How often to water a succulent? This is a common question that I get from my readers. They want to get assurance from me. Well, watering for succulents is easier than anyone might think.
So, how often to water a succulent? The answer depends on the type of succulent and the environment it grows. The variety of the plant and the climate are both determining factors of watering schedules.
In this post, I will be discussing how to water succulents correctly. The watering schedule, as well as the amount of water, depends on the climate and the type of succulents you are growing.
The indoor and outdoor environments succulents have different needs in terms of light and water sources. So prior to watering, take the environment into consideration.
Too much or too little water can both hurt the plant’s growth. Understanding the very nature of the plant will certainly help you grow succulents healthily.
Table of Contents
What is a succulent?
There is no clear cut definition of this categorical name. As a result, there are contending definitions and perfections that describe succulents.
But this does not mean that you will not be able to determine succulents from other plants. That said, there are some features that can only be found among succulents.
Succulents are actually a member of a larger species of plants that absorb water. The leaves, stems, and roots do serve as water storage.
The ability to store water in the plant’s body is not only exclusive for succulents. Cacti also store water in the body. But what makes succulent a succulent and cactus a cactus?
The difference between succulents and cacti
Succulents and cacti both have the ability to retain water. They look almost the same and can grow in the same environment although cacti require a lesser amount of water than succulents.
Thus, the line that separates succulents from cacti is so thin. In fact, cacti are succulents. However, not all succulents can be considered cacti. You feel dizzy now. I know.
The more straightforward classification is that cacti have spines and no leaves. They are more resilient to drought.
In addition, cacti also have areole, a unique type of shoot or branch. Succulents that don’t have this feature are not cacti.
However, cacti and succulents can be a good plant combination in your garden. You just need to remember that cacti require a lesser amount of water.
It is important if not necessary that these plants are separately planted. This way it will be easy to water them without worrying about overwatering.
What do overwatered succulents look like?
Although succulents are native to semi-desert areas, these plants don’t like too much water. The reason being is that these plants store water in their leaves inside the balloon-like sacs.
These sacs, when overwatered, will burst and damage the cells. When this happens, rotting will follow. You know when succulents are overwatered when you notice the discoloring of the leaves and stems.
The best and fastest way to know whether or not succulents are overwatered is by touching the leaves or stems. These plants change texture when soaking in water. They will feel squishy and way softer than the normal texture.
When the damage reaches this point, it will be very difficult if not impossible to revive the plants. The best option will be to propagate a new one.
What do underwatered succulents look like?
Because succulents are native to semi-desert areas, most people think that these plants can survive on their own without water. But this is not actually true.
The truth is that succulents need water too. They cannot survive without water.
When succulents are underwatered, you may notice some signs of dehydration. The most common signs are wrinkling and shriveling of the leaves. Remember that these plants store water in their leaves.
When underwater, the amount of water in the sacs decreases resulting in wrinkling of the leaves.
When you see this sign, you should water your succulents or increase the amount of water. But make sure that you don’t drown your plants.
What are the common mistakes of beginners when growing succulents?
When you are just starting growing succulents, chances are you might commit mistakes as other beginners did. And honestly, I did many of this back in the day.
In this section, I would like to talk about the common mistakes that you should not fall into. These are the things that you should avoid so that you will be able to grow healthy succulents.
As mentioned, giving too much water will jeopardize the succulent plants. One example of this is standing water. You make sure that the water does not build up around the plants.
Although succulents are drought resistant, they cannot stand with too much moisture. As discussed, the cells could burst and die and so does the whole plant.
Using spray bottles when watering
Okay, so we were talking about overwatering. So it will be tempting for beginners to use spray bottles for watering. But this is not a good idea and practice.
The use of spray bottles when watering works when you are propagating. But for grown succulents, spray bottle may not be able to supply enough amount of water.
Instead of making succulents healthy, it will actually detriment the health of the plant.
Using containers or pots without drainage holes
Back when I was started, I thought that pots or containers do not matter to the health of the plants. Later did I find that the pots play a very important role in the growth of the plants.
With that said, when potting succulents, it is very important that you choose the pots with drainage holes.
Pots without holes hold the water in the bottom part of the pot. This accumulates water that will in turn cause rotting. When the roots of the succulents are exposed to stagnating water, the rotting process may start.
The best strategy is to use the pots with drainage holes. The holes will provide drainage that will allow the water to pass through this keeps the plant from overwatering.
