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How Often to Water Succulents: A Complete Guide

Picture this: you’ve just brought home a plump, green echeveria, its rosette leaves perfectly arranged like nature’s own mandala. Or maybe it’s a striking aloe vera, its spiky fronds promising both aesthetic appeal and medicinal uses. These fascinating plants, along with their cousins like jade plants and sedums, captivate us with their resilience and beauty. Yet, their care involves understanding a delicate balance, especially if you’re planning to make them the center of attraction during Earth day.

Here, we’ll explore the different factors that impact how and how frequently you should be watering your succulent plants.


Importance of Knowing How Often to Water Succulents

Succulents, with their thick, fleshy leaves, evolved to thrive in some of the world’s harshest environments, from the arid deserts of Mexico to the rocky hillsides of South Africa. In these places, water can be a rare and precious commodity. To survive, succulents developed the remarkable ability to store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. This means they can go long periods without a drop of water, a trait that both attracts and perplexes succulent enthusiasts.

Consider your favorite Echeveria ‘Lola’, its pastel-colored leaves dusted with a powdery coating that adds to its allure. Water it too much, and this beautiful plant might start to look a bit sad, its leaves turning mushy and translucent as root rot sets in. Root rot occurs when the roots, sitting in overly moist soil, suffocate due to lack of oxygen, leading to decay. Imagine your prized aloe vera, once a sturdy sentinel on your windowsill, now drooping and lifeless because its roots couldn’t breathe.

Conversely, think about your trusty jade plant, Crassula ovata, known for its robust, coin-shaped leaves. Forget to water it for too long, and those leaves may start to wrinkle and shrink, a clear sign that it’s crying out for hydration. Succulents communicate their needs quite expressively; it’s up to us to read the signs and respond appropriately.

Common watering mistakes often stem from treating succulents like regular houseplants. For example, a novice might place their Haworthia in a pot without drainage holes, thinking it’s safe to water it as frequently as their ferns or philodendrons. This often leads to disaster. Adjusting watering schedules with the changing seasons also plays a crucial role.

So, to ensure you’ll have a wonderful succulent-themed activity, always keep in mind that succulents need more water compared to their dormant period in winter.


Factors Influencing Watering Frequency

Type of Succulent

Different succulents have varying watering needs. For instance, your Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ with its dark, dramatic leaves might require a different watering schedule compared to a string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), known for its cascading beads. While an aloe vera prefers a drink every few weeks, a lithops (also called living stones) may only need water once a month. Understanding the specific needs of each type helps in tailoring your care routine.

Imagine a family of succulents gathered around, each with its unique demands. The plump leaves of your sedum store water like a camel’s hump, allowing it to thrive on infrequent watering. In contrast, your delicate Kalanchoe thrives on a slightly more regular schedule, especially during its blooming phase. Knowing the preferences of each succulent type ensures that you provide them with the optimal care they need to flourish.

Climate and Environment

Climate plays a pivotal role in determining how often to water your succulents. In hot, dry climates like those in Arizona, your succulents will need more frequent watering compared to those in cooler, humid environments like the Pacific Northwest. Indoor environments, controlled by air conditioning or heating, also impact the watering needs. For instance, succulents placed near a sunny window in a dry, heated room during winter may need more water than those in a naturally humid bathroom.

Consider the scorching heat of summer in Texas. Your succulents basking in the sun might require weekly watering. Contrast this with a rainy season in Florida, where the humidity in the air means you can water less frequently. Understanding how climate affects watering needs helps in adjusting your routine accordingly.

Soil Type

The type of soil in which your succulent sits plays a critical role in its health. Well-draining soil prevents water from sitting around the roots, mimicking the natural conditions these plants thrive in. A good mix might include a combination of cactus soil, perlite, and sand. Imagine your beloved Crassula sitting in a pot of rich, dense garden soil. The poor drainage could spell disaster, leading to root rot.

Using the right soil mix, you create an environment where water flows through easily, preventing the roots from suffocating. Think of it as providing your succulents with a comfortable home that meets their unique needs. The soil mix for a fast-growing Echeveria might differ from that of a slow-growing Haworthia, each requiring a specific blend to thrive.

Pot Type and Size

The pot you choose for your succulents also impacts how often you should water them. Clay pots, for instance, allow for better evaporation compared to plastic ones, leading to a need for more frequent watering. Small pots dry out faster than larger ones. Picture your Sedum morganianum (burro’s tail) in a small terracotta pot; it might need water more often than an Echeveria in a large ceramic pot.

The material and size of the pot influence how quickly the soil dries out. A large, shallow dish with multiple succulents creates a different watering dynamic compared to individual small pots. Choosing the right pot for your succulents can make a significant difference in maintaining their health and vibrancy.


