When Should You Really Water Your Succulents

When you should water you succulents?

Everyone praises succulents as being really easy to care for, so it’s kind of embarrassing when one dies on you.

Don’t worry, you (probably) don’t have a brown thumb. There are a few misconceptions about how to care for succulents well. You really only have to straighten out one thing to become a succulent maven – watering.

How often to water succulents?

Here’s a little-known secret for succulent care – the amount that you water succulents isn’t nearly as important as how often you water them.

It makes sense if you consider why succulents are so sensitive to water.

Since most succulents and cacti are native to dry, desert-y conditions, they have adaptations to prevent water loss. That thick waxy sheen on the leaves is called a “cuticle” and it prevents water from evaporating out of the leaves. Succulents even have a special version of photosynthesis (called CAM photosynthesis) where they only open their pores at night to minimize water loss.

These plants are really good at retaining water. So good, in fact, that they can accidentally drown themselves. Plants actually breathe mostly through their roots, believe it or not. If those roots are wet, they can’t breathe.

Succulent roots have evolved to act like every drop of water might be the last. They cling jealously to all the water they can find in their soil. Unfortunately, if the soil is constantly wet, it leads to root rot – a deadly illness for most plants (and succulents are particularly susceptible).

The number one killer of succulents is overwatering. But not in the sense that they get too much water – rather, they get watered too often. It’s absolutely crucial that the soil is given time to dry out between waterings.

So how often do you actually water a succulent or cactus? A good rule of thumb is to water once every 10 days. You should still check to be sure that the soil is dry (and has been for a couple days) before you water again.

How much to water succulents?

Now we know when to water our succulents and cacti, but not how much.

To figure this out, we go back to the desert these plants came from. It does actually rain in the desert, contrary to common belief. However, that only happens a couple times a year. And in the desert the saying “When it rains, it pours.” is very accurate. The sky just dumps buckets of water. Succulents like to be watered this way too, albeit a bit more often. Forget about the eyedroppers and spray bottles. Put those ‘succers’ under the faucet and drench them. You should water until the water begins to run out of the bottom of the pot. That’s how you know you’ve soaked the soil all the way through.

And that part is important – you want to ensure that all of the soil is completely wetted. If you use only a little water, it doesn’t penetrate more than the top couple of inches of soil. That forces the succulent to grow roots upwards instead of downwards. That leads to weak roots, poor stability, and an ineffective anchor for the succulent. A recipe for disaster.

Proper succulent watering technique

When you should water your succulents

While throwing your succulent in the sink is certainly a viable method, you can practice some more applied techniques for an even better effect.

We already mentioned that all the soil in the pot needs to be drenched. That’s still true. If possible, though, you should try to avoid getting water on the leaves. This opens the door to a few problems:

Mold and mildew can form in the crevices of a plant (like where the leaves meet the stem). It also provides a nice habitat for pests, who generally prefer moist environments. We recommend using a succulent watering bottle with bend watering mouth for easy control during the watering process! We really like this one by Mkono

2. Plants can’t drink through their leaves. That’s what roots are for. Any water on a leaf is being wasted.

3. Occasionally plants, even succulents, suffer from sunburn. When you leave a liquid like water on leaves while the succulent is exposed to bright sunlight, there’s a chance that the water will act like a magnifying glass and burn the leaf.

So, if you have few enough plants (or just really enjoy watering), you should water each succulent individually by pouring water at the base of the stem. Make sure to get the rest of the pot as well. If you are new to plants, we highly recommend this planting & watering tool kit.

Avoid overwatering

Water isn’t the only factor in the watering equation, actually. Soil plays a big part.

One of the qualities of soil is how much water it retains. Soil mixtures that have a lot of organic matter (stuff like peat moss, coconut coir, etc.) tend to hold a lot of water. Mixtures that mostly have minerals or inorganic matter (such as perlite or sand) don’t absorb water.

Succulents and cacti require quick-draining soil. You want the soil to dry out as quickly as possible after it’s watered. Ideally in the same day. That’s why watering in the morning is ideal – it has the whole day to evaporate.

So, grab some soil specific to succulents and cacti next time you’re out. Your plants will thank you. A quick DIY solution is to just buy a bag of perlite and mix it half and half with any other kind of soil. It’s not perfect, but it will dramatically increase drainage.

