Last Updated on February 24, 2023 by Mattias
Succulents are plants with an arid heritage that are highly drought tolerant. These plants have become popular among gardeners because of their low-maintenance properties and because they are a minimal and classy addition to your indoor and outdoor plant collection.
If you already have or are planning on them, you should know how often to water succulent plants because even these drought-resistant plants like their water supply precisely and suitably.
How Often Do You Water Succulent Plants?
Succulent plants’ fleshy leaves enable them to absorb water in a specialized manner, so they don’t need your constant tending. You only need to water succulent plants once a week in warmer months when temperatures exceed 40 degrees and once a month in colder seasons.
When it’s actively growing, you might need to water it once every three days but remember that regardless of the time frame, a succulent should only be watered when it has crumbly and dry soil.
Despite the standard answer, unfortunately, there isn’t a universal watering schedule that would tell you how much and how often to water succulent plants.
However, several factors influence your plant’s watering needs, and as long as they are not considered, it is quite impossible to grow a healthy succulent plant.
Factors That Influence Succulents Watering Needs
Your location’s general season and temperature play a significant part in determining your plant’s watering needs. When we talk about your succulents, these hardy plants can hold extra water in their fleshy leaves and utilize it whenever needed.
Furthermore, they efficiently suck their essential water intake from the soil and use it to support stem, leaves, and bloom growth throughout their life.
Spring and summer months are considered the primal growing seasons for succulent plants, so essentially, they will need more water during this season to accelerate their growth. Succulent plants also need more water in warmer months because of the heat intensity and sun exposure.
As the water evaporates faster, the plant will have little to soak inside and get thirsty more often. You might feel the need to water it twice or thrice a week in these hot months, but a general rule of thumb is to water it based on soil dryness and not the time of year.
As for the colder months i.e., fall and winter seasons, unsurprisingly, these naturally arid plants go into a state of dormancy and stop their growth altogether. Since it’s not growing and the sunlight is not sharp, you might only need to water it once a month.
Remember to avoid overwatering during these seasons, as it will take a long time for the soil to dry, and you don’t want your plant standing in wet soil.
Size of the container
Another important factor that influences the succulent’s growth is the size of its container.
Succulent plants in relatively larger pots will need to be watered less often than the small ones. That’s because there is more soil in larger pots that’ll absorb more water and hold moisture for longer, meaning that your plant will remain self-sufficient. On the other hand, small and shallow containers need frequent watering because they dry out faster.
The type of container may also influence your watering routine. If the pot has drainage holes at the bottom, you can water it often and let it run freely from below. Such pots may even dry out faster, but you’ll need to water less if your pot doesn’t have drain holes or clogged holes.
The water will remain in the pot longer, unable to flow out, and the plant won’t need extra water any time soon.
For instance, if your succulent plant is in a clay pot, it will require frequent watering. That’s because clay itself is porous and absorbs water, and although it helps prevent diseases such as root rot, you’ll need to water the plant more often.
This rule doesn’t apply to in-ground succulents.
Succulent plants do not necessarily need much humidity, but about 40% is acceptable and even appreciated. They don’t need too much moisture to thrive, and even if the humidity is low, they’ll utilize the water in their leaves to make up for it.
Humidity affects how often you water succulent plants because plants can absorb the necessary water content from the surrounding air. That’s also why plants in cool temperatures and high humidity need less water than those in hot and dry climates.
Humidity will assist plants in retaining moisture for longer, and they won’t rely on you for their water supply, so if you are in an area where humidity is high, you might need to water your plant less often than your long-distance friends in dry climates.
The location of your plant is one of the most important factors to consider. Say your plant is indoors. It will need water at least once a week. The soil can absorb enough water to get the plant through the entire week. If it’s placed near a window or entrance where direct sunlight is exposed, the water will evaporate faster, and plants will get thirsty more often.
The outdoor plants are constantly exposed to direct sunlight and wind, so they might need to be watered more often than your indoor plants.
In the imminent rainy season, you can move your outdoor container succulent plants inside and stick to your usual routine, but if you’re stuck with in-ground plants, then you’ll need to adjust the entire schedule and hold off on watering for a long while. At Least as long as the soil isn’t bone dry again.
Tips to Follow While Watering Indoor Succulent Plants
- Make sure to water the roots rather than the top of the plant
- Let the water drain freely from the drainage holes below
- Dump out the water from the saucer/tray afterward
- Don’t water if the soil isn’t bone dry
- Use a watering can with a small pout
- Avoid overwatering the leaves
Tips to Follow While Watering Outdoor Succulent Plants
- Move the outdoor containers under shade amid frequent rain showers
- Water less during the fall and winter months
- Increase watering in hotter months when evaporation is higher
- Water the soil deeply until its drenched
- Use the soak-and-dry method
- Never water pre-wet/ soggy soil
- Avoid saturating the soil in winter months as it can cause frost damage
How to Water Succulent Plants?