General Watering Guidelines

General watering guidelines on the frequency, techniques, and seasonal adjustments

Watering Frequency

Think of your succulents as resilient little warriors, each with its unique rhythm. A typical watering schedule might range from every one to two weeks. Yet, it’s essential to observe their specific needs and adjust accordingly. For instance, if your Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ starts to look slightly wrinkled, it might be time to give it a drink. Always observe and adapt based on how your succulent plants respond. During the winter months, succulents need less water due to their dormant period, so adjust accordingly.

Watering Techniques

The soak and dry method works wonders for most succulents. Picture this: you water your succulent thoroughly, allowing the water to drench the soil and reach the roots. Then, you wait until the soil dries out completely before watering again. This mimics the natural rainfall cycles in their native habitats. Another effective method involves bottom watering. Place the pot in a shallow tray of water and let it soak up from the bottom of the pot. This technique ensures that the roots get the right amount of water without risking excess water sitting on the leaves.

Seasonal Adjustments

Adjusting your watering frequency with the changing seasons keeps your succulents healthy. During the active growing seasons of spring and summer, succulents may need more water. However, in the winter months, reduce the frequency as the plants enter dormancy and require less water. An easy rule of thumb: if the soil feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water your succulents.


Signs of Overwatering and Underwatering


Overwatering often leads to yellowing leaves and a mushy texture. Imagine your favorite Jade Plant with its leaves turning translucent and soft—this indicates excess water and potentially root rot. To prevent this, use pots with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. If you notice these symptoms, reduce watering and let the soil dry out completely before the next watering.


On the flip side, underwatering presents as wrinkled leaves and dry soil. Your Aloe Vera, with its typically plump leaves, might start to look shriveled if it needs more water. To address this, water your succulents thoroughly and consider using the bottom watering method to hydrate the roots effectively. Regularly check the soil at the bottom of the pot to ensure it’s not bone dry.


Watering Tips for Specific Succulent Varieties

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera, with its medicinal properties, thrives on a schedule of watering every three to four weeks. During the summer, increase the frequency to every two weeks if the soil dries out quickly. Avoid letting water sit in the rosettes to prevent rot.


Echeverias, known for their rosette shapes, require a drink every two to three weeks. Ensure the soil dries out between waterings to prevent root rot. Echeverias thrive in well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes.


Sedums, like the Burro’s Tail, prefer slightly more frequent watering every two to three weeks. These succulents need good drainage and a watchful eye to avoid overwatering.


Haworthias, with their striped leaves, enjoy a schedule of watering every three to four weeks. These plants tolerate less water, especially in the winter months when their growth slows down.

Advanced Watering Tips

Using Moisture Meters

A moisture meter helps in determining when to water succulents. Insert the meter into the soil; if it reads dry, it’s time to water. This tool takes the guesswork out of the process and helps in maintaining the right moisture level.

Water Quality

Always use clean, non-chlorinated water for your succulents. Tap water often contains chemicals that can build up in the soil and harm your plants. Consider using filtered or rainwater for the best results.

Fertilizing and Watering

Combining fertilization with watering promotes optimal growth. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season. This approach feeds your plants while providing the necessary hydration.


Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Succulents!

Regular observation and adjustment play a key role in successful succulent care. Each plant has unique needs that may change with the seasons. Keep a watchful eye on your succulent plants, and adjust your watering schedule based on their specific requirements. A little attention and the right amount of water keep your succulents thriving year-round.



Can succulents survive without water for long periods?

Yes, succulents can survive for long periods without water due to their water storage capabilities. Check the soil; if it’s completely dry, it’s time to water.

How to revive an overwatered or underwatered succulent?

For overwatered succulents:

  1. Remove from soil.
  2. Dry the roots for a few days.
  3. Replant in fresh, well-draining soil and water sparingly.

For underwatered succulents:

  1. Water thoroughly.
  2. Monitor soil moisture and adjust watering frequency.

What to do with succulents when going on vacation?

Before going on vacation, water your succulents a day or two before you leave and move them to a spot with indirect light to reduce evaporation. Consider using self-watering pots for a steady water supply, or ask a friend to check on them if you’ll be away for an extended period.

About the Author

WHO IS Jessica Siefert

Jessica Siefert is the owner and succulent expert behind Succulent Bar. Based in Texas, she has a passion for plants and a talent for creating unique experiences for her community. With years of event planning and interior design studies, Jessica’s skills and knowledge are highly sought after in the succulent community. Her love for plants and dedication to her craft has earned her a reputation as a trusted authority on succulents.

Whether creating beautiful succulent arrangements for events or teaching others about the care and maintenance of these plants through her in-person and virtual planting experiences, Jessica’s expertise shines through in everything she does. She has a deep-rooted love for her craft and is dedicated to sharing her knowledge with others. With Succulent Bar, Jessica has created a business that is both successful and fulfilling, and she looks forward to continuing to serve her community with her passion and expertise.