How Often Do You Water Succulents – The Easy Guide

Running water

How often do you water succulents is a stumbling block for a lot of people. Some think they should never water, some want to water as they do other houseplants, and for the rest, it is just a sporadic thing.

While succulents are more forgiving than most plants, watering them as nature would will help them be their healthiest and look their best.

Here is an easy guide to watering your succulents, what you need, and a few additional articles/resources you may find helpful.

Soak

When we think of desert plants “getting watered” it comes in the form of a quick, usually hard, rain and then it is hot and dry for several days or weeks. When desert plants receive a good soaking, it causes new roots to develop and keeps the older roots healthy.

If you are really thirsty, you want a big glass of water, not a little sip. Your succulents feel the same, if they get a little water, they are left wanting more, all the roots aren’t satisfied, and their root development suffers.

So, the first step is to soak the plant. This can be done with a watering can or simply turn your faucet on a low stream and hold the plant underneath. Make sure to water the entire pot, not just one spot. The water should come out of the drainage hole for several seconds, indicating the water went all the way through the pot.

Plant with dry area

Dry Completely

Just as in the desert, once the rain comes, it is dry for a while. Your succulent needs time to dry out completely, through the entire pot.

Succulents that are left sitting in water develop root rot, their roots drown in the water. Do you know how your fingers or toes look all wrinkly if you are in the pool or bath too long? Succulents roots start looking like that too. They get weak and unhealthy. While it doesn’t take long for our fingers and toes to go back to normal, succulents that have set in water too long may not recover.

One way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to use a pot that has drainage holes. This way all the excess water drains out and you can tell it has been watered thoroughly. If you purchase a pot without drainage holes, you can add your own with a drill. If you want to make a succulent terrarium, read this article. Actually, the article goes into watering a little more in-depth than this one so you may find it helpful regardless of your pot.

Just remember, it is important that the entire pot from top to bottom has time to dry out. You can insert a Popsicle stick and see if it comes out wet if you are unsure. It is best to use well-draining succulent soil and not need to check.

Testing soil dryness

Wait

This waiting may freak you out a little. You may be saying, “The pot is dry and you want me to wait longer?” Yes, I do! When you use good succulent soil, this article talks about soil, it should dry out in a couple of days but you still want to wait.

Depending on the time of year and your climate, your succulents only need watered about every 5-7 days, maybe longer if they are in a humid environment.

Water every 5-7 days if:

  • If they are in a breezy area
  • If they are in a hot area
  • If they are in a low humid area

Water every 7-10 days if:

  • If they are in a humid environment
  • If they were outside and you bring them in for the winter

How fast they dry out and the type of succulent will affect their watering schedule. If they start looking a little wrinkled/shriveled, water more often.

Always, I repeat, always err on the side of under watering vs. overwatering. It is much easier to give them more water than to stop root rot.

Repeat

That’s it, once it has been 5-10 days, start the process all over.

Again, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to err on the side of under-watering. Knowing when to water, having a pot with drainage holes, and a good succulent soil will really help your succulents thrive.

Additional Resources

Symbols for soak, dry, wait, repeatSoak, dry completely, wait, repeat, that’s it! You got this!

Here is an infographic for a quick resource – How to Water Succulents Infographic

If you want to learn more about root rot, read this article – Succulent Root Rot – Preventing and Saving

To learn about the soil experiment we are doing, read this article – Homemade Succulent Soil – Cheaper? Better?

Here is a review of tools – Succulent Tools – Review of the Ginsco 7pcs Succulent Gardening Hand Tools Set

Here are soil reviews – Succulent Potting Soil Mix – Reviews

As always, I love to hear about your succulents, answer your questions, or hear your comments!

14 Responses

  1. Great article on watering succulents, very important to not let them go too long even though they are pretty forgiving by nature. I don’t currently own a house succulent but I do have a 12 year old San Pedro cactus named Skinny. He’s been an indoor potted cactus and often doesn’t get enough light so he’s way underweight and well.. Skinny! What is your favorite house succulent? 

