How much and how often should you water succulents?

Succulents are a favored houseplant because they come in so many different sizes, shapes, styles, and colors. There’s a variety of succulent plants to choose from, to the point that many people will pick ones that fit their individual spaces — be it their desk, plant stand, windowsill, you name it. By learning how to water a succulent properly and as often as required, you’ll get to provide the best care for this unique plant.

Top-down view of a succlent
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How often do you water succulents in pots?

Many people don’t know how much to water succulents. Because succulents naturally grow in climates with infrequent rain, they’ve adapted in a way that allows them to store water for much longer than regular houseplants. As such, they can’t be watered the same way. It’s recommended to let the soil dry out completely in between waterings and then soak the soil when it’s time to water again. This process generally results in watering your indoor succulents once every two weeks. However, you may find you’ll need to adjust the time in between watering depending on the individual succulent.

You’ll want to be sure your succulents are potted in a container with good drainage. Succulents are very prone to rot, so if the soil can’t drain properly, you’ll risk the succulent sitting in wet soil for too long and drowning or rotting. The leaves can also rot if you get water on them and leave it there for too long. So, be careful and direct with your watering!

How do you know when a succulent needs water?

When a succulent needs water will depend on a couple of things: The season and the succulent itself. Like all plants, succulents grow more in certain conditions and less in others. The warmer months are the succulent’s growing period. This is when you’ll want to invoke the soak-and-dry method once every two weeks. However, during the cooler months, succulents enter a period of dormancy where they don’t require as much water. This time, especially, is when you need to listen to the plant.

First and foremost, in either season, never water until the soil is completely dry from top to bottom. You’ll notice during the colder time of the year that the soil takes longer to fully dry out, so don’t water until it does — even if that means going a month between watering. Another signal to look for is the shriveling of leaves. That often indicates that the succulent is starting to dry out and needs to be watered. Again, this could take longer than two weeks during the plant’s dormancy period, so be patient and listen to what it’s telling you, and you’ll be able to successfully keep succulents alive all year long.

A potted succulent
Kyaw Tun/Unsplash

How do you water indoor succulents?

As discussed above, it’s best to use the soak and dry method once every two weeks to water your succulents. For this to be as effective as possible, consider using something that can test the dryness of the soil from top to bottom. It could be as simple as sticking a butter knife in the soil, a wooden skewer, or even using your finger if the pot is shallow enough. Be sure not to water the succulent until the soil is completely dry, or you could run the risk of causing rot.

To prevent any rot from water sitting on the leaves and to be sure you soak the soil effectively, it’s recommended that you use a watering can with a small spout or another type of direct watering method. That way, you’re only soaking the soil around the plant and not the plant itself.

If your pot has drainage holes, it’s recommended that you water the soil until water starts to come out of the drainage at the bottom. However, there are tons of cute succulent planters out there that don’t have drainage holes. You’re probably wondering, after all this, if you can still use them? The answer is yes but do so with caution. Placing small garden rocks at the bottom of the pot before putting in the soil will give excess water a place to sit while the soil dries out and will gradually soak its way back in. So, if you decide to opt for a container without built-in drainage, consider getting some!

You’ll also have to pay closer attention to the signals from your succulent on when to water since a pot without drainage can lengthen the “once every two weeks” time frame. Remember that one of the biggest causes of succulents dying is overwatering. It may take some trial and error to find the right balance.

How much water does a small succulent need?

Smaller succulents are ideally in smaller containers (that still have drainage holes), so as long as you follow the above watering method, you should be good to go. Even without drainage holes, if you place those rocks in the bottom and pay attention to the signals from your succulent, you’ll have no trouble as a succulent parent!

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