How Often to Water Succulents


How often to water succulents

As a general rule water succulents once every 2 weeks. Succulents are drought resistant plants that require the soil to dry out between bouts of watering. Water succulents with a thorough watering, so that the soil is evenly moist, then wait for the soil to dry completely before watering again.

Do not water succulents while the soil is still moist as this causes root rot.

Succulent Conditions:How Often to Water Succulents:
Watering Succulents Indoors:Water succulents indoors around once every 2 weeks. Ensure the soil around the roots dries out completely between bouts of watering.
Watering Succulents Outdoors:As a general rule water once every 2 weeks and adjust watering depending on time of year, air flow, sun exposure and pots size. Wait until the soil dries out before watering again.
Watering Succulents in Summer:As a general rule water succulents once every 2 weeks in Summer. However succulents such as aloe vera and jade plants are Summer dormant in temperatures over 80°F (27°C) in which case water once every 3 to 4 weeks.
Watering Succulents in Winter:Water succulents once every 3 to 4 weeks in Winter. Succulents are dormant in Winter and do not actively grow which makes them more vulnerable to root rot in Winter. Ensure the soil is completely dry before watering your succulent again in Winter.
Watering Succulent Propagated Leaves:As a general rule spray propagated succulents leaves and cuttings every 2 days so that the soil and leaves are moist. Water the propagated leaves again when the surface of the soil dries out or if the leaves shrivel in appearance.

Keep reading for how to water succulents at different times of year, in different conditions and climates and to learn the best method for watering succulents

How Often to Water Succulent Plants (Indoors and Outdoors)

Succulents are adapted to growing in climates which experience frequent drought, in gritty, well draining soils with infrequent rainfall, that tends to fall as a deluge followed by weeks of dry weather.

Therefore to water succulents properly it is important to recreate the watering conditions and the levels of soil moisture to which succulents are adapted in their native environment.

Whether your succulent plant is indoors or outdoors, it is important to let the soil around the roots dry out completely before watering again.

Water indoors and outdoor succulents once every 2 weeks on average, with a thorough watering. Ensure the soil is dry around the roots of the succulent before watering again to meet the succulents watering requirements and to avoid root rot.

Succulent plants have developed many survival strategies to cope with drought with their characteristics thick fleshy leaves, roots and stems storing watering so they do not have to rely on consistent moisture for their environment like most plants.

As succulents are so well adapted to drought they do not tolerate overwatering and consistently moist soils which can quickly result in the leaves turning yellow, brown or black with a mushy texture, indicating root rot.

It is much easy to revive an underwatered succulent rather then an overwatered succulent so if you are not sure, delay watering until the soil feels dry or the succulent leaves starts to shrivel slightly.

It should be noted that good watering practices should be in conjunction with planting succulents in the appropriate, gritty well draining potting soil which emulates the soil conditions in the succulents native range.

Normal potting soil retains moisture for too long for succulents to tolerate which can also cause the symptoms of overwatering and cause the succulent to die back, which is why the appropriate potting soil is as important as how often you water your succulents for succulent growing success!

How to Know When to Water Succulents

The key to watering succulents is that you should only water your succulent plant when the soil has dried out and delay watering if the soil is still moist.

Whilst watering succulents once every 2 weeks is a good general rule for watering succulents, how long it takes for the soil to dry out in your home or garden should determine how often your should water your succulents.

The most important factors that affect how often you water succulents are:

  • The typical humidity and temperature range of your climate. (Higher humidity reduces water loss from the leaves and soil so you should water the succulent less often).
  • The size of the succulents pot or container. (Larger pots contain more soil and more moisture, whereas smaller pots dry out quicker).
  • Whether the succulent has significant airflow from air conditioning, forced air, near or a source of heat when indoors or in full sun. (Excess wind and heat can sap moisture from the leaves and soil quickly).
  • The rate of drainage of the soil and how long it holds onto moisture. (Succulents require, gritty well draining soil that mimics the soil in their natural environment and die from root rot when in soils that retains too much moisture such as ordinary potting soil).

The most reliable way to establish how often to water succulents in your climate, is to feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole in the base to detect whether the soil is still moist or dried out.

If the soil still feels moist then delay watering for another day or so, but if the soil feels dry this is the perfect to water your succulent.

Once you know how long the soil at the bottom of your succulents pot typically takes to dry out you can establish the optimal watering schedule for your succulent plant according to your specific climate and the conditions in your home or outdoors.

