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Secret to Sensational Succulents - How To Water Succulents! – Easy To Grow Bulbs

Secret to Sensational Succulents - How To Water Succulents! – Easy To Grow Bulbs

Proper Watering For Your Succulents

Of course you know succulents are all the rage - and for good reason! Vibrant colors, fascinating forms, and such versatility that we use them as houseplants, garden additions and as living décor. This guide is to show you everything you need when caring for succulents!

how to water mixed succulents Succulents are highly unusual plants that require little care to look terrific. But "little care" is not the same as "none at all". And if succulents need less water than most plants - that doesn't tell you how much to water or when. To really enjoy succulents, you need to know how to water them to keep them healthy, right? There is no simple answer to how often do you water succulents - instead, let's review how to know when your succulent needs water or has too much. Everyone always says how easy it is to care for succulents. But then why do so many succulent plants die?  

Caring for succulents truly is easy - you just need a little information.

What is a Succulent Plant? 

how to water mixed succulent plants

Succulents are a vast collection of plants that have evolved to survive extreme drought by storing water in specialized cells in their leaves, stems and roots. In times of drought, these cells slowly release their moisture to be used by the rest of the plant, enabling it to survive in periods of drought. Think of these water storage cells as zillions of teeny, tiny water balloons in each succulent plant. A healthy succulent plant takes in the water in the soil, and fills each water storage cell.  The "water balloons" swell to their fullest, and they retain this moisture level until it is needed.

When to Water Succulents & When to Leave Dry? 


This adaptation of storing water for later use enables succulent plants to thrive even when water is scarce. Because this is the adaptation succulents have made, it tells us it is FAR better to leave your succulents too dry rather than too wet.  They have adapted to survive overly dry conditions.

Signs Your Succulent Needs Water

see signs that succulent plant is underwatered

Better dry than wet does not mean "never water" your succulent plants. Water is essential for the plant's health, just like any other.  Wrinkled, shriveled leaves indicate the succulent needs more water. As those water balloon-like cells release their stored moisture to the rest of the plant, they try to bring in more water to replace what they have lost. When they cannot get more water, and the plant continues to rely on the stores being depleted, the cells contract to smaller size, the "balloon" deflates, leaving the once plump and firm leaves collapsing and shriveling. This is a clear sign that your succulent needs more water.  

Deep Drink or Little Sips?

To promote healthy roots and to work with the plant's natural design, water deeply and then give the soil time to dry out. This is the key to watering your succulents - fewer, deeper waterings. When the soil is dry, water deeply. If the succulent is in a container with good drainage, set the container in a tray of water, and let the soil wick up the water for about five minutes.  Then remove the pot from the water and let it drain. Do not water again until the soil is dry. If the succulent is in the ground or in a container too large to move, water at the soil line, rather than from over head. Be sure not to let the succulent sit in waterlogged soil. Empty any catch trays after about five minutes.

Signs Your Succulent Is Overwatered

Image shows signs a succulent plant is overwatered


Storing water in its cells enables the succulent to thrive even in dry soils. Healthy succulents replace the water released from storage when more is available in the soil. This is critical for the plants health.

Overwatering basically causes those water balloons to over fill and burst, resulting in deeply damaged cell structures and rotting leaves and roots. The first signs of this happening are a discoloration of the leaves as they begin to become translucent. Rather than feeling firm, they look and feel soft and squishy. Unlike plant leaves being stressed by too little water - something the leaves can recover from - these leaves will be dropped by the plant. While it is possible for a succulent to recover from this condition, it will be difficult, and it must be rescued from the wet conditions. An alternative to trying to save the overwatered succulent is to take leaves and cuttings to root and form brand new plants.


Healthy Succulent Leaves Dry Out

Healthy succulent leaves dry out and need groomingPlants tell us about the plant's health. Succulents are no exception. Shrunken, shriveled leaves indicate a need for water. Soft, squishy leaves losing color show damage caused by too much water. But some succulents routinely shut down older leaves as they grow.

