Most of us know that succulent plants tend to grow in dry areas without much water, such as deserts. However, if we keep succulents as plants, we must water them. The question now is, how often should you water succulents?
In general, water your succulent plants every other week if the temperatures are above 40°F (4.5 °C) during the non-winter time. When temperatures are below 40°F (4.5 °C), water the plant once a month, as it is likely to be dormant this time. There are, however, exceptions to the rule.
This article will discuss if you should water your succulents and how frequently you should do so. We will also discuss how to detect if your succulents are thirsty and the best way to water them.
Finally, we also discuss whether you can overwater succulents and how to know that.
What Are Succulents?
Succulents refers to plants with parts that are thick, fleshy, and swollen. These parts are usually used to store and retain water. As a result, you may see more succulents growing in dry locations with arid climates such as a desert.
The word ‘Succulent’ may have originated from the Latin word Sucus, which means ‘juice’ or ‘sap.’ Succulents may have thick and swollen parts in many areas of their plan body, such as stems, roots, or leaves.
Most of the time, succulent plants can be found in arid places with high temperatures and little rain, such as deserts. Succulents can also grow well with small amounts of water, like mist and dew. This means they can survive in an ecosystem with few water sources.
Aside from having thick, fleshy, and swollen body parts, Succulent plants also contain features that help them thrive in areas with very little water. This feature includes:
- Very small leaves. Some succulents have small, even minuscule leaves. Some succulents have their leaves involved into thorns instead.
- Lesser Stomata. Stomata are the holes on a plant that regulates gas exchange. Succulents usually have fewer stomata to avoid releasing too much moisture into the air.
- Ribs. Succulents tend to have a ‘central frame’ of sorts to allow them to grow larger but not to have too much exposed surface to the sun.
- Surface-level roots. Succulents tend to have their roots spread more expansively and closer to the surface. This allows it to absorb much surface water from rain.
- Fast wound healing and sealing. This feature helps the plan keep all the water and moisture inside.
How To Determine If Your Succulents Need Water?
There are two popular ways to tell if your succulents need water. First, if you use pot, you may pick it up and feel the weight. If it feels lighter than usual, your plant needs watering. Another method is to use a toothpick or a wooden skewer and push it into the soil. If the toothpick does not show any moisture, it needs watering.
One of the dangers with succulents is that people treat the plant like a common plant and water it every few days. The succulent plant can retain moisture by itself, so it does not need much watering.
Watering the plant as if they are normal would be considered overwatering. Overwatering is dangerous as it may kill a succulent plant.
This means you must know how to detect if your plant needs watering. There are two common and easy ways to detect if your succulents need water.
Pick Up And Feel The Weight
If your plant is in a pot, you may pick it up and have a feel at it. If it is dry, chances are you may need to water it.
This method may work very well if you have previously felt the pot’s weight with water before. It may also work if you have done this many times to the point that you can feel that the pot is light enough to need water.
If you have not, you might not be able to make an accurate decision whether to water the plant or not. This means this method may not be too reliable.
Toothpick/Wooden Skewer Method
This method may be able to give you a more accurate result, although it means you need to prepare something. In this case, a toothpick if you have a small pot or a wooden skewer if you have a larger pot.
Insert the toothpick or skewer into the soil until it meets the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to poke into the plant. Wait for about 10 seconds. Pull the stick out and observe.
If you notice the stick has moist soil or watermarks on the stick, the soil is still moist enough for your succulent, you may leave it. But if there are no moisture marks on the stick, or the soil is dry and crumbly, it may need some watering.
How Often Should You Water Succulents?
There are no rules on how frequently you should water succulents. The general rule is to water the plant every other week if the temperatures are above 40°F (4.5 °C) during the non-winter time. When temperatures are below 40°F (4.5 °C), water the plant once a month.
There are, unfortunately, no set rules for how often you should water your succulents. This is because there are many variants involved in determining that.
However, as a general rule, consider watering the plant every other week if the temperatures are above 40°F (4.5 °C) during the non-winter time. When temperatures are below 40°F (4.5 °C), water the plant once a month.
If you want to be more accurate, conduct the toothpick/skewer test whenever the duration arrives and take a look if the soil is moist or needs water. Only water the plant if you think the soil is too dry and it’s time to water it.
What Is The Best Way To Water Succulents?
The best way to water succulents is to mimic the desert conditions they usually grow in – long drought and massive, short rain. Introduce a large amount of water by pouring it into the soil around the plant. If your plant is in a pot, water until you can see water coming out from the bottom hole.
Like the amount of water it needs, succulents also have a particular way of being watered that may not be similar to ordinary plants. This is because succulents live in conditions that are different.
In the desert, you usually see long periods of drought, with a short period of heavy rain pouring. Succulent plants have adapted to suck up as much water as possible during the rain, so they will have enough water to survive the upcoming long drought.
This means when we water succulents, we best mimic this as well. Leave the soil to dry out over a period of time. Once it is time to water, water it heavily.
If your plant is on the ground, pour in the water until the soil around the plant is thoroughly moist. You may confirm this by using the wooden skewer. Water, wait for a few minutes, and push a skewer into the soil. The whole stick should have moisture marks.
If your plant is in a pot with a bottom hole, pour in the water until water starts to escape out from the bottom holes. If you plant in a hole-less pot, water until the whole soil is moist. You may do the skewer test again to confirm.
Can You Use Ice To Water Succulents?
You may not want to use ice to water your succulents. The reason is that ice cubes are water at a very low temperature and may shock the plant. Occasional heavy watering in room temperature water is all that a succulent needs.
Some people may think that succulents like water being drip fed to them over a more extended period of time, which leads them to consider using ice cubes. The idea here is that water is slowly introduced into the soil as the ice melts. This allows the plant and soil to slowly absorb the water.
This may work with other plants but in many ways against how succulents work. Succulents have adapted to long periods of drought with a brief period of rain, which means they have been designed to quickly absorb a large amount of water. They then never need any water for an extended period of time.
Drip-feeding water with ice might not work very well. Plus, the water’s cold temperature may shock the plant and cause some parts to rot and die.
The best way is to water at room temperature heavily and then let the plant manage the water over a period of time by itself. Conduct a skewer test to see if the soil is very dry before watering it heavily again.
Can You Overwater Succulents?
You can overwater succulents. Overwatering succulents usually results in ultra moist soil around the plant, which may cause the plant’s roots to rot. Rotten roots eventually caused the plant to die.
Succulents do not need a lot of water, and they thrive in dry, almost crumbly soil with very little moisture. This means you should not water it like a typical plant.
If you overwater the plant, what happens is the plant would not be able to absorb the extra moisture, and the moisture stays in the soil. Overly moist soil may not be suitable for a succulent, as it may cause the plant roots to rot or develop diseases.
A plant’s primary connection to the soil is through the roots. If the roots rot, it would usually mean the plant itself may suffer, and if not cared for properly, it may die.
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