How Often To Water Succulents – Are You Killing Your Plant?

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I have a handful of friends that are just getting started with growing succulents.  They often ask me how often to water succulent plants.

Succulents should be watered about once a week.  Completely soak the soil by moving your watering can around the top of the pot as you go until you see water leaking out the bottom of your pot.  After letting the soil dry out completely, wait another few days before before attempting to water again. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, use a measuring cup to add half as much water as you have soil (for example, if your pot has 1 cup of soil, add ½ cup of water).

Watering once a week is a pretty solid rule of thumb, but there are many other factors to consider that will determine watering frequency.

Soil

Soil should not be overlooked when you’re trying to figure out how and when to water your succulent.  It’s important to have a well-draining soil. If the soil doesn’t drain well, you will be waiting longer between watering because the soil won’t dry out as quickly.  

It’s super important that you wait until your soil is completely dry before watering again.  Succulents don’t like their roots or leaves sitting in water for too long or it can cause them to rot. Root damage or root rot is no bueno and your plant will die! Ask me how I know…

Hopefully your soil will drain well and completely dry out within three days. If it takes much longer than that,  it’s time to get some better, faster-draining soil.

Humidity

If you live in a high-humidity area, it may take longer for your soil to dry out completely.  In fact, you may find that your succulents can easily go two weeks between watering.

Succulents require a period of drought.  This encourages their roots to spread and try to find water. Waiting a few days after the soil has dried out will help your succulents thrive and and produce deeper roots.  

Again, a well-draining soil is very important so that the roots of your plant don’t rot.  Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of plant killings due to overwatering.

Location

Do you live in a dry or humid climate?  Is your succulent indoors or outdoors? These questions matter when it comes to watering your plant.  

If you live in a dry climate, you will end up watering more frequently than some people may recommend.  Regardless of your climate, you’ll be safe if you wait about three days after your soil dries out before watering again.  

Often times, outdoor succulents need to be watered a little more frequently.  I typically water about a day after the soil has dried completely (3-4 days between watering in the summer in my dry climate).    

Hot or Cold

Temperature can affects how often you water.  Succulents in the sun will need more water than those in the shade.  I’ve found that during peak summer months, some of my outdoor succulents need to be watered every other day.

Obviously the temperature for my indoor succulents doesn’t fluctuate too much year round.  But one time I did dry out a succulent super quick by placing it near an air vent; so watch out for that!

Growing Season

Did you know that succulents have an active growing season?  You can look up what’s called a dormancy table. Some succulents actively grow in the summer and some in the winter.  This information can be helpful so you can water slightly more frequently during the growing season and cut back when during dormancy  

Leaf Thickness And Species

This may seem obvious, but I’m gonna say it anyways.  Your particular succulent variety will also determine how much water is needed.  Typically thicker leaves often means you can water less, while thinner leaves require more frequent watering.

For example, Echeverias tend to rot easily.  Crassulas, Haworthias, and Gasterias do well with less water.

Drainage Hole

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, get a pot with a drainage hole (especially if you are just getting started growing succulents).  As I mentioned above, succulents like to get flooded.

When you have a pot with a drainage hole, you can completely soak the soil without having to worry about over watering because the excess water will simply drain out the bottom of your container.  You can do this in a sink or simply have a tray for your pot to sit in.

No Drainage Hole

If you have a pot without a drainage hole, you still need to completely soak the soil and let the soil dry out completely between waterings.  The trick is to give your plant enough water to soak the soil/roots, but not so much that the water pools in the bottom of the pot and rots the roots.

The best way that I have found to water containers without drainage is to measure the water.  Say my pot holds about a cup of soil, I would measure ½ – ¾ cups of water and add that around the base of my plant.  Then, of course, wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.

Here’s another pro tip: don’t add rocks to the bottom of your container.  I’ve seen others do this saying that it is “adding drainage.” Um…not it’s not; in fact, this just allows for water to sit in the bottom of the container.  This will cause the roots of your plant to eventually rot when the roots reach that deep. Key takeaway: don’t add rocks to the bottom of your pot. Just say no people!

Summary

Hopefully you found this information helpful.  I’ve killed way too many succulents by over watering/under watering.  The soak and dry method will keep your plants happy and healthy.  Let’s recap:

  • Completely soak the soil of your succulent plant (no spray bottle here) with water then let it dry out completely before watering again.
  • If you want to make your life easier (don’t we all), make sure your planter/pot has a drainage hole.
  • Use proper, well-draining soil.

Free Cheat Sheet

If you found this info useful, I’ve also put together what I call, “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Watering Succulents.”  It’s where I divulge all my pro tips on how often to water your succulent as well as how to know when your soil is dry.

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