How Often to Water Succulents Plus 4 Serious Signs to Watch

Succulents are easy-care plants, but the key to helping them thrive is knowing how often to water them. The drought-tolerant nature of succulents also makes them excellent house plant choices for people who may not have the ability to water every day.

In fact, watering every day can be detrimental to a succulent, causing problems such as root rot. If the plant tissues absorb too much water, the leaves may burst. The key to watering succulents is to wait until the soil is completely dry.

Below, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about how often to water succulents and what telltale signs to look out for.

How Often to Water Succulents

Deciding on the best time to water your succulents will depend on the type of plant you have. It’s best to test the soil by touch to make sure it’s completely dry before watering. You can use a moisture meter to check your plant container’s moisture levels, or use a dry plain wooden chopstick. Try to dip it into the soil and if the soil sticks to the chopstick, it doesn’t need water.

We’ve rounded up several factors to consider when it comes to determining how often to water your succulent. This includes the season, the amount of sun exposure your plant gets, the particular species of succulent you have, how much humidity your succulent needs, and the type of soil and container used.


Succulents are in their most active growth cycle in spring and summer and need less water in winter when they are dormant. The general rule is to water about half as often during the winter compared to spring and summer and to taper off during autumn.

For example, if your succulent is watered every two weeks in spring and summer, taper off to once every three weeks in autumn, and once a month in winter.

Sun Exposure

Most succulents can handle direct or bright sunlight, though some prefer indirect light. There are also some succulents that do well in low-light conditions. If your succulent is in bright, full sun, the soil may dry out a bit faster than one located in dappled or indirect light.


There are many types of succulents to grow, including sedum, cactus, echeveria, agave, and euphorbia. Do a bit of research into the watering needs of your succulent plant to help you determine the best timing. Smaller-leafed succulents need watering more frequently than those with larger leaves, as their leaves can’t store as much water.


Some succulents thrive in humid conditions, while others like dry air. If you keep your succulent plant in a humid location, such as the bathroom, or outdoors in the summer, you may find it needs less water than it would in a drier location.

Be sure to locate your succulents away from drafty windows, heating units, humidifiers, or air conditioners.

Soil and Pot

Large pots need water less often than small pots because moisture is distributed over a larger area and will evaporate more slowly. The potting material also affects evaporation: plastic and metal maintain moisture levels longer than porous materials like clay.

Soil or potting mix also affects moisture levels. If your soil’s drainage becomes less effective over time, consider repotting your succulent with fresh potting soil. Use the best potting mix available for your specific plant; there are specialized soil mixtures available for cactus plants, for example.

How to Water Succulents

There are several different techniques for watering succulents. These include top watering, bottom watering, submerging, and misting.

  • Top watering: Slowly pour water over the top soil layer, and wait for the soil to absorb the water thoroughly. When you start to see water coming out the drainage holes of the pot, or into the drainage saucer beneath it, stop watering.
  • Bottom watering: Add water to a saucer or tray beneath the container to let it absorb water from the bottom up. This is the preferred method of watering, as it prevents water from getting onto the succulent’s leaves, which might make them vulnerable to fungal or bacterial diseases.
  • Submerging: This is similar to bottom watering, and works well with smaller containers. Place the container in the sink, or inside a wash tub. Then fill the sink or tub with water, just below the container’s top edge. Let sit a few minutes to soak up water, then lift out and let excess water drain away. This method mimics a soaking rainstorm in the desert.
  • Misting: This requires a spray mister bottle, and works best for very small succulents. Simply spray water onto the top layer of the soil and repeat until the soil surface is moist to the touch.

Signs Your Succulents Need Water

It’s less likely your succulents will be underwatered than overwatered, but it can happen. There are a few ways to tell if your succulent needs water. Some succulents naturally drop their leaves over time, but this is not necessarily a sign of underwatering.

Dry Soil

This is the first sign your succulent needs water. If the soil is very dry, dusty, crumbly, or powdery to the touch, it needs water. It may also need repotting and fresh soil added.

Wrinkled Leaves

If the surface of your succulent leaves has a wrinkly appearance, they may need moisture. However, regular watering should prevent this problem.

Shrunken Leaves

If the leaves of your succulent seem to be shrinking, they may need more water to maintain their size.

Wilted Leaves

Wilted leaves may be a sign of underwatering or overwatering. If you’re not sure which, check the level of moisture in the soil too.


  • It depends on the variety. Some succulents need direct sunlight, while others prefer indirect or low light.

  • It’s definitely possible to overwater succulents. Always wait to water until the soil is completely dry.

  • Indoor succulents can go for weeks without water. During the dormant winter season, many succulents can go for up to six weeks without watering.

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