How to water succulent deeply?
Unlike other plants, watering succulents from the top will cause more harm than good to the plants. The best technique is to water the plants deeply.
This means that, when watering, make sure that you are not pouring the water from the top of the plant. Instead, you directly water the soil until it is completely wet.
This method, however, may be dangerous if you are using pots without holes. Chances are you tend to give more water than you intend. But this is not a big deal with pots with holes. The excess water will just drain.
The reason for using a spray bottle does not work is that it does not provide the plant with enough water. The water may not penetrate the soil leaving the plant underwatered.
The best way to water a succulent is the soak and dry method. This will not only help the succulents grow healthily but also keeps them safe from overwatering.
What is the “soak and dry” watering method?
The soak and dry method refer to the watering strategy that completely soaks the soil and then let it dry. With this method, you will be able to give enough water to the plants.
But this method may not work when you’re using containers without drainage holes. This is the reason why I suggested the use of pots with drainage.
The watering frequency is dependent on the amount of moisture the soil retains. During rainy season or winter, the watering frequency may be lower than summer. This is because, during winter, the time it takes the soil to dry is longer than it is in summer.
How long can succulents survive without water?
In many instances, succulent plants can survive for a couple of days without water. But of course, this completely depends on the environmental conditions.
During a drought season, it is very important that you keep monitoring your plants. Although succulents are resistant to drought, they cannot thrive in weeks without water.
This is one of the common mistakes among beginners. They think that because succulents can tolerate drought, these plants can survive without water.
I used to think that way. But of course, it is wrong. Succulents die without enough water supply.
How to water succulents?
Watering succulents is much like watering other plants. But when done incorrectly, it will harm the plant.
It is important to remember that succulents are special plants with special needs especially water. When applying the soak and dry watering method, make sure that the soil is completely dry before watering again.
If you are using a container with holes it is important to put a tray under the pot. The tray will catch the excess water that flows out of the pot.
How often to water a succulent?
The frequency and the amount of water depending on where you plant or place your succulents.
How often to water an indoor succulent?
In most cases, indoor environments are more humid than outdoors. But of course, this always depends on the climate. The humidity varies especially in those areas with complete season cycles.
However, on average, indoor succulents only need about ¼ cup of water every week for a smaller size. But for the bigger ones, they need about 1 ½ cups of water every week.
Aside from the environment, it is also important to take the size of the plant into consideration. Bigger plants may need more water than smaller plants.
How often to water an outdoor succulent?
Outdoor succulents may need a little bit more water. This is because there is a little amount of moisture around during summer. But of course, during winter it’s a different story.
One thing to remember here is the fact that outdoor succulents are more susceptible to environmental changes. This means that the climate can drastically affect the plants.
Winter, for instance, can bring too much water. This lowers the watering frequency. The soak and dry watering method work in any climate.
The basic principle is only water the succulents if the soil is completely dry. You can give about 2 cups of water for outdoor succulents.
How to water succulents during propagation?
Propagation is the process of growing a new plant using leaf or stem. Through this process, you can easily multiply the number of plants.
The watering process for baby succulents is different from the grown ones. Certainly, the soak and dry method will not work. It can harm instead.
This is the only exception to the rule. The spray bottle is perfect for this case. The spray bottle distributes the water evenly allowing the leaves to receive water.
Everyday watering is necessary at this stage of the plant. You should monitor the growth. Once the roots established, you may want to adjust the watering. Apply the soak and dry method as soon as the succulents gain growth momentum.
How seasons or climates affect watering for succulents?
If you are living in a location where the four cycles of seasons are complete, you may be wondering how do succulents survive in each season.
Here’s what you need to remember:
Hotter months have a huge impact on succulents. The moisture in the soil gets dried much quicker compared to other colder seasons. It is very important that you regularly check your plants. As soon as the soil dries, water again. This works for all the plants indoor and outdoor.
In the fall when months are warmer, I suggest that you water succulents at least once every other week. This will give enough moisture and water to the plants. But don’t forget to check the soil moisture regularly.
Winter is the season when most of the succulents are dormant. This means that they don’t need much water and nutrients. The moisture in the soil lasts longer than warmer months. The watering frequency should be reduced. During winter, most succulents survive with less amount of water. So my recommendation is that water your succulents once a month.
However, this is of course, arbitrary. Always remember that whatever the season is, the watering frequency, as well as the amount of water, depends on the moisture of the soil. So check the plant regularly.
