Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. There are many different types or succulent, but they all have one thing in common. Watering them is a little tricky.
While other houseplants are watered every day, succulents can go days or even weeks without needing water, depending on the season and where they’re planted. A good rule of thumb is to soak the soil and wait for it to dry completely before soaking it again.
To water succulents properly, you have to know what to look for to determine that they’re getting enough moisture and what do to prevent over and underwatering. Succulents are special and, with the right care, they’ll thrive in any environment.
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What Happens when Succulents are Overwatered?
To understand what happens when you give a succulent too much water, it helps to understand how the inside structure of succulent works.
Succulents store water in sacs that work kind of like balloons. You water the succulent and it fills these sacs with water.
Your succulent will continue to soak up water even when it doesn’t need anymore. Eventually, these sacs become too full and burst. This causes extensive damage to the cells and can lead to rotting, especially in the roots.
How can you tell if your succulent is overwatered?
The first sign is discoloration in the leaves. Eventually, they will be so full of water that they’ll become translucent. At this point, leaves will feel mushy instead of firm. Once damage is this extensive, it’s not easy to bring the plant back to health.
How Can You Tell If a Succulent Is Underwatered?
Underwatering a succulent is easy to do. Most people know that they don’t require a lot of water which can lead plant owners to believe that they need less than they really do. To be clear, succulents need water to survive. They just need less than most other plants do.
The main sign of dehydration is wrinkled leaves. Inside, the sacs that store water are completely empty so they quickly shrivel in size causing the exterior of the leaves to pucker.
It’s a little easier to recuperate underwatered plants if caught early. Give them a little bit of water at a time, slowly increasing the amount every time so that you don’t risk drowning the roots.
What’s the Best Way to Water Succulents?
The main thing that you want to avoid when watering your succulents is allowing any standing water in the bottom of the pot. Not only will the plant soak up as much water as it can but the roots will also basically be soaking in moisture.
For this reason, a lot of people choose to use spray bottles for watering succulents. This isn’t the best method, either. While it’s great for getting the leave and stems wet, it doesn’t provide enough water to the root system.
In order to determine how much water your succulents need, you also have to consider where they’re planted. For succulents planted in the ground, you have a little more wiggle room since excess water will continue to soak into the soil, away from the roots.
Once you understand these basics about succulents and they’re planted in the right pot, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure your succulents are watered correctly:
1. Water deeply to promote root growth. This means you should water directly into the soil instead of over the leaves of the plant and is why using a spray bottle is not an effective method. Deep watering leads to strong roots which give you a healthy plant.
2. Remember that succulents can go a few days without water. It can actually be beneficial to take advantage of this occasionally and allow the soil to dry completely before watering again. This can promote root growth which, again, is essential for healthy plants.
3. If you’re planting your succulents in a container, it’s essential to use one with a hole at the bottom where excess water can drain. This is an easy and effective way to help prevent overwatering.
How Often Should You Water Succulent Plants?
If your succulents are indoors, you only need to water them one every other week. Smaller plants should be given a ¼ cup of water while large succulents need about 1 ½ cups. Use a small watering can with a spout that allows you to get close to the center roots.
Alternatively, you can place the container into a pan of water so that the succulents can soak up the water through the hole in the bottom of the container. It’s a little harder to judge how much water the plant is getting this way but some people find it effective.
Outdoor succulents are a little trickier because there are more factors to consider. As the seasons change, so will the needs of your plants.
In the summer, the temperature is hotter and the sunlight is harsh so the soil will dry very fast. It’s a good idea to physically check the soil every day and water again once it dries completely.
When fall arrives, water every other week when the temperature is above 40 degrees F. As the temperatures drop and winter arrives, succulents go dormant and only need watering about once a month.
How much you’ll water in spring depends on how much rain falls. If the ground is already wet, you can skip watering. That said, make sure you check the ground regularly and water when needed. Succulents coming out of their dormant state need a little more water to start growing again.
A Simple Rule of Thumb
The easiest approach to watering succulents is to soak the soil and wait for it to dry until you soak it again. This seems almost too easy but keep in mind all the factors that affect how quickly the soil dries out.
In truth, there’s no schedule to how often you should water your succulents. The real answer is you should water succulents as often as they need it.