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Watering Succulents: The Dance

Is there such a thing as too much love for your plants? Absolutely–especially if you have succulents. Succulents are hardy and prolific plants with endless varieties of textures, colors, and shapes. Do they need water? Sure. But many people kill them with kindness, aka water. Like every living thing, they need water but knowing the right amount to water is the key to success. Once you figure out the hydration sweet spot, caring for happy, healthy succulents will be a breeze. 

Succulents have a reputation for being low maintenance plants due to their drought tolerance. While this is true, they do need water to survive and thrive when watered regularly.

Since succulents and cacti store water in their stems and leaves, they’re able to survive prolonged periods without water. But this doesn’t mean they’ll perform their best if starved for water for an extended time. 

Read the Signs

Regular watering helps succulents grow robust root systems and always helps them look vibrant and healthy. Thankfully watching the leaves of your succulents will give you clues as to whether they are getting the right amount of water. 

If you see yellow, translucent, and soggy leaves on your succulent, then you’ve been overwatering, which is a common mistake. Stop watering until the soil feels dry several inches down.

On the other hand, if you see brown, crispy leaves on the top or middle section of your succulent, then you’ve been under-watering, and the plant is in distress and need of water. Give your succulent a deep watering and water it again in a few days when the soil feels dry about an inch or two deep.

If you see dry leaves at the bottom of your plant, know that this is the plant’s natural growing process, so don’t be alarmed. Succulents drop leaves as they prepare to grow new ones from the center. Simply tear off these dry leaves and throw them away. This is called pruning.

How often to water?

How often to water succulents is a delicate dance between you and your plant. Many factors can determine this, including climate and temperature, whether indoors or outdoors, and in what potting soil they live. Lighting also plays a role. 

The general rule of thumb is this:  water succulents ONLY when the topsoil feels dry about one or two inches deep, and water deeply until you see that water is freely escaping the pot’s drainage hole. When you see water draining from the bottom of your pot, you’ll know that the soil has received adequate moisture. 

Generally speaking, water every other week, but in the hot summer months water slightly more. Most succulents don’t actively grow during the winter, so they need less water. The soil also takes much longer to dry out during these months. 

Always touch the soil to see how dry it feels before you water it. If you’re still unsure, try a soil meter, which will tell you the moisture level in the pot. This is a dance you and your succulents will work out, and it will be gorgeous if you master it. Need more help? Let the experts at Plantscapers help! 

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