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How To Water Succulent Plants

by Sofia Lara

Succulents are popular with horticulturists for two reasons. First, they are beautiful. Second, many types of succulent plants are easy to take care of and grow.

Let’s take for example, watering.

As you well know, water helps transport nutrients from the soil to the plant. Without enough water, the plant will shrivel up and die.

Succulent plants have the advantage of storing extra amounts of water in their leaves, roots, and stems. For this reason, succulents are highly resistant to drought. They can survive long periods without water.

That does not mean you should be negligent about watering your succulent plant.

The succulent still needs water to support their growth. Like other plants, without water, the succulent plant will shrivel up and die.

On the other hand, giving the succulent too much water can lead to root rot. If the roots begin to rot, it will lead to an infection that can spread rapidly throughout the plant.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about watering your succulent plant.

How To Water Succulents

Before we answer the question of “How to water succulents?”, you have to answer this question first:

Where will you plant the succulent?

Succulents can be planted outdoors or indoors.

As an outdoor plant, a succulent can be planted in a garden or in a container. Fast-spreading succulents are popularly used as ground cover or to adorn walls as plants in hanging baskets.

You can also grow succulents indoors to liven up the office, the bedroom, and the kitchen.

Although succulents are resilient to weather changes, they are not as tolerant of frost as they are to drought.

If you live in a region where the temperature can drop below 20° F (-6.7° C), it will be a good idea to grow the succulent plant indoors.

Are you thinking of growing the succulent in a pot?

There are 2 important things to keep in mind when growing a succulent in a pot:

The type of pot to house the plant
The type of soil to grow the plant in

For the type of pot, choose a material that allows the soil to “breathe”. This means a pot that assists the evaporation of excess moisture from the soil. The best types of pot are those made of terracotta and unglazed clay.

You also have to make sure that the pot has a large enough drain hole to enable excess water to flow out.

Succulents thrive best in well-draining soil such as cactus. You can add ingredients such as perlite, pumice, lava rock, coarse sand, and loam to improve drainage.

Now, let’s move on to the topic of how to water succulents!

How Do You Know When A Succulent Needs Water?

The best way to know when a succulent needs water is to test the moisture level of its soil. There are 3 ways to do this.

First, is the “soak and dry” method. When watering a succulent, the rule is to give the soil a good soaking until it is completely drenched. You know that it’s time to water the succulent again when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Second, you can use a stick to measure the moisture level of the soil. Insert a stick one-inch into the topsoil. If the stick feels dry after you pull it out, then it’s time to give the succulent a thorough watering.

Third, you can use measuring tools such as a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a weather instrument that measures the level of humidity in the air but can also be used to assess the moisture content in the soil.

Most varieties of succulents demand more water during the spring and summertime because the soil tends to dry out faster. In contrast, succulents need less water in the winter months because the soil stays moist for a longer period.

It is very important to keep track of your succulent plant’s watering schedule. Overwatering or underwatering will not be good for the plant’s health.

The Dangers Of Overwatering A Succulent

Overwatering is the leading cause of death for succulents. If the roots of the succulent are immersed in water or kept in a moist environment for a prolonged period, they will rot.

Once the roots rot, it will develop an infection that can dangerously spread throughout the plant.

Discoloration of its leaves is a strong indication or root rot. Leaves that were once a healthy dark green will take on a yellowish color. If left unattended, the leaves will turn brownish or blackish which is a sign the plant is closer to death.

To keep the infection from spreading, cut out the discolored sections of the succulent with a pair of sanitized and sharpened garden shears. The next step is to prepare the plant for re-potting.

Gently remove the plant from its soil. Shake off excess soil from the roots so you can easily identify the ones that are rotting. If you see any rotting roots, cut them off with the garden shears. Once all the rotted roots have been removed, allow the plant to dry out completely under a shaded area.

Fill up a new pot with well-draining soil. Re-plant the succulent once it has properly dried out.

The Dangers Of Underwatering A Succulent

If a succulent is not receiving enough water, it will rely on its existing stores to survive. A succulent stores water in its stems and leaves. Once these water stores have been depleted, the plant will appear dry and shriveled up.

