How to Water Succulents Properly for Gorgeous Plants

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What is a Succulent?

“Succulent” is a term used to describe a plant that can hold excess water for use during a drought.

Some of the most popular succulents store water in fleshy leaves.

Because of this ability, they don’t have to be watered as often as other types of plants.

This has made them extremely popular as indoor plants.

Aloe vera, cacti, and Jade plants are examples of easy to grow succulents.

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When to Water Indoor Succulents

Overwatering is the main cause of health problems for succulents.

One of the keys to having beautiful, healthy succulents as indoor plants is to allow the soil to become dry between watering, but not hard and compacted.

As you become familiar with your succulent, you will be able to tell by the weight of the plant that the soil is dry and it is time to water.

If you notice that leaves are becoming wrinkled, the plant is becoming dehydrated.

Although it is generally better to underwater than overwater, try to avoid allowing a succulent to become this dry.

How to Water Indoor Succulents

Use a small watering can with a long, narrow spout to focus the water on the soil surface.

It won’t hurt the leaves to get slightly wet, but the water needs to be focused on the soil and absorbed through the root system.

If the succulent has a “crown” with a collection of leaves that meet in the center of the plant, make sure that water hasn’t collected there.

It could cause rot. Simply tip the plant to allow the water to move away from the base.

Continue adding water to the soil until it drips out of the drain holes.

Allow the plant to sit a few minutes and drain completely.

Water again and allow all the excess water to drain.

This will allow the roots to absorb plenty of water, but keep them from “sitting” in excess moisture.

This method of watering promotes deep, strong root growth.

various succulents in light gray pots next to window

For containers without drain holes, it is important to be more precise in the amount of water used.

If the container appears to have about 2 cups of soil, then add 1 cup of water.

This ratio is important because if too much water is added, there is no way for it to drain.

Also, look to see if there is any standing water in the container.

If so, gently tip the container to pour-off as much excess water as possible.

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How Often to Water Succulents?

There is no standard guideline for watering frequency.

It is more art than science.

However, it is better to err on the side of under watering than overwatering.

It is much easier to hydrate a wilted or shriveled succulent than to save one from rot.

One of the best ways to determine when to water is to gauge the weight of the container after watering so that you can feel when it becomes significantly lighter.

Succulents generally don’t grow much in the winter months, so they won’t need to be watered as often as in the summer.

Another consideration is your home’s environment.

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If you live in a dry, warm climate you may need to water every 7-14 days.

However, succulents grown in a humid environment may only need to be watered once a month.

Succulents can be so easy to care for that they can be easy to neglect.

With all of the technology at our fingertips, I recommend setting a notification on your phone to remind you to check succulents for water!

To learn about watering tropical houseplants, click here.

19 thoughts on “How to Water Succulents Properly for Gorgeous Plants”

  1. Thank you! This give me more confidence. I appreciate you posting this!

  2. Hi there,
    I over watered my Snake plant inwhich I rescued it out of its soil and have had to dry out plus cut off any damage it caused.
    It has been out of soil now for two weeks…I plan to plant it this Sunday..shall I water it straight away in its new soil?
    Kind regards
    Laura Nott NSW

    • Hi Laura, For succulents it’s best to wait a few days after repotting to water them. That’s because it gives any small breaks in the plant tissue that may occur a chance to callus over. This prevents bacteria from entering the plant from the water. Wishing you well with your snake plant! -Shannon

      • Thanks so much for your help. It’s not doing great and looking a little tired…I’m scared to water it lol. I gave it some water this afternoon and put the plant outside to drain..I’ll bring him back in of tmw morning…when I replanted it any part of root it had I had to cut off…should I have propagated before planting?

        • Hi Laura, Sorry to hear that it’s not doing great. Essentially if there weren’t many roots left after you repotted it, it’s as if you propagated it. It would help if you wanted to send me a couple of photos at [email protected] that way I could better be able to help you problem-solve this! thanks, Shannon

          • Ur a life saver..or should I say , “plant saver” lol.
            Tha ks do mych..I Dahl send thru asap along with my aloe vera that I needed to report due to over watering for your advise if ok.
            None r in teracits puts do alsoa wom hindering of that’s not helping?

          • Hi Laura, I will look for the photos in my email, feel free to send the aloe too! Unglazed terra cotta pots are beneficial for succulents because they allow air to pass through the pot to the roots. I highly recommend them for succulents. Best wishes! -Shannon

          • Thanks so much for your help, I’ve just sent through the pics of both my Aloe Vera and Snake plant now. Kind regards Laura Nott.

  3. I just can’t seem to get the watering down is there a easy beginners guide

    • Hi Jennifer, We offer a free guide when you join our weekly email (free to join and cancel anytime) that guides you through the process of How to Know When to Water. I think this would be a great help to you! You can get it by signing up on our website. Happy Gardening! -Shannon

  4. I have a Thanksgiving Cactus and it likes to be misted which is unusual for a succulent. And completely opposite of my Christmas cactus and Jade plants.

  5. I bought a Aloe Vera it looks like it’s wilted but I see a new sprout can I save it

    • Hi Judy! Aloe vera is very resilient, so you should be able to nurse the new sprout to a full-size plant. Check the soil to see if the plant is truly wilted from being too dry. Sometimes plants wilt when they are too wet. I would remove any dead or yellow leaves to help keep any diseases from starting. Best wishes! -Shannon


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