How to Water Succulents Without Killing Them

Watering succulents is pretty straightforward, but too much water can quickly lead to their downfall.

<p>Kim Carson/Getty Images</p>

Kim Carson/Getty Images

Succulents are both adorable and resilient, which is why they're one of the most beloved houseplants for many, especially those who haven't established a green thumb yet. They're typically low-maintenance plants and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In fact, there are thousands of different types of succulents to choose from.

While succulents are drought-tolerant plants, and their gorgeous juicy leaves are made to store water, it's essential to know how to properly water them to help them thrive. It's easy to overwater succulents, but you need to ensure you give them a sufficient amount of water to prevent them from withering up and dying.

Learn how to water succulents correctly with our expert tips so you can find the balance between too much water and not enough.

Related: How to Care for Succulents—and Keep Them Looking Picture-Perfect

Meet the Expert

Nathan Heinrich is a horticulturist and owner of his namesake botanical design firm.

How Often Should You Water Succulents?

Since succulents are water-storing plants, they don't require a regular watering schedule. "There is no exact rule about how many times per month you should water your succulents because there are so many factors to consider," says Nathan Heinrich, horticulturist and botanical designer. "Soil type, plant variety, seasonal weather, temperature, climate, and humidity all have an effect on how often you should water your succulent plants."

He continues, "In their native habitat, many succulent varieties rely on absorbing moisture from the air rather than rainwater, while others have adapted to rainy climates. However, the one thing all succulents have in common is their strong dislike for soggy soil."

However, Heinrich says there is one simple rule that will help you determine when to water succulents so you can keep them healthy and happy no matter where they're planted: When the soil of your succulent is dry to the touch, it's time to water.

"Do not water when the soil is damp or has any noticeable moisture when you feel the top of the soil with the tip of your finger," he says. "In the same way, you can sense dampness on your clothes in the dryer, you can also check for moisture in your succulent's soil with a light touch."

"It is very easy to over-water succulents, so make sure you water only when they actually need to be watered rather than when you feel like watering," he adds.

How to Water Succulents Indoors

Heinrich says that potted succulents grown indoors follow the same basic watering rules as all other succulents—only water when the soil is dry. You should water them thoroughly when the soil at the top of the container feels dry to the touch.

"An excellent way to water a potted succulent is to place it in a shallow bowl or saucer in the kitchen sink or bathtub," he says. "Then, slowly and gently add water to the pot until the water has run out, and fill up the bowl you are watering in. Let the succulent soak up as much water as it wants for the next 30 minutes."

"After [the plant] has soaked up water and the soil is completely saturated, take it out of the bowl and let any excess water drain out into the sink before returning it to a nice, bright and sunny—but not too hot—location in your home," he adds.

You also want to avoid putting your succulents against hot glass from a window with direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves.

How to Water Succulents Outdoors

Heinrich says that you can use the same watering method as indoor plants if you have small outdoor potted succulents. But if you have large, heavy pots with lots of soil, you should water them thoroughly when they are dry and then let them dry out before you water again.

"If you're watering succulents planted in the ground, pay attention to how moist the soil is before you water," he says. "Sandy soils dry out faster than heavy clay soils, so be aware of how quickly or slowly your soil dries out. If you get regular rain every month of the year, you might never need to water succulents that are planted in the ground."

Heinrich adds that in dry desert climates that get little to no rain in the summer and fall—like Arizona or California—you may need to water your succulents weekly. He also says to be conscious of your other plants' water needs and not combine succulents with plants that need to be watered more frequently.

Related: How to Propagate Succulents From Leaves or Stems

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if succulents need water?

"If the soil is dry to the touch, it's time to water. There are thousands of varieties of succulents, and they all look a bit different when they require water," Heinrich informs.

"As a general rule of thumb, if the texture of a succulent plant begins to look wrinkled and has the texture of skin that has been in a bathtub too long, it may be time to water," he adds. "Wilting and drooping foliage is another sign of a thirsty succulent."

Can you overwater succulents?

As Heinrich warns, it's very easy to overwater succulents. To prevent this, only water when the soil is dry to the touch. If succulents are overwatered, their leaves will become discolored, yellowed, and mushy to the touch. Too much water can kill your succulents, so pay attention to the soil and condition of the plant.

When should you avoid watering succulents?

If the soil is soggy, then you should wait to water them. Also, if you see any signs of overwatering, such as browning or yellowing of the leaves, or if it is dropping leaves—then hold off on watering. Remember that dry soil is a sign your succulents are ready to be watered.

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