Last Updated on November 20, 2021 by Sophie
One of the most common causes of succulent death or sickly succulent plants is over-watering of the plant. You see, most succulents enjoy drier conditions and can go weeks, if not months, between waterings. As such, here’s how to water succulent plants, including care tips and tricks to not only maintain the health of your succulent plant, but make it thrive!
First things first, you should note that succulents are not like most other plants that you’ll be caring for! Whereas most plants require watering at least once a week, and even more during the summer months, succulents need only be watered when they ‘need’ it. This means looking for other signs in the plant, as opposed to sticking to a strict watering schedule!
When it comes to the equipment you’ll need to properly ensure sufficient watering of your succulent plants, the things that are required are very minimal! As well as preferably healthy plants to start with, you’ll need to ensure that you have pots with drainage holes, well-draining soil, and a small vessel with which to water your plants.
Know that different succulents have different needs
One of the most important plant tips to know is that each individual succulent plant has its own needs and care requirements. What may work for one kind of succulent will not work for another. Furthermore, each individual plant of the same variety will also have its own requirements depending on where it’s placed and the size of the plant, and the like.
Ensure that your pot has drainage holes!
This tip does not only apply to succulents but pretty much any plant that you want to keep in a pot, whether inside or outside your home. One of the most essential things that you’re going to need to care for your plant is to ensure that your pot has drainage holes at its base.
Many plastic and terracotta nursery pots have drainage holes already at the base of the pot. However, you can turn pretty much any bowl or container (such as an old teacup and the like) into a succulent pot, provided that you drill a hole in the bottom. This means that any excess water can drain away from the base of the plant and soil and will aid in preventing root rot.
Ensure that your plant is in well-draining soil
While we’re on the subject of the kind of environment your succulent needs for optimal plant growth, bear in mind that well-draining soil is absolutely essential in maintaining your succulent health. This typically means a soil/ perlite mix with plenty of grit and sand and less of the kind of organic matter than you would require for other houseplants.
No particular recipe is better than another and many indoor gardeners have their own ‘special mix’. It’s also perfectly possible to purchase succulent and cacti pre-made soil mixes at most gardening and hardware stores so that the guesswork is taken out of the process for you.
Learn the habits/ looks of your succulents when they need watering
One of the best ways to gauge on the best time to watering your succulent plants is to look for clues and signs as to when the plant needs watering. With most (if not all succulents), it’s essential that you allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
As such, your first port of call will be to check if the soil is still moist or is completely bone dry. Next, you’ll want to check the look of the succulent leaves and stems themselves. When many succulents (such as jade plants or string of pearls) require watering, their leaves will begin to shrivel and ‘wrinkles’ will appear on the surface of the leaves.
This is a surefire indicator that your succulent plant needs some more water! Other signs that your succulent is due for a watering includes the upper leaves becoming ‘dry and crispy’ and that many of the leaves are shrivelling at their tips.
You should note that when it comes to watering succulents, it tends to be better to underwater than overwater and so err on the side of underwatering your plant as opposed to overwatering. After all, it’s much easier to water the plant than to remove water from the plant. It’s also hard to recover from root rot, particularly in succulents!
The best method to water your succulents!
As mentioned, you’ll want to wait until your succulent soil mix is completely dry before considering watering your succulent again. Once you’ve confirmed that the soil is dry and that the plant shows signs of needing a water, the very best watering method is to completely soak your plant.
What this means is waiting until the soil is bone dry before dunking and soaking the plant in water. When it comes to indoor plants, you’ll want to try and ensure that the water touches the leaves of the plants as little as possible as this can lead to plant rot, which will damage or kill your plant.
Avoid watering your succulent plants until the soil has completely dried out again. This will also mean that all of your different succulent varieties inevitably end up on different watering schedules. I personally find that something like the String of Hearts needs watering a lot more frequently than many of my echeveria plants!
Make sure that your succulent receives adequate light
Though not strictly related to ‘how to water succulent plants’ something which will directly impact on how often you water your succulent and on the overall health of your plant is the amount of direct light that the succulent receives.
Succulents, in general, enjoy bright light (though newly planted and young succulents can scorch and burn in direct sunlight). As such, a brightly lit space in your home, particularly in the winter months, is essential for good growth of your succulents.
The amount of watering your plants need changes on the season
In the winter, your succulent will likely be darker (with less sunlight) and the environment cooler (whether in your home or outside) and so your plant will require watering less often. Less heat and sun exposure will mean that the soil takes longer to dry out.
Conversely, the spring and summer months are typically succulent growing season and so the plant will use up more water, not to mention that the water will dry out of your plant more quickly on account of the higher light and heat exposure.