8 Golden Rules For Watering Succulents

Succulents have a reputation of being a hardy plant, and while they're tougher than most other plants, they need water to survive. They can even survive neglect, but they perform much better when treated right. If you have any succulents in your home, here are eight rules for watering them properly.
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It is difficult work to cultivate healthy succulents. In fact, many equate it to an art form. Certain things need to be done in order to develop a plant and keep it flourishing no matter what environment it might be in at the time. 

Succulents are unique plants in that they do not need much water. They are resilient and can withstand some tough conditions. However, that does not mean that they do not need some tender loving care along the way. Please continue reading to learn some golden rules regarding watering succulents that you will want to keep in mind. 

Important Information About Succulents

Before you get started on the path to maintaining a thriving array of succulents at home or in the office, there are some things that you should know. 

Keep in mind that although succulents store water, they still need to be watered regularly.
  • Succulents store water – These are resilient plants, so they are always storing extra water that they do not need. They do so in their leaves, roots, or stems. This allows them to survive even when they go as long as a month between watering. 
  • They still need to be watered – Just because succulents are known to thrive in drought like conditions does not mean that you can neglect the importance of watering them. You will want to develop a regular watering schedule and work to maintain it. 
  • Avoid overwatering them – Succulents can only store away so much excess water. You do not want to overdo it, so consider using this guide as a way to know how to more effectively water your succulents so that they can thrive in virtually any condition. 

Watering Your Succulents Indoors

Many people are naturally drawn to succulents because they are easy to maintain when kept inside. This is also what makes them such a popular choice for the office. 

Some of more the popular succulents that can be kept indoors include:

  • SedumsHens-and-chicks
  • Jade plants
  • Kalanchoe
  • Aloe vera
  • Snake plants
  • Cactus

Many people who keep succulents inside make the mistake of just giving them a little splash of water every once in a while. This is not the best course of action. Instead, you will want to have such plants in a small pot that has a drainage hole at the bottom. 

When growing succulents indoors, use pots with a drainage hole and water the plants until excess water starts to drain.

The best thing to do is to follow a set watering schedule. Give your succulent a good soaking until the excess water begins to come out of the hole at the bottom of the pot. The key here is not to leave too much excess water on the roots, as this will end up rotting them. You will then let the soil dry out completely before you water again. That is all there is to it. 

Once you have finished watering your indoor succulents, please make a note to yourself to check each one of them in a week or so. You just need to feel the soil with your finger. If it feels damp, then you can probably wait another week before checking again. 

Different Seasons Bring Different Indoor Watering Schedules

The interesting thing about succulents is that they tend to require more or less water depending on the season you are in. This is important to know because it impacts their ability to grow and flourish into the beautiful plant you were hoping they would be. 

You should consider seasonal changes and climate when creating a watering schedule for your succulents.
  • Spring – This is the time of the year that most succulents will actively grow. As such, you will find that you will want to water your plants a bit more often than normal. Of course, this will become obvious when you notice the soil drying out more quickly between watering than it does during other parts of the year. 
  • Summer – You might think that your indoor succulents need more water during the hottest time of the year, but that is not correct. In fact, this is the time of the year when you will be watering these plants the least. 
  • Fall – Watering will depend on where you are located, so just keep checking the soil to determine when you should add some more. 
  • Winter – The amount of light during the winter months will decrease. This will put your succulents into a dormant period where they will not go through much water at all. Follow the watering requirements listed earlier, and then just wait until the soil becomes dry. 

Watering your indoor succulents may not be an exact science, but it is not a difficult process either. Keep in mind that the size of the container you keep your succulent in will often determine how much water it needs. Small pots that are rather shallow may necessitate more frequent watering than larger pots will. 

Watering Your Succulents Outdoors

There are many reasons why you might want to have your succulents outside. When that time comes, there are some things that you will want to keep in mind. 

When planting succulents outdoors, give them shade and avoid placing them in direct sunlight.
  • Give them shade first – It is true that succulents love the sun, but they do need to become acclimated to it first. You will be doing them a favor by first planting them in an area that is partially shaded. 
  • You can move them later – Once your outdoor succulents have become used to the sunlight outside, you can then move them to an area of the yard that is much sunnier. 
  • Avoid areas that are too intense with the sunlight – As you look for places to plant your succulents, you will want to stay area from those parts of the yard that get the most intense sunlight in the midafternoon. 
  • They do need more water – Since the water will dry out more quickly thanks to the increased sunlight, you will need to water any succulents that you have planted outside. 
  • The amount of water depends on outside conditions – It is difficult to say exactly how much water your outdoor succulents will need. It depends on what part of the country you are in. Check the soil every week. If it is bone dry, you need to water. If it is still moist, then they are good. 
  • Special note for shallow containers and cactus – If you have any succulents planted outside in a shallow container, you will need to water them every few days. This same principle applies to any cactus that you might have outdoors as well. 

These are the general principles to keep in mind when watering any succulent that you plant outside. These are plants that can last for years if you will manage the mix of sunlight and water that they get. 

