets stronger.
Watering in autumn
Decrease your watering in autumn. Autumn is a season where days are getting shorter and your succulents will slow down their growth. How to water succulents in winter?
Adjust your schedule and reduce waterings during autumn. Generally watering your succulents once a month will be sufficient during autumn.
If you want a less general rule of thumb advice, the best is to check the leaves of your succulents. As long as they are plump, no watering is needed. Once they become softer to the touch, water you succulents thoroughly until the water is flowing out of the draining holes.
How to water succulents in winter
The answer to the question of how to water succulents in winter is very similar to autumn time. The answer is less frequently. You still should water succulents deeply once you do it, but less often.
The time span between waterings can now range from 1-2 months. Always consider that the temperature, humidity, soil as well as the amount of light your succulents are receiving will have an impact on how often you still need to water.
Watering succulents with ice cubes
Is that the answer to how to water succulents? No, definitely not.
One of the worst advice you can read on the internet is to water your succulents using ice cubes.
The reason why some people might think this is a good idea is that his way you can water your succulents slowly and also control the amount of water given to your plants.
If you follow the advice on this blog post you have learned by now that we advocate for thorough waterings. When you water, do it right.
This nonsense is also spread for orchid care. When you are caring for plants indoors or outdoors in general, you are trying to mimic how plants are growing in their natural habitat.
Ever seen ice cubes in the desert? I don’t think so. When watering any plant you will want to make sure water is neither too hot nor too cold as this can damage the roots.
Room temperature is your best friend. So to sum it up, do not use ice cubes for any plant, ever. Specifically, succulents will not appreciate it.
How do you know a succulent needs water?
Wrinkled and shrivelled leaves for one. Succulents store water in roots, stems and also leaves. Cells in the plant will act like balloons that fill up with water.
If the succulent has lots of water available its leaves will become full and plump. The ballon like plant cells will fill up.
When water becomes scarce, the succulents will use the stored water in their leaves. You will see that the leaves will become less plump and the longer the succulent is not watered, the more wrinkled and shrivelled the leaves will look like.
The touch method
We recommend using the touch method to get insights into how to water succulents. However, the best way to spot that your succulent is needing water early on is to touch the leaves of your succulent. I love to do that anyway.
Touch the leaves and check if they feel plump to the touch. If that is the case, the reservoirs are full of water and your succulent doesn’t need water.
However if they feel soft and mushy and in the later stage even dried out, you know that you have to water your succulents now as soon as possible.
There was a study done by the La Trobe University indicating that touching plants might slow down their growth, so do not overdo it.
How long succulents can go without water
Succulents can go without water for about a month. Generally, I would say 2-4 weeks depending on the succulent and how well it can store water.
There might be succulents that will survive even longer without water for sure. But this is not generally what we recommend in our how to water succulents guide. Once water is scarce, succulents will start to get rid of excess branches and leaves. Leaves and branches will start to dry out and will fall off.
This is a way for succulents to preserve the rest of the plants. They will channel the water in the leaves and branches back to the main plant.
The right potting soil
Talking about how to water succulents without talking about the right potting mix would be silly. The right soil plays an essential part for the health of your succulent and what you are using as soil will also impact how it will soak up and retain water.
Potting soil for succulents needs to be well-draining, A chunky mix with gritty material such as small stones, perlite and pumice works great. Use this for 2 parts of the soil and make sure one part contains organic material such as coco coir, premium potting soil or orchid bark. The right potting soil plays an essential part in how to water succulents.
Choose the right pot
We have talked about how you can put succulents and cacti in a pot without drainage holes but we certainly do not recommend it. If water does not drain quickly enough and stays too wet for too long it will cause root rot.
If root rot emerges it will quickly spread to other roots and will soon rot your whole succulent.
Using a pot with drainage holes in combination with a chunky potting soil is the best way to prevent this from happening. Always use a pot with drainage holes as this almost as important as how to water succulents the right way!
We are using terracotta pot for all our succulents as their porous material helps to drain excess water from within the soil. Although not a must, we can highly recommend using terracotta pots for succulents. And they look great too!
Conclusion on how to water succulents
Healthy succulents and cacti require the right watering schedule. We learned that you should not water your succulents every couple of days a little bit. You have to water your succulents thoroughly when the soil is dry.
Generally, this is the case about every 14 days indoors depending on your conditions. Use a chunky quality potting mix for succulents or mix your own and always use a pot with drainage holes.
Make sure the water you are using has room temperature and is neither too warm or too cold. This is how to water succulents.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.