    • LOL, Skinny!  Too funny! If skinny is healthy but thin, all is fine with him!  Hmmm, I have two favorite…I like jade plants (Crassula ovata) and the zebra plant (Haworthia fasciata), both are easy and look nice.

      Let me know if I can answer any questions and thanks for commenting!

      Lisa

  2. Thank you for your post. The article is very useful for me. I always make this mistake when my wife has long trip. I water all plant daily, including succulents.

    I simply have no knowledge on succulents. I live in New York. As you described, we just need to water the succulent once a week. I think it is good idea to sort the plants based on how much they need. Right now we place all plants in the same location. It is hard to remember which one needs water daily, which one needs water weekly, and which one needs water monthly.

    It is kind of you sharing this useful knowledge with us. Now I remember that succulent needs water about once a week.

    • Hi Anthony,

      That is a great idea to sort them by watering needs, just make sure they still get enough light! It sounds like you have a lot of plants, that is great!

      Please let me know if I can answer any questions!

      Thanks,

      Lisa

  3. This is very good information, thank you. I recently purchased a succulent and was having trouble figuring out the exact time to water. Turns out I wasn’t watering them enough apparently, and didn’t wait long enough to let the soil dry out before watering it again. This is awesome information, I am going to implement this strategy immediately!

  4. OOH!  I had to share this on Facebook and tag my mother.  She LOVES succulents and is kind of a bad house plant person and stresses about how much to water them.  I got her a succulent plant (actually 3 in a window box thingy) for mother’s day last year!  I kind of wished I had found this then! Thanks so much for this!  It actually makes sense to water like you described as if they were getting a good hard rain once every week or so! Thanks again!

    • Hi Selenity,

      Thanks so much for sharing with your Mom! People do tend to stress about succulents but they aren’t as hard as most people think.

      If your Mom has any questions, send her my way.

      Thanks again,

      Lisa

  5. That’s what my mother need to learn, to let her plants dry from time to time. I was watching her almost cry when her plants (on pots) lost some flowers eventhough she’s abundantly watering the plants. She thought that if she water the plant abundantly with almost no stopping, they will grow healthy. Your article has brought out a new truth about plants, about watering them, I should share the idea to my mother so she’d be aware of the mistakes she’s making. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Gomer,

      Yep, that happens a lot, people think more is best! Thanks for sharing with her and if she has other questions, please let me know!

      Lisa

  6. Thanks for the information for succulents.  I have enjoyed these plants and learned through hit or miss methods a bit about them through the years.  Having information available will be very helpful, and answers some questions for me.

    I appreciate the low care for succulents and having them in my yard. I haven’t had them in the house, except for ivy that grows in water.  I do have several recycled containers of very pretty healthy green ivy plants that get moved about in our home.  

    I have been successful with Aleo Vera. Having some real information, and a resource to refer to for their care will make it easier to have some variety.  Our dry climate is a good place to learn to care for more of these plants.

    • Hi Sami,

      Oh, I’m a little jealous of your environment! I put my succulents on the porch during the summer but have to bring them in for the winter!

      So glad you found the information helpful! If you have any questions, please let me know.

      Thanks,

      Lisa

  7. Hi, Lisa, I moved to a new home in May this year. I planted an aloe vera in every room because people say that aloe vera can remove harmful substances such as formaldehyde.

    When buying these aloe vera, the boss who sells aloe vera can’t always water them. It can only be done once a month. I still do it, but there is still one that has died due to root rot! Every time I watered them, I felt that they were too thirsty, so I poured a lot of water and put them back into the room without waiting for the dry. Because some rooms were not ventilated, they caused rotten roots.

    Both aloe vera and Succulents belong to the desert plants. I used to water them according to their own subjective judgments. After reading the articles you shared, I finally found a scientific system to water them. Learned Soak, dry completely, wait, repeat four steps and a method to measure the watering interval. I think they will be able to thrive under the care of my scientific system in the future, thank you for sharing!

    • Hey,

      I have found it easier to do things with a more scientific approach too. I don’t have to worry if I’m watering at the right time, having a tried and true system is easier.

      Aloe Vera’s are great plants and do a lot for the air plus are good for burns.

      Please let me know if I can answer any questions.

      Thanks,

      Lisa

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