Although succulents can survive with less amount of water, they cannot thrive in a complete absence of water. But too much water can kill succulents. If you are a beginner, you might want the right watering frequency for this plant.
So, how often should you water a succulent plant? There are many factors that determine the watering frequency. The climate, temperature, season, container or pot, type of soil, etc. Before you can decide how much water you give to your succulents, make sure you check the mentioned factors.
But the general rule is that water the succulents if the soil is dry. The time duration is arbitrary depending on the determining factor that affects the moisture. For instance, during the rainy or winter season, watering is less frequent. In contrast, a drought season requires more frequent watering.
Climate is one of the biggest determining factors behind watering frequency. So it is very important that you are aware of when is the right time to water your succulents to avoid mistakes most beginners commit. And most importantly, you know what are succulents and what they need to grow beautifully.
What are succulents?
This question often confuses people all the time. The reason being is the lack of scientific categorization. Cacti and succulents are relatively similar to each other but they are different from one another.
People confuse which is succulent and which is not. But here is one thing that draws a line between succulents and other similar species; the ability to absorb and store water in leaves, stems, and roots.
Any plant that stores water in their roots, leaves, and stems are considered succulents. There are many types of plants that do so, therefore, there are many types of succulents. Example of these is the haworthia, aloe, sedum, sempervivum, graptoveria, pachyveria, and aeonium zwartkop, and cacti.
Because cacti store water, they too are succulents. However, not all succulents are cacti. Why? Because cacti have no leaves and are more resilient to drought. They can survive with a lesser amount of water than succulents do. Cacti have areole a type of branch that only cacti have. Therefore, any plant that has this type of branch is a cactus. Those plants that don’t have this feature are succulents.
Succulents do need a sufficient amount of water. Too little water harms the plant. And too much water can also detriment their growth.
Related: Where Do Succulents Grow Best?
How do you know when succulents are overwatered?
Overwatering harms the succulents. But how do you know when succulents are overwatered? One of the indications is the discoloring in the leaves. This is the first sign. If neglected, the rotting process will begin in roots, in the stem, and in the whole plant structure.
If you notice the succulents changing color, touch the leaves. Affected succulents feel squishy. If you notice it, it is likely that the plants are overwatered.
Succulents store water in their balloon-like storage. This is the reason why succulents are resistant to drought. However, this is also the reason why overwatering harms the plants. When overwatered, these balloon-like sacs will burst which in turn damages the cells of the plants.
If the succulents are overwatered, the best remedy is to plant a new one. It is better to start with a new plant than trying to revive the dying one.
How do you know when succulents are underwatered?
Although succulents are drought resistant, they need water. The total absence of water will kill them. But how do you know that the succulents are underwatered?
Underwatered succulents start to indicate wrinkled leaves and shortening. This is due to the decrease in the amount of water in the storage.
In this case, what you can do is to increase the amount of water. But make sure that you don’t drown the plants. So it is very important that you give enough water not excessive. It is easy to fall in the wrong belief that overwatering stops dehydration. A small increase in water will help the succulents to continue growing healthily.
Common mistakes most beginners commit when growing succulents
Although succulents are some of the easiest plants to grow, they are not without risks. In fact, there are mistakes that most beginners commit. The following are the things you need to avoid when growing succulents for the first time.
Succulents are special plants. They need water but they are not like other plants. Succulents cannot stand with too much water or too much moisture. Overwatering is a common mistake committed by beginners.
Allowing the succulents to grow healthy requires attention and dedication. Although they need less care, they should be receiving just enough of what they need. So give them enough water without overwatering.
Using spray bottle
If you have read pieces of advice online, you might notice that some people advise you to use a spray bottle when watering succulents. But for me, that’s not good advice. Using a spray bottle will not actually help succulents get enough water.
Spray bottles are good to use for watering during the propagation process. For regular watering, it is not a good idea. Remember that the water should reach the roots of the plants. If you’re using spray bottles, the water will not be able to penetrate the soil.