This is a familiar pattern with many of the "hens-and-chicks style succulents like echeveria. Lower, older leaves dry out, turn brown and eventually are sloughed off by the plant. When this is a natural part of the plant's growth, you will note that these leaves do not shrivel up, they just thin out to a very dry, raspy feel.  They do not lose coloring, it changes to brown. These leaves no longer store water, and they feel papery.  These leaves can be left on the plant to be dropped at a later date, or you can remove them to keep the plant looking its best.  

Succulents Need Fast Draining Soil

succulents need fast draining soil

No discussion of how to water your succulents is complete without discussion of the right soil.  Succulents need a soil that will provide fast draining for water.  Not well-drained soil like most garden plants, but fast draining.  It will have large sized aggregates that allow oxygen to get to the roots. There are many cactus and succulent potting mixes on the market, or you can make your own.  There is no one recipe that is best. You can use a 1:1 ratio of potting mix and perlite, or one of many others you will find online.  The key is to have fast drainage so the plant never sits in waterlogged soil.  A good test is to take a handful of the mix you want to use for your succulents.  Wet the mix, and squeeze it together.  It should not form a clump, but crumble away.  If it crumbles, you are ready to plant your succulents!

mixed succulents in rustic metal planters

I dearly love succulents!  I hope this article helps you to enjoy your succulent plants. I would love to hear what you think - please take a moment to leave a comment. Check back for more succulent starring posts to come. Let's make it a Succulent Summer!

Happy gardening!

Learn how to properly water your succulent plants


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  • Kathleen McCarthy
Comments 37
  • Ella

    Great article, and so in depth! So many people don’t realize how to properly water succulents and it’s such a shame. I have many friends that simply kill their succulents because they’re either over-watering or under-watering them, especially using a spray bottle…makes me crazy!

  • Rebekah Madonia
    Rebekah Madonia

    Oh goodness! THANK YOU! I had previously read elsewhere that wrinkly leaves were a sign of overwatering so I stopped watering my poor babies!!! I propagated them tonight I’m efforts to save them and then found this article – YAY! Now I can better care for them! ♥️

  • Teresa   Rathburn
    Teresa Rathburn

    Well they do good in bathroom where light is coming in and how how often do you water them

  • Rebeca

    Thank you so much for posting this! It’s one of the easiest reads on succulents I’ve found, really helpful and to the point

  • ermelita Maraya Malbas
    ermelita Maraya Malbas

    Thank you,i got all the information I want, I am a bigener in succulrnt

  • Trish Richards
    Trish Richards

    This would have to be the most informative and helpful articles on watering succulent i have read. Thank you so much.


    This was a terrific article, best I’ve read for watering. This whole time I have been letting my succulents get too dry because every other article I read said I was over watering. Thank you you have saved my beauties!

  • Juliet

    I have a Problem, because if I ‘deep water’ my succulents after a long time, they instantly start dying… (shriveling most of its leaves and loosing them). After one single water :/… already two died and Im really upset about it…

  • Phil

    Hi, great post; very informative. Why would a major company sell cacti potting mix containing water storage crystals? I thought it was strange, and this article confirms it. Will this cause harm?

  • Hannah

    Wow…that was incredible information. Best yet I have heard for succulents!:D and in all the areas, not just one. But the whole life and picture and need of the plant. Thank you so much!!!:))

  • Gee

    I received a beautiful succulent plant (more like a mini garden) with a beautiful pot for my birthday. I had no idea how to care for one and your article was the best! I’m loving my garden and know how to water it. Best gift ever! thanks for your guidance … many blessings!

  • Alan Erickson
    Alan Erickson

    Hi – I just gave my wife a pot of succulents that has a wick in the bottom of the pot, with a tray to fill with water. I’m guessing we should fill it once a week, but then leave it filled? I’m guessing again but it seems like dumping it the day after would be right. Thanks for any advice!

  • Sailaxmi

    Thank you for ur suggestions..I learnt more about succulent plants from the article..

  • Cathy Moore
    Cathy Moore

    Thank you for your support and information. I have recently spent a lot of money to get the no maintenance look, and was nervous about long term care. I can’t afford to lose them, lol. I love the structure and design to succulents. Nature is an amazing thing, right?

