Watering Schedule for your Terrarium

Proper Watering For Your Succulents

Of course you know succulents are all the rage - and for good reason! Vibrant colors, fascinating forms, and such versatility that we use them as houseplants, garden additions and as living décor. This guide is to show you everything you need when caring for succulents!

Succulents are highly unusual plants that require little care to look terrific. But "little care" is not the same as "none at all". And if succulents need less water than most plants - that doesn't tell you how much to water or when. To really enjoy succulents, you need to know how to water them to keep them healthy, right? There is no simple answer to how often do you water succulents - instead, let's review how to know when your succulent needs water or has too much. Everyone always says how easy it is to care for succulents. But then why do so many succulent plants die?  

Caring for succulents truly is easy - you just need a little information.

What is a Succulent Plant? 

how to water mixed succulent plants

Succulents are a vast collection of plants that have evolved to survive extreme drought by storing water in specialized cells in their leaves, stems and roots. In times of drought, these cells slowly release their moisture to be used by the rest of the plant, enabling it to survive in periods of drought. Think of these water storage cells as zillions of teeny, tiny water balloons in each succulent plant. A healthy succulent plant takes in the water in the soil, and fills each water storage cell.  The "water balloons" swell to their fullest, and they retain this moisture level until it is needed.

When to Water Succulents & When to Leave Dry? 

 This adaptation of storing water for later use enables succulent plants to thrive even when water is scarce. Because this is the adaptation succulents have made, it tells us it is FAR better to leave your succulents too dry rather than too wet.  They have adapted to survive overly dry conditions.

Signs Your Succulent Needs Water

see signs that succulent plant is underwatered

Better dry than wet does not mean "never water" your succulent plants. Water is essential for the plant's health, just like any other.  Wrinkled, shriveled leaves indicate the succulent needs more water. As those water balloon-like cells release their stored moisture to the rest of the plant, they try to bring in more water to replace what they have lost. When they cannot get more water, and the plant continues to rely on the stores being depleted, the cells contract to smaller size, the "balloon" deflates, leaving the once plump and firm leaves collapsing and shriveling. This is a clear sign that your succulent needs more water.  

Deep Drink or Little Sips?

To promote healthy roots and to work with the plant's natural design, water deeply and then give the soil time to dry out. This is the key to watering your succulents - fewer, deeper waterings. When the soil is dry, water deeply. If the succulent is in a container with good drainage, set the container in a tray of water, and let the soil wick up the water for about five minutes.  Then remove the pot from the water and let it drain. Do not water again until the soil is dry. If the succulent is in the ground or in a container too large to move, water at the soil line, rather than from over head. Be sure not to let the succulent sit in waterlogged soil. Empty any catch trays after about five minutes.

Signs Your Succulent Is Overwatered

Image shows signs a succulent plant is overwatered

Storing water in its cells enables the succulent to thrive even in dry soils. Healthy succulents replace the water released from storage when more is available in the soil. This is critical for the plants health.

Overwatering basically causes those water balloons to over fill and burst, resulting in deeply damaged cell structures and rotting leaves and roots. The first signs of this happening are a discoloration of the leaves as they begin to become translucent. Rather than feeling firm, they look and feel soft and squishy. Unlike plant leaves being stressed by too little water - something the leaves can recover from - these leaves will be dropped by the plant. While it is possible for a succulent to recover from this condition, it will be difficult, and it must be rescued from the wet conditions. An alternative to trying to save the overwatered succulent is to take leaves and cuttings to root and form brand new plants.

Healthy Succulent Leaves Dry Out

Healthy succulent leaves dry out and need grooming


Plants tell us about the plant's health. Succulents are no exception. Shrunken, shriveled leaves indicate a need for water. Soft, squishy leaves losing color show damage caused by too much water. But some succulents routinely shut down older leaves as they grow.

This is a familiar pattern with many of the "hens-and-chicks style succulents like echeveria. Lower, older leaves dry out, turn brown and eventually are sloughed off by the plant. When this is a natural part of the plant's growth, you will note that these leaves do not shrivel up, they just thin out to a very dry, raspy feel.  They do not lose coloring, it changes to brown. These leaves no longer store water, and they feel papery.  These leaves can be left on the plant to be dropped at a later date, or you can remove them to keep the plant looking its best.  

Succulents Need Fast Draining Soil

succulents need fast draining soil

No discussion of how to water your succulents is complete without discussion of the right soil.  Succulents need a soil that will provide fast draining for water.  Not well-drained soil like most garden plants, but fast draining.  It will have large sized aggregates that allow oxygen to get to the roots. There are many cactus and succulent potting mixes on the market, or you can make your own.  There is no one recipe that is best. You can use a 1:1 ratio of potting mix and perlite, or one of many others you will find online.  The key is to have fast drainage so the plant never sits in waterlogged soil.  A good test is to take a handful of the mix you want to use for your succulents.  Wet the mix, and squeeze it together.  It should not form a clump, but crumble away.  If it crumbles, you are ready to plant your succulents!

Summer: 1x a Week

Spring: Bi - Weekly

Fall: Bi - Weekly or every 3 weeks

Winter: 1x a Month.