Unlike in winter, succulents in the spring season are more active. This means that they need more water and nutrients to catch up with their growth. You should pay attention to the moisture of the soil more often. And probably, depending on what you find upon checking, increase the watering frequency.
Other factors that affect the watering frequency for succulents
Aside from climate, there are other factors that certainly affect how often to water a succulent.
The type of soil you’re using can affect the overall growth of the succulents. The soil should be breathable and allows the excess water to drain. This keeps the succulents from overwatering.
If you’re using a compact soil, it will absorb and retain so much water which in turn causes rotting.
For beginners, I recommend using the fast-drying succulent soil mix (click here to check this soil on Amazon). This will not only provide drainage but also promotes healthy growth for the plants.
If your succulents are planted in healthy and fast-draining soil, you don’t need fertilizer for the plants.
The amount of light that your plants are receiving also affects the plants’ overall growth. Succulents need enough source of light. But too much of it can cause sunburn.
The truth is succulents need direct and indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight helps speeds up the drying process of the soil.
The indirect sunlight, on the other hand, keeps the succulents survive. If you have placed your plants under direct sunlight, you need to transfer them under the shade during summer or hotter days.
The general rule is that expose the succulents under sunlight for about 4-6 hours a day. Beyond that, the plants may get a sunburn. Hence, they should be placed under the shade.
Type of containers or pots you’re using
The materials that a pot or container is made and the size of the container are both determining factors of the succulents’ growth.
Clay pots, for instance, absorbs more water than ceramic. Thus it requires more water. Smaller or shallow containers, on the other hand, dries quicker so they need more frequent watering.
The key here is don’t treat your succulents equally. Depending on their pots, they may have different needs. Your job is to figure out what they are.
The location where succulents are planted
Outdoor succulents need more water than those indoors. This is because outdoor plants are directly exposed to sunlight. So my suggestion is that keep an eye on your outdoor succulents. They may need water every single day.
Shape and size of the succulent
The size of the plants also determines the amount of water and watering frequency. The smaller plants, in contrast, need a lesser amount of water.
So, how often to water a succulent?
Whatever the size of succulents, season, and place where you planted them, the general rule of thumb is that water the succulents when the soil is completely dry. Always apply the soak and dry method.
Always remember that it is better for your plants to be underwatered than overwatering them. You can go back and give more water to the under-watered plants.
But for the overwatered succulents, it is almost impossible to revive them. You can keep your plants safe by using a fast-draining soil mix (click here to check this soil on Amazon) and pots with holes.
Tools you need for watering succulents
As I mentioned, succulents are special plants that have special needs. Giving them the right care will definitely increase their successful growth.
When it comes to watering, there are a few things you need. The following are the important tools you must have that will help give the proper and ample water to your plants.
Disclaimer: The following links below are affiliate links that will send you to Amazon. This means that if you click the link and purchase a product, I will earn a commission with no extra cost to you.
This watering bottle is perfect for watering succulents. I also use this watering tool for applying pesticides and fertilizers for my plants.
The bottle can contain up to 8 ½ ounces of water enough for watering succulents. And because it is transparent, you can easily the remaining water inside.
It has a bent nose that allows you to water specific areas of the pot. It is super to maneuver and use regardless of the size of the plant.
This is another great choice of watering tool. The bottle can contain up to 1 liter of water. You can use this not only in watering but also in fertilizing your plants.
This watering bottle is super easy and comfortable to use. The nozzle is multidirectional that gives you so much freedom in maneuvering when watering certain locations.
I enjoy this tool when watering smaller plants too. You can easily hold the bottle with your one hand.
If you want a more sophisticated watering tool, you can use this sprayer. It has an adjustable telescoping hand as an extension to water areas unreachable by a regular watering tool.
The multidirectional nozzle gives you the ability to water the plant from all directions.
However, you need to know whether or not these watering tools are applicable for your succulents. Sprayers are good when you’re propagating succulents. Watering bottles, on the other hand, are perfect for well-grown plants.
In watering succulents, you need to consider the nature of the plant. Thus, you need to be mindful of the amount of water and the watering frequency. Succulents are resistant to drought but are vulnerable to overwatering.
I hope that the tips I shared on how to water a succulent will help you grow your succulents successfully. If you want more tips, you can have my detailed article on “How to Grow Succulents: The Complete Guide”. Read it for FREE!