How to Water Succulent Plants

Have you ever wondered how much water your succulent plants need? In this post, I’m going to teach you how to properly water your succulents, so they’ll keep looking great!

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Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here, ready to learn how to water your succulents!

Watering succulents is one of the trickiest parts of growing them.

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

I’ve accidentally (and intentionally) killed dozens if not hundreds of succulents over the years, both over-watering and under-watering. But don’t worry, it wasn’t in vain!

The good news is that I’ve figured out the right system to my succulents super healthy. And now you can learn it, too!

With the help of these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to figure out the perfect watering schedule for your own plants.

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

Find out the best way to water succulents indoors and out!

Kalanchoe luciae, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’, Aloe arborescens, Graptosedum ‘Vera Higgins’, Crassula argentea ‘Crosby’s Compact’ Click here to purchase these succulents

Before I teach you the system I use to water my plants, there are 3 common mistakes most people make when they first start growing succulents.

Once you’ve overcome these problems, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to preventing watering problems!

Mistake #1 – Using a pot without a drainage hole

Although your succulents can survive in planters without drainage holes, you’ll have to put in a lot more work to keep them happy.

That’s why I highly recommend starting with a pot that has a good drainage hole — for example, this wonderful pot is from Susan Aach. Her style is gorgeous, and all her pottery has large drainage holes, which makes them a perfect choice for succulent plants!

Stunning pottery by Susan Aach and succulents arranged by The Succulent Perch

Echeveria ‘Mazarine’, Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Teddy Bear’, Pilosocereus azureus — Pot by Susan Aach

Mistake #2 – Using poorly draining soil

The right soil is a huge part of successfully watering your succulents. In fact, I’ve devoted a whole post to choosing a soil that won’t kill your plants. Check it out here!

The bottom line is that succulents prefer not to sit in wet soil for very long. So in addition to getting a pot that drains effectively, you’ve got to use soil that does the same.

Mistake #3 – Using a spray bottle for watering

Succulents like to be soaked, not spritzed! (I’ll tell you all about this in the next section.) I’ve had so many people tell me they use a spray bottle for watering succulents–and every time I hear that, instantly I know why their plants are struggling.

Don’t do it!

There is only time I recommend using a spray bottle for succulents and I’ll tell you all about it toward the end of the post.

So what should you use to water your plants? A small watering can works great! My watering can has a rather long spout, so I can water in between my succulent plants rather than on top of them–plus it holds just enough water for me to soak two or three pots indoors.

I also have a larger watering can that I use outside, or sometimes I’ll just use a hose with a soft sprayer attachment. All these tools work great!

A simple watering that works well to properly water succulent plants

Click here to purchase my favorite watering can!

Avoid those three common mistakes, and you’ll already be on track to keep your succulents looking their best!

With those out of the way, now let me teach you how you should be watering your succulents!

How to Water Succulents

The video below shows the technique I use to water succulents, the soak and dry method. You can also read the details of this method in the sections that follow.

How much and how often should I water my indoor succulent plants?

When you water your succulents, you want to make sure the soil is completely soaked. Why? Because your succulents will expect a drought, and will soak up as much water as they can. Then give your soil a couple days to dry out–and don’t water again until the soil is completely dry!!!

In fact, your succulents will do fine in completely dry soil for a few days, especially if they’re larger and have well-established roots. During the “drought,” they’ll put out new roots that are thick and healthy, so they can absorb more water when the “flood” comes again.

But above all (I sound like a broken record, I know), do not use a spray bottle to water your succulents! A light spray does not promote healthy root growth. Instead of filling up their roots with water, your plants 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 much healthier with a good soak every few days. Try it out and you’ll see the difference in less than a week, I promise.

So how often should you soak your soil? As a general rule, if I’m using the gritty mix I water my indoor plants every three to four days, in a pot that has a drainage hole. But this may not be the right watering schedule for your succulent plants!

Your location plays a big role in how much you have to water. For example, my house doesn’t hold a lot of humidity, so I find my plants dry out pretty quickly.

