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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!