How to Water Succulent Plants

Have you ever wondered how much to water succulents? This post will teach you how to properly water succulents to keep them looking great!

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Welcome! I am so glad you’re here!

Watering succulents seems to be one of the trickiest parts of growing succulents.

Every person I know who grows succulents, myself included, has struggled with watering at some point, so you’re not alone!

I’ve killed dozens of plants from both over watering and under watering. Once I figured out the right system though, I’ve been able to keep my succulents so much healthier!

I want to make sure you can do the same.

With the tips and tricks in this post, you’ll be able to figure out the perfect watering schedule for your own plants.

You’ll be so thrilled with how great your succulents look! You’ll want to show off your amazing plants to everyone you know.

You’ll be able to relax, knowing you’re equipped with the information you need to keep your plants happy!

Also, if you’re interested in purchasing some of the plants you see in the photos throughout the post click here. You can also click on the names below the photos to purchase.

Find out the best way to water succulents indoors and out!
Succulents above (click names to purchase): Kalanchoe luciae, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’, Aloe arborescens, Graptosedum ‘Vera Higgins’, Crassula argentea ‘Crosby’s Compact’

Before I get to the system I use, I want to tell you a couple common problems people run into when they first start growing succulents. If you can overcome these problems you’ll be way ahead of the game when it comes to preventing watering problems!

Problem #1 – Using a pot without a drainage hole

While succulents can survive in planters without drainage holes (like this gorgeous wine bottle planter), it takes a lot more work to keep them happy. So, I highly recommend starting with a pot that has a good drainage hole. One of my favorite pots is from Susan Aach. Her style is gorgeous and all her pottery has large drainage holes so they are a perfect choice for succulents!

Stunning pottery by Susan Aach and succulents arranged by The Succulent Perch
Succulents above: Echeveria ‘Mazarine’, Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Chocolate Soldier’, Pilosocereus azureus

Problem #2 – Poorly draining soil

A big part of successfully watering succulents is having the right soil. In fact, I’ve dedicated a whole post to why soil might be the reason your succulents are dying. Check it out here! Succulents don’t like to sit in wet soil for very long, so having a really well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole is critical.

Problem #3 – Using a spray bottle for watering

I’ll tell you all about this in the next section, but succulents like to be soaked, not spritzed. I’ve had so many people tell me they use a spray bottle for watering their succulents and instantly I know why their plants are struggling. Don’t do it! There is only one time I recommend using a spray bottle for succulents and I’ll tell you all about it toward the end of the post.

I primarily use a small watering can to water my succulents. I like that it has a rather long spout so I can water in between my plants rather than on top of them. It holds just enough water for me to soak 2-3 pots indoors. I have a larger watering can that I use outside, or I’ll just use a hose with a soft sprayer attachment. These tools all work really well for watering succulents.

Use a simple watering can to properly water succulents

Now that you know the common mistakes people make when watering succulents, let me show you how you should be watering your succulents!

How often and how much should I water the succulent plants I’m growing indoors?

The best practice for watering succulents is to completely soak the soil when you water. This tells the succulents to drink up because a drought is coming. They’ll absorb as much water as they can. Then the soil will take a couple days to dry out. Don’t water again until the soil is completely dry!!!

You can actually leave your plants in totally dry soil for a few days, especially if they are larger and have well established roots. They’ll use that time of drought to put off new roots that are thick and healthy so they can absorb more water when the “flood” comes again.

A light spray does not promote healthy root growth for succulents. Instead of filling up their roots with water, they shoot off tiny, thin new roots to absorb as much water as they can quickly, hoping to get water again soon. They’ll survive for a while this way, but they’ll be healthier with a good soak every few days.

As a general rule, if I’m using the gritty mix I water my indoor plants every 3-4 days in a pot that has a drainage hole. However, this does not mean it’s the right watering schedule for you!

There isn’t a lot of humidity inside my house so I find my plants dry out pretty quickly. Your location plays a big role in how much you have to water. If you live in a dry climate you’ll need to water more often. If it’s humid, less often.

A stunning combination of succulents with a coordinating top dressing
Succulents above (click names to purchase): Crassula ovata, Haworthia fasciata, Echeveria azulita, Ferocactus gracilis

Debra Lee Baldwin has plants that she hasn’t watered for months and they still keep growing. She lives in a more humid area than I do, so her plants don’t need water as often. Since the succulents have access to water in the air, this humidity prevents them from losing water as quickly, so keep that in mind. Also, a plant with thicker leaves like a Pachyveria is going to need less water than a succulent with thin leaves like Aeonium Zwartkop.

