How to water succulents during winter

How and When to Water Succulents So They Don't Die

To ensure that your plants thrive, it’s important to understand how to water succulents properly. Succulents do not need a lot of water and should only be watered when the soil is completely dry to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot. The frequency of watering varies based on the time of year, the environment (indoor or outdoor), and the type of succulent. Additionally, proper drainage is important, so make sure to choose a pot with drainage holes or to water sparingly if the pot does not have holes. By avoiding common succulent watering mistakes and providing the right amount of water at the right time, you can keep your succulents healthy and thriving.

Succulent care intuitive
Your succulents will tell you what they need, when they need it. Don't force it.

Table of Contents

Do succulents need water?

Yes, they require hydration to thrive, but it’s important to not overwater succulents as they store water in their leaves and too much water can lead to root rot. A proper watering schedule and technique are crucial for the health of your succulents.

How to tell if a succulent needs more water

How often to water succulents

The frequency of watering succulents varies based on several factors such as the species, size, environment, and season. As a general rule, most succulents should be watered once every 1-2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. It’s important to observe the condition of your succulents and adjust the watering schedule as needed to ensure they receive the right amount of moisture.

How often should i water my succulent plants

How much water do succulents need?

When it comes to watering succulents, it’s important to avoid giving too much or too little. A general guideline is to give your succulents a thorough watering until water flows out of the drainage holes, then allow the soil to completely dry out before watering again. The exact amount of water your succulents will need will depend on various factors such as their size, environment, and time of year. Pay attention to the appearance of your succulents, and adjust the amount of water as necessary to ensure they receive the right amount of moisture they need to survive and thrive.

How much water do succulent plants need

When to water succulents

The best time to water succulents is when the soil is completely dry. This varies depending on various factors such as the species, size, climate, and season. A good way to determine when your succulents need water is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. It’s important to not wait until the leaves of your succulents start to wrinkle or droop, as this is a sign of overwatering or underwatering. Regularly checking the soil moisture and adjusting the watering schedule as needed will help ensure your succulents receive the proper hydration.

How much water do succulent plants need 2

How often to water succulents in summer

In the summer, succulents typically need to be watered more frequently than in other seasons, as the heat and increased sunlight cause the soil to dry out more quickly. As a general rule, most succulents should be watered once every 7-10 days, allowing the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. Watch the way your succulents leaves look, and adjust the watering schedule as needed. Remember, it’s better to underwater than overwater succulents, so be cautious about overwatering during the summer months.

Effective watering techniques for succulent gardens

How often to water succulents in winter

During the winter, succulents typically need to be watered less frequently than in other seasons, as the reduced light and cooler temperatures slow down their growth and water needs. As a general rule, most succulents should be watered once every 2-3 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. Watch the physical condition of your succulents, and adjust the watering schedule as needed. Remember, succulents are sensitive to overwatering, especially in the winter when the soil takes longer to dry out, so be careful not to water too frequently.

Common mistakes to avoid when watering succulent plants

How often to water succulents indoors

The frequency of watering succulents indoors depends on factors such as the species, size, environment, and season. As a general rule, most indoor succulents should be watered once every 1-2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. Keep track of the condition of the leaves and stem of your succulents so you can adjust the watering schedule as necessary. Indoor conditions, such as heating and air conditioning, impact the rate at which the soil dries out, so be vigilant about checking the soil moisture and adjusting the watering schedule as needed.

How to water succulents

How often to water succulents outdoors

 

The frequency of watering succulents outdoors depends on various factors such as the species, size, environment, and season. As a general rule, most outdoor succulents should be watered once every 7-10 days during the growing season, allowing the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. Pay attention to the condition of your succulents leaves and stem, then adjust the watering schedule. In the winter, when succulents are dormant and not actively growing, they typically need to be watered less frequently, so be careful not to overwater. Outdoor conditions, such as sunlight and wind, impact the rate at which the soil dries out, so adjust the watering schedule as needed.

