Succulents

How to Water Succulents: Complete Beginner’s Guide

Succulents are unique in that they don’t require as much watering as other plants, but How often should you water succulents? Here's our full guide
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Succulents have become extremely popular indoor and outdoor plants in recent years – and for very good reasons!

They come in an array of colors and sizes, offer a myriad of fascinating shapes, and are extremely versatile. Perhaps best of all, however, is that they’re rather easy to care for. All of these factors combined make them the perfect addition to an outdoor garden or windowsill.

Succulents can be as showy as more delicate plants, but they little care that they require is one of their biggest selling points. If your thumb tends to be more “brown” than “green,” succulents may be the perfect option for you.

But it’s important to note that while they don’t require as much maintenance as many other plants, they do still require some level of care. Most notably, they have to be watered.

But succulents are unique in that they don’t require as much watering as other species of flora, so trying to figure out how to properly water them can be tricky. If you water them too frequently, they can drown, but if you don’t water them enough, they could shrivel up and perish.

So, what’s the happy-medium? Keep on reading so you can figure out a watering schedule for your plants that will keep them quenched and flourishing.

Where to Buy Succulents?

Here is our recommended online shops for purchasing succulents & supplies

  • Succulents Box

    Succulents Box currently offers more than 200 varieties of succulents (both popular and rare ones) along with 5 monthly subscription boxes.

    Visit Store
  • Leaf & Clay

    Leaf & Clay offer a range of hundreds of types of succulents along with subscription boxes, pots & macrame.

    Visit Store
  • Lula’s Garden

    Lula’s Garden offers a selection of succulent garden gift sets from small single succulents in pots to full succulent gardens.

    Visit Store
  • The Succulent Source

    The Succulent Source offers a huge selection of succulents, cactii and also gift sets and items for weddings.

    Visit Store
  • Planet Desert

    Planet Desert cater to succulent and cactii fans with a large range of plants, soil, kits and other supplies for creating your garden.

    Visit Store

What are Succulents?

Before we discuss a watering schedule for succulents, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the background of these truly unique plants.

Succulents are the name given to a large array of plants that have successfully evolved so that they can survive – and thrive – in extremely dry conditions; hence why their natural habitats tend to be in arid, drought-prone locations, like desserts.

What are Succulents?
Read Also: How to Plant & Care for Succulent Plants

Whenever they are exposed to water (be it a sudden dessert monsoon or even mist from fog), succulents draw in water and collect in their roots, stems, and leaves via special cells that they have naturally developed over time.

When conditions are dry, these cells slowly release the stored water. Thus, the plant can stay properly hydrated even through highly intense periods of drought.

Types of Succulents

Here are some of the types of succulents we have covered here on GardenBeast for more info on individual plants.

When to Water Succulents

Because of the unique way that succulents have adapted themselves to store water for long periods of time, it’s much better to underwater these plants than it is to overwater them.

However, with that said, while they can go for prolonged periods of time without being watered, they do need to take a drink every once in a while.

So, how do you know when it’s time to water your succulents? Let’s take a look.

Signs Succulents Need to Be Watered

It’s pretty easy to tell when succulents need to be watered, as their leaves will start to shrivel or become wrinkled when the water that they’ve stored in those specialized cells we mentioned starts to run out.

Those cells will try to replenish the water the plant has used, but if it doesn’t has access to water, the cells will eventually contract to such a small size that they leaves of the plant will begin to look as if they’ve deflated.

So, make sure you keep a close eye on your succulents. If the leaves appear to be nice and plump, they have plenty of water; avoid giving them anymore, as doing so could effectively drown the plant. If the leaves look like they’re starting to shrivel up, it’s time to water the plant.

How to Plant Succulents
Read Also: How to Plant Succulents

Watering Succulent Plants

Watering succulents is much different than watering any other type of plant. Most species of flora need to be watered every day or every few days, but with succulents, watering so frequently, as mentioned, could lead to drowning.