You have to experiment and see what works for you. When dealing with full sized plants it’s good to err on the side of underwatering since too much water tends to kill succulents more quickly than too little. Succulents need a short drought in order to encourage new roots to grow.

That said, if the roots aren’t getting enough water they’ll dry up and stop growing. If they are too wet they’ll rot and die. You really just have to experiment and see what sort of schedule seems to work. Find out more about growing succulents wherever you live!

How often and how much should I water the succulent plants I’m growing outdoors?

When watering succulents outdoors, you’ll want to follow the same method of soaking the soil and letting it dry out completely before watering again. The amount you water your plants outdoors will also depend on your location and the humidity where you live.

The hotter it is the faster the soil will dry out, so you’ll need to water more often. The more humid it is, the less you’ll need to water. I generally water my plants every 2-3 days during the heat of the summer.

I’m not able to leave my plants outside during the winter as it gets too cold and they’ll freeze. But when it does start cooling off I cut back to watering once a week and sometimes every other week.

Since it tends to be warmer outside than inside the water will evaporate faster so the plants will need to be watered a little more often. It is still important for the plants to dry out before you water again, so make sure you’re paying attention to how your plants are growing.

Also keep in mind that succulents in the ground don’t have to be watered quite as often as succulents in pots because the soil stays cooler and doesn’t dry out as quickly.

Find out how to water succulents in outdoor container arrangements

How often and how much should I water the succulent leaves I’m propagating?

Here is the one time it’s ok to use a spray bottle for watering succulents… propagating! For the most part if you are propagating succulent leaves indoors you can water them every day.

Simply spray the top of the soil with a spray bottle (or use a watering can). Like the roots of large plants, the leaves will absorb water from the air around them, so spraying the soil with a spray bottle has been enough in my experience.

If you are using a well draining succulent soil you can water a little bit more than if you are using normal potting soil (which won’t dry out very quickly). You may notice the roots of your plants drying out if they aren’t being watered enough.

Normally the roots will be white or pink and a little bit plump and shiny. As the succulent leaves grow and start to put off more roots and rosettes you can gradually cut back on watering. However, wait until they are about the size of a quarter before cutting back too much.

Find out how to water succulent leaves for propagation!
Graptoveria ‘Opalina’, Graptoveria ‘Debbie’, Sedum rubrotinctum, Crassula rupestris

Hopefully this article has given you a better idea of the proper way to water succulents to ensure they live long, healthy lives. If you haven’t already, be sure to enter your email address below to get my free video tutorial for watering succulents and a shortened version of this post as a PDF you can reference in the future!

It is possible you may still end up with less than healthy succulents, even if you are careful to water correctly. To see some examples of what an over or under watered succulent looks like, check out my ebook: How to Water Succulents: An in-depth guide or my post “Help! My succulent is dying!

Also, to purchase some of the succulents you see in this post simply click here.

293 Responses to How to Water Succulent Plants

  1. I purchased a succulent heart – different varieties spread over a mossy, heart frame in November. It was beautiful but now one by one they are dying. I was told to submerse the whole heart with plants in a tub of water for 10 minutes about every two weeks. They are rotting on the frame. It is in a North facing window till I can take it outside. Out if about 30 small and slightly larger plants, I’ve only got about 10 left.

    • The watering method is correct, but the timing between watering is likely the culprit. I’m guessing it isn’t drying out very quickly being indoors. I’d recommend waiting until the moss is completely dry before soaking it again. You could even soak it for a little less time, maybe 5 minutes to prevent it from getting over saturated.

  2. This is kind of a shot in the dark but I do woodworking and have been building different types of planter boxes/containers for my succulents and I am planning on selling them soon. But the wood seems to always grow mold unless I keep them in the pot they came in and just take them out to water (which doesn’t always look as good in specific designs I make). Have you ever had to deal with this problem? Do you have any tips on sealing the wood with something safe for my plants or any other tips? I see some people plant them in moss, is this a better way to keep them in my pieces? (think hanging art planter boxes) Thank you!

  3. Thanks so much Cassidy. I just wanted to get the info straight cause I was getting mixed messages from various websites.
    Wish me luck! PS. My husband laughs at me cause I look at them 5 times a day!

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful article :) It gives me hope and encouragement to grow more succulents and prevent them from dying.

  5. Ok I am trying my hand at trying to grow a Pachyveria Hybrid. How much water as in measurement does it need and how much sunlight does it need??

    • For watering I use whats called the “soak and dry” method. Never water your plants until the soil is completely dried out, then soak all of the soil, enough that it will come through the drainage hole.

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