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water drop on succulent leaves

How to Water Succulents – Your Plants Will Tell You!

You did it! You finally bought yourself that beautiful succulent plant that everyone says is so easy to grow. But now, just a short time later, it is looking so sad! The harder you try, the worse it looks… Could it be that Pinterest and Instagram are wrong, or is it just you? Not to worry – this post will give you all the information you need to get that plant healthy and happy again. You can learn how to water succulents – I promise!

The magic and mystery of succulents bewitching! But how to water succulents is an important question that does not have an easy answer of X amount of water every Y days. Because the single most common cause of death for these easy-care beauties is improper watering, it is important to get this right. Let’s tackle it together!

How to Water Succulents

{Please note, some links in this post may be affiliate links to sites that pay me a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. This commission is at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend products and companies that I have worked with and truly love! ~Kat}

What is a Succulent?

Succulents are a huge family of plants with a wide array of colors, forms, textures and sizes. Found in many parts of the world, succulents all have adapted to very dry conditions by developing specialized structures that enable them to store water in their leaves, stems and roots. The succulent draws upon the stored moisture enabling it to thrive in times of severe drought.  Think about these structures as a series of teeny, tiny water balloons in each succulent plant. A healthy succulent takes up water through its roots and fills each water storage cell.  The “water balloons” swell to their fullest, and retain this moisture until it is needed.

The defining characteristic of succulent plants is that they have adapted to be able to thrive where water is scarce. This tells us that dry conditions are what they are adapted to, so it is better to err on the side of under watering succulents rather than overwatering.

When to Water Succulents, and When to Leave Them Dry

The adaptation that enables succulents to store water when it is plentiful for later use when it is scarce tells us that it is FAR better to leave a succulent plant too dry rather than too wet. They have adapted to survive drought conditions. While it can take months for a succulent to truly die from lack of water, and overwatered succulent can die within days.

Signs Your Succulent Needs Water

shriveled, wrinkled leaves show signs that this succulent plant needs water

While it is better to leave your succulent too dry than too wet, that does not mean you should never water it. Just like any other plant, your succulent needs water to be healthy. When the plant is in a sustained period of drought, it draws upon the moisture stored in its leaves.  The “water balloons” begin to deflate as the stored water is drawn down without being replaced.  In time, the leaves will become wrinkled, and shriveled, as the once fully inflated storage cells lose water and begin to shrink. Leaves that were firm and plump start to collapse and shrivel and may droop down. In the image above, you can see what the leaves look like when the plant’s need for water becomes urgent. This is a clear sign that your succulent plant needs more water.  

When watering succulents, be thorough. Drench the soil until the excess water flows from the drainage holes in the container. You want to mimic the heavy, sudden rains that occur where succulents are native. Then, follow the soil-drenching water with a long period letting the soil dry out. This “drench then drought” cycle is what has driven succulents’ evolution for millennia.  Once you give it the water it needs, the storage cells fill up again, replenishing their stores of moisture, and the leaves plump up again. While stressful, this drought period was not damaging to the plant.

How to Water Succulents? Deeply, But Not Too Often

Deep watering promotes healthy root development. Watering succulents should follow the “drench then drought” cycle described above. This provides the plant with a familiar pattern it finds in nature and encourages healthy development. If the succulent is potted with good drainage, you can water from the bottom. Set the container in a tray of water, and allow the soil to wick up water for about five minutes.  Remove the pot from the water and let it drain. The soil should fully dry before you water it again, which will likely take a week or more. If the succulent is growing in the ground, or in a container too heavy to move, water slowly at the soil line, rather than from overhead. Be thorough, but do not allow the plant to remain in waterlogged soil. Empty any catch trays after five minutes, and allow the soil to fully dry.

Signs Your Succulent is Over Watered

Storing water in its leaves, roots and stems enables succulent plants to survive hot, dry conditions. Healthy plants draw on these reserves to meet the plant’s needs and then replenishes these stores when rain or irrigation comes again. The “water balloons” fill, leak down and refill when more moisture is available. This system is crucial for the plant’s health and survival.

succulent showing signs of over watered illustration

When the plant is overwatered, there is so much water in the soil that the oxygen is driven out, leaving the roots to truly drown. In an effort to regain access to oxygen, the roots take in more and more water, filling the storage cells or water balloons to bursting, resulting in deeply damaged cell structures, and eventually rotting leaves and roots. The first signs of this damage are the leaves becoming soft and squishy, drooping and dropping away easily.  The leaves discolor and become partially translucent, as the normal, pigmented cells within have shattered and water fills the leaf.

