The Right Watering Schedule for Succulents: A Quick Guide

So, you picked up a gorgeous succulent plant from the store and brought it home. Now, the important question pops into your mind, just like it does for many new succulent owners – how often should you water these little beauties?

Well, succulents actually have unique water needs compared to other plants you might be familiar with, whether they’re indoor or outdoor. You see, most plants usually require watering every day, especially in hotter regions where they even need watering twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

But succulents, they’re a different story altogether. They have these special adaptations that make them able to store water in their thickened, fleshy leaves or stems. This clever adaptation allows them to survive in arid climates or conditions where the soil moisture is a bit scarce. And because of this adaptation, succulents don’t need watering as often as other plants do.

how often to water succulents

Do Succulents Need Water?

Yes, succulents definitely need water to keep going strong. But here’s the thing, it’s important to know just how much water they need. Some people think that succulents only require a tiny bit of water every now and then. While it’s true that these amazing plants can handle tough conditions and survive droughts, they won’t truly thrive under those circumstances.

When succulents are in their active growing phase, they actually appreciate regular watering. Now, most succulents fall into one of two categories: summer growers (hibernating in winter) or winter growers (hibernating in summer). Summer growers are the ones that spring to life during the sunny months, from May to August, and take a rest in the winter, from November to February. On the flip side, winter growers are the succulents that flourish during the colder months, from November to February, and then take a break in the summer.

To figure out the best watering schedule for your succulent, you’ll need to figure out whether it’s a summer grower or a winter grower. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Take a look at the list below to identify which category your succulent falls into.

Summer Growing (Winter Dormant) Succulents

  • Adenia
  • Adenium
  • Agave
  • Alluadia
  • Aptenia
  • Brachystelma
  • Calandrinia
  • Ceropegia
  • Cissus
  • Curio
  • Cyphotstemma
  • Dasylirion
  • Didieria
  • Dischidia
  • Dorstenia
  • Echeveria
  • Euphorbia
  • Fockea
  • Huernia
  • Ibervillea
  • Ipomoea
  • Jatropha
  • Lithops
  • Monadenium
  • Operculicarya
  • Pachypodium
  • Pedilanthus
  • Pleiospilos
  • Plumeria
  • Pseudolithos
  • Pterodiscus
  • Raphionacme
  • Sinningia
  • Stapelia
  • Stapelianthus
  • Synadenium
  • Titanopsis
  • Tradescantia
  • Trichocaulon
  • Trichodiadema
  • Xerosicyos

Winter Growing (Summer Dormant) Succulents

How Often to Water Succulents

Okay, let’s get to the juicy part – how often should you water your succulents? Here’s a basic rule of thumb: during their active growth phase, aim to water them at least once a week. Of course, some people water more frequently, and that’s okay too. But when you do water, make sure to give the soil a good soak until water starts flowing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pots. Oh, and here comes the important part – let the soil completely dry out before giving them another drink. This watering technique is cleverly called the ‘soak and dry’ method.

To check if the soil is truly dry, grab a bamboo stick and stick it all the way into the soil. Give it a few minutes, then pull it out. If it comes out damp and covered in soil, the soil isn’t quite there yet. But if the stick pulls out easily and dry, then jackpot! Your soil is ready for some hydration.

Now, when your succulents enter their dormancy phase, you’ll want to space out the watering sessions. The general idea is to provide just enough water so that your succulents don’t start looking all shriveled up.

But hold up, we need to use our common sense here too. Let’s say you have some summer-loving succulents cozying up indoors on a sunny windowsill during the winter months. Well, in that case, they’ll need a bit more water compared to succulents chilling outside.

Drainage Holes vs No Drainage Holes

Now, let’s talk containers. It’s highly recommended to plant your succulents in containers with drainage holes. Why? Because succulents don’t like sitting in water. With proper drainage, excess water can flow out, giving those roots the freedom to grow strong and healthy.

But what if your containers don’t have drainage holes? Well, in that case, be extra cautious with watering. You’ll want to cut back even more. Remember to use the trusty bamboo stick trick to check if the soil is completely dried out before you water those succulents.

how to water succulents
White Succulent Pots with Drainage
how to water succulents without drainage
Terrarium without Drainage
(With a glass terrarium, you can actually ‘see’ if the soil is still wet)

Indoors vs Outdoors

Alright, last but not least, indoors versus outdoors. The frequency of watering your succulents also depends on where you’ve placed them. Let’s talk about the dynamic trio: humidity, temperature, and wind.

When your succulents are basking outdoors in hot and windy weather, the soil dries up faster, meaning more frequent watering – sometimes up to three times a week.