How often to water succulents

What do overwatered and underwatered succulents look like?

Underwatered succulents often display signs of stress, such as wrinkled or shrunken leaves, a dull appearance, and a sluggish growth rate. On the other hand, overwatered succulents can show signs of root rot, including yellowing or mushy leaves, a soft or mushy stem, and a foul odor. It’s important to address both under- and overwatering promptly to ensure the health and vitality of your succulents.In general, well-watered succulents will have plump, firm leaves and a healthy growth rate. Observing the condition of your succulents closely and adjusting your watering schedule and technique as needed will help keep them looking their best.

Translucent overwatered succulent leaf

Signs of overwatering 

  • Leaves that pop off suddenly

  • Yellow leaves

  • Transparent leaves

  • Mushy leaves

  • Black leaves or stem indicates rot

Overwatered succulent leaf
Overwatered succulent leaves
Underwatered crassula
This crassula is super duper underwatered and the main body of it didn't make it. If you look closely, some of the pups growing from the branches have little roots that can be planted.
Dehydrated echeveria succulent
You'll know when to water your succulents when the leaves start to look dull and wrinkly like these.
Underwatered graptosedum ghosty needs a big drink of water
This cutting had been out of soil for months. These dehydrated leaves will bounce back.
Time to water pink moonstones
Dehydrated 'pink moonstones'
Before and after of variegated string of pearls watering
Variegated 'string of pearls' - dehydrated (l) plump and properly watered (r)
Dehydrated sedum
Notice that the leaves look dull and wrinkly.
Misting succulents

Should you mist succulents?

Succulents don’t typically require misting, as they are adapted to arid environments and store water in their leaves and roots. Misting will increase the humidity around the succulents, which can lead to issues like fungal growth and root rot. Instead of misting, it’s best to provide your succulents with the right amount of water, allowing the soil to dry out completely before the next watering. If you live in a humid environment, you need to provide better air circulation around your succulents to help keep the humidity levels low. You should be using a succulent soil mix that promotes good drainage to help reduce the risk of overwatering especially if you’re already in a humid climate.

Best time of day to water succulent plants 1
Crassula 'petite bicolor' aka sedum 'little missy'

Importance of Proper Pot Size

A crucial factor in maintaining the health of your succulents is the proper size of their pot. Overwatering is a common problem for many succulent growers, as it can lead to root rot and other damaging effects on the plant. However, the size of the pot can play a significant role in how much water is retained in the soil, and thus how much water the roots are exposed to.

A pot that is too big will hold more water for longer periods of time, increasing the risk of waterlogged soil and root rot. To avoid these issues, it is recommended to choose a pot that is just slightly bigger than the root ball of the succulent. By keeping the roots in check with a smaller pot, the plant can focus its energy on leaf growth, rather than filling the pot with an overabundance of roots.

Watering after repotting

When to water succulents after repotting

It’s best to wait a few days to a week after repotting succulents before watering them. This gives the succulent time to recover from the stress of being transplanted and allows the roots to settle into their new soil. The length of time to wait will depend on the size of the pot and the size of the succulent, but in general, it’s a good idea to wait until the soil has started to dry out before watering. This will help prevent overwatering, which can lead to issues like root rot.

Once you do start watering, be sure to water thoroughly, allowing the water to penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Be sure to observe the condition of the succulent and adjust the watering schedule as needed.

Rocks do not provide more drainage no matter what your great aunt myrtle says
This is the best explanation for us hobbyist succulent lovers. If you know whose it is, please let me know so i can credit them properly.

Should I put rocks at the bottom of the pot?

Putting rocks at the bottom of a pot for succulents is not necessary, and can actually be harmful to the succulents. Rocks prevent proper drainage and lead to water accumulation in the bottom of the pot, increasing the risk of root rot. Instead of rocks, it’s better to use a high-quality, gritty succulent soil mix that promotes good drainage, allowing excess water to easily escape from the bottom of the pot. Additionally, it’s important to choose pots with adequate drainage holes to allow water to flow out and prevent waterlogged soil. Good soil mix and proper drainage are key factors in ensuring the health and well-being of your succulents.