Unlike the shriveled leaves above, the damage over watering succulents causes is permanent. If you catch it in time, you can cut off the damaged leaves and roots leaving still-healthy plant material to give it an opportunity to rehabilitate. If you rescue the plant from its wet and muddied soil, it is possible to save an overwatered succulent. Or another approach is to take stem cuttings to root and form new plants.

Healthy Succulents with Dried Out Leaves

healthy succulent with dried, spent leaves to be groomed labeled

Properly watering succulents is essential for their survival. Your succulent’s health is clearly mirrored in its leaves. Shrunken, shriveled leaves tell you the plant needs water. Squishy leaves losing their coloration shows the plant has been damaged by too much water. But some succulents regularly shut down old leaves as they produce fresh, new leaves as part of their natural growth cycle.

Many succulents will demonstrate this pattern, you often see it with EcheveriaSempervivums, and other rosette succulents. This is perfectly natural and not a sign of poor health. As older leaves are cut off from new supplies of moisture by the plant, they brown, dry out, become thin and papery. Unlike the shrunken leaves indicating the plant needs water, these leaves do not wrinkle; they just become very thin and papery in texture. They do not become squishy or drop off, and they do not become translucent, like the leaves of an overwatered succulent.  The color changes to brown and the plant retains the leaves. You can leave them intact, or remove them for a tidier appearance to suit your preference.  Neither affects the health of the plant. Eventually, the plant will slough off these dried leaves. 

Dried, papery leaves at the base of the plant give no indication about watering succulents.

Succulents Need Fast Draining Soil

succulent soil held in hand with crassula ovata

No guide on how to water succulents would be complete without addressing the importance of the proper soil for succulents. Succulents need coarse, gritty soil to ensure fast drainage. The type of soil you use can make or break your succulent’s success. Properly watering succulents is so much easier with the right soil. Whether you make your own mix or purchase cactus and succulent potting mix, the key is to include large, inorganic aggregates to ensure fast drainage and plenty of oxygen in the soil. There are many DIY succulent soil mixes, and all work well.  A simple one to try is a 1:1 ratio of potting soil and pumice. A simple test to see if your soil will be suitable for growing succulents is to thoroughly wet a ball of soil and squeeze it in your hand. If it forms a ball that remains when you open your hand, it is retaining too much moisture.  You want the soil to crumble away from the ball. Then you know it is ready for succulents!

Learn to make your own succulent soil and how to adjust it for your climate in my detailed blog post. Or skip straight to a collection of succulent soils I recommend.

For the easiest and best results, always choose a container with ample drainage holes. Good drainage makes watering succulents properly so much easier. While you certainly can grow succulents in containers without drainage holes, it is trickier. What to do with the cutest pot that has no holes? Why – drill the drainage holes yourself!

There you have it! A complete guide on How to Water Succulents. I would love to know what you think! Did you learn something new and useful? Do you have any questions? Please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know! 

 I am happy to answer your questions to help you enjoy the incredible diversity of succulents! 

Have a lovely day!

P.S. Please subscribe to The Succulent Eclectic! I’ll send you me FREE e-course 7 Steps to Succulent Success! Thanks!

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P.P.S. Why not join my Facebook Group for succulent-lovers? We talk succulent care, propagation, succulent identification and design. It’s a warm and welcoming group that would love to meet you!

how to water succulents properly so they'll thrive

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This Post Has 75 Comments

  1. Cheryl W.

    We’re not water correctly. Thanks for this article, Kat!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Cheryl – Glad you find it helpful! 🙂
      Please feel free to ask any questions!

      1. ellen

        I notice that many of your arrangements have different plants crowded together. Do they like to be right next to each other? I love that look, but always think they won’t be able to grow properly. Please advise. Thank you…

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Ellen,
          I love that look, too! And they will grow well together, but much more s-l-o-w-l-y than when they have more root room. Just like goldfish staying really small in a little bowl, or growing huge in a lake. You’ll read more about this in my blog post about how to close plant succulent arrangements.

          1. Ellen Kenoss

            Perfect… Thank you!