  • What’s the trick to watering succulents?
  • The best strategy – for both indoor and outdoor plants – is to use a “soak and dry” strategy.
  • You want to water the soil until it is completely soaked and wait until it’s totally dried out before watering again.
  • Additionally, the plants should be housed in soil that drains very well and in a pot that features drainage holes along the bottom.

Watering Tips for Indoor Succulents

For succulents that are housed indoors, use the following strategies to properly water your plants:

  • Use a watering can that features a small spout. If you don’t have access to such a watering can, a squeeze bottle would suffice.
  • Apply water to the base of the plant until it is completely soaked.
  • Avoid getting the top of the leaves wet. If the top of the leaves get wet, they can start to rot, as there’s minimal airflow indoors.
  • Avoid watering the soil again until it has completely dried out. If you water the plant again while the soil is still wet, you could drown the plant.
Use the “Soak and Dry” Method for watering succulents
Use the “Soak and Dry” Method for watering succulents

Watering Tips for Outdoor Succulents

If you have succulents in your outdoor flowerbeds, use the following tips to keep them in good shape:

  • Water from the base of the plant. You can use a hose, a watering can, or a squeeze bottle.
  • Water the plant until the soil is thoroughly soaked.
  • You don’t have to take as much care to avoid getting the leaves wet when they’re outdoors, as they’ll be exposed to more airflow and will be able to dry out; nevertheless, you should try to keep water from getting on top of the leaves as much as possible.
  • Wait until the soil is dried out to water again.

How Often Should Succulents be Watered?

While it’s important to soak the soil of the plant, succulents don’t like to have wet soil for any more than two to three days, top.

  • So, how do you know how often you should water your succulents?
  • The truth is, there isn’t any specific timeframe that you should follow; the plant will tell you when it needs to be watered. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the leaves and the soil.
  • To reiterate, you should avoid watering the plant while the soil is still wet, and when the leaves are dried out and appear shriveled, it’s time to water them.

With that said, a typical indoor succulent can go around 10 to 14 days between watering. For outdoor succulents, it really depends on the conditions in your area.

If it’s rainy or extremely humid, you likely won’t have to worry about watering the plant; in fact, if you do, you’ll end up doing more harm than good. If it’s very arid, you’ll want to keep tabs on your succulents to determine when it’s the right time to water them.

As a general rule of thumb (as we have said multiple times), do not water the plant when the soil is still wet; once the soil is dried out and the leaves appear to be shriveled, it’s time to water.

Succulents in Yard
Succulents in Yard

Why is the “Soak and Dry” Method Recommended?

The “soak and dry” method – watering the plant until the soil is soaked and then waiting until the soil is dried out before watering again – is the best method for succulents.

Why?

Well, think about the locations that these plants are native to. The soil they sit in is quick draining and they have infrequent access to water, but when water is available, it’s usually heavy.

Picture the saguaro cacti; the large tree-like cactus that’s thrives in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and the Whipple Mountains of California. In these locations, the conditions are extremely arid, but when the storms do roll in, they’re usually severe in nature, delivering a massive surge of rain that can last for as long as 48 hours.

These storms spark flash floods, which soak the soil that surrounds the base of the saguaro. Those specialized cells in the plant that we discussed draw up the water from the soil and store it throughout the plant, releasing it as needed.

Succulents that are featured in your home or garden – particularly those that are situated indoors – likely won’t need such a harsh watering schedule as the native saguaro have, in order to ensure they thrive, it’s in the best interest of the plants to use the “soak and dry” method.

This system is similar to the way the plants would receive water in their natural habitat and will allow them to develop a strong and healthy system of roots, thus allowing it to withstand prolonged periods of drought.

Avoid frequently watering succulents with small amounts of water. Doing so will weaken the root system, which will make it less likely to withstand prolonged periods of arid conditions.

Another important point to make: succulents should always be kept in fast draining soil, and when housed in a pot, the pot should feature a drainage hole at the bottom. This will allow any excess water that the plant doesn’t use to drain out of the soil, thus preventing rot.

Summing It Up

Succulents are beautiful plants that add tons of interest to any indoor or outdoor garden. Their low-maintenance is one of the biggest appeals of this species of plant, however, making sure that you’re watering it properly is vital for its survival.

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Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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