No hole no drainage

Do succulents need drainage holes?

Yes, succulents do need drainage holes in the bottom of their pots. Good drainage is essential to the health of succulents, as they are adapted to arid environments and are easily damaged by excess moisture. Drainage holes allow excess water to escape from the soil, preventing waterlogged roots and reducing the risk of root rot. When choosing a pot for your succulent, make sure it has adequate drainage holes and consider using a potting mix that promotes good drainage. Additionally, it’s a good idea to elevate the pot slightly off the surface to allow water to drain away freely, which can further enhance the succulent’s health and vitality.

All about watering succulents 1
Echeveria 'brown rose'

Preventing soil loss through drainage holes

If you are concerned about soil erosion through the drainage holes of your pots, there is a simple solution. Covering the holes with a screen material, such as a coffee filter, can help prevent soil loss while still allowing water to flow through. My personal favorite thing to use to prevent soil from coming out of the bottom of my pots is drywall mesh tape. The purpose of this is not to block the holes entirely, but simply to reduce soil erosion.

By taking this small step, you can ensure that the soil remains in the pot and continues to support the health and growth of your succulents. So, whether you prefer a coffee filter or another type of screen material, adding it to the bottom of your pot is a simple and effective way to prevent soil loss.

Proper watering frequency for indoor succulents
Echeveria 'alfred'

The importance of airflow for succulents AKA Why I hate succulent terrariums

Succulents thrive in environments with plenty of airflow. This is why terrariums and containers without drainage holes can be detrimental to their health. These sealed containers restrict oxygen flow to the roots, trap moisture, and prevent excess buildup from flushing out of the soil.

In contrast, when grown in the ground, the soil’s natural microbiome of microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi help regulate moisture and nutrients without human intervention. It’s essential to provide adequate airflow to ensure the proper growth and health of your succulents.

Propagating succulents in water

Water propagating succulent leaves

Propagating succulents in water can be an easy and effective way to grow new succulents. Here’s how to do it:

    • Cut a healthy stem or leaf from the mother plant using a sharp, clean pair of scissors or a knife.

    • Allow the cuttings to callus over for a day or two. This helps to prevent rot.

    • Place the cuttings in a jar or vase of water, making sure that the bottom of the stem or the base of the leaf is submerged.

    • Change the water every few days to keep it fresh and free of any buildup of bacteria.

    • After a few weeks, roots should begin to grow from the bottom of the stem or from the base of the leaf. Once the roots are several inches long, the cutting can be planted in well-draining soil.

It’s important to note that not all succulent species can be propagated in water, and some may rot before they root. Additionally, it’s important to use clean and sterilized equipment when taking cuttings to avoid transferring diseases or pests to the new succulents. By following these steps, you can propagate succulents and enjoy a beautiful, thriving garden of new plants.

Caring for succulents indoors
Graptopetalum paraguayense 'ghost plant'

Can succulents live in only water?

No, succulents cannot live in water permanently. While they can survive for a short period in water, they are adapted to arid environments and require well-draining soil to thrive. Succulents store water in their leaves, stems, and roots, but they still need air and proper drainage to survive. When left in standing water, succulents will quickly become waterlogged and develop root rot, which can lead to death. Instead of water, succulents need gritty, well-draining soil, bright light, and proper watering techniques to thrive.

How much water do succulents need

Bottom watering succulents

Bottom watering is a method of watering succulents where the plant is set in a tray of water, allowing the water to wick up from the bottom and hydrate the roots. Here’s how you bottom water succulents:

    • Fill a shallow tray or dish with water, making sure the water level is below the bottom of the pot.

    • Place the pot containing the succulent into the tray, being careful not to get water on the leaves or stem.

    • Leave the pot in the tray for about 30 minutes to an hour, or until you see water coming out of the bottom of the pot.

