Learning how to water succulents is key to growing a healthy plant! If you’ve killed off every succulent you’ve ever had – don’t fret too much – you’re not alone.
Plenty of people purchase pretty little succulents with the hopes of collecting them and watching them flourish. Unfortunately, the easiest and surest way to kill a succulent plant is to over or under water it.
Let’s get one thing straight: while succulents are indeed tolerant of drought conditions, they DO need water to survive.
Succulents store water in their stems and leaves, so their leaves will let you know whether you’re providing the right amount of moisture.
Yellow, soggy leaves (as shown below) usually indicate over-watering, while crispy, brown leaves from the middle or top of your succulent indicate a dire lack of moisture.
(Brown, dry leaves from the bottom and base of your plant (as shown below) is a natural process; it simply means that your succulent is getting ready to replace old leaves with new ones). So pay attention to what your leaves are telling you!
Watering can be a little tricky because there are so many factors that come into play and every plant is different, but once you understand the basic formula, it becomes second nature. So let’s get started!
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Here are the supplies you’ll need to properly water a healthy succulent:
When to Water Your Succulents
Knowing when to water your succulent is a crucial component to keeping it alive. If you water it too often, the roots of your plant will inevitably rot (yikes!).
Always keep this in mind: succulents do not like to sit in soggy soil – in fact, they hate it!
This is why it’s important to plant your succulents in well-draining cactus mix.
Why can’t you just use regular potting soil? Here’s why: cactus mix is specifically made to be fast-draining so the roots of the succulents don’t sit in excess moisture.
Potting soil retains too much water and is slow-draining.
A good cactus soil mix will contain twigs and small particles that help excess water move through the soil and out of the drainage hole. If you’ve always planted your succulents in regular potting soil, that may be the reason your plant died. Don’t worry – it’s a common mistake!
(Give my How To Care For Succulents post a quick read if you need more tips on growing healthy succulents!)
Remember, there’s no exact science for watering succulents because it depends on the climate you’re in, whether your succulents are being grown indoors or outdoors, and which type of soil and pot they’re sitting in.
There is definitely, however, a rule of thumb: water succulents ONLY when the soil is dry, and water thoroughly until you see water escaping from the drainage hole.
When you see water draining from the bottom of the pot, you’ll know that the soil has received adequate moisture.
Generally speaking, I wait about a week between waterings. This is usually how long it takes for the soil in my growing zone (zone 9) to dry out.
When an entire week has gone by since my last watering, I simply touch the soil with my finger to see how dry it feels. If it feels dry about an inch deep, then I know it’s time to water.
How to Water Succulents
The actual act of watering succulents is easy and feels rewarding because you know you’re providing your hardy plants with what they need to thrive. I actually love when it’s time to water my plants (I guess it’s just the gardener in me!).
I like watering my plants with a small watering can, since I grow most of my succulents and cacti in small-to-medium sized pots that I sometimes move from outdoors to indoors.
I appreciate my little watering can because it’s inexpensive, light-weight, and it does its job.
I find that a small watering can with a thin spout is all I need to make sure the roots of my succulent arrangements are getting the water they need.
Many gardeners prefer watering their planters with a watering squeeze bottle or a garden watering syringe because it allows them to be more precise. It’s definitely another great option!
A squeeze bottle or syringe can give you perfect control over where you’re placing the water, so it’s good for avoiding messes and for knowing exactly how much water you’re giving to each plant.
If you have compact succulent pots that contain a few different succulents, then a watering syringe is ideal because you can purposefully provide a different amount of water to each plant.
When you feel that the soil is dry to the touch, grab your watering can or watering bottle and drench the soil thoroughly until you see water escape from the drainage hole.
To do this, stick the spout of your watering can directly above the soil and let the water flow gently for a few seconds, making sure not to overflow the pot with water.
Do this in small increments until you see water spilling out of the drainage hole; this will be your sign to stop watering.
Then, let your plant sit for a few minutes before discarding the water from the saucer – which is a very important step!
You want to discard this water because you don’t want the soil at the bottom of your pot to be sitting in a pool of water. If the bottom of your pot is sitting in water, your roots are in danger of rotting.
What To Avoid When Watering Succulents
I’ve talked about which supplies you can use to water your succulent plants, but I also want to talk to you about what NOT to use and what to avoid.
I know it’s quite common to use a spray bottle when watering certain indoor plants, but it’s not something you want to extend to your succulent garden.
Never use a spray bottle to spray water onto your succulent leaves. Here’s why: succulent leaves are very prone to rotting if they’re exposed to moisture; the leaves of your succulents don’t need any additional water.
Succulent roots are the only part of the succulent plant that needs to be moistened.
In fact, when you plant your succulents, always make sure that all of the leaves sit on top of the soil and so that they’re not constantly touching the wet cactus mix. You want to make sure that your leaves remain dry.
Time to Practice
Guess what? You now know how to water succulents! All that’s left is for you to practice what you’ve learned here with your old and new succulent plants!
Always remember that less is more when it comes to how often you water your succulents and cacti. Also be mindful of the weather conditions, especially during hot summers and rainy days.
TIP: Bring your pots indoors if it’s too hot outside (over 90 degrees) or if you expect rain.
For a step-by-step watering cheat sheet, click here! You’ll get my How To Water Succulents printable that you can keep on hand to remind you of everything you’ve learned in this post. You’ll also get access to my Gardening Resource Library, which hosts my other free gardening printables, and you’ll also get my weekly gardening newsletter that I like to fill with helpful tips!
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