          2. Kat McCarthy

            You are most welcome! 🙂

  2. Kat McCarthy

    Hi Lori,
    Just as you thought, it took another twist! You will find it here next week. 🙂

  3. Karen day

    This is a terrific post! I have wanted to try growing succulents, but never understood how to take care of them. Now I think I can! Thanks a lot and I am looking forward to contacting you. Will you please drop me a mail? I have a couple questions.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Karen,

      I am delighted this is helpful to you. I promise you CAN do this! 🙂
      Of course I’ll send you an email – I am happy to help with any questions! You can also post them in comments if you like.

      1. Susan

        I have read that you can use activated charcoal to help pull moisture out of the soil . It would work great in those pots you don’t want to drill holes in.

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Susan,
          While I do use activated charcoal in the garden and it does prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria, odor or algae, it is still crucial to prevent succulent roots from sitting in waterlogged soil. Please take extra caution any time you plant without drainage.

    2. Ashi

      So helpful and I’m gladto read ur guiding article, I love these water filled chubby plants n u HV really helped me to take proper care of them

      1. Kat McCarthy

        Hi Ashi,
        That’s awesome! I am SO glad I was able to help!
        Thanks so much for reading,

  4. Nadine

    Hi thanks for your article!
    I have a problem with my fenestraria. I knew that I shouldn’t water it too much, so when I bought it I didn’t give it water for a while (maybe 3 weeks or more) it had an an opened flower which bloomed beautifully and withered after a while. The plant might not have enough light (is on desk next to window (sun can shine in during day)) because it grew much taller and also quite many new leaves and lost it’s compact form. Now many of the leaves are droopy and shrively at the top (but still hard), some are droopy and squishy/shrively and brown shrively at the bottom. Other leaves are still healthy (except have elongated growth). I did water it thoroughly then as it’s soil was dry (top and outside, when taken out of pot)
    Now I am kind of confused what my plant wants to tell me.
    I hope you can help me(I could also send a picture), I really don’t want it to die! 🙁

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Nadine,
      I am happy to help! Let’s get your sweet fenestraria baby toes plant happy and healthy again!
      Please do send me a photo – that will help me a lot! You can email me at [email protected]
      As you figured, the stretching is from too little light. Make lighting adjustments gradually. Increase the lighting by just a bit each day, until you have made a significant increase. Artificial light can make a big difference in these cases, even just a desk lamp that can shine on your plant to supplement the sunshine it gets.
      We need to figure out why some leaves are getting squishy, while others are just shriveled. That would be confusing, since shriveled usually means it needs water and mushy means it has too much. While we work to get it figured out, please do not water. It is far easier for your succulent to recover from too little water rather than too much.
      We likely will want to divide your plant to make its future care easier, but please increase the lighting, and send me a picture. We’ll go from there! 🙂

  5. Linda Jennings

    This information is extremely informative and very helpful.
    I have one piece of the puzzle that’s missing in all the information I have read. I guess it is so simple that presenters don’t think it is necessary to include in the instructions.
    My struggle is this…………when I go through the propagation steps, and get to the step after the cuttings have calloused over and are ready to be laid on the soil to root. Should the cuttings on the soil be placed in the sun or in a bright room without direct sunlight?????. This is my biggest problem. I keep switching the tray of cuttings from a window with sun to a bright place in a room without sun. Please advise. Thanks . I love your article on watering. It really answered a lot of questions.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Linda,
      Great point! I am planning a detailed review of succulent propagation, and I have made a note to be sure to cover this question.
      Because your cuttings do not have any roots at this stage, they cannot yet take up any water. So, in order to not stress them further, leave them in a bright location out of direct sun. Their stored water will sustain them until they root and can take up more water. In the meantime, keep them out of direct sunlight, which would dry them out too quickly.
      Does this make sense?
      Thanks so much for your kind comments! I hope you will visit regularly! 🙂

  6. Louisa Binns

    Dear Kat

    Where can I purchase mature unusual and rare succulents


    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Louisa,
      If you are looking online, I highly recommend Altman plants: and Mountain Crest Gardens If you want to buy them locally, which is your best bet for larger plants, get in touch with a local chapter of the Cactus and Succulent Society. They have plant swaps, which are a fabulous way to get some really unusual plants. And the members will have favorite “finds” – nurseries and succulent sources off the beaten track. If you cannot find a good succulent swap near you – which is unlikely – start your own! 🙂 This site has terrific guidance for starting you very own plant swap:
      Most important, Have Fun!