If you do not have any local places to pick up some quick-draining soil, we highly recommend this quick-draining soil from Superfly Bonsai on Amazon.

Note also that many succulents you buy (especially from big box stores) actually have a poor soil mix when they’re sold to you. You’ll probably want to repot them as soon as you’re able.

And speaking of pots – the second most important factor in preventing overwatering is having adequate drainage. That means use pots with a drainage hole. That means that teacups and terrariums aren’t optimal containers for succulents and cacti.

Without proper drainage at the bottom of a pot, water tends to pool and the roots stay wet for longer. That’s dangerous. And, no, gravel in the bottom of a pot does not constitute drainage. The water is still there. It doesn’t go anywhere.

We’re not saying you can never put them in those cutesy containers. (By the way, if you’re having trouble finding inspiration for planting succulents check out our 12 minimalistic ways to plant succulents). Just know that they might not survive it for very long or be very happy for the duration. So much for that Pinterest photo shoot you had planned, eh?


When you should water your succulents and how often

Tips for succulent watering

  • Different plants have different needs. Sometimes wildly so. Kalanchoe, for example, are pretty thirsty succulents. They begin to wilt after a week without water. The famous “butt plants”, Lithops, can only be watered three or four times a year or they promptly die. (psst: if you are looking for Lithops Seeds, we recommend these by Micro Landscape Design)
  • Always err on the side of underwatering. Succulents and cacti are literally designed to be thirsty sometimes. They can almost always bounce back from lack of water… but recovering from too much water is a dicey prospect at best.
  • If you have a community pot (a pot with multiple species of plants), water to the lowest common denominator. That means that you should water only when the “driest” plants start to get thirsty. We are following the same advice as above – it’s better for succulents to be thirsty for a while rather than overwatering.

Thanks for reading!

We hope you got some pointers on how to keep your succulent family healthy! Also, don’t forget you can receive 2 FREE Audio books of your choice from our sponsor at Audible.com. We’ve got 2 books we listen to about propagation and watering succulents, what are you thinking of listening too?

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If you enjoyed reading our blog about When You Should Water Your Succulents, be sure to check out our other blogs. Personally I think you’ll enjoy this one: 6 Best Indoor Succulents.

If you learned something, please consider buying us a succulent for our office.

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Enjoyed learning about When You Should Water Your Succulents? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about The Correct Way to Water Succulents. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

How to Water Air Plants

How to Water Air Plants

I know, I know—these cute little plants are just to die for! Don’t have soil? No worries! They don’t need it anyway. They absorb nutrients and water through trichomes which is just a fancy name for the fine hairs located on the leaves. (Kind of like our fine hairs on our arms).

This presents endless possibilities on creative ways to display them. From those adorable teensy terrariums to seashells, or anything really, air plants don’t mind at all.

With their attractive spiky tendrils, these epiphytes are no doubt a got-to-have in every living room. And if you’re a brown thumb looking for some bragging rights, air plants got you covered.

These trendy plants are low-maintenance and so you can get away with some little negligence. Less maintenance and easier to take care of than your traditional succulent plant, count me in!

Losing an air plant is a sad affair. Though hard to kill, these plants will collapse on you due to several reasons. The most common however, is in regard to watering. To have a healthy air plant, the following watering best practices are valuable.

Watering air plants

What are Air Plants?

Air plants are part of the Tillandsia genus which consists of about 650 species. Native to Mexico and the Americas, air plants are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants and emerge from stem crevices or tree branches. Their roots can also attach to rocks and other shrubs just for support as the roots can’t take in water or nutrients.

In their native tropical rainforest habitats, air plants survive by absorbing water in the humid environment through their leaves. Unlike other plants, these rule-breakers don’t require dirt to grow, just air.

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Do Air Plants Need Water?

A common myth associated with growing air plants is that since these plants grow in the air, they don’t need water. This is fueled by the fact that they absorb water from the atmosphere and so they can survive long periods with little or no water. If you follow such advice, you’ll soon end up with a withered plant.

While it’s true air plants absorb water from the atmosphere, the environment they’re grown in has a huge bearing on this. Their native tropical rainforest habitats are very humid and they get along pretty well.

