Succulents are some of the easiest plants to grow, and the most common question new gardeners ask is: “How long can succulents go without water?” Succulents are popular with plant beginners for a reason, and that’s their minimal amount of maintenance. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore them completely either. In this article we’ll look at how often you should water your succulents, and what factors influence that amount.
How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?
In general, succulents can go about 2-4 weeks between waterings. When doing so, you’ll want to water the soil thoroughly, then allow it to dry out completely between waterings. Most succulents like lots of water followed by periods of drought, and this type of watering pattern provides that to them. As you might know, certain environmental aspects can affect how often you should water, and the rest of this article will dive more into that. For those looking for a quick answer though, the above is generally how much you should water your succulents, and you probably won’t need to adjust it unless you notice issues.
The ease of maintaining a succulent plant can be a double edged sword. On one hand, it makes it easier to care for, especially for those with busy lives. On the other hand, it can make it easy to forget as it’s harder to get into a routine than plants that require daily care. When this happens, gardeners can end up wondering how long a succulent plant can go on without water. The answer depends on a lot of factors. You also want to consider whether you’re growing your succulents indoors or outdoors.
Succulent plants grown indoors can often be left alone for up to 2 months under optimal conditions. It’s generally ill advised to leave them for more than a month though.
When grown outdoors, succulent plants last less than those grown indoors without getting water. Due to heat and aridity, succulent plants can live for about a month outdoors.
Factors to Consider
Just like any living organism, plants depend on a variety of environmental factors to survive. Succulent plants have adapted over the years to thrive with very little water due to their natural habitats.
Consequently, they are left alone most of the time because of their growth habits and requirements. However, there will be times when they can be neglected because of this resilience.
This is why you should always consider the growing environment for your succulents before determining the length of time before they need to be watered.
Look into the kind of growing medium that you placed your succulent plant in. Most succulent plants tend to be grown in loose, well-draining soil or soil that has been specially made for cacti.
Loose and well-draining soil means water is retained less. This makes the medium ideal for succulents and cacti, but it can also mean that their roots may become dehydrated if left unwatered for too long.
Heat speeds up the drying process of anything, including soil. This means that the hotter the temperature of your area is, the quicker your soil dries out.
For example, let’s assume you have two potted succulent plants. One is grown indoors while the other is grown outdoors under the heat of the sun.
The result would be that the one grown indoors can be left unwatered longer than the one grown outdoors. It’s simple physics, the hotter the area your succulent is grown in the more frequently it will need to be watered.
When the air has high levels of moisture, the soil of your succulent plant tends to dry out slower. Even with high heat, the soil moisture will be greater than that of soil in a more arid or dry environment.
An area with a breeze can dry out the moisture in the soil more quickly than one located in an area that does not experience drafts. For example, an outdoor potted succulent plant will have soil drying out more quickly due to the winds.
If you’re growing your succulent in containers, then the type of container can influence how often it needs to be watered. Certain container types will tend to dry out their soil faster than others.
For example, a clay pot wicks out more water more quickly than a ceramic pot. This means a succulent plant in a clay pot needs to be watered more often than a succulent plant in a ceramic or plastic pot.
This is oftentimes actually a benefit as it can help prevent overwatering. That’s why it’s recommended for many first time growers to use clay pots.
Signs of Lack of Water
Your succulent plant will show signs that it needs water if you ignore it for too long. Some of the most common signs will worry many gardeners, but they can be easily corrected with the proper amount of watering. Even if succulents thrive with minimal water, they still require some hydration. When left dehydrated, your succulent plants will display the following conditions:
Dehydrated succulent plants will have flatter leaves. This is an early indication that the plant is slowly using up its water reserves within its thick fleshy leaves.
When this happens, the leaves of your succulent plant will also feel less firm.
Wrinkling Plant Parts
This is one of the most obvious signs of underwatered succulent plants. Their leaves will wrinkle up because they are slowly consuming the stored water inside their leaves. Left unwatered, these leaves eventually dry up and fall off.
Falling Plant Parts
In order to conserve water and energy, succulent plants will remove all unnecessary parts that no longer need watering. This includes dried leaves, as well as those in the process of drying up.
Succulent plants will begin shedding their leaves and stems once they reach a point of dehydration where survival is the only solution.
When to Water Your Succulent Plants
Once you see your succulent plants exhibiting signs of needing water, then you will need to make sure they get enough water.
Here are some of the best techniques for watering your succulent plants:
- For arid areas, the standard length of time for watering succulent plants is once every week.
- Succulent plants in less arid environments can go two to three weeks before getting water.
- Water your succulent plants only when the soil is dry.
- Avoid watering your succulent plants from the top to keep water off their stems and leaves.
- Water the soil thoroughly, and allow the excess to drain.
- In areas that experience winter, water your succulent plants once a month.
- It is easier to revive an underwatered plant than an overwatered plant.
You’ll become better at taking care of your succulent plants once you look into the factors that influence watering frequency, as well as the signs that your succulent plants need water.
What to Remember
Succulent plants are easy to care for because they can go for a good length of time without water. Given that they can go for upwards of a month without water, many gardeners of all levels end up preferring them over other ornamentals.
All you need to remember in caring for your succulent plants is to ensure that they get a consistent watering schedule without overwatering them. Once you master this technique, you’ll find that it can be quite amazing how long succulents can go without water.