Do you know how long your succulents can last without water? Succulents are by nature excellently adapted to times without water and can deal with drought for an astonishingly long time. Is it even possible to let succulents dry up? Yes, unfortunately this can happen. It is much more likely that inexperienced gardeners will water their succulents too much and thus cause harm. But even the most robust desert cacti will need some water at some point.
How long do succulents last without water? Succulents can endure three to four weeks without water. Everything depends on several factors such as the humidity in the room or the location of the succulents.
We explain how succulent plants deal with drought and when too little water can become a problem.
Succulents are True Survivalists
Hardly any plant genus has adapted as well to difficult conditions of its environment as succulents.
Its name comes from the Latin word sucus, which means juice. Where does this term come from? It refers to the unique ability of succulents to store water in their leaves.
Depending on the species, these are usually thick and meaty. In addition, a solid skin, often coated by a natural wax layer, protects the plant from drying out. The moisture from their leaves hardly evaporates, so very little water is lost to the ambient air.
In addition, many succulents can absorb water on the ground not only through their roots. Some species also have the possibility to draw moisture from the air.
Even more special are so-called air plants. The roots are used for stabilization only, not for water absorption. Instead, they absorb everything they need in terms of moisture through suction scales on their leaves. The air plants can endure several weeks to months without water.
The most famous representatives are the Tillandsia. Most species occur in nature on trees or rocks. They have adapted ideally to these conditions.
Did you know that the spines of cacti also play an important role in water storage? Not only do they protect the plant from predators who want to quench their thirst on the juicy cactus, but they also serve as additional evaporation protection. In addition, a thick spiky coat or plant hair coat keeps some of the drying sun rays off.
There are cactus species that can do without water or rain for months or even years!
Other succulents can also survive very long periods without water.
But that doesn't mean you don't have to water these plants at all. This mistake happens especially to newcomers often – because the succulent is so frugal, you forget it for a week, two or three weeks. Sometimes even longer. Many hobby gardeners have found that they have actually managed to let their succulents dry out.
Succulent Watering Needs: Deeply but Rarely
As a rough rule of thumb: Succulents are to be watered deeply (until water runs out of the drainage hole) every 10-14 days.
But there are many important factors: How big is the plant? Large succulents with thick leaves store more water and therefore often get by with less watering.
How warm and dry is the environment? If your succulents are in a very warm room, the water from the substrate evaporates faster than when it is cold.
You should always make sure that the soil in the pot has dried well before you water again. A simple finger test works particularly well with small and medium-sized pots. You can purchase special moisture meters for larger vessels.
It is particularly important that watering should only be done sparingly in winter when your succulents are going through a resting phase. This is triggered by falling temperatures, to around 5-10 degrees, and less daylight. During the cold season it is enough to water a little every few weeks so that the root ball does not dry out completely.
You can find everything about the ideal watering frequency and other interesting information in our article: Irrigation done right: How often should you water succulents?
Succulents without water or dried up! What to do?
First of all, you should know that succulents are very tough. Often you can save the plant, even if some of the leaves have dried up.
The important thing is that you act quickly now. First you should put the root ball in the water for a quarter of an hour so that it can soak up again.
After that, put the succulent back into its pot (always with a drainage hole!). You should carefully remove dried leaves.
Make sure your plant doesn't get sunburned. If it's in direct light for hours, you can try putting it in a semi-sunny spot instead.
Early signs that your succulent is running out of water are wrinkled leaves and slow growth. If you notice this on your plants, you should increase the watering frequency a little until the leaves look nice and plump again. It is often enough to pour once or twice more.
If large parts of the succulents have dried up or die despite a rescue attempt, you can still try to gain offshoots. From these, new succulents can then grow.
If a few leaves are still undamaged, pluck them off and place them in a bright location on succulent soil. After a few weeks, new plants should sprout from it. If only the upper part of your succulent has withered, you can simply separate it.
However, make sure that the cut wound heals well and does not begin to go moldy. Over time, new leaves or shoots will grow from the remaining part.
Remember, too much water is far worse for succulents than too little. Waterlogging in particular can cause the roots to rot. Then the plant can often no longer be saved because it can no longer absorb nutrients. Water deeply but rarely, always use suitable succulent soil and look for pots with drainage hole. Then you will surely have fun with the tough survivors for a long time!
If your pot has no drainage holes, read our article: How to Plant in Pots without Drainage Holes?