In home settings, however, the humidity is nothing close compared to the forests out there and so they have to be watered just like any house plant.

One way to water your air plants is to soak them in water. We recommended using a large bowl like this or something similar.

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Watering air plants

What Type of Water is Used for Air Plants?

Since air plants don’t grow in soil, they solely depend on water to get their minerals and nutrients. Therefore, the best water for air plants would definitely be rainwater.

Here’s a neat little tool you can use to collect rainwater for your air plants when it rains.

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However, this may not be easily accessible and so you may opt for spring water. You may also use creek water, pond water, well water, or lake water.

If you can’t get a hold of any of these options, then tap water can be utilized. Your last option should be soft or distilled water. It has little nutrients and minerals—not suitable for air plants as they depend on these nutrients for growth.

Mistakes to Avoid when Watering Air Plants

Thanks to the current digital age, it doesn’t take long for misinformation to spread rapidly. And this has been true when it comes to watering air plants.

Hordes of air plant enthusiasts have lost their plants due to such misleading advice. Avoid the following like the plague…

Assuming there’s sufficient water in the air

Don’t let the name “air plant” fool you. Air plants won’t get all the water they need from the air especially when growing in the living room or office.

Sure, they may absorb itty bitty amounts of water through their trichomes but that is nowhere close to what they need to survive. Depending on the climate of your surroundings, you might need to water your air plants once a week.


How to water air plants the right way

Excess humidity due to wet bed

Nothing spells disaster for air plants more quickly than a wet bed. They’ll be susceptible to rot. Planting air plants with plants that require constant moisture like moss plants is not recommended. Air plants flourish on dry medium. Avoid very enclosed containers as this may lead to increased moisture leading to rot.

Ways to Water Air Plants

Watering air plants doesn’t have to be a high-brow process. The following ways are ideal when it comes to watering air plants.


If you live in an arid area, your plants will appreciate periodic spritzing using a spray bottle similar to this.

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It’s important to note that this method can’t stand in as the only means to watering your plants. It should only complement other watering methods. The trichomes on the leaves are unable to absorb enough water through misting.


If your plants are thirsty and you’re in a rush, you can give them a quick drink to last them the whole day by dunking them in water.

To do this, just submerge the plant in water once or a few more times and they’ll be good until you have enough time to give them a thorough drink. Like a short swim!

Tips for watering air plants


Giving your plants a full bath is the best way to water your plants.

This ensures that trichomes have enough time to absorb water and nutrients. To properly soak your plants, fill a bowl with water and fully submerge your air plants.

For much bigger air plants and depending on their number too, you can opt for the bathtub or sink. Be extra gentle with air plants that have blooms and don’t submerge the buds. Let the plants stay soaked in the water for at least one hour, on a weekly basis on the minimum side.

To remove the plant from the water, hold it from the base and pull it upside down, shaking it gently to get rid of excess water. Use water at room temperature to avoid shocking your plant.

Drying Air Plants

Once you’ve figured out how to successfully water your plants, what follows is leaving them to dry out right after their bath time. Lay them on a colander, towel or a dish drying rack and set them in a brightly lit area for two to four hours.

Also, ensure the area has plenty of air circulation—they’re air plants, remember?

Only return your plants to their display after they’re fully dry to prevent water from accumulating inside the plant which will ultimately result in rotting.

How Frequently Should I Water my Air Plant?

Watering air plants at home

This largely depends on the climate in your area.

While air plants grown in humid areas may do well with watering only once a week, those in drier areas may need frequent soaking. You can also look for dehydration evidence on your plants.

A parched air plant has curly leaves with a dull color while a hydrated plant has open and wide leaves.

But for those that want to, it’s actually not that hard to care for and water air plants. Let us know if you end up trying to care for some air plants, we’ll have more articles about this soon. In the meantime, happy planting!


Think you’ll give air plants a try now? If not, here’s some rare succulents you can check out.

Has this helped you at all? Be sure to share with a fellow green thumb, i’m sure the info will help them too!