Now, when it comes to indoor succulents, things change a bit. It all depends on factors like room ventilation and sunlight exposure. If your succulents are in a cool and humid room, chances are you won’t need to water them more than once a week.

how to water indoor succulents
Indoor succulents need less frequent watering
how to water ourdoor succulents
Outdoor succulents need more frequent watering

Big Succulents vs Small Succulents

One last thing to consider is the size of your succulents. The bigger and plumper the leaves and stems, the more water they can store. So, a big ol’ succulent like a Pachyphytum oviferum (Moonstone) can go longer periods between watering compared to a petite Sedum japonicum ‘Tokyo Sun’ that stores less water.

how to water succulents in winter
Pachyphytum oviferum (Moonstone)
how to water succulents
Sedum japonicum ‘Tokyo Sun’

Alright, that’s the lowdown on watering succulents. Stick to these guidelines, keep an eye on your plant buddies, and you’ll maintain healthy and happy succulents in no time!

Mistakes When Watering Succulents

We’re all guilty of occasionally messing up and either drowning or dehydrating our succulents. That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between these two problems and know how to fix them.


Let’s start with overwatering. This happens when we don’t give the soil enough time to dry out between waterings. The result? Constantly damp soil, which leads to stem rot and root rot. If you notice your succulent stems starting to rot, chances are you’ve overwatered them, and the roots may already be affected too.

succulent stem rot
overwatered succulent

Overwatering can also cause the leaves to crack, which we’ll dive into in another article: “Succulent Leaves Splitting – Why it Happens and How to Prevent it.”

To save an overwatered succulent, the first step is to stop watering it altogether. Then, carefully remove the succulent (roots and all) from its container. Gently shake off excess soil and inspect for rotten parts. If necessary, cut off the healthy part of the succulent and discard the rotted roots. Air-dry the remaining succulent for a couple of days before planting it in dry soil. Start watering it again after a week.


Now, let’s talk about underwatering. This occurs when we don’t provide enough water for our succulents to thrive. Sure, they can survive with less water, but they won’t be at their healthiest. Cue the dried-out, wrinkled leaves – a clear sign of not enough hydration.

how to save an under watered succulent
how do you know when a succulent needs water

To rescue an underwatered succulent, simply increase the frequency of your watering. But be careful not to swing to the other extreme and overwater them as compensation. This will lead to root rot if the soil remains constantly damp. Stick to the ‘soak and dry’ method we mentioned earlier, giving your succulents just the right amount of water they need.

So, when in doubt, it’s safer to underwater rather than overwater your succulents. Underwatered succulents can bounce back within a couple of days, sometimes even hours. On the other hand, overwatered succulents struggling with rot may have a harder time recovering. Depending on the severity of the damage, they might not survive at all.

How to Tell if Succulent Needs Water

Now, let’s solve the mystery of when to water your succulents. Here are two easy ways to tell:

  1. Gently press your fingertips on the leaves. If they feel firm and spring back, your succulents are adequately hydrated. But if the leaves feel limp and look all shriveled, it’s probably time for a drink. Of course, if you’re unsure, follow step 2.
  2. Lift the succulent from its pot. This trick helps you see if the soil around the plant is bone dry or still a bit moist (which means it’s darker in color). Only water your succulents when the soil is completely dry. If it’s still damp, hold off on watering, or else you risk causing those dreaded rotting issues.


Do you water succulents from the top or bottom?

Succulents should only be watered from the bottom, i.e. directly on the soil. There are basically 2 reasons why this is so:

  • Wet succulent leaves also increase the risk of rot, especially in rosette succulents.
  • Water droplets on the leaves act as magnifying glasses for the light that shines on the succulents, increasing the risk of leaf burns.

Do succulents like humidity?

Among all houseplants, succulents are best able to withstand dry air.

Humidity is good for tillandsia or rhipsalis, whereas other succulents tend to develop fungi if the humidity is too high.

How often to water succulents in winter?

There are two rules when it comes to watering succulents in winter:

  • In winter only water from time to time so that a root ball does not dry out
  • Do not water hardy succulents in the garden from October to February

How often do you water indoor succulents?

As a general rule, only water your indoor succulents when the substrate is dry, usually within a week or two after the previous watering. If you water your indoor succulents when the substrate is still wet, you will drown them. Remember that succulents rot from the bottom up, and some give no indication that they are dying until it is too late. To check the moisture in the soil, touch the substrate. If it feels wet, don’t water it.

Do succulents need to be watered every day?

In most cases, adult succulents do not need to be watered every day. However, if your succulents are in very hot and dry areas, they may need to be watered once every two days.

For succulent leaf and seed propagation, they need to be watered every day with an atomizer to encourage root growth.