While many will say that succulents are easy to care for, others may be asking “How often should I water my succulent?” The truth is that these plants require a careful balance when it comes to watering – not too much and not too little. You need enough water for the plant to do its job and grow but too much water and it will die.
And a common problem that occurs when people kill their succulents is improper watering. Succulents are not like other plants and when you try to water them like other plants, you will have complications. That said, a lot of people have a false impression that you don’t need to water them at all.
Their succulents shrivel up and die due to a lack of adequate water. It is such a delicate balance! Succulent owners may often feel they are dancing a tightrope to try to get the perfect amount of water to their plants. So, how can you get it right and know when and how much to water your succulents? Let’s explore.
How Often Should I Water My Succulent?
Frequent watering isn’t typically required for succulents. Indoor succulents may have different needs than outdoor succulents and your climate plays a role in, too, for both. If you live in a dry climate, you may need to water more frequently.
Succulent type can also play a role in answering this question. As a general rule of thumb, only a small amount of water is needed for flowering succulent plants, and putting them on a watering schedule might be the best way to ensure you don’t drown them.
Answering the question of how often you should water your succulents is not as easy as giving a timeframe of say, once a week, for example. On average, most succulents should be watered every 7-10 days. However, there are too many variables to make this a hard-and-fast rule.
Some types of succulents might do better with a bit more water and some with less. The humidity levels in your home and climate can also impact how much water a particular succulent needs. You can always do a “touch test”. If the soil feels dry to your touch, then it’s time to water it again.
Because succulents appear to seem to thrive in the delicate balance between “too much” and “too little”, it can sometimes seem like they are hard to grow. The good news is, they are not. You just need to learn a few simple things about watering them and you’ll be good to go.
Signs your succulent needs less water
We’ve talked about how to tell when your succulent needs more water, but how can you tell if your plant is getting too much water? There are actually some telltale signs a succulent may give when it’s being overwatered.
The succulent leaves may become very fragile and start to fall off at even the slightest touch, such as moving or bumping into the pot. You may also see your leaves turning yellow or looking mushy. If the leaves look translucent, this is another sign.
If the roots begin to rot, you will see black on the stem, and it can also have mushy spots. It’s always best to try to spot overwatering before it gets to this stage, but if some root rot has set in, it’s not always a death sign. Some succulents are hardier than others and you may be able to dry them out and save them if you catch it in time.
In general, it’s always better to err on the side of underwatering vs. overwatering when it comes to succulents. It’s much easier to recover a succulent that is underwatered than one that is drowning.
Love succulents? Take a peek at these:
- best purple succulents
- succulent wall planters
- flowering succulent plants
- how to grow succulents indoors
- are succulents poisonous to cats?
How to Water Your Succulent
Succulents are made to store water for later use. The most common type of plant to do this is the cactus. Most people know that a desert cactus can survive a long time without rain because it stores water for later. All succulents can do this because they have adapted to thrive even in cases of little to no water. That said, you do need to water your succulents.
A quick and easy sign that they’re not getting enough water is when the leaves get shriveled or wrinkled up. A succulent with healthy water will have plump leaves that are firm to the touch. Yet another way to determine if your succulent needs water is to assess its weight. Water adds weight to the plant so some people are able to tell by feeling if their plant is lacking in water. Of course, this is not the most reliable source.
Before you can truly answer the question of “how often”, you need to explore the methods of watering succulents. The method you use can determine how often you need to water.
First up is a method called “bottom watering”. This is sometimes called “reverse watering” and it basically allows the plant’s roots to “drink” up as much water as it needs. In order for this to work, your plant must be in a pot with drainage holes, but all succulents should have that anyway.
Then, you place a tray with water in it underneath the plant and allow the roots to absorb the water from the bottom up. This method works great and makes it easier to avoid overwatering, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your plant has soaked up all the water it needs. Patience is key here and in time, you will also learn what your plant needs and it will be easier to guess when it’s finishing “drinking”. If the top of the soil feels damp, then you know it has enough water.
Watering with a measuring cup
One method that works for succulents is to use a measuring cup or watering can and fill it all the way to the top. Now, you will pour gently over your succulent’s soil mix until it is thoroughly soaked and the water runs out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Sometimes this is called the “soak and dry” method because you literally soak the soil, and then allow it to dry out. Once the soil is dry to touch, you repeat. Many people feel this is the best way to water their succulents, but it never hurts to try different methods and see which ones you like best.
It’s fine if water gets on the top of your plant but when you’re done, you may want to use a paper towel to soak up excess water if it’s gathered around the leaves. If you do, just be gentle with the plant because leaves can break off easily, especially on more fragile varieties.
How Often Should I Water My Succulent? FAQ
It makes sense to have questions about watering succulents. It remains a common topic of discussion in plant circles because it does often cause a lot of confusion. I know people with amazing green thumbs who claim they cannot keep a succulent alive to save their lives.
Can I use a spray bottle to water my succulents?
You can use a squeeze bottle for watering your plants, but this is not the best method of watering succulents. It doesn’t get enough water into the soil to the roots of the plant where it is needed most. This is how a succulent soaks up water and stores it for later. Pouring water directly into the soil is always going to be a better method.
What kind of soil should I use?
Although it’s not a requirement to use specialty soil, most people find that succulents do better with succulent soil. A cactus mix or African violet mix can also work well for most succulents. Typically, no two gardeners will have the same mix and you will learn over time which you prefer.
What do I do if I overwater my succulent?
Overwatering happens but as long as you have good drainage in the pot, you can simply allow the plant to dry out fully before watering again. It is not typically a problem unless the plant has been sitting and soaking in water for days that cannot drain away. Then you run the risk of root rot and you will need to get those roots aired out.
How Often Should I Water My Succulent? Conclusion
While it technically comes down to the succulents in question, these tips can definitely help you to know how often to water your succulents. Plants in larger pots may need extra water and some varieties need more water during the summer months or during very dry conditions. Watering frequency will vary but as you learn what works best for your plants to make them thrive, it will get easier and easier to keep those healthy succulents you know and love. If you bring in new plants, it may take some time to learn exactly what they love, but then you can get them on a similar watering routine.
Don’t be afraid to give your succulents a good soaking. As long as they have a properly draining pot, the succulent roots will get the water they need for healthy root growth and the extra water will just drain out. The soak and dry method is really one of the best ways to water your succulents and ensure optimal growth.
Lisa Clark is a freelance writer who grew up on farmland, then moved to the city, and has now retired back to her rural roots. She's having fun teaching her kids about gardening, planting flowers, and collecting houseplants.