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies: Everything You Need To Know

Overwaterd Succulent Remedies

Life can sometimes be annoying. Just imagine: You do everything to take care of your succulents. You give them the best attention, watering them well. But, after a while, you discover that you have a plant with succulent leaves falling off! What should raise the red flag? The leaves look translucent and feel squishy. 

Rushing off to carry out some research and, while at it, you confirm your worst fears: The succulents are rotting! A little more investigation and conclude that the cause of the succulent rot is simply overwatering. You need to learn overwatered succulent plant remedies to fix it!

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Succulent leaves falling off from over-watering @timotheigh

Overwatered succulent

Has something like this ever befallen you? There is no need to feel bad; life is like that, and this can happen. Perhaps it was left out in the rain.

Sometimes, if this happens, the growing roots may be compacted, blocking the drainage hole.                  

Having unearthed the real problem, it is now time to correct things. If this is your predicament, you are in good company. How can you save your overwatered succulents?  Let us take some time to learn overwatered succulent remedies. Before this, another question arises: How can we diagnose overwatered succulents correctly?

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Echeveria over-watered @flossiesplants

Diagnosis and treatment

Start by checking the succulent roots for any signs of rot. To do this effectively, do not be afraid to pluck your succulent out of the soil. Of course, a plant’s roots are always essential to its health. Succulents, on their part, are far more tolerant of being dug up compared with other plants.

If you overwatered, but there are no signs, just yet, of succulent plant leaves falling off or rotting, take the plant out of its container, and the problem is solved. Period.

Ensure you leave the soil and root ball intact. Also, squeeze out excess water. After this, place the plant and root ball near the container. Leave it for just a day or two, allowing the soil to dry out rapidly. This prevents any rot from developing and it is our first overwatered succulent remedy.

The first signs 

Often the initial sign of overwatered succulents is this: You may find that the leaves are changing color, beginning to look a little bit translucent. This is usually due to excess water bursting the water-storage cell walls.

Because it is no longer stored within the specialized cells, as usual, the water now runs through the leaf. This dilutes its color, making the leaf squishy. The plant soon begins to rot. Before long, you have the succulent leaves falling off.

Remember that, overwatering is often what makes the succulent rot. Indeed, this is the fastest way to kill succulent plants. For this reason, the sooner you recognize that a succulent is overwatered, the sooner you should take action to save it.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Succulent topped pumpkin @lushsucculents

Overwatered succulent remedies

As you will find out, one of the first signs of trouble in succulents might be the floppy leaves. They can start falling off at the slightest touch.  If you dig up the plant, as advised, you may discover that, apart from the succulent leaves falling off, the stem has a squishy discoloration where it is brown. It appears like a little bruise on a piece of fruit. This is the tell-tale sign: You definitely have a succulent stem rot!

Without a doubt, the tiny amount of root structure compared to the top growth’s size demonstrates a problem. This is, perhaps, a newly rooted succulent cutting. If not, then much of the root has rotted away. How should you deal with this? Dig up your succulent so that you can get a better look at the structure of the root.

As noted, succulents are relatively more tolerant than other plants. It is also an excellent way to determine what is happening. If you suspect or discover a root rot, rinse the roots and remove excess water, if the soil is muddy. Thoroughly wash the container and discard the used soil.

Treating the stem rot

How can you recognize a succulent stem rot? The overwatered succulent might be rotting at the soil line. Are there discolored base leaves on the left side of the plant? If, like the stem, they are showing signs of rot, then there is trouble. This is what is causing the succulent leaves to fall off.

Because these have rotted at the location where the meristem tissue develops typically, they are no longer useful for propagation. Of course, the meristem tissue is that part of the leaf that generally sprouts new leaves and roots. When the meristem is rotted, you cannot expect any further growth or development. Happily, on closer inspection, you will find that the other leaves, located above the succulent stem rot, still appear healthy.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Astrophytum cactus @driftwoodcactus

Succulent rot

Has the overwatered succulent developed a decay of the leaves, roots or the stem? It is essential to isolate the rotting tissue from the healthy plant. First, discard the used soil and other harmful parts of the plant. You will find that, in such a case, with just the little root structure and parts of the lower leaves and stem rotting; the plant top remains healthy.