This style of watering effectively mimics the -deluge of rain followed by a period of drought- cycle of watering that succulents experience in their native environment and ensures the succulent plant has enough water to stay healthy with plump leaves yet also allows the soil to dry properly so that you avoid problems with root rot which is the main cause for a dying succulent.

Signs your Watering Succulents too Often or not Often Enough

If your succulent is underwatered the the leaves of the plant typically appear thinner, droop, appear shriveled or curl inwards depending on the type of succulent.

Succulents store water in their leaves, so when they are underwatered the draw upon their moisture reserves, which causes drought stressed succulents leaves to turn thinner or droopy as their moisture stores are depleted rather then their usual plump appearance.

This is a clear indication that your succulent is not watered often enough or you are watering your succulent too lightly (succulents need a good soak every time your water).

The reason for a succulent appearing underwatered may also be environmental rather then a specific problem with your watering schedule.

Consider whether your succulent is near a source of heat if indoors or perhaps the pot is very small and heats up quickly in the sun which causes the soil to dry out especially quickly.

If your succulent appears to be underwatered with thinner leaves that can curl inwards (which is the case for aloe vera) or leaves that droop, give the succulent a good soak in a basin of water for around 10 minutes, then leave the soil to dry out completely before watering again in another 2 weeks or so.

This allows the succulent to replenish its moisture reserves yet also avoids root rot for overwatering and the succulent should recover in 2 or 3 cycles of watering.

If the succulent leaves are turning yellow, brown, black, translucent with a soft mushy texture or dropping off then this is an indication of overwatering, slow draining soils or soils that retain too much moisture and a potential warning of root rot which is more difficult to solve.

For this reason I wrote another article how to revive a dying succulent plant to explain how to save succulents that are suffering from overwatering.

How Often to Water Succulents in Summer

As a general rule water succulents once every 2 weeks in Spring and Summer months. Always water succulents in Summer with a generous watering, then wait for the soil to dry completely before watering again to meet the watering requirements and avoid root rot.

Watering once every 2 weeks meets the watering requirements of most succulents in Summer, however you should adjust how often you water your succulents according to your specific climate, conditions and temperature.

It is more important to avoid watering succulents too often as this promotes the conditions for root rot, but look out for signs your succulent is not receiving enough water in the hotter, dryer Summer months as watering once every too weeks may not be often enough for some climates.

If the leaves are looking thinner, drooping or perhaps have a dried up, wrinkled appearance then this can indicate the succulent is not watered often enough for the specific environment and conditions.

In which case give the succulent a thorough watering to revive it and perhaps increase how often you water the succulent.

However you should always allow the soil to dry out around the roots of your succulent before watering again as succulents cannot tolerate consistently moist soil so monitor when the soil dries out by feeling so soil at the base of the pot through the drainage hole as a cue for when to water.

It is important to note that some popular succulents such as aloe vera and jade plants can actually enter a state of dormancy in the Summer month when the temperature exceeds 80°F (27°C) for a significant period of time.

During Summer dormancy the succulent slows down growth to conserve its moisture reserves that are stored in the thick, fleshy leaves to cope with drought as a survival strategy in its hot and dry natural environment in countries such as Oman in the Arabian peninsula.

This reduces the demand for water, so water aloe vera and jade plants less frequently if temperatures are consistently higher then 80°F (27°C) for several days to reduce the risk of root rot whilst the succulent is dormant.

Water Aloe plants and jade plants with a good soak once every 3 weeks in excessively high temperatures, although looks for any signs of drought stress (shrivel leaves or drooping) and adjust your watering accordingly.

Read my articles for more information on how to specifically water aloe vera and water jade plants at different times of the year and in different conditions.

How Often to Water Succulents in Winter

As a general rule water succulents once every 3 to 4 weeks in Winter. Succulents are in a state of dormancy in Winter and require less water. Water your succulent once every 3 to 4 weeks in Winter with a good soak to meet the watering requirements of succulents and to avoid root rot.

Succulents enter a state of dormancy in the Winter months in response to fewer house of sunlight and a lower intensity of sunlight.

Therefore succulents generally do not actively grow in the Winter months which reduces their demand for water.

The lower water requirements in Winter means that the succulent is more susceptible to root rot if the soil is too moist so, it is important to scale back the water and crucial that the succulent is planted in well draining porous soil that does not hold onto too much moisture (a specially formulated succulent and cacti soil can significantly reduce the risk of root rot).

However it should be noted that indoor conditions can influence how often to water your succulents during Winter due to sources of indoor heat which can dry out the soil and the leaves too quickly causing symptoms of drought stress.

