Watering succulent plants is one of the trickiest parts of growing them.
But, don’t worry!
With the help of the tips and techniques in this post, you’ll not only learn how to water succulents, but also determine the perfect watering schedule for your plants.
It’ll be straightforward, so even if you’ve had problems with watering in the past, you’ll be able to take action today to help your succulents look amazing.
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Common Watering Mistakes
There are 3 common mistakes most people make when they first start growing succulents.
Once you avoid these problems, you’ll be on track for success!
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!
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.
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 Indoors
The best way to water succulents is to completely soak the soil and then let it dry out completely before you water again.
I call this the Soak and Dry watering method. When you water your succulents, you want to make sure the soil is completely soaked.
When the soil is soaked, your succulents will soak up as much water as they can. Then wait for the soil to dry out completely – all the way to the bottom -before you water again.
In fact, your succulents will do fine in completely dry soil for several 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.
The video below shows how to implement this “soak and dry” method.
To water this way you’ll need to use a watering can or place your succulents under the faucet inside.
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 five to six 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.
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.
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:
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 it’s likely you’ll need to water your plants a little more often than if they were indoors.
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.
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.
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.
Watering the right way
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. Be sure you grab your free cheat sheet, Signs Your Succulents Need Water, if you haven’t already.
This cheat sheet will show you exactly what to look for to make sure your succulents are getting the right amount of water.
I hope this article has given you a more clear idea of how, when, and how much to water your succulents to ensure they live for years to come!
If you’re ready to test out a little bit more advanced techniques, click here to learn how to water succulents in pots without a drainage hole.
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