Now that you know how often to water succulents, the next obvious question is how to water them. This may seem over-exaggeration, but yes, there is a correct way to water, and if it’s not followed, your plant can actually die.
As mentioned above, your succulent plant’s heritage is directly linked to arid climates, which means that it is adaptable to dry conditions. One important thing that you should know is that even though it doesn’t often rain in desert areas when it does rain, the showers are heavy and drenching.
Your plant will need similar behavior from you, meaning that you are supposed to water it heavily in between gaps. Your succulent needs water in the form of a good soaking.
The good idea is to follow the soak-and-dry rule. Drench your plant in water, let it dry a little, and then drench it again and again until it looks thoroughly washed out.
Make sure the plant’s roots are soaked in water, and let the water flow freely through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
How to Know If Your Succulent Plant Needs Water?
It is safe to say that your succulent is a very expressive plant, so when it needs water, it will let you know. The best way is to look for these signs and take necessary action. The main indication lies in the appearance of its leaves, so if your plant’s leaves look wrinkled and puckered, it probably means that it’s thirsty.
Another foolproof way that works for most plants is a knuckle test. By following this method, you’ll check the soil’s dryness and examine whether your plant is ready for another watering.
Just dip your index finger a knuckle deep into the soil. If your finger comes out dry, then go ahead and water the plant. You can also use a popsicle or moisture meter for more reliable results.
When it comes to succulent plants, you’ll want the soil to be crumbly and extremely dry. If that’s not the case, steer clear of the water for a little while.
Is it Possible to Overwater a Succulent plant?
As mentioned above, succulents naturally adapt to arid climates, so they don’t like excess water and thrive in dry conditions.
When a succulent plant is overwatered, it portrays several visible signs. If those signs are left neglected, the roots will begin to drown and rot from within. Meanwhile, the leaves will start to fall off, eventually leading to your plant’s demise.
If you leave your plant standing in wet soil for too long or water it frequently, the following signs will occur.
Signs of an overwatered succulent plant
- Yellow and translucent-looking leaves
- Black spots
- Succulent leaves will look shriveled
- Leaves turning squishy and soggy
- Brown or black leaves in advanced cases
If your succulent plant is showing these signs, then it’s overwatered. It is a dangerous situation, but with proper treatment and care from you, your plant can bounce back. Here’s how you can rescue your plant
- Dig the succulent out of the soil
- Remove any excess soil sticking to its roots
- Cut out the rotten stems or roots carefully
- Leave the plant on a mesh, newspaper, or stainer so it can dry out
- Plant it back in the soil with a good drainage system after 2-3 days.
Avoid giving it too much water afterward and reduce the risks using well-draining soil.
Is it Possible to Underwater a Succulent plant?
Even though it is more common for these plants to get overwatered than underwatered, it is still possible. Succulent plants like their water intake in a certain way. They don’t like frequent watering but are relatively dense. You can tell if your succulent plant is thirsty by noting some common signs.
The main difference between an overwatered succulent plant and an underwatered succulent plant can be identified through its leaves, so if the following indications occur, your plant is definitely underwatered.
Signs of an underwatered succulent plant
- Puckered and wrinkled leaves
- Shriveled leaves
- Dry to the touch
- Lack of plump leaves
It is easier to rescue an underwatered plant than an overwatered one, so if your succulent is showing the above-listed signs, it’s time to rescue your plant. The first thing that you need to do is hydrate the plant properly.
You can do this by following the infamous soak-and-dry method. You’ll need to water the plant heavily and wait for it to dry until you drench it again. Follow this method until water flows freely from the bottom and you are 100% certain it has soaked the roots.
Wait 2 days, then water the plant in the same way, and then wait another 3 days before doing it one last time. After that, avoid underwatering; hopefully, your plant will bounce back in about 1-2 weeks.
How Often Do You Water Succulent Plants Summary
Each plant, succulent or not, has distinct watering needs, and if you don’t adapt your schedule around certain factors, you’ll never be able to figure out your plant’s needs. As the factors vary, so should your schedule.
When watering your succulent plants, there is never a definite answer, but in this article, we tried our best to answer your questions and discussed the main influencing factors. We also shared some tips while watering your indoor and outdoor succulent plants, along with other common queries.
If you found this article helpful, share it with your friends who might be struggling with the same questions.
Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.