If your succulent leaves start to look thinner, shriveled or wilted during Winter then feel the potting soil at the base of the pot through the drainage holes to check the soils moisture.

If it is completely dry then you may need to water more often to prevent further stress due to drought or move the succulent to a cooler area if it is next to a radiator in the path of forced air that is drying the soil and leaves of the succulent.

(Note that they can be a few reasons why succulents shrivel so I wrote an article on how to determine the cause of why you succulent leaves are shriveling and how to solve it).

How Much Water Does a Succulent Need?

Whilst there are many variables that affect how often to water succulents, the amount of water a succulent needs is the same regardless of the type of succulent or time of year.

Always water succulents with a thorough watering, so that the soil is evenly moist. Excess water should trickle from the base of the succulent’s pot which indicates water has infiltrated properly, so the roots can access the water they require to keep the succulent plant healthy.

This style of watering recreates that natural watering cycle of a heavy deluge of rain followed by a period of drought that, succulents typically experience in their native environments.

Watering with a generous soak encourages the roots of your succulent to grow stronger and establish in the soil which increases the succulents resilience to drought.

If you water succulents too lightly then only the top inch or so of the soil is moistened which means the roots grow thinner, less robust and often cannot access the moisture water and nutrients they need which causes symptoms of drought stress such as shriveling leaves and a drooping appearance.

(Succulent leaves can shrivel due to both under watering and over watering, to establish which is the problem for your aloe plant and to therefore implement the correct solution, read my article why are my succulent leaves shriveling?)

How Often to Water Propagated Succulent Leaves and Cuttings

The method for watering and how often you should water propagated succulents leaves is very different from watering established succulents as the leaves either have no root system or a small, developing root system, therefore it is necessary to water them far more often as they are more susceptible to drying up.

Water propagated succulent leaves once every 2 days using spray bottle to mist the leaves and surrounding soil with a generous watering, so that the surface of the soil and the succulent leaves are moist. Spray the propagated leaves and cuttings with water again when the surface of the soil feels dry.

Succulents are able to absorb moisture through their leaves which is why it is important to specifically water the surface of the leaves with a mist as this can be its only means of absorbing water whilst the root system develops.

As there are several factors that can influence how quickly the soil dries (such as temperature and intensity of sunlight), so you may need to mist your propagated succulent leaves more or less often depending on the conditions.

There are two key ways to determine when to mist your propagated succulent leaves:

  1. Use your finger to feel the surface of the soil to check whether it is still moist or whether its dried (mist when it feels dry).
  2. Whether the succulent leaf looks shriveled or not.

As succulents store water in their leaves and when they draw upon the moisture reserves they can start to appear shriveled if there is not enough moisture available, which is a good indication that you need to mist your propagated succulents leaves and cuttings more often.

With consistent misting the succulent leaf or cutting can revive from a shriveled its appearance.

However before watering at all, it is important to ensure that the cutting has calloused over on dry soil so that it does not absorb too much moisture and start to rot.

Propagated succulent leaves absorb moisture through the air (water vapor) which is why misting the leaves is a better mechanism for watering whilst the roots are still developing. This is also why watering cuttings more frequently then mature plants is essential.

Always keep a close eye on your propagated succulents to ensure they have enough moisture by checking if the surface of the soil is dry.

Watch this helpful YouTube video for a visual explanation of how to water propagated succulents leaves:

Key Takeaways:

  • Water succulent plants once every 2 weeks with a thorough watering during Spring and Summer and water once every 3 to 4 weeks during Fall and Winter. Succulents are drought resistant plants that require the soil to dry out before watering again to avoid root rot.
  • Water indoor and outdoor succulents once every 2 weeks with a thorough watering so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. Wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering your succulent again to avoid root rot.
  • Succulents require watering less often in Winter as they are in a state of dormancy and not actively growing. Water succulent plants once every 3-4 weeks in Fall and Winter with a thorough watering so that the soil is evenly moist. Always wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
  • As a general rule, water propagated succulent leaves with a spray bottle and mist the leaves and surrounding soil with water once every 2 days. Mist the propagated succulent leaf cuttings again when when the surface of the soil feels dry or if the succulent leaves appear shriveled.
  • Always water established succulent plants with a thorough watering so water trickles from the base of the pot to ensure that the soil is evenly moist. Watering succulents thoroughly promotes strong roots and a healthy plant with plump leaves. Watering too lightly can prevent succulents accessing the moisture they require which can cause drought stress.

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