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.

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.

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.

Hopefully this article has given you a better idea of the proper way to water succulents to ensure they live long, healthy lives.

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.

2017-09-23T03:32:12+00:00

354 Comments

  1. Anne de Bruyn July 18, 2017 at 4:57 am

    HI cASSIDY I WANT OT KNOW I HAVE A NINE YEAR OLD oPUNTIA MONACANTHA CACTUS ITS HAS BAD SUNBURN IS THERE A WAY OF REVERSING IT PLEASE HELP

  2. Liz Gameros August 12, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks so much for this! Especially mentioning what kind of climate you live in was a huge plus. :)

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team August 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      I’m glad that this was helpful!

  3. Barb August 16, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Grateful thanks for sharing your hints.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team August 17, 2017 at 8:10 am

      You’re welcome! I’m glad these are helpful.

  4. Leon August 21, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Thank you for this very informative article. My wife and I have just started succulent gardening and therefore this information is very helpful.Thank you so much.

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team August 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      I’m glad you are finding the information helpful!

  5. Connie August 24, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I just got my first succulent plant as a gift . Knowing nothing about them I found your post. The plant is in a plastic container as sold by a big box store and then set in a pretty clay planter. Their are four different plants in this arrangement. They all are small but look very healthy. Any suggestions? My thought was to water well and leave them out of the clay pot to dry completely
    Please help. Connie

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team August 25, 2017 at 7:26 am

      Are you wanting to remove it from the plastic and put it straight into the clay container, or leave it as is? If you’re planning on replanting, I would suggest making sure your soil mixture is correct. This post will help you determine that. Does your pot have a drainage hole? After addressing all of that, make sure the soil is dry before you water each time.

  6. Penny August 27, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I received my first succulent at a wedding. The succulent is in white rock with no soil. Can I leave it in the rock! Or should I replant it in soil? How often should I water the succulent if I leave it in the rocks?

  7. Judy August 27, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Great information! Thank you so much!!!

    I’m trying to find the site you recommended for soil and pots. I found it once in your article but now I can’t seem to find it now.

    Judy,

  8. Donna Bivins September 2, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    The birds have been “stealing” my succulents from my pots..I put tiny or colored rocks, and colorful glass disc’s for added decoration..thought it might be the color they are attracted to, but they take my small succulents..is there a way I can deter them other than moving them…I use all kinds of decorative glass wear to pot them, and have lots of them.

  9. Rohan September 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

    SPI Brought me here

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team September 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the podcast! :)

  10. Charles Edmond September 15, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I have just started growing Succulent plants, and this is the best information I have read so far regarding watering the plants. Anyway, got here through SPI. Some really valuable information on this blog.

    Keep up the good work, Chantile!

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team September 18, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks Charles! I’ll let Cassidy know how you found her site, and that you’ve found the information useful! :)

Comments are closed.