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Ultimate Guide to Watering Succulents for Beginners

Did you know succulents hate being overloved? In other words, over-loving them by watering too often will choke them to death!

Generally, succulents have unique water requirements, and the amount and frequency depend on the type/location/season. Provide infrequent watering, allowing the soil to dry out completely, and ensure well-draining soil and adequate sunlight to maintain optimal water intake.

To beginners, do not let wrong watering become the death of your succulents. Use this guide to water them correctly.

How do You Know When a Succulent Requires Water?

Succulents are not picky about watering because these desert-like plants prefer slight drought over moist soil.

Be it a Zebra plant, Snake plant, Echeveria Sanyatwe, Aloe Vera, Jade, Cacti, or a flowering Kalanchoe; every succulent requires minimal watering to maintain healthy growth.

The best way to determine when to water succulents is by checking the soil moisture level using your finger or soil moisture meter.

Insert finger into the soil to check for moisture level
Insert a finger into the soil to check for moisture level. 

Insert the moisture meter’s pointed end into the soil and wait about 60 seconds before reading the gauge.

Gauge ReadingSpecification
1-1.5 / 1-3The potting medium is close to dry, requiring watering
2-3.5 / 3.5-7.5The potting medium is slightly dry to lightly moist.
4-5 / 8-10The potting medium is very wet

Stick your finger about an inch or two into the soil. It is time to water if it feels dry to the touch. Otherwise, wait a few more days or weeks before checking the soil for dryness.

Another way to tell is by the leaves’ appearance, plant growth, foliage color, and other visible factors.

Signs of a Dehydrated Succulent

The dehydrated succulent will exhibit telltale signs through its foliage, color, and soil.

Wrinkled or shriveled leavesWhen the plant loses moisture faster than it can take it in, the leaves become wrinkled or shriveled
Yellow or brown leavesIf the leaves turn yellow or brown and feel dry and crispy to the touch, it's a sign of dehydration
Slow or stunted growthAn underwatered succulent may also have slower or stunted growth, because it lacks enough water to support an even growth
Leaf dropSucculents may drop the leaves when they not get enough water to conserve energy and water for survival
Dry soilThe soil around your succulent feels bone-dry and fails to hold any moisture

Signs of an Overwatered Succulent

Likewise, the overwatered succulent will show signs of ailments through its foliage, soil, and roots.

Soft, mushy leavesWhen a succulent is overwatered, the leaves may become soft and mushy, and lack mass
Yellow or transparent leavesOverwatering turns the leaves yellow or transparent, because the roots become suffocated and unable to take up nutrients properly
Root rotConstantly moist soil leads to root rot (black, mushy roots and a foul smell), which is a fungal disease
Stunted growthOverwatering stunts the growth of the succulent, as the roots are unable to properly absorb nutrients and oxygen
Pest infestationsExcess moisture attracts pests, such as fungus gnats, mealybugs, and spider mites, which thrive in damp soil

How Often Should I Water My Succulents?

Remember, most succulents need their soil to be at least 90-100% dry between watering.

Unlike other houseplants, succulents retain water in their leaves, fronds, and leaves, requiring minimal water year around.

Only water when the soil feels bone dry or let the substrate dries out completely between watering to avoid the risk of overwatering.

Succulents retain water in their leaves, fronds, and stems
Succulents retain water in their leaves, fronds, and stems.

However, the watering requirement and frequency will differ based on the location, season, succulent type, sunlight intensity, temperature, etc.

1. Indoor vs. Outdoor

It can differ for indoor and outdoor plants, and the amount and frequency of watering succulents will vary.

Indoor SucculentOutdoor Succulent
Indoor succulents are container-bound and not exposed to direct sunlight, which means they will need less water.Outdoor succulents may require more water than indoor plants, because they are exposed to direct sunlight.
Water indoor succulents once every 1-2 weeks, allowing soil to dry in-between. Water outdoor succulents once a week, depending on the weather conditions.
Check watering time by sticking your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If the soil is dry, it is time to water.Check watering time by sticking your finger into the soil about 2-3 inch deep. If the soil is dry, it is time to water.

2. Growing Season vs. Dormancy

Succulents will naturally require more watering in the growing season compared to dormancy.

During the growing season, typically spring and summer months, succulents are actively growing and require frequent watering to support the growth

Based on its location, water your succulents once every 1-2 weeks.

