How to Water Succulents

How to Water Succulents – Ah, succulents. These plump little plants have charmed their way into our hearts and homes. And it’s no wonder – their cute, chubby leaves and incredible drought resistance makes them ideal houseplants for forgetful gardeners.

But keeping these desert-dwellers looking their best requires learning their preferences. Get ready for Succulents 101, folks. Class is in session.

First up, what exactly are succulents? Succulents are plants that have adapted to survive arid conditions by storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. This gives them their signature swollen, juicy appearance. There are over 60 plant families that contain succulents, from cacti to aloes. No wonder they come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors!

These plants are pros at holding onto precious water. But that makes them prone to one mortal enemy – overwatering. Give your succulent too much water too often, and its roots will rot. Talk about a tragic end for a desert beauty!

Luckily, avoiding an untimely demise is simple: water properly. If only our teachers had told us the key to life was as easy as watering plants! Proper technique keeps succulents looking lush but not mushy. Let’s dive in.

By the end of Succulents 101 you’ll be an expert on these quirky plants. No more accidentally drowning your new leafy friend! Get ready to wow your fellow plant parents with your newfound knowledge. The final exam? A thriving succulent garden that makes even the crustiest botanist green with envy.

Key Takeaways

  1. Succulents are prone to rotting from overwatering. Allow soil to dry out completely between waterings.

  2. Water less frequently in winter – only every 3-6 weeks depending on variety. In summer, water every 2-3 weeks.

  3. Always use well-draining cactus/succulent soil and containers with drainage holes. Sitting in excess water invites rot.

How Often to Water Succulents

Now we know why proper watering is so crucial for our chubby leafed friends. But how often should you break out the watering can? Let’s discuss.

Succulents are found across the globe, from the sunny Sahara to the foggy Atacama. With such diversity, you can imagine one watering schedule doesn’t fit all. Several factors determine how frequently your plant needs hydration:


Succulents basking in full sun daily require more frequent watering than shade dwellers. Think of it like us drinking more lemonade on a hot summer day. More light = more photosynthesis = more water uptake.


Warmer weather causes succulents to transpire (sweat) faster. Time to reach for the watering can! Cooler temps mean they need less frequent soakings.


Well-draining soil, like cactus mix, retains less water than standard potting soil. Succulents planted in gritty soils need more frequent watering than those in moisture-retentive earth.

Type of Succulent

Some varieties, like sedums, have tiny leaves and demand more water. Fleshy echeverias can go longer between deep drinks. Get to know your specific succulent’s needs.

General Watering Frequency

Summer: Every 2-3 weeks Spring/Fall: Every 3-4 weeks Winter: Every 4-6 weeks

Let those guidelines soak in. Then, pay attention to your plant! Checking if the soil is fully dry before watering again is key. Stick your finger in the dirt up to the first knuckle – if it feels cool and damp, hold off on watering.

Adjust the frequency depending on signs of under or overwatering. Succulents are unique – learn your plant’s rhythm. With a little attentive care, you’ll both thrive!

Water Type for Succulents

We’ve covered when and how much to water your succulent. But what about the water itself? Believe it or not, not all water is created equal when it comes to succulents. Let’s dive into the wet details.

Room Temperature Filtered or Distilled Water is Best

Ideally, you’ll want to use room temperature filtered or distilled water when caring for your succulents. This provides them with clean, mineral-free hydration.

Straight from the tap can shock tender roots, especially in winter when water temperatures are frigid. And cold water simply isn’t absorbed as readily. Give your plant a fighting chance by taking the chill off first.

Tap water contains minerals like fluoride and calcium that can accumulate in the soil over time. This can negatively impact your succulent’s ability to absorb nutrients. Distilled H2O avoids this issue.

Avoid Cold Water Straight from the Fridge or Tap

We’ve established chilled water isn’t ideal. But why?

First, temperature shock. Just like jumping into a cold pool takes our breath away, icy water can stress roots adapted to warm, desert environments.

Second, cold water simply doesn’t penetrate soil as easily as room temp. Ever try to dissolve sugar in iced tea? It takes longer than in a steaming mug. Same concept applies to soil absorption.

The Impact of Water Quality on Succulent Health

Water composition affects the pH and mineral content of the soil. And improper pH or nutrient levels can lead to issues like:

  • Poor growth

  • Lackluster appearance

  • Leaf discoloration

  • Root rot

So be picky about your water source! Your succulents will thank you with vigorous growth and vibrant colors.

Proper Watering Techniques for Succulents

We’ve covered when and what to water your succulent with. Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to water properly.

Succulents are adaptable plants, so they aren’t too picky about specific watering methods. But some key techniques will keep them looking their best.

Water Thoroughly

When you do water, you want to water deeply until water drains out of the pot’s bottom drainage holes. This ensures the entire root zone gets hydrated.

Shallow, frequent sprinkles of water promote weak shallow roots. Pour it on to encourage healthy growth!

Focus Water at Soil Level

Avoid getting water on the leaves. Succulent leaves can rot if they get too wet. Instead, aim the water right at the soil.

You can use a watering can with a long spout to target the earth and avoid splashing leaves.

Try Bottom Watering for Dry Soil

If the soil becomes extremely dry and compacted, bottom watering helps rehydrate it.

Place the pot in a bowl of water, allowing it to soak and absorb moisture from the bottom up. Lift it out once the top of the soil is wet.

