How To Water Succulents Indoors – A Complete Guide 2023

The question we are asked most often is How do I Water My Succulents? Watering succulents indoors can be tricky. If you overwater, your plant will rot. If you underwater, your plant will dry out and wilt.

If you’re like most people, you probably think that succulents need little to no water. And while it’s true that they don’t require as much water as other plants, they still need good watering now and then – especially during the hot summer months.

how to water succulents indoors

 

This is a guide for how to water succulents indoors so that your plant stays healthy and happy. And how to recognise when your succulent or cactus needs watering.

How Often Should I Water My Succulent?

There is no one-size-fits-all for how much and how often you should water a succulent or cacti.

The frequency of watering and the amount of water needed will depend on:

  • the type of succulent or cactus
  • the season
  • where the plant is placed (hot, sunny window, humid bathroom, outdoors…)
  • the climate
  • the soil it’s in
  • the size of pot it’s in
  • the type of pot it’s in
  • and your plants’ individual ‘personality’ – every plant will have slightly needs in the same way that humans need different amounts of food and water to flourish

How Do I Know If My Succulent Needs Watering?

The easiest way to know if your succulent needs watering is to look at the leaves.

A healthy succulent that is not looking for more water will have plump, firm leaves.

Plump leaves on succulent

A succulent that needs water will have shriveled-up and wrinkly-looking leaves that might be starting to turn yellow and wilt.

A succulent that has had too much water, and most definitely does not need watering at the moment, will have mushy, soft, and almost translucent leaves.

However, you probably don’t want to wait until your plant is really dry or really over-watered. If you want to tell earlier, you need to look at the plant’s lowest leaves and then at the tips of those leaves and where those leaves join the stem of the plant.

Underwatered versus Overwatered succulent leaves

The lowest leaves will show  signs of distress first.

Underwatering shows from the leaf-tip first as shriveled, browning, drooping tips. The leaf will start to lose its firmness and plumpness. The signs of damage will work their way from the tip of the leaf back to the stem.

Overwatering shows where the leaf joins the stem first as mushy, yellowing, softness in the leaf. The signs of damage will start at the stem and gradually move to the tip of the leaf.

The rest of the leaf may still be looking healthy, but the tips and stem-join show signs first.

You should note, however, that old leaves will also die off. These will usually be the lowest leaves. Leaves that are dying from old age will die from the stem. Rather than shriveling up, these leaves will turn brown and become dry and brittle before falling off.

How Often To Water Succulents Indoors

Most succulents need very little water to survive and thrive indoors. In fact, overwatering is one of the most common problems people have with succulents.

watering

If you’re not sure how often to water your succulents, err on the side of caution, look at the leaves for signs of distress and wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.

Having said that, here are a few general guidelines to help you determine how often to water your indoor succulents:

  • Water once a week during the spring and summer months.
  • Water once every four weeks during the fall and winter months.
  • If you live in a particularly dry climate, you may need to water your succulents more frequently.
  • If your succulents are growing in a pot with very well-draining soil, they may need to be watered more often than those in a pot with denser soil.

Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. The best way to determine how often to water your indoor succulents is to pay attention to their individual needs.

With a little trial and error, you’ll soon get a feel for how often each of your succulents needs to be watered.

How To Water Cactus Indoors

When it comes to watering, the general rule of thumb is to water your succulent or cactus when the soil is dry to the touch. To do this, simply stick your finger into the potting mix and see how far down it feels moist. If it feels dry a couple of inches down, it’s probably time to water.

If you have a pot with drainage holes in the bottom, you can feel the soil through the drainage hole. If it’s dry, it’s probably time to water.

Pot with drainage hole

BUT, before you water your plant – double-check the lower leaves for signs of underwatering or overwatering. If your plant is showing signs of overwatering with soft, mushy leaves, do not water your plant again until the plant recovers however dry the soil feels.

What Is The Best Way To Water Succulents

The best way to water succulents and cacti is by soaking them from the bottom of the pot. For this to work, you will need to have your succulents planted in pots with drainage holes at the bottom and placed on a tray.

Place the pot in a bucket or sink of room temperature water and leave for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the soil to soak up water. If the soil is very dry you may choose the leave the pot in the water for up to 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the water and leave it raised somewhere for a few minutes (on a draining board, for example) so any excess water can drain out. Place the plant back on its tray in its normal spot.

If you notice water in the tray beneath the pot, empty it out. You could even add a few small stones or pebbles to the tray to ensure the bottom of the pot is raised from the tray and is never left standing in direct contact with water.

If your plant is in a pot with drainage holes, but it’s not easy to move it to a place where you can soak it from the bottom, follow the method below for pots without drainage holes.

How To Water Succulents In Pots Without Drainage

If you have your succulent in a pot that doesn’t have drainage holes (and you don’t want to repot it because you just love that pot), ensure that you do not over-water your plant.