  7. Sarah

    Your articles are well written and clearly organized. I also appreciate the excellent photos that illustrate subjects up close. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks so much, Sarah!
      I am glad you enjoy it!
      Please let me know if I can answer any questions!

  8. Denuit J. Romeu

    My echeveria leaves are turning red where it meets the stem, any idea why? Been researching for days with no luck. Thanks!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Denuit,
      Without seeing any photos, my best guess is that it is natural changing of color due to the change in seasons, temperature, amount of sunlight and water. Many succulents change color throughout the year in response to changes in their environment. Red is the most common color succulents take on, though it can also be purple or even pink!
      Please snap a couple of photos and send them to me so that I can see what you are seeing, to confirm that your echeveria are healthy and happy! If they aren’t – we’ll figure it out together! 🙂

    2. Angela

      My cousin gave my daughter a Christmas Cactus back in August they got one boom on it Christmas time and in beginning of May it bloomed again with three blooms. I water it about every 3 days it’s it’s in a dish I put water in that and it sucks up its own water. My cousin also gave my mother-in-law a piece of the same plant and hers hasn’t bloomed at all and the its leaves are really tiny but she waters it from the top.

      1. Kat McCarthy

        Hi Angela,
        I like bottom watering for this type of plant, but you are watering too often. That’s one reason you’ve had few blooms.
        Let’s make a few tweaks to the way you care for this plant. Starting with watering it only when it’s soil is DRY. Not nearly so often as you do.
        There’s a bit of a trick to getting a Christmas cactus to bloom. It’s a lot like re-blooming a Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.
        From late spring through summer, grow the plant outdoors in bright shade.
        In fall, bring it indoors before any chance of frost.
        In late September, start a regimen where the plant will be in the DARK for 12 hours at night. Either in a completely dark room or just place a box over it at night. It needs to be fully dark and for a full 12 hours every night. Keep the same schedule, and do this every day and night. Remove the box in the morning so it gets light, but then back on goes the box at night.
        After 3-4 weeks, you’ll see new little buds forming. At that point, dispense with the box.
        Begin feeding with half-strength plant food every 3-4 weeks now, and throughout it’s blooming. Continue until late spring or early summer, when it’s time to go back outdoors. Then stop feeding until the next buds appear.
        This seems like a lot, I know, but this is how you mimic the natural conditions it has adapted to in nature. Your Christmas cactus needs the changes of light and feeding to stimulate and support its blooms.
        Let me know how it goes for you!

  9. Wade

    Do you know if watering in this manner will work on Asclepiads and Euphorbias? I know they can be a bit finicky, (specifically the Asclepiads) I have a nice collection of both. Though, I have occasionally lost a few from being too wet. I keep them sheltered from rain and mix my own soil. Equal parts potting soil or commercial cactus mix, pumice or perlite, and coarse sand. They should have good drainage as I do not use pots without holes and mostly use terra cota. I’d appreciate any advice you could offer me. Thank you.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Wade,
      This is a great question, and I am not sure of the best answer for you.
      Some asclepias and non-succulent euphorbias do need exceptional drainage and pretty dry conditions. But the soil in their native regions is very different from that where most succulents have evolved. In general, the very best way to make any plant happy in your garden is to mimic as closely as possible the conditions in their native habitat. And the large particles that make succulent soil drain so well, are typically absent in the native lands where asclepias and other non-succulent euphorbias developed. They typically grow in much finer, sandy soil that is nutritionally lean.
      I’m sorry, Wade, I don’t feel I know enough about the asclepias and non-succulent euphorbias to truly advise you well here.
      For information about growing asclepias, I recommend you contact Xerces Society:
      For the euphorbia, try this article by the International Euphorbia Society:
      I wish I could be more help!

  10. RHONDA

    Good Morning Kat ? ! I’m so EXCITED ! Your article is amazing. I’ve just got into the succulent plant’s, ABSOUTLEY Gorgeous plant’s i might add. I had no idea on how to take care of them, about to give up, every articale i came across, they either wanted you to purchase something want your life’s history etc… then ithank goodness i came across this. Just that quick. Guess the good Lord new what i needed i did. I love it simply because you don’t drag it out , YOU GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT IN QUESTION….I WAS OVER WATERING THEM ;( POOR BABIES.
    Looking foward to the magianixe .
    Sincerly, Rhonda

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks so much, Rhonda! I am glad it was helpful! 🙂
      Please feel free to ask any questions!

