Do you agree that “too frequent watering” can kill your succulents? I specifically chose not to use the term “overwatering” and you will see the reason why as you read along.
This is a very informative article on how to water your succulents. Or should I say, how not to kill your succulents!
I have heard people say that they are serial killers of succulents. Someone also once told me that she has tried over and over and she just could not keep them alive.
What’s the real story?
This does not have to be your scenario. You should be singing every single morning, waking up to lovely and happy succulents! Here are important tips to help keep those succulents thriving and growing and maybe even earn you some cash:
Tip Number 1 is that your succulents does not like to be watered very often.
It is about once a week or once every two weeks in the summer and probably about once or twice in the entire winter months.
If you have snow in the winter and you have to bring them indoors, watering them once every two to three weeks works, depending on how high you set your thermostat or how strong your grow lights are.
Remember that when they are indoors, even if it is snowing outside, your average indoor temperature dictates how often you water.
Tip Number 2, when you see leaves drying from the base of your succulents, check the leaves within the middle part.
Why does it matter?
If your succulent looks plump and healthy in the middle, do not water your succulent. Your succulents need to drop some leaves so that they can push forth new roots and pups. It is not always because they are thirsty. Don’t change your watering schedule in this situation. One tool that helps a lot is the moisture meter. (Tap on image to get more details.)
How can you actually use this?
It’s time to water them only about 3 to 5 days after the moisture meter reads Number 1 or “dry” everywhere in the pot. You have to make sure that the soil is completely dry before watering again. You will be surprised to learn that the soil around the root area dries the slowest. This is important because simply feeling the soil with your finger is not as accurate as you think it is. I encourage you to get one and see for yourself. Soil around the roots of Succulents that are planted in a very compact way also dry the slowest, too.
Succulents are more likely to die due to “too frequent watering” than postponing watering, even for about 5 days. So, when in doubt, postpone watering. I personally use this moisture meter, because it is not costly and it gets the job done.
What should you do with that information?
Wait until your moisture meter reads “1” or “dry” on your moisture meter before watering again. I can never emphasize this enough. Again and again, I would postpone watering for about 3 to 5 days after getting a reading of one, just in case I missed some moist spots.
Be aware that soil in bigger pots would have uneven rate of drying. As I mentioned earlier, last to dry is usually around the root area, especially for succulents that have well-developed root system, so never rely on checking just one side of your pot! Click on the image above to check out a moisture meter and other moisture meters that might catch your fancy. Now, that’s not all! Later in this article, you will see why I stopped using the term “overwatering”.
Tip Number 3 on how to water your succulents is that although misting is a great way to water your succulent leaf propagation, since it is so convenient, do consider this.
If you would mist your propagation with hard water, real soon, you will see tiny white specks of hard water deposits on their leaves. Once you start seeing leaves sprouting on your leaf propagations and you want them to be perfect and without a spot, you might want to start using a syringe to direct watering around the root area. Do note that this is not a requirement. This is more of a whim if you want them to be spotless.
Tip Number 4 is to avoid watering the leaves of your grown succulents.
This is related to the previous information. Watering the leaves directly could leave water stains. You may not be able to completely avoid it, but I suggest that you try your best if you want your beauties to be perfect and again spotless.
Tip Number 5, when it’s time to water them, give them a good amount of soaking.
They are properly soaked if the moisture meter reads about 8 to 10. You have to keep watering until you get this reading.
Want to know why?
I totally love my moisture meter for this. When I was just starting, I was too scared to overwater that my succulents were looking so dry and they couldn’t stand the heat. I thought misting and little amount of water was enough for them. It turned out that when it’s time to water these succulents, getting them soaked is the way to go. This is why I have decided not to use the term “overwatering”. I have spoken with lots of individuals who have watered their succulents with very little amount of water because like me, they thought that watering too much could kill succulents. It turned out that it is not exactly overwatering that kills them. Too frequent watering is the real culprit.
Soil that is very dry takes longer to soak up. In fact, most of the time, if you would rush through your watering, only half an inch of the top soil is wet. So, take the time to water your succulents and check deep and get a good reading on your moisture meter. They need to be soaking wet when it is time to water. This also prevents mealy bug infestation and more about this will be discussed in a future article about mealy bugs.
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Tip Number 6 on how to water your succulents is to use rain water!
Rain water does not have the harmful chemicals that make water hard, like calcium and magnesium. You can also use distilled water, but nothing beats rain water. What should you do? When you know that it is about to rain, make sure that your succulents are out and are exposed to the rain. The rain contains all the natural elements that provide perfect food for your succulents. Another method is to collect rain water, which is a really great option when it is not time to water yet.
Tip Number 7, you can use pots and containers without drainage holes, but you have to use a bit of imagination to water your succulents with this.
Because of gravity, water goes down to the bottom of your pot. You have to make a very intelligent estimate as to how much water will go down and how much will evaporate. What you don’t want to happen is that all the water that you are putting in the container will stay too long at the base. This will cause root rot and a succulent tragedy in the making. Keep your succulents alive by keeping their feet dry majority of the time.
You also need to imagine the size of the pot and the amount of water that the pot is able to hold. You are never supposed to fill up a pot without drainage holes.
Tip Number 8, is to be mindful of the WEATHER!
Be on the look out for changes in the weather. This one, I learned the hard way. I have been growing succulents in pots without drainage holes until I have put them out so that they can get some rain. And yes, indeed, they got some rain. I assumed that it will not rain through the night, but it did! They got so drenched and the glass jar got so full. I had to repot them or else they would die.
Tip Number 9, is how to water your succulent wreath arrangement.
Succulent wreaths needs to be fully soaked so that it absorbs enough water to hydrate the succulents. In this wreath form, I used Spanish moss. Spanish Moss is an organic material that provides food for the succulents, but it needs to be fully soaked when watering. Soil or soil and coco fiber combination are also great fillers. All medium requires a good amount of soaking when watering.
Tip Number 10, to add value on how to water your succulents, I suggest that you use about 8 pumps of a Succulent Plant Food per quart of water and use it with every other watering.
Why do this?
By doing so, you keep your succulents happy and healthy. Follow the instructions on the container as there are differences in the way plant foods are mixed with water. Some can even be used directly on the soil. To check out the brand that I personally use, tap or click on the image.
What do you think about this one?
This information is something that I learned from one of my conversations about succulents with my daily acquaintances. He said his wife would put one or two cubes of ice on top of the soil and that is all that she does. I think this makes perfect sense IN THE SUMMER, because it is definitely a slow drip and the water is directed to the roots and not on the leaves. Some people say this only works on orchids.
Another important point is that by the time that the water actually gets to the roots, it would probably be warm enough if the temperature is in the 90’s. This technique, I have not tried at all. So, please tell me if you have had some experience with this. This is a highly debatable subject and I really need your opinion on this. What do you think? Please comment on this one.
Since you are still reading at this point, you are enjoying this article and you have been learning a lot about the most important part of succulent care, which is how and when to water your succulents.
If you have suggestions on how to water succulents, feel free to put it in the comments section. Please also check this very informative video below on “How To Water Succulents (Tips to Keep Them Alive)”.