1. Wait until the top few inches of the soil are completely dry to the touch.

Then add water to the top of the soil until it is moist using a watering can with a long spout, a pouring jug or a squeeze bottle. Do not use a water spray bottle – you won’t be able to add enough water that way and you’ll end up with water all over the leaves.

2. Use a well-draining potting mix.

This is critical! If your potting mix doesn’t drain well, your succulents will quickly become waterlogged and rot. So make sure to use a succulent or cacti-specific potting mix that contains ingredients like perlite, pumice, or sand. Don’t use a regular potting mix.

3. Water your succulents deeply, but less often.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually the key to success when watering succulents without drainage.

Deep watering helps encourage roots to grow deeper into the potting mix. And by watering less often, you give the potting mix time to dry out between waterings.

4. Use room temperature water

When watering, be sure to use room temperature water. Cold water can shock your plant and cause it to wilt.

5. Avoid getting water on the leaves.

Try not to pour water over the leaves, if possible. If you do get water on the leaves and you notice it’s still there the next day, try and blot it off with kitchen paper. Excess water on leaves or nestled in the rosette of your succulent can cause rot or mildew and other problems. When watering, direct the water at the base of the plant rather than onto the leaves.

watering a succulent from the top of the pot

6. Allow the potting mix to dry out completely between waterings.

Wait until the soil has completely dried out at the top before watering again.

7. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Every plant is different and it’s important to experiment and see what works best for your plants.

Do You Water Succulents and Cactus From The Top Or Bottom

It is generally accepted that the best way to water a cactus or succulent is from the bottom. This allows the water to soak evenly into the plant’s roots and prevents the plant from becoming waterlogged.

Watering from the bottom of the pot encourages the roots of the plant to grow deep and strong in their search for water. Watering from the top of the pot can encourage shallow-growth roots.

If you water from the top, it is important to be careful not to overwater as this can cause root rot.

How Much Water Do Succulents Need Per Week

The amount of water your plants need really depends on the plant species, the size of the plant, the size of the pot and the amount and type of soil in the pot.

It’s impossible to give a measure and say ‘1 cup of water’, for example. You will get a feel for how much water your plant needs over time.

If you can soak its pot from the bottom and then allow excess water to drain away, the plant will only take up as much water as the soil can absorb.

If you water your plant from above and the pot has drainage holes, add until water comes out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Then empty the drainage tray.

watering a small succulent

If you water a plant from above that is in a pot without drainage holes, water until the soil feels slightly moist, but make sure you don’t overdo it as excess water has nowhere to go and can pool around the roots and cause root rot.

In all cases, let the soil dry out between waterings and keep an eye on the leaves, particularly the lower leaves, for clues on whether your plant is receiving too much water, not enough, or you’ve got it just right.

Shallow pots will dry out quicker than deeper pots, while glazed pots and plastic pots will hold moisture longer than terracotta pots, which are porous to water.

If you’re growing succulents outdoors, they’ll need even less water than indoor plants. Water them only when the top few inches of soil are dry. In very hot weather, you may need to water outdoor succulents daily.

How Often To Water Indoor Succulents In Summer

Most indoor succulents, in general,  should be watered about once a week during the growing season (spring and summer) and then allowed to dry out completely before being watered again.

If your plant is in a sunny spot, you may need to water it more frequently.

If it’s particularly hot or dry inside, your succulents will likely need to be watered more often. On the other hand, if it’s cooler and more humid, they may need watering less often.

How Often To Water Indoor Succulents In Winter

During the winter months, when growth slows down, you should be able to reduce watering to every other week or even once a month, depending on your plant.

Succulents winter

Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. If your plant is looking wilted or has yellow leaves, it may need more water. Be sure to check the soil and leaves before watering to avoid overwatering.

How Often To Water Succulents In Small Pots

The soil in a tiny pot will tend to dry out more quickly than in a larger pot.

If the pot is made of a porous material, such as terracotta, the soil will dry more rapidly than if the pot is glazed or plastic and water can’t evaporate through the sides of the pot.

As in all cases, check the soil for dryness and check the leaves of the plant, particularly the lower ones, for signs of over or underwatering.

Final Words

As you can see, there’s not one-size-fits-all for how, when and how often to water succulents. It depends on the environment your plant is in, the type of plant, the soil and even the pot your plant is in. Just keep an eye on the signs of over and under-watering and adjust your watering accordingly.

It is always better to err on the side of underwatering your succulent rather than over-watering. An underwatered plant is much easier to treat and recover. Over-watering can result in soggy roots and root rot. Rot of any type is much harder to cure.

You can kill a succulent in a couple of weeks by overwatering but it will take months to kill by underwatering.

Read our full guide on How To Tell When Your Succulent Has Become Over Or Under Watered.

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