How Do I Know My Succulents Need Water?

Between their versatile nature and trendy appearance, succulents are currently all the rage. They come in different vibrant colors and fascinating forms.

Due to their incredibly unique structure, succulents require less maintenance while looking terrific!

Also, you have many options when it comes to growing them. You can grow succulents outdoors, indoors, and in containers.

However, there are a few rules you need to follow when watering succulents. The health of these lush beauties depends on your watering schedule.  

Whether you plan to use succulents as living décor, garden additions, or houseplants, you need to know how to take care of them.

While it’s not rocket science, your actions determine how long your succulents will thrive.

You will find plenty of info online about how and when to water your succulents. Two words that you will see in abundance are overwatering and underwatering.

The former is a cardinal sin, and the latter is just confusion. An overwatered succulent will look almost dead, and an underwatered succulent will die a slow death.

As for a well-watered succulent, it will have firm and plump leaves. You won’t get much moisture in your hand after squeezing a leaf.

With that being said, let’s find out how often you should water your succulent:

An Underwatered Succulent

Succulents store water in their leaves, tissues, and stems. Since these plants are highly adapted to dry growing conditions, they can withstand drought and arid conditions.

This does not mean that your succulent does not need watering!

Succulents love water. They will immediately show signs when depleted of water. The leaves will wrinkle, and the roots will dry out. Here’s what else you will notice:

  • Shriveled Leaves

When a succulent is underwatered, it uses its water reservoir. When that finishes, the leaves wrinkle. After a while, the plant starts to look wilted and droopy.

  • Dried Up and Dead Brown Leaves

A dried-out succulent will display dead, brown leaves. This tells you that the plant is completely out of water. The succulent will drop the dead leaves to conserve energy and protect the leftover healthy leaves.

  • Leaves Feel Flat and Soft

If you touch the leaves of an underwatered succulent, they will feel soft. They won’t have any firmness or plumpness to them. All in all, the leaves will look deflated.

Finding Out If Your Succulent Needs Water

Pay Attention to the Leaves

If you water your succulents every morning with a spray bottle, STOP!

Succulents don’t need water every day.

Look at the texture of your succulent leaves. If they appear papery and have brown spots, show them a good time with a watering can.

If watering doesn’t fix your plant, which might happen, you should move your succulent under shade.

Sunlight may be dehydrating your plant and causing the water to evaporate. Like water, your succulent needs the right amount of sunlight to stay healthy.

Do the Soil Finger Test

The Soil Finger Test allows you to check for moisture in the soil. Insert your finger deep into the soil and move it around.

If your finger comes out with soil caked on it, your succulent does not need watering. If your finger comes out dry, it’s watering time.

Burn Marks on the Leaves

Too much sunlight can cause burn marks on the stem and leaves. The first thing you need to do is move the succulent under shade.

Next, water it and wait a couple of days to see if it revives. If the succulent still looks half dead, remove it from the soil, trim the roots and place it in a water cup for 24 hours.

This will rehydrate the succulent and make it look fresh again.

Check for Aerial Roots

Those white spuds you see on a potato are called aerial roots. The same ones can grow on your succulent’s roots.

Aerial roots are white or pink hair-like in appearance. When your succulent is underwatered, the aerial roots absorb moisture from the air and hydrate the soil.

No need to panic if you see aerial roots on your succulent. They tell you your succulent is thirsty and direct sunlight is depleting its energy.

Watering your succulent regularly will make the aerial roots disappear in a week.

Here’s what you can do to stop the growth of aerial roots:

  • Create a watering schedule and water your succulent weekly in summer and once every two weeks in winter, spring and fall.
  • Do not pluck the aerial roots. They help your succulent survive. As we said, watering your succulents will make the aerial roots go away.
  • Aerial roots usually appear during the growing season, which is in summer. So, make sure to water your succulent regularly.
  • If you live in a dry climate, you might need to water your succulent twice a week.

Inspect the Roots

After observing the above-mentioned signs, inspect your succulent’s roots. Generally, succulents are firm in texture and light in color.

They should not be flexible. Two signs of root rot are discoloration and bendable roots. These indicate that the roots are decaying because of dehydration.

To prevent root rot from further dehydrating your succulent, you must first remove the plant from the soil.

Gently tap the roots to remove any soil and let them dry for five days. Trim the roots and plant the succulent in new soil.

Wait two days to give the succulent time to adjust to the soil, then water it.

Factors That Affect the Hydration of Your Succulent


In summer, water dries out fast, so you need to water your succulent often. However, if the temperature in your area does not rise too high, once a week is good enough.

Container Size

A large succulent planted in a small pot will always dry out the plant. The larger the pot, the more soil in it and the longer it will hold water, hydrating your succulent.

The smaller the pot, the faster the water will dry out without distributing the nutrients properly.


The more your succulent is exposed to sunlight, the more water it will need. Succulents need around 6 hours of sunlight, and then they must remain under a shade to prevent burn marks.


Succulent in cooler temperatures and high humidity needs less watering than those in a dry and hot climate. If your succulent is placed on the patio, water it at least thrice a week.

Hydrating Methods

Use a Water Can

Spray bottles are not suited to watering succulents. They need a steady and heavy flow of water that reaches the roots and revives the succulent from underneath.

A water can does a better job and allows you to evenly distribute the water.

Two cups are the ideal amount of water for your succulent. The first cup will allow the roots to absorb water and rest in the soil.

The second cup will allow the succulent to prepare for the hydration process.

Bottom of Form

Use the Right Soil and Pot

A proper drainage system prevents your succulent from drowning in water. Small holes at the bottom of the pot ensure that when you water your succulent, the excess water drains easily and quickly.

As for the soil, using the right one ensures that it does not hold and absorb too much water. Succulents in a pot must be watered less often than those in the ground. A pot offers limited space, which means the water stays in the soil for a long time. As for a succulent in the ground, water quickly spreads and evaporates if there’s no shade.

Choose a soil with a gritty mix that absorbs water slowly. One of the best things about a gritty mix is that it dries out quickly. This makes it ideal for succulents growing in dry climates.

Watering Your Succulents

As explained earlier, too much water can damage your succulents. It can make your plant feel squishy to the touch.

Since succulents have a unique way of storing water, it’s better they dry out than remain wet.

It’s essential to pay attention to the state of your succulent to find out if it is thirsty.

So, how can you do that?

Well, after a prolonged dry spell, your succulent leaves will become dry.

To ensure this sign is caused by dehydration, do the Soil Finger Test. Once confirmed, get your water can ready.

If you want succulent to stay in its stunning natural form and maintain healthy roots, you must water it deeply.

Avoid giving it small sips of water, as this will keep the soil constantly wet. Instead, wait for the roots to dry out and then water the soil instead of pouring the water from above.


Succulents don’t require much care, but this does not mean that you seldom water them. They are survivors and can stay standing for a long time.

However, if you spritz them with water and call it a day, you can expect your succulents to show signs of underwatering.

This will lead to root rot, dry and dead leaves, and aerial roots, which will kill your succulent within a month.

So, do the Soil Finger Test to determine if your succulent needs watering. Follow a routine to ensure that you water the plants on time and with the right amount.