Here’s the Proper Way to Water Succulents

You’ve been spending a lot of time at home lately – just like everybody else. There isn’t much to do anymore, is there? You’ve cleaned the house twice today and you’ve already rearranged the living room. There is nothing on TV and your eyes are starting to hurt from all the reading you’ve been doing.

So now you notice those plants you brought back from the store some weeks ago with a tag on the pot that says “Assorted Succulents.”

Succulents have unique watering requirements.
Succulents have unique watering requirements. (Photo: Sonny Abesamis/Flickr)

The Right Way to Water Succulents

You wonder why the plants don’t look too healthy. You are sure they are getting at least 3 hours of direct sunlight every day just like the shop assistant said. But are you certain you’ve been watering the plants correctly?

Succulents evolved in the world’s arid regions: deserts, rocky cliff-sides, and other places that either do not get much rain or have rocky, dry soil. The plants have adapted to these harsh, dry climates by storing water in the tissues of their leaves or stems. That’s why they have unique watering requirements.

Here are a few basic tips on how to properly water your succulents.  

When to Water Succulents

Knowing when water your succulents is key to their survival. Too much water can kill your succulents. The plants are susceptible to root rot, which is caused by damp roots. You can’t leave the plants completely dry for long periods of time, either, as the roots will start to die back.

The best way to determine when to water is to examine the soil and feel for moisture. Insert your finger into the soil. You should water your plants only when the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch, says Jenn Slim of Succulent Plant Care.

Knowing when water your succulents is key to their survival.
Knowing when water your succulents is key to their survival.
(Photo: Stephen Boisvert/Wikimedia Commons)

Watering Indoor Succulents

During the growing season, usually from spring to fall when growth is most active, water the plants thoroughly. Keep the water coming until some of the water begins to drain out of the holes of the pot.

Remember not to let water collect in the saucer. Pour out the excess. You should allow the water to drain out as that helps prevent root rot and prevents dissolved salts from accumulating in the soil.

You should water indoor succulents every ten to fourteen days during the active growing season. During the inactive months in the winter, the general rule is to water about once every three to four weeks.

You should water indoor succulents every ten to fourteen days during the active growing season.
You should water indoor succulents every ten to fourteen days during the active growing season.

Watering Outdoor Succulents

Outdoor succulents have slightly different water requirements. During the active growing season, your outdoor plants need to be watered every seven to ten days. Again, check for moisture. The top inch of the soil needs to be dry before watering. During the inactive season, water less often and more lightly – perhaps every three to four weeks.

Pay attention to how your plants look. If they start looking shriveled, you may need to water them more often.

If you are unsure in the beginning, water the plants lightly. Remember, when caring for succulents, it’s better to water less than to over-water until you learn the watering needs of your plants.

The top inch of the soil needs to be dry before watering.
The top inch of the soil needs to be dry before watering.
(Photo: Akos Kokai/Wikimedia Commons)

Watering Succulents in the Ground

Certain species of succulents thrive in-ground. They make an excellent ground cover. Watering requirements for succulents in the ground depending on several factors such as the growing season, temperature, and climate.

Given good, well-draining soil, the watering needs of such succulents vary according to the season.

During the active growing season, succulents in the ground need to be watered about once a week. You should water the plants thoroughly, giving them a good soaking.

Waterless frequently and more lightly during the dormant season. You should water only about once a month when the plants are not actively growing.

Watering requirements for succulents in the ground depend on several factors such as the growing season, temperature, and climate.
Watering requirements for succulents in the ground depend on several factors such as the growing season, temperature, and climate.

A Word of Caution

Now that you know a little more about watering your succulent plants, you might have to adjust your watering schedule. Be sure you make gradual changes. Do not make a sudden, drastic change.  

Sudden changes in watering schedules can stress the plants. For instance, if you have been watering your plants once a week, do not suddenly switch to watering once a month. Try to decrease gradually to minimize the stress on the plant.

Plants, like most people, need a little time to adjust to changes.

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