Watering Succulents Planted in the Ground

There are also plenty of occasions to plant succulents in the ground around your home and garden. Sedums are the perfect example of a succulent that can thrive in such conditions. How often you water them will depend on:

  • The conditions outside
  • How grounded the roots are

In essence, the longer the succulent has been in the ground, the less water it will require. To begin, you will probably want to water them at least once every week. 

Succulents that are planted outside will eventually be able to live for quite a long time under even the driest of conditions. This is particularly true for those succulents that have been in the ground for more than a few seasons. 

Growing succulents in the ground will require that the soil is well-drained. If you find it difficult to get the moisture out of the soil, you might want to consider moving them to a bed that has been raised. You can also mound up the soil in the locations around your yard where you are going to plant the succulents. 

If you decide to use mounds, it is recommended that they be one to two feet each. You will also want to use a compost mix that has been aged well. Mix it with perlite in order to give the succulents every possible opportunity to thrive in even the harshest of conditions.

Keep the soil healthy, give them a good soaking from time to time, and you will find that your succulents stay vibrant from one season to the next. 

Special Watering Tips for Your Succulents

Now that you have a general overview about how to water succulents depending on where they are located, it is time to get a bit more specific. As you can imagine, the amount of water that you provide your succulents is important, as is the frequency with which you do it. 

There are some additional tips that you will want to follow in order to give your succulents the best possible environment in which to grow and make you happy in the end. 

Pots Need a Drainage Hole

Since it is so important that you not overwater your succulents, it is recommended that you grow your plants in a pot that has a drainage hole. While you can eventually do away with practice once you get the hang of the watering process, this is a way to better mitigate the flow of water that is provided to the succulents. 

To be fair, you can certainly grow succulents in a pot that does not have any such drainage hole. However, it is a bit tricky to do so because there is a risk that water may accumulate at the bottom of the pot. When this happens, the soil will stay wet for far longer than healthy for most succulents. 

Using a pot without a drainage hold also requires more attention to your pot. You will need to monitor the amount of moisture in the soil much more closely. This may also alter your watering schedule. 

Remember that part of the beauty of succulents is that they do not require much time. Stick with a pot with a drainage hole, and you will be much better off in the end. If your pot does not currently have such a hole, you can easily add one by using a diamond tip drill bit. 

Soil Type is Important

When it comes to succulents, not all soil types are created equal. You have to keep in mind that any type of succulent can actually rot rather quickly if they are just sitting in water. This is why it is important that you use soil that is known for its ability to drain quickly. This means that soil will not retain water, thus allowing the roots the room they need to breathe. 

If you use fast-draining soil combined with a pot with a drainage hole, you will not need to worry about making a mistake when watering. This is because the materials you are using will do much of the work for you. 

If you have decided to plant succulents, get some porous potting soil and use fluffy materials for fast drainage.

You can easily find the right type of soil for your succulents when you go shopping at a local garden supply store near you. It is not expensive, and it will do wonders for the vibrancy of your succulents in the end. 

If you are the type of person that likes to do things yourself, you can make your own fast-draining soil mix by combining the following:

  • Porous potting soil
  • Various types of fluffy materials – Perlite or pumice tend to do rather nicely. 

Inspect the Soil Before Watering

It would be easy to say that all succulents require the same amount of water, but that simply is not accurate. Some will require a bit more water than others, so you need to pay a bit of attention to what is going on. The beauty of succulents is that they tend to tell you when they require more water. 

If you notice that the leaves are wrinkling and dropping quite rapidly, that indicates that you need to add some more water. However, you do not want to water your succulents too often. It is a delicate balancing act that you will perfect with practice. 

Always inspect the soil (dryness or wetness) prior to watering your succulents.

The principle here is to check the top of the soil. If you notice that it is bone dry, then that is an indication that you need to water some more. Give the succulent a good soaking, but then leave it alone. It needs time to completely dry out before you even think about watering it again. 

With succulents, less is better. In other words, it is better to underwater the plant than it is to overwater it. When you first start outgrowing succulents, it is best to water about once every other week or so. Take a look at how they react to the water, and then adjust the schedule as needed. 

What Type of Water Does a Succulent Need?

This might sound like a strange question, but the type of water that you use to water your succulents is an important consideration as well. Believe it or not, the best type of water for succulents comes from the sky. That’s right – rainwater is best. If it is not raining, then distilled water is a close second best. 

You might be wondering why this is even an issue. It is because tap water tends to contain many types of minerals that can be harmful to your succulents. These include magnesium and calcium. 

As minerals can be harmful for succulents, use rain water or distilled water to keep them hydrated.

Over time, these will build up around the soil. You may also notice mineral deposits on the leaves. They leave a dastardly white dot that detracts from the appearance you have worked hard to create. 

If you have a lot of succulents around the house, you might want to consider collecting rainwater during the appropriate season. That way, you will always have some on hand when you are ready to water. This is yet another way to really take care of your succulents and help them become as vibrant as they can be. 

Where Should You Water?

The next question becomes where you should put the water in the first place. With succulents, you want to water directly at the roots. Make sure that you do not spray or put water directly on the leaves. That is not beneficial at all. 

Avoid using spray bottles when watering your succulents.