Succulents enter a rest period and require less water during dormancy, usually in fall and winter; hence, they will go by without water for longer.

Water when the soil is completely dry or once every 3-4 weeks.

3. Succulent Type

Not all succulents are equal, meaning they have slightly varying watering requirements.

Here are five examples of popular succulent types and their watering needs.

Succulent TypeWatering Requirement
Echeveria, Sedum, CrassulaWater them once every 1-2 weeks during the growing season and cut back watering to once every 3-4 weeks in dormancy
Haworthia, AloeWater deeply once every 2-3 weeks during the growing season and once every 4-6 weeks in dormancy

Frequently watering mini succulents is more essential than the established ones because their tiny foliage fails to hold as much water.

Feel free to water them once a week if the soil feels dry.

If you love growing colorful succulents, orange succulents are there to fulfill your wish. 

4. Sunlight vs. Shade

Succulents in full or partial sunlight typically require more water than shade ones, as they dry out faster.

Water the soil deeply once every 1-2 weeks, allowing it to dry completely between watering.

Additionally, move your outdoor plants to shade or introduce temporary shade to prevent dehydration, especially when watering succulents in summer.

Three pots are lying over a table with each pot containing plants on them and is filled with soil.
Succulents kept in the shade will require less watering than the ones kept in the sun. 

Similarly, watering indoor succulents is ideally done once every 2-3 weeks to allow the soil to dry out before watering again.

However, avoid keeping them in a damp, shaded location with less or no lighting.

If you live in sun-shading locations, try to garden low-light succulents that grow even in the dark.

5. Warm vs. Cold Temperature

Succulents widely prefer a temperature between 40-80°F, whereas hardy ones can even tolerate sub-zero temperatures.

The watering frequency will depend on the temperature your succulent is exposed to. The frost-hardy succulents naturally require less watering as they tend to dry out slowly.

Generally, you should water your succulents once every 1-2 weeks when kept in a warm area or during the warm season.

Those left in a cold state only require watering when the soil dries out, usually one month or more.

6. Low vs. High Humidity

Succulents prefer humidity levels of 40% or higher to maintain water intake and storage inside their leaves.

Succulents in low humidity may require more frequent watering than those in high humidity because they lose water significantly.

Water them deeply once every 1-2 weeks to allow the roots to retain enough moisture before drying out.

On the other hand, those kept in high humidity require less watering as the moisture in the air helps keep the soil moist.

Keep watering once every 2-3 weeks or more, depending on when the soil dries.

What is the Proper Way to Water Succulents?

When watering succulents, you can benefit from the correct technique by reducing water consumption and avoiding the risk of root rot.

Use any of these methods or techniques to water your succulents.

1. Soak and Dry Method

This technique is to soak the soil completely and then allow it to drain thoroughly.

  • Fill the can or water hose and pour it onto the soil deeply until the water runs out of the drainage holes.
  • Allow the excess water to drain completely before returning the pot to its usual spot.

Alternatively, place two or three ice cubes onto the soil and let it melt naturally to soak it slowly.

2. Using a Water Spray

A watering can, or a hose with a nozzle is best for succulents.

  • The gentle spray of water allows you to control the amount of water and avoid disturbing the soil.
  • Always spray the soil directly and avoid getting water on the leaves to prevent sunburn or moldy leaves.
  • Provide enough water to let the soil drain out completely, then immediately stop watering.

3. Bottom Watering

Watering succulents from the bottom is a common technique to hydrate the plant without worrying about draining the soil.

  • Fill an empty saucer with water and place the succulent pot in it.
  • Allow the water to soak up through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
  • Throw away the excess water to prevent fungal or bacterial buildup.
Picture showing difference between bottom and top watering.
Unlike top watering, bottom watering lets the plant decide the amount of water.

4. Watering Without Drainage

Watering succulents without drainage can be tricky, as it increases the risk of overwatering and root rot.

Here are some handy tips for water drainage-less succulent pots.

  • Replace the soil with a well-draining mix for proper air circulation and quick water evaporation.
  • Only water when the soil is dried; use half the water compared to draining pots.
  • The water spray or ice cube method is the best way to control excess water intake.

From Editorial Team


Reviving underwatered succulents is easier than overwatered plants because the latter may severely damage the roots.

Check out some quick ways to revive your overwatered succulents to help them flourish again.

Most importantly, inspect the soil moisture level regularly by sticking your finger into the soil or using a soil moisture meter before watering.