Watering succulents: a complete guide

Succulents need deep, infrequent watering, especially during their growing season and when they are young and establishing roots. Only water when the soil is completely dry and err on the side of underwatering. Watering too frequently is the most common way to kill succulents!

How to Water Succulents

  • Drench from above using a faucet, hose, or watering can
  • Do not mist with a spray bottle (the only exception is for Air Plants)
  • Water until it drains from the container's drainage hole. If your container does not have a drainage hole (not recommended), use about 1/3 the volume of the container
  • If possible, water the soil rather than the leaves; gently shake off any droplets left on the foliage to prevent rot
  • Keep the succulent in a location with enough sunlight and airflow so that the soil can dry out before you water again

Only Water When Soil is Dry

Succulents are much more tolerant of under-watering than over-watering and an under-watered succulent is far easier to fix. You can check soil moisture by inserting your finger or a popsicle stick a couple inches into the soil. If your pot has a drainage hole, this is a great place to feel the soil to see if there is any remaining moisture. If you tend to over-water or your succulent is recovering from rot, you can wait a couple days after noticing the soil is dry to water again.

Actual Frequency Varies

  • Succulents in heavy soil or areas that collect water will need less frequent water than those in gritty, well-draining soil or raised beds
  • Large containers will need less frequent water than small ones
  • Succulents in wet or humid climates need more frequent watering than those in hot, dry climates
  • Succulents need even less frequent watering during their dormant season (winter for most varieties)
  • Mature plants will need less frequent water than young succulents that are establishing roots

Though there are endless exceptions, a very general guideline is to water young succulents 1-2 times a week and mature plants 2-4 times a month, watch for watering issues, and adjust the frequency accordingly.

Diagnosing Watering Issues

Keep an eye on your plants and you will be able to see if they are they are being watered too frequently or not often enough. The leaves of over-watered succulents will soften, turn a translucent yellow or brown, and eventually fall off. The leaves of an under-watered succulent will go limp, wrinkle, turn brown and crispy, and eventually fall off. If you catch these signs early and adjust your watering frequency, most plants will be able to recover.