    • Remove the pot from the tray and let it drain completely.

    • Repeat this process as needed, depending on the conditions in your environment and the health of your succulent.

By using this method, you’ll ensure that the roots of your succulent are getting the hydration they need with a lowered risk of root rot. It also requires that you have a drainage hole at the bottom of your pot which is a must.

How often do you water succulents
Crested graptopetalum paraguayense 'ghost plant'

Drawbacks to bottom watering succulents

    1. Root Rot: If you leave the succulents in standing water for too long, the roots will begin to rot, which can kill the plant. 
    2. Soil Erosion: Bottom watering can cause soil to erode and wash away, making it difficult for roots to anchor the plant securely in the pot.
    3. Lack of Oxygen: Bottom watering can also restrict the flow of oxygen to the roots, which will lead to root damage or death.
    4. Poor Drainage: Bottom watering creates stagnant water at the bottom of the pot, which contributes to poor drainage and lead to water-logged roots.
    5. Inconsistent Watering: Bottom watering can be inconsistent, as the water level at the bottom of the pot may vary depending on the size and shape of the pot, making it difficult to ensure that all plants receive an adequate amount of water.

In general, bottom watering is best used as a supplementary watering method, rather than as the primary method of watering succulents. It’s important to keep an eye on the water level and monitor the plants closely to ensure that they are not sitting in standing water for extended periods of time.

How often should i water my succulents
Graptopetalum amethystinum 'pink moonstones'

Is tap water safe with succulents?

Tap water can be safe for succulents, but it may contain minerals and chemicals that can build up over time and harm the succulent. Chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals commonly found in tap water are toxic to succulents, leading to leaf burn and other problems. Additionally, some tap water sources have a high mineral content, which cause a buildup of salts in the soil over time and lead to root damage.

To ensure the safety of your succulents, it’s best to use distilled water or rainwater for watering. If you must use tap water, let it sit for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate before using it on your succulents. You can use a water filtration system to remove minerals and chemicals from tap water before using it on your succulents.

It’s also important to be mindful of the water you use for other purposes in your home, such as misting or cleaning the leaves, as these activities introduce chemicals and minerals to your succulents. By being mindful of the water you use and taking steps to ensure its purity, you can help to keep your succulents healthy and thriving.

Succulent propagation station with soil and leaves arranged in a circle
I used to set up my propagation pots all fancy. Now, i just toss leaves in a pot and let them duke it out. Survival of the fittest in my backyard!

How do you water succulents during propagation?

Watering during propagation of succulents is an important aspect to consider as it can impact the success of the propagation process. When propagating succulents, it’s important to strike a balance between keeping the cuttings or offsets moist, but not too wet. Overwatering leads to root rot, which can kill the cutting, while underwatering leads to the cutting drying out and not rooting.

Here are some tips for watering succulents during propagation:

    • Water sparingly:
        • When propagating succulents, it’s important to water sparingly. This is the only time you should use a misting bottle to mist the cuttings or offsets lightly and avoid getting water on the leaves.

    • Use well-draining soil:

    • Wait for roots to develop:
        • Do not water the cuttings or offsets until you start to see roots developing. This usually takes a few weeks to several months, depending on the species. Once roots have formed, gradually start watering the new succulent as you would a mature succulent.

  •  
Succulent propagation progress picture
    • Keep it humid:
        • While succulents generally thrive in dry environments, they need a bit of humidity to encourage rooting during propagation and to prevent the fragile roots from drying out. Keeping a humidity dome over the cuttings or using a propagating tray with a lid can help maintain the right levels of humidity.

