How to Water Succulent Plants

Have you ever wondered how much water your succulents 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, to learn how to water your succulents!

Watering succulents seems to be 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 killed dozens of succulents over the years, both over-watering and under-watering. The good news is that I’ve figured out the right system, which has kept my succulents super healthy. And now you’re going to learn it, too!

With the help of these tips and tricks, you’ll have an easy time figuring 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.

And best of all, you’ll be able to relax, knowing you’ve got all the information you need to keep your plants happy!

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing some of the plants you see in the photos throughout the post, click here. Or just click on the names below the photos to purchase.

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 explain the actual system I use to water my plants, I want to tell you about three common mistakes most people make when they first start growing succulents.

Once you’ve overcome these problems, you’ll be several steps 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 (like this gorgeous wine bottle planter), 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 succulents!

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 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!

Use a simple watering can to properly water succulents

My favorite watering can!

Avoid those three common mistakes, and you’ll already be far ahead of most growers when it comes to watering your plants the right way!

But now that we’ve covered the basics, I’m going to teach you how you should be watering your succulents!

How much and how often should I water my indoor succulents?

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 sounds 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 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, like me–but if you live somewhere more humid, you may only need to water once a week, or less.

A stunning combination of succulents 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, I give you Debra Lee Baldwin. She has plants that she hasn’t watered for months, and they still keep growing.

This is because she lives in a more humid area than I do, so her plants have access to water in the air, and don’t need to be watered as often. Also, a plant with thicker leaves like a Pachyveria needs less water than a succulent with thin leaves like Aeonium Zwartkop.

In the end, you’re going to have to experiment 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.

In fact, your succulents need a drought every few days, in order to encourage new roots to grow.

In short–if the roots aren’t getting enough water, they’ll dry up and stop growing–but if they’re too wet, they’ll rot and die.

Keep a close eye on your plants’ growth and color, and find out what sort of schedule works in your own environment. Find out more about growing succulents wherever you live!

How much and how often should I water my outdoor succulents?

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.

Find out how to water succulents in outdoor container arrangements

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 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 little bit plump and shiny. As the succulent grow and start to put off more roots and rosettes, you can gradually cut back on watering.

However, wait until they’re about the size of a quarter 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

I hope this article has given you a clearer idea of how, when, and how much to water your succulents to ensure they live long, healthy lives.

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.

To see some examples of over- and under-watered succulent, check out my ebook: How to Water Succulents: An in-depth guide or my post “Help! My succulent is dying!


Thanks for reading this article!

I’d love to help you more in your succulent adventures! Here are some great ways to interact and learn more about succulents:

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