As a first step, remove all the signs of rot. That means removing the leaves and cut off any rotten stem. Next, look inside the remaining stem. Check for signs of decay in the stem core. Cut it back until all the symptoms are completely gone. You may even remove the healthy leaves from the stem.

Recognize that, these healthy leaves were somehow propagated from their meristem tissue. If a rice rosette remains after all signs of the succulent rot are gone, you can do something about this. Treat this rosette just like a succulent stem cutting for propagation. You will realize remarkable success. Soon, you will find that multiple leaves are forming baby plants, and the top of the rosette is rooting well in fresh soil. Your overwatered succulent is saved!

Black Echeveria rot

Black Echeveria, just like the Black Prince, is particularly sensitive to rot. If you like growing these, you will likely have a plant with the succulent leaves falling off, one time or another. Such plants respond quickly to overwatering by dropping all leaves suddenly. Good enough, this also means most of the fallen leaves remain in a healthy state to root, developing into independent plants. This is a beautiful survival mechanism that helps the plant to propagate, regardless of whether the parent is susceptible to death.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Black Echeveria @eva.kelley92

Water your plants sensibly

You can take a few steps to forestall the problem of rotting succulents. The key is just one: Have a good schedule of watering the plant. This is the best preventive measure you can take. Consider the following steps:

Avoid over-watering

If you find that there are some dead leaves on the upper parts of new growth, this is a clear sign of danger. It might be caused by overwatering or under-watering.

Moreover, soil can also cause trouble for succulents. If the leaves are beginning to look yellow and transparent or feel soggy and mushy on touch, it is, likely, a typical case of overwatering. Further, overwatered succulents usually start to get black spots and soft yellow leaves.

The finest way to avoid over-watering is to ensure the soil is completely dried before re-watering. Indeed, most succulents can go for three days or even a week without water. Wisely, when in doubt, do not water: wait!

In case you notice any over-watering symptoms on your plants, act to cut back on the watering schedule. Check if you need to change to a better mixture of soil.

Create a watering- schedule for your succulents. Read “When Should You Really Water Your Succulents” for an in-depth guide on all things watering.

Avoid under-watering

Over-watering succulents is not the only culprit. Most succulents are equally sensitive to under-watering. However, plants like Senecio Haworthii and Portulacaria Afra love to be watered more frequently compared to other succulents.

If you discover that your plant’s upper leaves are beginning to wrinkle and get crispy and dry, it might be time to provide your succulents with a little more water. 

Understand the dangers of under watering succulents with “The Dangers of an Underwatered Succulent”.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Black Echeveria @gymno_cactus

How to save your succulents

The scourge of overwatered succulents will always happen, regardless of how careful we are. For this reason, take the following simple steps to help you limit the damage and save your plants from the succulent rot:

  • Always plant your succulents in proper soil.
  • Water the succulents only when the soil is very dry.
  • Closely monitor the health of the succulents by touch and sight.
  • Understand the signs of succulent trouble and act fast once you see the signs of a succulent rot.
  • Pluck the plant from the soil to better check on the roots.
  • Remove excess soil and, if necessary, rinse the roots to check the plant condition.
  • Remove the rotting leaves, checking the stem for any signs of rot.
  • If you discover a root rot, discard the used soil immediately and cut back the roots, ensuring all flesh is healthy and firm.
  • Radically remove all signs of rot.
  • In case the rooted plant survives, replant this into fresh succulent soil, watering lightly.
  • Prepare the healthy plants and leaves for propagation.

Voila! Hopefully, you now know our overwatered succulent remedies. You know precisely how to save it and propagate it.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Succulent garden @sukulent_marketim

Take practical steps to diagnose your succulent. Get the diagnosis as soon as possible. This gives you a good chance of helping the succulent recover.

Pay close attention to your succulent. You will catch the early signs of such problems. This makes it easier for you to save your succulent well before things get out of control. 

Without a doubt, life is undoubtedly better and more vibrant with succulents around! Preserve them jealously for posterity.

For more helpful guides for succulent care, check out How Often to Water a Cactus, What to Do When My Succulent Leaves are Splitting, or How to Make Succulent Soil at Home!

Do you have more overwatered succulent remedies? Let us know with a comment below or share in our exclusive Facebook Group, Succulent City Plant Lounge!

Happy planting! ?