  • Tina

    This is actually basic, watering a succulent. However a little mistake can cause your succulents to die. Thanks for sharing. My succulent mini garden is also up at https://www.gardenloka.com/mini-succulent-garden/

  • sandy

    Thank You,Thank you,Thank You…I have recently fell in love with succs and have been reading anything/everything i can…Your article had all the info,easy to understand and great explanations…This was the best i have read yet…Please write more about cuttings,babies,seperating plants,anything u can think of,it would really help all who love succs..

  • Deborah Ciriello
    Deborah Ciriello

    Succulents sometimes have hardly and soil showing…it better to sit those ones in a saucer of water? I do not see any other way to water them with no ground soil showing…

  • Ashleigh

    This was the best article that I have found. I have never planted succulents before. I bought a regular planter, with no drainage, and I put regular potting soil around the soil the roots were around. (I bought a mature one that is quite large) so I have been unsure if this will work, but this article has SUCH great information, I may have a chance to keep these alive and know what I’m looking for if something goes wrong. Thank you! I hope these stay alive, but I’ll do better with the next:)

  • Nicole J Merchant
    Nicole J Merchant

    Thank you for the article! I am just getting into succulents. I’ve always found them beautiful but never knew what they were called or had any. Over the past couple of days my neighbor has brought me a couple different ones, hens-and-chicks, and one that has long viney stems. I’m still looking to find out what that one is.

  • Laura Taylor
    Laura Taylor

    Thank you so much for your article on watering. I have always loved succulents, and I am growing them successfully now. You worded your article so simply and easy to understand. I have read others that left me scratching my head. So thank you this valuable information!

  • Susan

    Thanks for showing the difference between over and under watering!
    How do you trim the leaves for the picture that says “healthy succulent needing grooming”.

  • Rona humphrey
    Rona humphrey

    Can you tell me how to make a new one from the leaves?

  • Ellen

    I thought your article was very informative! I am new to having succulents and really like their colorful and flowering leaves. I was given one as a gift which is how I got started. They are easy to take care of and require little maintenance. I have put them in large pots outside and am using the right type of soil. I had to drill holes in the pots for drainage, however, I’m not sure if there are enough holes. I’m thinking of putting in a few more holes to be sure of the proper drainage, as I don’t want to lose the plants. The pots do not have trays. I would appreciate any remarks that may be helpful. Thank you!

  • Ron

    Thanks, learned a lot about watering my succulents, Iam going to check there water balloon now… very useful.

  • Mike

    I have some succulents that have sprouted roots on some of the branches. I believe I have been over watering them, is this the reason for these roots or does that mean something else?

  • Carole Hoffas
    Carole Hoffas

    I’m a succulent mom in training. Your advice is very important to me and my plants. Thanks

  • Julie sTine
    Julie sTine

    Where did you get those cute pots & holders that hang on the fence?


    Thank you for this article. I’m growing succulents as centerpiece for a bridal shower. Apparently I have been overwatering, trying to get them to root. Thanks for saving my succulents.

  • Claudia

    I’m a succulent lover. Loved your article. My experience Tells me you’re right. Wish I had read it earlier

  • Monica Dabiké
    Monica Dabiké

    Great article. Thank you

  • Memma Alvizo
    Memma Alvizo

    Great info. Thanks to you.. I save it actually for my reference.

  • Kimberly

    Very helpful! !

  • Daylinda Macabata
    Daylinda Macabata

    I have just started on planting Cactus and succulents.Sometimes I feel discouraged when I see my succulents die from overwatering.This guide on how to will help me.I hope all will be ok from now on !

  • Emelyn Verzosa Omo Dalisay
    Emelyn Verzosa Omo Dalisay

    I enjoy reading comments
    And watching your cns..love it!

  • Rubie Richardson
    Rubie Richardson

    Excellent article. Getting the soil right is also key. But what about fertilizer? Do succulents need fertilizing?

  • Lorraine  Criddle
    Lorraine Criddle

    I have read lots of articles about watering succulents and hBe quite a few as I make arrangements. This is one of the best I’ve read. Thankyou??

  • Lorraine  Criddle
    Lorraine Criddle

    I have read lots of articles about watering succulents and hBe quite a few as I make arrangements. This is one of the best I’ve read. Thankyou??

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