If you live in a dry climate, you’ll probably need to water every three or four days, which is the case for me–but if you live somewhere more humid, you may only need to water once a week, or less.

A stunning combination of succulent plants with a coordinating top dressing

Crassula ovata, Haworthia fasciata, Echeveria azulita, Ferocactus gracilis — Click here to purchase these succulents

If you’re having trouble believing that your succulents can go a week or more without water, give it a try! You’ll likely be amazed at the result.

Keep in mind too that succulent plants with thicker leaves like a Pachyveria need less water than a succulent with thin leaves like Aeonium Zwartkop.

In the end, you’re going to have to experiment a little and see what watering schedule works for you. When you’re dealing with full-sized plants, it’s better to err on the side of underwater, since too much water tends to kill succulents more quickly than too little.

Take a look at this quick video to see a few factors affect how often you’ll need to water your succulents:

If you’re wondering what it looks like when your succulents get too much or too little water, click the button below to grab a copy of my free ebook: Signs Succulents Need Water.

I show you examples of what an over and under watered succulent looks like, plus some tips for helping them recover. It’s a quick read, but it can help ensure your succulents live a long, healthy life.

How much and how often should I water my outdoor succulent plants?

When watering outdoor succulents, just follow the same method of soaking the soil, then letting it dry out completely before watering again. As with indoor plants, the exact amount you water your plants outdoors will depend on the humidity of the area where you live.

With outdoor succulents, it’s also important to keep temperature in mind. The hotter it is outside, the faster your soil will dry out, so you’ll need to water more often if you live in a hot area.

If you live in a cooler, more humid environment, on the other hand, you’ll need to water less often–I generally water my plants every two to three days during the heat of the summer, and less in cooler months.

Since there tends to be better airflow outside than inside, the water in your pots will evaporate faster, so you’ll need to water your plants a little more often than if they were indoors.

It’s still important for the soil to dry out before you water again, so make sure you’re paying attention to how your plants are growing.

I have to bring my succulents indoors during the winter, as the temperature around here drops low enough to freeze them. When the weather starts cooling off and I bring my plants inside, I cut back to watering once a week–or sometimes only every other week.

Also, keep in mind that succulents planted 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.

Succulent plants in large blue-green pots outdoors

Aloe ‘Blue Elf’, Agave parryi, Aloe hybrid

How should I water the succulent leaves I’m propagating?

This is the one time–and the only time–that it’s okay to use a spray bottle for watering your succulents–when you’re propagating! In fact, if you’re propagating succulent leaves indoors, you can water them every day.

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

If you’re using a well-draining succulent soil, you can water a little bit more than if you’re using normal potting soil (which won’t dry out very quickly).

Keep an eye on your roots–they may dry out if they aren’t getting enough water.

Healthy succulent roots will be white or pink, and a plump and shiny. As the succulent grows and start to put off more roots, you can gradually cut back on watering.

However, wait until they’re about the size of a quarter with well established roots before you cut back too much.

Find out how to water succulent leaves for propagation!

Graptoveria ‘Opalina’, Graptoveria ‘Debbie’, Sedum rubrotinctum, Crassula rupestris — Click here to purchase these succulents

Even if you water your succulents carefully, you may still end up with plants that look less than healthy. As I said above, this is usually because you’re over- or under-watering them, and haven’t picked up on the symptoms.

I hope this article has given you a clearer idea of how, when, and how much to water your succulents to ensure they live for years to come!

And if you haven’t already, be sure to grab a copy of my free ebook, Signs Your Succulent Needs Water, to see how to tell if you need to give your succulent more or less water. This can be a lifesaver for your succulents!


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As you have pointed out, there’s no substitute for paying attention, but having a description of the things to look for is a big help. I especially liked the comparison to wrinkly fingers after too much time in the tub.

I love this post. I am having a hard time keeping my leaf cuttings alive and growing roots, so this is helpful. I’m not very garden-savvy, so even “testing” or finding out what works for me has been difficult. I am definitely over-watering, so I will try to lightly mist daily and see what happens. IG @succulent_succotash

Thank you. I needed to know this for my little succulent.

Signs Your Succulent Needs Water