  •  

 

Watering your plants after repotting

Mistakes to avoid when watering succulents

    1. Overwatering: This is the most common mistake when watering succulents. Overwatering leads to root rot, which is a fatal condition that can quickly kill your succulent. Be sure to let the soil dry out between waterings and to only water the succulent when it needs it.
    2. Not letting the soil dry out enough: Succulents store water in their leaves and stems, so they don’t need to be watered as often as other plants. Letting the soil dry out between waterings helps to prevent root rot and encourages the succulent to grow deep roots.
    3. Not using a well-draining soil mix: Succulents need well-draining soil to thrive. If you’re using a soil mix that retains too much moisture, it can lead to root rot and other problems. Consider using a cactus or succulent soil mix, or adding perlite or sand to improve drainage.
    4. Not adjusting watering schedule based on environment: Succulents in warmer, dryer climates need to be watered more frequently, while those in cooler, damper conditions need less. Be mindful of the environment and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
    5. Using water with high mineral content: Tap water can contain minerals and chemicals that build up over time and harm your succulent. Consider using distilled water or rainwater, or let tap water sit for 24 hours before using it to allow the chemicals to evaporate.
    6. Using a pot without drainage holes
    7. Not watering deeply enough
 
 
The perfect time to water your succulents

Other things to think about regarding watering succulents

Watering during dormancy

Some succulents go through a period of dormancy, during which they need less water. It’s important to understand when your succulent is dormant and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Related post: Succulent Dormancy: How to Care for Your Plant Even When They Look Dead or Dying

Watering during growth periods

During periods of active growth, succulents need more water than they do during dormancy. Understanding the growth cycle of your succulent can help determine the right amount of water to give it.

Fertilize succulents with compost

Fertilizing

In addition to water, succulents also need fertilizer to grow and thrive. Understanding the right type of fertilizer to use, and when to use it, can help give your succulent the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong.

Related post: Succulent Fertilizer

Repotting

Repotting can affect the watering schedule for succulents. Be sure to consider the impact of repotting on watering and adjust your schedule accordingly.

Related post: Repotting Succulents: The Best Time to Repot Your Plants and 3 Ways to Tell When It’s Time

Soil type

The type of soil you use for your succulent impacts its watering needs. Understanding the best soil types for succulents and how they affect watering can help you keep your plant healthy and happy.

Related post: Succulent Soil: Ultimate Guide & 4 DIY Recipes to Keep Your Succulents Happy and Healthy

Light and temperature

Light and temperature conditions also play a role in determining when and how often to water succulents. Understanding how these factors interact with watering can help you create a suitable environment for your succulent.

Related post: How Much Light Do Succulents Need?

Signs of stress

Understanding the signs of stress in succulents helps you identify when something is wrong with your plant and take appropriate action. Common signs of stress include yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and wilting.

Watering succulent plants in dry climates
Caring for echeveria blue prince succulent

Humidity

Succulents thrive in dry environments, so it’s important to keep humidity levels low. Understanding how humidity affects watering will help you create the right conditions for your succulent.

Watering while on vacation

If you’re going on vacation and won’t be able to water your succulents, there are steps to keep them hydrated. Understanding how to keep your succulents watered while you’re away might help you avoid the stress of returning to find your succulents dehydrated.

Related post: Caring for Succulents While on Vacation

Water the soil deeply to ensure that it is thoroughly moistened

Watering succulents correctly is essential for maintaining their health and beauty. By understanding the basic principles of watering succulents, such as how often to water, how much water to provide, and how to avoid over-watering, you can provide your plants with the care they need to grow and flourish. Whether you have a collection of succulents indoors or are growing them in your outdoor garden, the right watering techniques will help keep your plants looking their best. With the right knowledge and a little bit of care, you can enjoy a thriving succulent garden for years to come.

You dont need to water your succulents today
Watering tip: find the balance between dehydrated and constantly moist
Watering succulent plants in dry climates
Succulent watering methods for soil with good drainage
Learn how to propagate succulents and share them with your friends
Learn how to propagate succulents and share them with your friends

Where to Buy Succulents Online

I receive a small commission when you purchase anything through my links. 

Leaf and Clay

Fairyblooms

Succulents Box

Etsy

Rojas Succulents

Collecting succulents is not an addiction. It's a healthy interest

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