You can revive the dried out succulent by strictly following a watering schedule. Over time, the leaves can regain their color and plumpness.

As you have read, there is more danger to overwatering a succulent than underwatering it.

Smaller succulents can survive without water for up to four weeks. Larger succulents, especially those that are more tolerant of dry conditions such as cacti, can survive up to six months without water.

Here’s a tip: As previously mentioned, succulents store water in their leaves. Thus, succulents with thicker leaves such as a Pachyveria can survive longer periods without water than succulents with thinner leaves as the Aeonium Zwartkop.

Almost all varieties of succulents can handle one week without water. To know for sure, experiment with your succulent plant.

Garden Succulents

Succulents make wonderful additions to any garden. Sedums are a particularly wonderful variety of succulents that grow better when planted outdoors. Sedums have strong root systems and are very tolerant of arid conditions.

Garden soil tends to lose moisture faster. After checking the moisture level of your garden soil, you might observe that outdoor succulents need to receive water every seven to 10 days.

During the dry period, the succulent grows new roots that help it open up additional sources of nutrients from the soil.

Succulents in Outdoor Containers

If your outdoor succulent is part of a hanging garden, it may require watering as often as a succulent that is planted on the ground.

The watering schedule may change if you are moving the succulent from indoors to outdoors. You must gradually expose the plant to the sun.

For the first few days, place the succulent in an area that receives only partial sunlight. As such, the soil will retain moisture much longer. Once the soil has dried out completely, give it some water.

Indoor Succulents

Succulents that are grown indoors thrive when they are given a thorough watering rather than a few sprinklings here and there.

When it’s time to water the plant, give it a deep soaking. You know that you are watering correctly when the water runs out of the drainage holes and fills out the tray underneath it.

Remove the tray once the water has stopped dripping out of the pot. Do not allow the roots to stay submerged in water for a prolonged period. Otherwise, the roots will rot.

The frequency of watering an indoor succulent will depend on three factors:

Type of soil – Gritty, well-draining, and well-aerated soil inside a pot with good drainage may require watering every five to seven days.

Temperature – Less humid areas tend to dry out soil faster which means more frequent watering.

Climate – Dry climates will require more watering such as a five to seven-day schedule.

Three Common Mistakes When Watering Succulents

Succulent growers may wonder why their plants are dying even if they’re following the correct watering schedule.

If your plant is not thriving, it could be due to these two common mistakes when watering succulents.

Mistake #1 – Watering From Above

Don’t water the succulent plant from above because you will get the leaves wet. If this happens, the plant will remain moist longer and this could lead to root rot.

Another problem with watering from above is that the soil does not get a thorough drenching.

Always water the succulent from the ground. Make sure the soil gets a good soaking.

Mistake #2 – Watering with a Spray Bottle

Succulents should get soaked not sprayed. If you use a sprayer, you will end up misting the succulent instead of getting the soil drenched in much-needed water.

The best way to water succulents and give them a good soak is to use a watering can that has a long neck. It will make it easier to move and water the succulent all around.

The only time you should spray a succulent is when you are propagating them indoors.

Propagating succulents through its leaves will require a more frequent watering schedule. With a spray bottle, you can spritz the topsoil and the leaves will absorb the moisture from the air surrounding them.

Mistake #3 – Planting the Succulent in a Pot without a Drainage Hole

Using well-draining soil for your succulent plant will not yield any benefits if the pot does not have a drainage hole. The roots will remain immersed in water and will eventually rot.

Before buying a pot for your succulent, make sure there is a large enough drainage hole to allow excess water to flow out which will help dry out the soil.


Succulent plants are easy to grow and propagate. As all living things, it needs constant attention, love, and care.

Unlike other types of plants, succulents do not need frequent watering. If you went away for a one week vacation, your succulent will still be alive when you get back.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to watering succulent plants is not to overwater them. Many varieties are tolerant to drought. It is better to err on the side of caution and under water the plants than to give them more water than they need.

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