  11. Martha Quiroz

    I transplanted some mini alovera plants that were tiny when i bought them in a bowl with other succulents. They were all thriving they all grew so big. When I transplanted, the other succulents I left in the bowl started wilting, so I watered them. I’m hoping the live cuz the little aloveras are doing good along with there babies.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Martha,
      I hope your plants perk up soon! Just remember that when you take plants out of an arrangement without replacing them, there are now fewer roots to take up the moisture in the soil. Go lightly with the water until you see how the remaining plants respond.
      Feel free to send me a photo if you are still concerned about them.

  12. Jackie

    Hello & thank you for the warm welcome, I recently acquired miniature succulents. I saw them at a well known store “Lowe’s”. I could not believe tat they carried flats of them so I had to purchase a flat now had I’ve known how well they were going to have thrived I would have purchased 10 flats. I just love them, I was a bit hesitant to transfer some into another flat for fear that they would not make it but they did and they are multiplying like weeds. I touch them every day…I just love them. I’m going to see if Lowe’s has them again next year & I will be taking my truck with me for sure.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jackie,
      Yes! Welcome to the succulent addiction 🙂 A healthy and happy obsession for certain!
      You will find that your succulents are very tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions – try some of the DIYs you find on the site. And they just keep on growing and reproducing.
      I’m so glad you are enjoying your succulents. Please feel free to ask any questions. And next year – take the truck!

  13. Because these instructions and pictures match an article dated about three months before this article, I trust this to be right. ?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Mika,

      Yes – I wrote that article for Easy to Grow Bulbs, as well as most of their blog posts. This one has a different slant and a bit more in-depth information.
      Good eye! 🙂

  14. Zsuzsa

    Thank you for this awesome informations, I already killed several succulent plants and cactuses, and never figured out why, though the other indoor plants are lush and thriving, (located in SW Ontario) Not too long ago I got two agave plants, I love the appearance soooo much, hopefully applying what I just learned will keep my plants in healthy condition.
    Thank you again,

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Zsusa,
      You are most welcome!
      Please fee;l free to ask any questions as you go! 🙂

  15. Isha shah

    Hi, this article is really informative, and I hope with help of this info I can save my succulents…
    Kat my some succulents ( howarthia and verigated aloe vera species) get watery, red in the center at the top soil level. Upper leaves looks Hardy and fresh, even when I checked for roots they were also healthy. But centre portion became watery, red and fell down just in a 1-2 days. I lost no. Of plants same way, even I have worked so much on their watering cycle.
    I can send you pics. I will be grateful if you could help me with this one.
    Thanks in advance…

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Isha,
      I will be happy to help you with this!
      Please do send me the photos — [email protected]
      I will be interested in two things. What type of soil are you using? And do you water from over top the succulent? Does the water get in between the leaves of the plants? Or do you add water slowly, just at the soil line?
      We will solve this together!

  16. Ric

    Hi Kat. I’m really enjoying your blog. I’m a plant freak with nearly 50 years of experience growing thousands of plants and never tire of the process. It’s always a pleasure to encounter a fellow horticulturist with the same passion. I was so pleased when you used an expression I use frequently with growers I mentor: “As well as talking to your plants, you must learn to LISTEN to them”. There is no better advice for successful plant care. I also never tire of learning new information about individual plants. I will recommend your blog to all my friends. Keep up the good work!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks SO much, Ric! I truly appreciate the support!
      I know well the weird looks you get when you encourage someone to listen to their plants, but it is amazing what you can learn that way, isn’t it? 🙂
      Thanks for sharing the blog, too!

  17. Thank you for posting this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but
    I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to
    your blog and shared this on my Twitter. Thanks again for a
    great article!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks so much for the support! 🙂

  18. Marcy

    Is there any other succulent soil you can recommend besides th one from Amazon? I’ve been using the miracle grow succulent,cactus and palm soil. I also use a succulent liquid fertilizer as it says on the bottle. I have succulents, thanksgiving and Easter cactus. They are growing but it seems to me at a slow rate. I am seeing new “leaves”, But very few blooms on my Thanksgiving cactus this year. Everything looks healthy. I love these plants I guess I’m just nervous. Thank you for your wonderful blog and sharing your knowledge with us all.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Marcy,
      Absolutely! There are a number of excellent succulent soils on the market, as well as ways to make your own or to adjust the pre-packaged soil to better suit succulents in your climate. Please check out my post on succulent soil for the details. Bonsai Jack’s is excellent, and it sounds like the one you are using is doing great by your plants! The issue with your Thanksgiving cactus not blooming is likely due to its very specific lighting needs for reblooming.
      Your plant need very specific conditions in which to bloom. The grower did this, then sold it in full bloom. You’ll need to do the same if your growing conditions aren’t naturally conducive to the plant’s blooming. I plan to write a post on it, but this is an excellent article. It addresses Christmas cactus, but the process is exactly the same.
      Thanks so much, Marcy! Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  19. Joan