Planting succulents in pots without drainage holes
Another mistake that you should avoid is planting your succulent plants in pots without holes. Drainage is very important to avoid getting your plants overwatered. Drainage holes allow the water to drain easily, therefore, disposing of the excess water. This helps the plants stay healthy and maintain sustainable growth.
If the pots have drainage holes, you don’t have to worry about overwatering even if you give excessive water to your succulents. Your plants will just be fine.
How to water succulents correctly?
If there are things you should avoid, what are the things that you should be doing for your succulents? Well, the best answer to this is water your succulents deeply. This means that you water your plant directly to the soil and not from the top of the plant.
This technique maintains your plants’ healthy growth. Pouring water straight to the root gives succulents enough water without overwatering (assuming you’re using the pot with drainage holes). This is the reason why I don’t recommend using a spray bottle.
Most people think that because succulents don’t like too much water and moisture, giving them a little amount of water is enough. That is actually a misconception. Succulents love to have soil soaked in water and eventually dry. What they don’t like is if they are submerged in the water.
Use the soak and dry strategy
The soak and dry strategy is the succulents’ favorite watering method. In this process, the soil is soaked in water and drain the excess water. Until the soil is wet or moist, watering should have refrained. Succulents are accustomed to this watering setup. In their natural habitat, they absorb water much during a rainy season and preserve the water for drought season. Thus, they last longer compared to other plants.
The moisture in the soil determines the watering interval. The faster the soil dries the shorter the interval. This usually happens during summer when air is dry and the environment is hot.
In contrast, during a rainy season, the watering interval is longer than the summer season. This is because it takes time for the soil to become completely dry.
How long can succulents survive without water?
Depending on the season or climate, succulents can go several days or weeks without water. During winter succulents can survive for one week or more without water. This is because, during winter, the air carries moisture that helps the plants gain water.
But during summer, the survival period may be shorter. So you need to give water to your plants more frequently.
Related: How Long Do Succulents Live?
How often and how much water indoor succulents need?
There is no clear cut answer to this question. It always depends on the temperature or the climate of the place. The size of the plant also a determining factor. But the rule of thumb is that for smaller succulents, you can give a ¼ cup of water every week.
However, for larger succulents, 1 ½ cups of water per week can be sufficient. But of course, you can give more or less depending on the moisture of the soil. If the soil is already dried after several days, then you should water succulents regardless of the amount of water you previously gave.
There is no single rule that controls the whole watering process. Every environment and size of the plant has different needs. So you need to know your plants better and experiment with watering strategies.
How often and how much water outdoor succulents need?
Watering outdoor succulents are similar to watering indoor succulents. However, the impact of the climate can be more robust on outdoor plants than on the indoor ones. For drought season, exposing succulents to direct sunlight could quickly kill them. In the season like this, you should water your outdoor plants more frequently.
My suggestion is that the watering interval for outdoor succulents is more frequent. A 2-4-day interval is good. However, as mentioned, this depends on the weather. The rainy season, of course, requires no watering effort on your part.
Constant checking your outdoor succulents is always a good practice. Check the moisture in the soil. This is the best advice I can give. To me, the watering interval and the amount of water you be giving to your plant should be based on moisture in the soil.
Even in the rainy season, if your outdoor succulents are not receiving water, the soil can become completely dry. So they still need water even in winter. Monitor your plants constantly.
How to water succulents during a propagation stage?
Succulent propagation is an exemption of the rule as far as watering goes. This is because the baby succulents need more water to propagate. Also, it is at this stage that a spray bottle is suitable for watering.
If you are propagating using a succulent leaf, you need to water it every day using a spray bottle. This technique allows the succulents to absorb water from the air. Frequent watering helps the plants develop roots usually in white or pink color.
