Succulents are not like most other plants. So naturally, if you try to water them like other plants, especially house plants, they aren’t going to survive!
However, this doesn’t mean you can neglect them completely.
These two extremes are what make it seem like succulents are hard to grow. But with this simple watering method, you’ll be able to give you succulents enough water to thrive.
To help you even further, download my free cheat sheet to see what it looks like when your succulents need more or less water. Click here to grab that, it’ll be super helpful.
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How to Water Succulent Plants (indoors and outdoors)
The best way to water succulents is with the “soak and dry” method. Soak the soil completely then let the soil dry out completely before watering again. And make sure the succulents are in a well draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole (more on that in a minute).
Pretty simple, right? See this method in action:
For indoor succulents, it is generally best if water doesn’t get on top of the leaves. If it sits on a leaf for too long it can cause rot.
This isn’t as much of an issue for outdoor succulents because there is more airflow and the water will dry out quicker.
If possible, just pour water onto the soil around your succulents until it is completely soaked. DO NOT water your succulents again until the soil has dried out — from the top of the pot to the bottom.
Succulents do not like to sit in wet soil for more than 2-3 days.
So then comes the question…
How often should I water my succulents?
Succulents should be watered only when the soil has dried out completely. There is no universal watering schedule that works for every succulent in every climate.
Many indoor succulent growers find that watering 10-14 days is a good frequency to keep their succulents alive. Use this timeline as a starting point and adjust as needed.
Remember to get the free cheat sheet to see what it looks like when your succulents need more or less water. Click here to grab that.
The best frequency for watering your succulents is whenever the leaves show very early signs of under watering. Grab that cheat sheet above so you know that that looks like.
Since most succulents are very prone to rot with frequent watering, you’re best off to wait for a signal from your succulent before watering.
But if nothing else, don’t water again until the soil is totally dry.
Find out a few other things that may affect how often you water your succulents in this video:
Why does this watering method work?
Succulents are generally native to areas where the soil drains quickly and water is heavy, but infrequent. Think about cacti (a subcategory of succulents) out in the desert… They get flash floods of water, with storms lasting 24-28 hours, followed by weeks without any water at all.
While your succulents, especially indoors, don’t need a watering schedule this extreme, they will benefit from the “soak and dry” approach.
With a deep watering the succulent has plenty of access to water. During the “drought” between watering, the succulent will begin to grow new roots, searching for more water.
The soak and dry method helps the succulent develop a large, healthy root system which will enable it to withstand longer periods of drought than most other plants.
Constant watering with small amounts of water (for example… spraying them with a spray bottle) will produce a weak root system that can’t withstand very long periods of drought. So don’t do it 🙂
Soak and dry… soak and dry…
The right soil is crucial for watering success
At the very beginning of the article I mentioned your succulents should be planted in a well draining soil AND in a pot with a drainage hole.
Succulents will quickly rot if they are in wet soil for too long. Ideally, your soil will be mostly dry, especially the top half of the pot, within 2-3 days.
So what makes a soil “well draining”?
I’ve dedicated a full post just to talking about the perfect soil mix for succulents. You can read that here.
The short answer is a well draining soil looks “gritty” because it has ¼” (6mm) particles. ⅔ of the soil should be inorganic (rock) and ⅓ should be organic (pine bark, coconut coir, etc.).
Traditional soil will not work well for succulents. It stays wet for much too long. I don’t generally recommend using most of the “Cactus and Succulent” soils found at most nurseries either. They tend to be too organic and still don’t drain fast enough.
If you’re new to succulents or have killed a few succulents from too much water, I highly recommend getting a bag of Jack’s Gritty Mix for your succulents. This is the best succulent soil I’ve used. 95% (or more) of my succulents are planted in this and they are thriving!
Beyond that, take a look at the soil post to get recommendations for other materials and how to modify other store bought soils to make them work better for succulents.
Use a pot with a drainage hole
Another important piece of this watering method is using a pot with a drainage hole.
Remember how I mentioned succulents don’t like to sit in wet soil for very long? It’s very difficult for the soil to dry out completely if your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole.
The hole in the bottom of the pot allows for excess water to flow out of the pot and away from your succulent roots. It also provides another way for air to flow through the soil and help it dry out faster.
If you’re just starting with succulents, a pot with a drainage hole is going to be extremely helpful for you.
If you want to know how to keep succulents alive in a pot without a drainage hole, click here and I’ll show you what to do.
How should I water the succulent leaves or babies 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 the squeeze bottle from above). 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.
Watch your succulents for indicators
Now that you know the soak and dry method, it’s time for you to give it a try!
Pay attention to the signs your succulent is giving you. It will start to change if it needs more water or less water. Be sure to click here to grab my cheat sheet to see what that looks like. It’ll be super helpful.
And lastly, when in doubt go without!
It is much easier to save your succulents from too little water than from too much. If you think you’ve over or under watered your succulent, click here to find out what to do next.