Watering succulents: Not just a suggestion

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Updated Apr 26, 2024
Photo: Reggie1/FlickrPhoto: Reggie1/Flickr

There is a common misconception when it comes to the topic of watering or not watering succulents. Some seem to be under the impression that because these plants are drought tolerant that means they don’t require water occasionally or at all.

Let’s debunk that myth right here, right now. While this type of plant does indeed have the ability to store extra water in its leaves, roots or stems and is typically found in arid conditions, many people assume this means they don’t benefit from regular watering, and that is just not true.

The next time your customers come to you asking about succulents in their home or landscape, be sure to reference the following information to keep them in the know about keeping their little buddies healthy, watered, and prosperous.

Indoor succulents

For customers who have their succulents indoors, the process of watering will be different from other potted plants. Instead of just watering them every so often with little sips of water, these plants will benefit more from a thorough soaking.

Soak the pot until water is running out of the bottom drainage holes, and be sure to empty the water that runs into the collector under the pot. After the plant has been sufficiently drenched, let the soil dry out completely before watering it again, even if it takes a week or so for the soil to completely dry.

Succulents prefer soil that’s well-drained, and when choosing containers for these plants, be sure to choose those that have drainage holes. If they are not able to properly drain, they may hold in too much moisture and experience root rot.

When the plant is growing, typically in early spring, the succulent will require more water. As the seasons progress, such as in summer and even more in the winter, the need for water may diminish. During winter months, light will decrease and many succulents will experience a dormant period, which means their water needs will also decrease.

Customers should continue watering during the winter when the soil is dry, which will depend on their area’s conditions. The watering will also depend on the size of the container your customer has the succulent in. The bigger the container is, the more moisture it will hold, whereas smaller, shallower pots will require more frequent watering.

Outdoor succulents

When the summer months eventually roll around, your customers can begin moving their succulents outdoors. Before placing them directly in the sun, be sure customers know to acclimate the plants to the outdoors by placing them in an area that’s partially shaded and then transitioning to a super sunny area.

Be sure they are kept out of intense sunlight from late morning to midafternoon. Generally speaking, outdoor plants will require more water than those kept indoors, so be sure either you or your customers watch the plants carefully to determine how frequently they will need to be watered.

Advise your customers to check the dryness of their succulents’ soil every week after moving them outdoors, paying close attention to whether it’s extremely dry or moist. If these succulents, especially cacti, are grown in shallow containers, they will require watering every few days.

When your customer’s succulents are planted in the landscape, they may need to be watered weekly. Succulents tend to grow well in the ground, and those that are established will have root systems that are stronger and able to tolerate dry conditions better than newer plants.

Whether the succulents are hardy or annual, they will require well-drained soil. Just like with indoor succulents, if the soil isn’t drained properly, root rot can occur.

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