    Hi Kat. New to this type of gardening. Fell in love with these miniature plants and hoping to do well raising them. Question—-If planting a few different plants in a pot how can I be sure of each plants watering needs? How to make sure that each one gets adequate water and not too much for the other. I would like to plant a variety in a pot. Possibly a fairy garden? Thanks.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Joan,
      GREAT question! I will be doing a few posts soon on exactly this!
      Unless you are dealing with wildly different needs, like mixing cactus or lithops in with the rest of your succulents, using a fast-draining succulent soil should take care of the issue for you.
      Water the arrangement, and wait for the soil to become DRY before watering again. The thirsty plants will take up more water, leaving less water for the rest.
      There are methods for including cactus and lithops in with other succulents. I think I can explain it better with photos in my upcoming post.
      Please understand that succulents don’t mind having their roots crowded by other succulent plants. Go ahead and plant your fairly garden closely, with a lot of plants. They will not outgrow their resources as many plants do. So planting more in a small space is a great way to keep the plants small!
      Have fun – and please share photos when you’re done! 🙂

  20. Jackie Bednar

    I received a dish of beautiful plants as a gift. I have never had luck growing succulents before. I probably overwatered. Is there a way to tell what soil is in the container? Or can I assume they are planted in the correct mix.? I’ll look for a drainage hole.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jackie,
      I wish I could tell you to trust the soil it was planted in, but they often use poor soil for succulents.
      It sounds like you are taking the plants out of their container? If so, the soil should feel very gritty. Good succulent soil would be terrible for mud pies – no creamy mud at all, more like wet sand of various sizes. So if the mix is very gritty, and won’t hold its shape when you squeeze a wet handful, instead, it quickly crumbles apart – that is good succulent soil. If it holds the ball shape, it is too water retentive.
      You can simply rinse the roots of the plants in water to remove the potting soil and replant in succulent soil. Don’t water your succulents if they look great and there is any trace of wetness in their soil.
      Feel free to send me a photo or any follow-up questions. I would love to help you succedd with these plants! 🙂

  21. I found your website on Pinterest. I’m new to growing succulents, and appreciate the great information you provide.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know! You made my day! 🙂

  22. Alexis Lehmann

    I think you just saved my plants! It has started dropping leaves. Now that I know what I’m looking for, it’s clearly not draining well from the significant rain we’ve had recently. Thank you!

  23. Lazy K

    I know this info in for mature plants but what about newly propagated leaves and cuttings? What about newly repotted plants? I tend to water them a bit more to make sure the roots are getting a good start. But I also read somewhere that it’s best NOT to water so the roots have to grow in search of water. What is your advice on this?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Lazy K,
      Actually, the same cues still are present with a single leaf you want to root. If the leaf looks plump and full — it has no need for water, either from you or from the soil, so roots may be slow to develop. When it begins to wrinkle, this should cause it to form roots. Once you have substantial roots, give them a small drink to keep them healthy and encourage their growth.
      Does this make sense?

      1. Lazy K

        Yes. Thank you.

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Happy gardening!

  24. penny

    hello, i’ve just begun messing with succulents and found your tips on watering very handy. I was interested in your ratio 1:1 potting mix to pumice….do you mean pumice stone from the beach? and if so can i collect this(as we have a beach nearby that is littered with big chunks of pumice) and grind it down to use as the mix? thanks for your tips again.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Penny,
      Interesting that you have pumice readily available on a beach! I have to use store-bought! 🙂
      My only concern, like using sand from the beach, would be that it likely has a very high salt content. Sand can be washed free of salt. I am uncertain whether salt might be enclosed within the pumice stone… But if you wash it thoroughly and maybe soak it awhile after crushing it, I would think you would be good to go!

  25. Connie

    How often do you fertilize succulents? Is a low nitrogen fertilizer for succulents what should be used?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Connie,
      Go gently with fertilizer for succulents. You’ll find all the details about what I use and wehn in the post I linked here.
      Thanks for the question! I’ll add a link to this post.

