Dry times? Often not a problem for succulents. Nevertheless, you have to water them properly so that the water does not become fatal for the plants. Our tips for watering succulents.
Watering succulents as part of their care shouldn’t be underestimated. Although they are real survivors, they are considered robust and easy to care for. However, the plants cannot do without water entirely. Succulents can store water in their leaves, trunks, or even in the roots and only a little of it evaporates.
If you forget a casting round, don’t take it easy on us. In addition to cacti, for example, the aloe vera, the bow hemp (Sansevieria), and the money tree (Crassula ovata) are popular. In the open air, hardy species such as houseleek (Sempervivum) and sedum (sedum) cut a fine figure. But if you always give these plants a bold sip of water during the usual watering routine, it is harmful in the long run.
Due to their ability to retain water, succulents only need to be watered sparingly, but still regularly. Water thoroughly every one to two weeks during the growth phase between spring and autumn, but not over the leaf rosette. Let the substrate dry well until the next time. It is important to avoid waterlogging, as it quickly leads to rot and the death of the plant. During the resting phase, which usually extends over the winter, succulents require even less or no water.
When and how often do you have to water succulents?
Succulents come from different arid regions of the world and have optimally adapted to life there. They are only supplied with water at certain times – be it rain, fog, or morning dew. This also applies to us in the garden or on the windowsill: constant watering at short intervals is not necessary.
Rather, too much water leads to rot and thus to the death of the plant. Nevertheless – similar to watering other houseplants – a certain regularity is required: Basically, succulents are watered about every one to two weeks during their growth phase between spring and autumn.
The intervals can vary depending on the individual requirements of the plant, location, and temperature. Succulents in smaller pots or those with thin leaves, for example, will need more water again than large specimens or those with thick leaves. The soil should be evenly moist after watering, but waterlogging must be avoided at all costs. It is important that the substrate can dry out almost completely before reaching for the watering can again.
If you are unsure, you should wait a little longer or test the earth with a wooden stick. Similar to baking, you put it in the ground and pull it out again. If there is no soil on it, the substrate is dry.
Watering errors are often noticeable on the leaves of succulents. Aloe vera reacts to overwatering with muddy leaves or, as shown here, brown spots (left). If the leaves in the middle of the rosette dry out, the succulent has probably not been watered enough (right)
The procedure is similar to succulents that grow in pots on the balcony or in a rain-protected place. If they are planted out, they usually only have to be watered if there is a long dry phase.
How to water succulents in winter
Most succulents take a break from growing in winter. During this time they need a bright place and little or no water. If you overwinter the plants at over ten degrees Celsius, you should water them sparingly now and then. The cooler the location of the succulent plant, the less water it needs. After the hibernation, the watering quantity is slowly increased again until the rhythm for the growth phase is reached.
Don’t forget: there are also species, such as the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera), that bloom between November and January. During this time, the plants also want to be supplied with water. It’s always good to look into the needs of each succulent plant.
Our tips for outdoor succulents: Make sure specimens planted in the garden are on well-drained soil. Too much moisture also damages the plants in winter. It is better to move succulents planted in pots to a place protected from rain.
How to properly water succulents
So that succulents do not mold or rot from the roots or in the leaf axils, they should be watered carefully. Do not pour the water into the leaf rosettes, but into the substrate below. It is best to use a watering can with a slim spout. It is important that excess water can drain off properly so that no waterlogging occurs. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes and discard any water that has collected in the saucer or planter.
Alternatively, you can dip succulents until the substrate is evenly moist. Here, too, it is important to let the plants drain properly before putting them back in the planter. By the way: succulents from tropical climes often like it when the air is a little more humid. They are happy if you mist them with lime-free water now and then.
Hardly any plant likes cold tap water, and not everyone tolerates too high a lime content. It is best to use stale water that is as low in lime as possible and at room temperature for your succulents. If possible, use clean rainwater or decalcified tap water.
Watering succulents: tips on the substrate
The right substrate is a factor that should not be neglected to successfully care for the succulents. As far as water storage capacity is concerned, it should be tailored to the needs of your succulent plant. Because the plants cannot tolerate waterlogging, they generally want to be in well-drained soil. Usually mixed cactus and succulent soil or a mixture of sand and houseplant soil is suitable.
Always plant your succulents in pots that have one or more drainage holes. A layer of pebbles or expanded clay on the bottom of the pot also helps prevent the water from building up.