This technique is great for neglected succulents to help loosen and rehydrate parched soil.

Allow Excess Water to Drain

After watering, allow the pot to drain fully before returning it to any outer decorative container. Sitting in excess water leads to root rot.

By following these simple methods, you’ll keep your succulent hydrated just right. No more accidental overwatering mishaps!

Avoiding Common Watering Mishaps with Succulents

By now we’ve covered the proper techniques for hydrating your succulent. But sometimes the best teacher is learning from past mistakes! Let’s go over some common watering blunders to avoid with these desert jewels.

Watering Too Frequently

It’s easy to look at a succulent and think “wow, it’s shriveled – it must need water!” But more often than not, shriveling is a sign of overwatering, not underwatering.

Succulents store water in their leaves and stems. When overwatered, the cells burst and the plant loses that vital hydration reserve. Top watering again before the soil is fully dry simply accelerates rot.

Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings, even if leaves look puckered. This encourages healthy roots.

Using Ice Cubes to Water

Some sources recommend using ice cubes to water succulents. This is not an effective technique!

Ice melts slowly and provides water too inconsistently for succulent roots. Plus, cold water shocks the plant.

Stick to room temperature, thorough top or bottom watering. Much better for succulent health.

Leaving Excess Water in Cache Pots

Always dump out water that collects in decorative outer pots after watering. Stagnant water leads to root rot.

Remove the inner nursery pot and pour out excess. Then allow both pots to drain fully before re-nesting.

By avoiding these missteps, you’ll be rewarded with vibrant, thriving succulents. We all make mistakes – learn from them and grow a gorgeous garden!

succulent watering tips
succulent watering tips

signs of under/overwatering succulents

Identifying Key Signs of Underwatering vs Overwatering

Uh oh – is your succulent trying to send you signals about its water needs? Learning to properly interpret the messages of a thirsty vs drowned plant takes some practice. Let’s go over the basics.


Parched succulents will often start to look wrinkled and shriveled as they use up their internal water stores. But resist the urge to inundate them with water! This leads to rot. Other signs of underwatering include:

  • Thin, drooping leaves

  • Lackluster color

  • Premature leaf drop

  • Slow/stunted growth


Despite appearances, shriveled leaves usually mean you’ve loved your succulent too much! Back off the watering can if you notice:

  • Blackened, mushy leaves and stems (rot)

  • Yellow, transparent leaves

  • White fuzz or mushroom growth on soil

  • Foul odor

Take Action

If you suspect underwatering or overwatering, take corrective action:

  • Underwatering: Bottom water the plant to rehydrate dry soil. Resume normal watering schedule. Shelter from harsh sun until recovered.

  • Overwatering: Remove plant from wet soil immediately and allow to dry. Assess stem/root health and trim any dead tissue. Repot in fresh, dry soil. Hold off watering.

With attentive care, an underwatered or overwatered succulent can make a full comeback. So read your plant’s signals and respond appropriately!

Top Tips for Keeping Your Succulents Happy and Healthy

We’ve covered quite a bit of succulent care ground so far. Let’s round up some key tips for success with these delightful desert plants:

Well-Draining Soil is Essential

Succulents hate wet feet! Plant in a gritty, sandy soil made for cacti and succulents. This allows excess moisture to drain away easily.

Regular potting soil will retain too much water around the roots leading to rot. Invest in cactus mix for best results.

Use Containers with Drainage Holes

Planting in a pot without holes is asking for trouble. Always use containers that allow excess water to escape.

This could be a basic plastic or terra cotta planter, or even a decorative pot nested inside a water-catching outer vessel.

Don’t Leave Pots Sitting in Water

After watering, promptly empty any outer pot or catch tray. Allow the inner pot to drain completely before returning it to its decorative home.

Stagnant water leads to demise. Don’t let your succulent sit in soggy soil!

Reduce Water in Winter

As growth slows in winter, succulents need less frequent watering. Back off to every 3-6 weeks depending on the plant.

Let soil get bone dry before watering again. Too much moisture in winter invites rot.

Group Plants by Needs

Arrange succulents together based on their light and watering preferences. This makes caring for them much simpler!

For example, keep full sun lovers together, and shade dwellers together. Establish watering zones based on thirst levels.

Follow these fundamental tips and you’ll have gorgeous, thriving succulents bringing joy for years to come. It’s so rewarding to see these plants prosper with the proper care. Let the growing begin!


After going through Succulent Watering 101, you should now feel equipped to properly hydrate your succulents for optimal health.

Proper watering frequency and technique is critical for avoiding rot and keeping these desert plants looking lush. Always allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

When you do irrigate, water thoroughly until it drains from the bottom. Avoid getting water on the leaves. Bottom watering dry, compacted soil can be helpful.

Pay close attention to your specific succulent’s needs. Adjust your watering schedule based on factors like sunlight exposure, temperature, soil type, and variety of succulent.

Learn to read the signals of under and overwatering. Take corrective action if needed to get your plant back on track.

Follow the tips outlined here for choosing the right soil, drainage, and grouping plants by care needs. With a little attentive love, your succulents will thrive beautifully!

Now you can embark on your succulent journey with confidence. May your garden flourish and your plants live long, healthy lives. And if you forget and accidentally overwater, don’t fret – just refer back to this trusty guide. Happy growing!

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