When it comes to watering your succulents, here are some key things to keep in mind. 

  • Leave spray bottles out of it – Since succulents don’t need much water, many people make the mistake of simply using a spray bottle and misting the leaves. This provides nothing of substance to an adult succulent. It requires water directly in the roots, so use a watering bottle or can. 
  • Leave the leaves alone – You want to avoid watering the leaves. Water tends to stay on the leaves for far too long, causing them to rot over time. Stick to focusing on the roots and giving the soil a good soaking. 
  • Avoid watering when it is humid, raining, or very hot – These are all times when watering your succulents can do more harm than good. Wait for ideal conditions, check the soil, and then water if it is time. 
  • Morning is best – The best time of the day to water succulents is early in the day. Avoid watering at lunchtime or in the early afternoon. 
  • Rainwater is best, followed by distilled water – If at all possible, use rainwater when you set out to water your succulents. If not is available, distilled or filtered water is beneficial as well. Avoid using tap water in order to prevent mineral deposits from developing on your plants. 

What Type of Pot is Best for Your Succulents?

When it comes to watering your succulents, it is important to have the right type of pot for the occasion. This is how you can be assured that water is dispersing to where it needs to be and that you do not overwater. 

Here are some of the various types of pots that you have to choose from. 

Concrete Pots

Concrete pots are actually perfect for cactus and various other types of succulents. This is because water evaporates quickly in concrete, thanks to its porous nature. However, you will want to make sure that there are some drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. 

Due to the porous nature of concrete pots, they are among the best types of containers for succulents.

Concrete pots last for a long time. They are also excellent in terms of insulating plants against any sudden changes in temperature. Since concrete is also able to absorb heat, roots are protected better against frosty periods. 

Do keep in mind that concrete pots are a bit on the heavy side. They can also break quite easily, so make sure you are careful when handling them. 

Terracotta and Ceramic Pots

One of the main benefits of these types of pots is that they look great. Put a succulent in one, and it can quickly become the centerpiece of any room in your home or office. Like concrete, terracotta and ceramic are also quite porous. This makes them perfect for any area that is not well ventilated. 

Similar to concrete, one of the downsides to terracotta and ceramic is that the pots are quite heavy. They are also prone to breaking if not handled properly. 

Plastic Pots

This is probably the most common type of pot to keep your succulents in. They are so easy to move, and they make it a snap to water the plants in. You will want to make sure you get the type of plastic pots with drainage holes already drilled in the bottom.

You will love the fact that plastic pots are not fragile. You will also have many different colors and shapes to choose from. This makes it easier to create just the look you are hoping for with your succulents. 

One downside to plastic pots is that they are not as breathable as you would find with a concrete or terracotta pot. However, fast-draining soil combined with those drainage holes we have been talking about will take care of this problem. 

Wood Pots

You can get really creative with these. Wood pots are very attractive and can really bring your succulent alive when kept either inside or outside. Woods pots do not heat up like some other materials, meaning you do not have to worry if your succulent ends up in direct sunlight for part of the day. 

One issue with wood pots is that they will tend to deteriorate quite rapidly when in certain environments. Because of this, most people will only use wood pots when keeping their succulents indoors. 

Metal Pots

You might not think of metal pots when it comes to housing your succulents, but they are really trending right now. Consider copper and brass pots. They can really provide a nice accent to many places in your home or office. 

The disadvantage of metal pots is that they can rust. Obviously, this is not good for the health of your succulents. To keep this from happening, you will want to line the bottom of the pot with plastic. This will help prevent water damage. 

Metal pots are also best for indoor use only. Putting them outside will heat up your succulents rather quickly since metal is a heat magnet. 

Just the Right Amount of Water Please

This is what your succulents are screaming out at you. One final golden rule for watering succulents is that you want to avoid over or underwatering them. 

While succulents are rather simple to take care of and they can last for months with water, they can also die a quick death if their roots are flooded. The following advice will help you avoid doing that. 

The Problem with Overwatering

Succulents tend to store water within their leaves and stems. This is different than other plants that depend on a complex root system to survive. This is an evolutionary design, as succulents can now survive in arid environments where they may not get much water for months at a time. 

To prevent the leaves and roots of your succulent from rotting, give them just enough water to thrive.

While it is nice that you come along and take care of them, you do not need to feel sorry for them. Give them just enough water to be happy, but do not drown them. If you overwater a succulent, their roots and leaves will rot. They can become like a balloon that is overfilled with air. Do not do this to them. 

The Problem with Underwatering

Since succulents can go so long without water, many owners make the mistake of thinking that they can just leave them for months at a time. You do not want to neglect your succulents. The leaves will dry out. This not only creates an ugly looking plant, but it results in death as well. 

To avoid underwatering your succulents, put in on your internal schedule to test the soil every week or so. This is all you need to know whether or not you need to give them some water. If you do this, then the leaves will stay healthy and vibrant for quite some time to come. 

Wrap-Up

After reading this guide, you should now know all there is to know about watering succulents. There really is not much to it, but you do need to pay attention to them from time to time. If you do that, then you will end up with a great indoor or outdoor plant that really adds to the overall ambiance quite nicely. 

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