  26. Maureen Jarvis

    A very informative answer, learnt so much, I have about 5m square patch filled with succulents which tends to hold water in winter (I am in Australia) how much pumice could I add to the ground? Maureen

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Maureen,
      So glad you found it helpful!
      But now, you’re asking me a math question? And a metric math question at that! 🙂
      If my high-level calculations are right (iffy!) I am going to say around 1 – 1.25 cu meters of pumice. However, this is based on my guestimate using my own, heavy clay soil as a basis. If your soil is sandy or anything but a heavy clay, you would use less. I am figuring a layer of pumice between 3 and 5 centimeters worked in to a depth of about 20 centimeters deep.
      This would give you a great improvement! Cut it in half and it will still make a big difference for you and your plants!

  27. Marion

    Hello Kat,
    I am new to succulent collecting. I found your website when I searched Black Aeonium. A friend gave me some cuttings and I read your article on dormancy. These lovely black plants are dormant now! I let them dry a few days before I potted them even though the flowers looked dry. I have them under a table where they get some shade from the afternoon sun. Should I water them even though they are dormant? I live in the Bay Area near Berkeley.
    Also you are the only one that waters from the bottom. I was so happy to hear that! I fill a bucket with water then hold my potted plant in the water so the water doesn’t enter from the top. When I see the water is rising on the top soil, I lift the pot out and let it drain. Is this ok or is it too much water? Is it better to water as you described?
    I am enjoying and learning from your 7 hints on growing succulents.
    Thank you for your time.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Marion,
      I’m so glad you’re finding the information helpful! Thank you!
      Your black Aeonium may be dormant now. If you bring the cuttings indoors, they may wake up enough to root now. If not – don’t give up on them!
      Don’t water dormant succulents or rootless cuttings. Until there are active roots, the plant cannot make use of the water. When you see new growth – that is the cue to start watering. If they are cuttings, try gently “lifting” the cutting after 2-3 weeks. If it comes out easily, replace it. If it resists you lifting it, roots have developed and it’s time to water.
      Watering from the bottom can be a great way to handle your plants – if the pot is very full. If you have a small plant in a large pot, bottom-watering can be too much, because it saturates excess soil.
      Thanks so much for reading!

  28. Christine

    Hi Kat,
    I am new to succulent plants and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments you made about them and Christmas Cactus. I have a mixture of mini cactus, some of which died, I think too much water in a container with NO holes, a few I will transplant as the others seem to be doing OK. I also have regular succulents that I just purchased and will watch for the signs you talk about and hopefully not over water, these are in containers that have holes and planted in cactus soil. My question is they are newly planted with roots, and watered, should they get sunlight by a window, or indirect lights in the home?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Christina,
      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog – thank you!
      Since you’re so new to succulents, I encourage you to read my 7 Tips for Succulent Beginners!
      Most succulents need more light than they can get indoors. If you need to keep them indoors to protect them from freezing, set them where they will get the most light, in any combination of natural light from the windows or artificial light.

  29. Kim

    Very well written and informative! Thank you!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks so much, Kim!
      So glad you found the information useful!

  30. Laura

    Thank you for some great information. I just bought a new small succulent and noticed that it is in a decorative 2” pot with no drainage, and it has a plastic cup within that one. When I lifted the plant out (in the plastic sleeve) the soil looks dense and wet. Is it possible that some plants don’t arrive in the correct soil? Should I report either cactus/succulent mix myself?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Laura,
      Yes! Sadly, many succulents, especially at big box stores, are potted in just the cheapest soil possible, and not one that’s good for succulents.
      From your description, I would get the plant out of the wet soil asap. It will not harm your succulent to remove the wet soil, even wash the roots, if need be. You can read all about how to save an overwatered succulent.
      Then, replant in good, fast-draining succulent soil.
      Enjoy your new friend!

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Josh,
      SO glad you enjoyed it!

  31. Kristine

    Thank you , well written article I loved how you get to the point when so many articles are a mystery to find out needed info. Now I know I have been overwatering ! Thought I wasnt watering enough this whole time! Thank you

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Kristine,
      You are most welcome! It’s a difficult question to answer with x amount of water every y days. It is just SO much easier to rely on the succulents themselves to tell you. After all, they know exactly what they need! 🙂
      Thanks so much for reading!

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