But as soon as the succulents produce more and more roots, you should minimize water. This means that the watering interval, as well as the amount of water, are reduced. Then, depending on the environment, climate, and soil you are using, you can set a new watering schedule.
How do climates or seasons affect watering interval for succulents?
There are many factors that affect the watering schedule for succulents. The season is one of the biggest determining factors. Every season has its own impact on the plants’ growth.
During summer, the air temperature is typically high. In this case, the water moisture in the soil evaporates shortly. This means more water and more frequent watering schedule for your succulents. As a general tip, always check the soil. If it is already dry, give enough water to maintain the healthy growth of your succulents.
During the fall season, the amount of water the succulents need may be lesser compared to summer. During this season, watering once a week can be a good idea.
Winter is the coldest season. This means more moisture in the air circulation. For succulents, this means an even lesser amount of water and the less frequent watering schedule. This is because the moisture coming from the air is enough for them to thrive. Giving extra water at this point of the year will harm the succulents especially if they are in the outdoor setting.
Unlike winter, the spring season is a period of time when the temperature begins to rise again. As a result, succulents need more and more water as the season progresses. In general, watering once a week is a good watering schedule.
Additional factors that could affect how often should you water a succulent plant
Apart from the four different seasons discussed above, there are other factors that could also affect the amount of water and watering schedule for succulents.
Type of soil
The soil you are using for your succulents is one of the most determining factors for your plants’ growth. If you want to avoid overwatering, you should pick a soil that is easy to drain. Not all soil is the same. Some are compact and do not drain water and store more water instead.
If you are using soil like this, chances are you’ll notice changes in your succulents’ color and texture. This is because the water storage could burst to make your succulents feel squishy.
The key is to use well-draining soil. Good potting soil helps protects your plants from overwatering. This means peace of mind.
Good potting soil also provides enough nutrients for the succulents. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about giving fertilizer for your plants. Check my complete guide in growing succulents.
The amount of available sunlight
Sunlight is very important for any type of plant. Sunlight triggers the photosynthesis process necessary for the overall health and growth of the plant. Most indoor succulents encounter problems due to acquiring an insufficient amount of light.
If you are growing indoor succulents, I suggest that you occasionally bring your succulents to spots with access to sunlight. 3-4 hours of sun exposure is enough for indoor succulents. If you don’t have time to do it, the best alternative is to place your succulents near the window where there is sun ray. In this way, you can save time and effort.
The pot or container you are using
This seems not an issue until you notice problems with your succulents. The pot or container you are using can definitely affect the health of the plant. For instance, if you are using a clay container, you may need more frequent watering. This is because clay pots are water absorbent. So the water that is supposed to be for succulents can be absorbed by the pot leaving succulents to have not enough water.
My recommendation is to use a pot that is healthy for succulents. It should have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain. With a pot like this, you don’t have to worry about overwatering. Read my complete guide on how to grow a succulent correctly including the best type of pot you should be using.
Indoor and outdoor environments have different specific needs. Both locations demand special attention. Outdoor succulents, for instance, require more water and more frequent watering schedule. This is because the outdoor environment is exposed to direct sunlight.
In contrast, indoor succulents have minimal water and care requirement but they need more sunlight (it depends on the type of succulent). So you better understand the needs of the plants in accordance with their location.
Size of the succulents
Larger plants need more water than the smaller ones. This is also true with succulents. If you have large succulents, you can apply a more frequent watering schedule and give them more amount of water.
Larger succulents are more capable of storing water than smaller ones. Thus, don’t worry too much about overwatering. They can handle it. As long as you have a pot with drain holes.
So, how often should you water a succulent plant? The final thought
With all the techniques discussed above, it all comes down into one general rule. The rule is that water your succulents every time the soil is completely dry. This applies to any type of succulent and any environmental condition.
Always remember that it is better to have an underwatered succulent than the overwatered one. You can always go back and give water to the underwatered, but the overwatered is hard to revive.