How Often Do You Water Succulents?

These tough plants don’t need daily water. Here’s how to give them the amount they need to keep them thriving.

August 12, 2019
1140969593

1140969593

Woman watering flowers

Photo by: Getty Images/agrobacter

Getty Images/agrobacter

You know the drill: Succulents are hardy little plants because they don’t need much water to thrive. Native to arid climates, they hold extra water in their fleshy leaves and don’t need a lot of help from you and a watering can. But just how often should you water this resilient plant? Once a week? Twice a week? Once a month?

The most important rule for watering succulents is this: Only water when the soil in the succulents’ growing container is bone dry. We repeat, let the soil dry out completely between waterings. If the soil isn’t crumbly, dry dirt, don’t water it. See, most houseplants want their soil moist at all times. Not your succulent. Keep its dirt moist all the time and its roots will rot. Rotted roots = dead succulent.

So how long does it take for the soil to get bone dry, you ask. It depends.

4 Factors That Affect How Often You Need to Water Succulents

Season

Most succulents grow like crazy in the spring and summer, so you’ll need to water them a lot more often during their active growing season. They pull water out of the soil at a remarkable rate as they make new stems, leaves, roots and blooms. You may water them three times a week, depending on conditions like light and temperature. In the winter, succulents go dormant. Growing stops, so you'll only need to water them once or twice for the entire season. One of the easiest ways to kill a succulent is to give it too much water in the winter, so back away from your watering can from November to March. Let your succulent sleep in peaceful aridity.

Container Size

Larger containers need to be watered less often because they have more soil that holds moisture longer. Small, shallow containers will need to be watered more frequently because the soil dries out faster.

Succulent Varieties

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Amount of Light

Succulents that get 10 or more hours of full sun will need more water than succs that get less light. Generally, outdoor plants will need more water than indoor ones because they get more sun and are exposed to tougher conditions.

Humidity

Plants in high humidity and cooler temperatures will need less frequent watering than plants in hot, dry climates because they’ll maintain moisture for a longer period of time. Are your succulents on a patio in full sun in Phoenix? Plan on watering daily. Are they in part sun on a deck in San Francisco? You only may need to water once every week or two.

How to Water

Now that you know the factors that affect how often you should water succulents, here’s how you water them. Yes, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Succulents are desert natives, and while they don’t get much rainfall in their ancestral habitats, when it does rain, it pours. Desert rainstorms are monsoons, with water coming out of the sky in sheets. Imitate desert rain for your succulent by drenching it when you water it. Pour water on it slowly and don’t stop until water runs out of the drain hole in the bottom. Succulents do better with periodic long, deep drinks that soak its soil to the bottom of the pot than regular but timid waterings that wet the top inch or two of the soil in the container.

So when your succulents’ soil is bone dry, drench that baby. Let the soil dry out completely, then drench again. Dry out. Drench. Dry out. Drench. Follow that pattern and you’ll have perfectly watered succulents.

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