How can I tell when my soil is completely dry?

Succulents do best when you soak the soil and let it dry out completely before watering again, meaning the soil is dry from the top of the pot to bottom.

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There are two reasons this is important.

First, succulent roots need time to dry between watering in order to grow strong and healthy. You can learn more about this in our post about properly watering succulents.

Second, is to prevent gnats from making an appearance. Gnats thrive in a wet and warm environment. If your soil stays wet too long, you’ll soon notice gnats starting to hover around your succulents. They don’t do damage but they are quite obnoxious.

But ultimately, constantly wet soil just isn’t good for your succulents. So, how do you know when your soil is completely dry?

Feel the weight of the pot

Shortly after watering, feel how heavy your planter is (if you’re able – obviously there's going to be some pots that are too big for this method). Wait a few days and lift the planter again. It should be quite a bit lighter than after you watered it.

Wait another day or two and then feel it again. If it doesn’t seem lighter than a day or two before, you’re good to water again! The soil should be completely dry. If it does feel lighter, wait another day or two and check the weight again.

This method works really well for smaller pots, especially if you’re growing indoors.

If you want to be really precise, you can actually weight the pots and record the weight as a note in the Succulent Tracker app (Apple | Android).

Use a skewer or water meter

You probably have some pots that are too big to lift or would be tricky to use the weight method for. I definitely do! 

For these pots, you can use a wood skewer. Put the skewer all the way into the soil, leave it for several minutes and then pull it out. If it’s cool to the touch or wet, the soil is still wet.

You can also use a moisture meter, though I haven’t found these to be reliable, especially if you’re using the Bonsai Jack gritty mix. With the gritty mix, the soil doesn't make enough surface contact with the meter to get an accurate reading.

A lot of our readers who use a more organic soil mix really like using a water meter and swear by it.

Pay attention to your succulents

You can also wait for your succulents to "tell" you that they need more water. Most succulents can go an significant time in between watering, so I always recommend erring on the side of too little water.

I've put together a free guide that will show you signs your succulent needs more water or less. Click here to get the guide. It'll be super helpful.