Learning how to water succulents is KEY if you want to grow them successfully! If you’ve killed off every succulent you’ve ever had – don’t fret – 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. So how much water do succulents need? My motto is less is more.
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.
However, 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. This is why it’s critical that you pay attention to what your leaves are telling you! It’s imperative when learning how to water succulents.
While watering can be a little tricky because there are so many factors that come into play, once you understand the basic formula, it becomes second nature. So let’s delve in!
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Here are the supplies you’ll need to properly water a healthy succulent:
How Often to Water Succulents
Knowing how often to water succulents is a crucial component to keeping them alive. If you water them too often, the roots of your plants 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 things like twigs. pumice, and other small particles that help excess water move within the soil and out through the drainage hole. If you’ve always planted your succulents in regular potting soil, you may have unintentionally started your plant off on the wrong foot. 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 getting started with succulents).
Remember, there’s no exact science for how often to water 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 you use.
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 Much Water Do Succulents Need?
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 prefer to water my succulents with a small watering can because it lets my control how much water I give my plants.
I like this watering can because it’s inexpensive, light-weight, and 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 containers are getting the water they need.
Many gardeners prefer watering their planters with a watering squeeze bottle or a garden watering syringe (both shown below) because it allows them to be more precise.
A watering 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 or crafts that contain a few different succulents, such as my DIY succulent Christmas ornaments, then a watering syringe or squeeze bottle is ideal.
Keep a watchful eye when watering succulents. Once 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 escaping from the drainage hole. This will be your cue to stop watering.
To do this, simply 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.
Then, let your plant sit for a few minutes before discarding the water from the saucer – which is a very important step! Many people don’t realize how crucial this is when learning how to water succulents.
You need to discard the drained water from the saucer because you don’t want the soil at the bottom of your pot to be sitting in that pool of water. If the bottom of your pot is sits in water, your roots may rot from exposure to too much moisture.
*This happened to me once after leaving my Echevarria Lola in a saucer that was full of water. I only left it for a few hours but within 2 days, my little plant rotted. So try to avoid my mistake!
What To Avoid When Mastering How To Water 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. It’s not how this plant works; succulent roots are the only part of the succulent plant that needs to be watered. This is one of the most important things to remember when learning how to water succulents: water the soil, not the leaves.
In fact, when you plant your succulents, always make sure that all of the leaves sit on top of the soil so they’re not touching the wet cactus mix. You want to make sure that your leaves remain dry!
How to Water Succulents Outdoors
If you’re growing succulents outdoors and have planted them directly into the ground, then it’s okay to use a watering hose to water your succulents. Since they’ll be sitting under direct sunlight, they’ll be far less prone to rotting if you get the leaves wet.
You Now Know How to Water Succulents!
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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