Previously, in our article “How to Care for Your Succulent”, we briefly covered how to water succulents. This article will focus more on the topic of watering succulents, from the kind of watering they do best with to the optimal environment that lets succulents grow with the best amount of water. When watering succulents, the best thing to remember is that succulents grow best with a large amounts of water in brief periods of time; in other words, water generously, but not too much or too frequently.
As you may have read in “What are Succulents?” succulent plants are known for their retention of water, and as a result can survive in very dry conditions. Nevertheless, keeping them dry for TOO long may cause it to die of thirst; something that you as a burgeoning succulent owner would not want to happen! The best way to water your succulent is to soak the plant (don’t spray it!) so that the soil is completely wet from the watering, but in an environment that allows it to drain completely. This advice cannot be stressed enough.
The optimal frequency to water a succulent is generally about once every week, but once every 2-3 weeks during the winter when they are generally dormant. This is enough time for your succulent’s soil to be completely wetted by its watering, but long enough to dry out so that it doesn’t decay. Don’t be concerned if you’ve watered your succulent a few days ago and the soil has dried out— as the article just linked noted, succulents prefer dry environments to humid ones, and over-watering a succulent is every bit as harmful than under-watering it. Some knowledge about what succulents like, compounded with a bit of common sense is ultimately the key to success when watering your succulent.
As noted above, the best way to water your succulent is if its roots are soaked entirely, but only briefly. Thus, best kind of soil you can plant a succulent to water it effectively is one that drains relatively quickly. Succulents do very well in a gravelly substrate, one that would allow their roots to air out and dry quickly once they have been watered. The ideal particle size is about 5-6mm— or about a quarter of an inch. This is about the size of small gravel, as opposed to muddy loam or a rich soil with tiny granules that you may picture when you imagine a potted plant.
Next, it is important that when you grow succulents, you grow them in a pot with a hole at the bottom that allows it to drain easily once you’ve finished watering them. If you water your succulent, no matter how big the particles of the soil, the water is still going to pool at the bottom of the pot, and the roots of your succulent will begin to decay from all the moisture! So keep these pieces of advice in mind next time you see a cute glass bowl that your succulent would simply be adorable in!