You just bought your first succulent, congratulations! And now you are asking yourself: ‘How long can succulents go without water?’
After all the excitement, it’s now time to take care of your ‘chubby’ new addition, and a lot of questions, related to watering, are probably popping into your mind like
- How long can you leave succulents without water?
- How to water succulents?
- How often should you water succulents?
- How do you water succulents while on vacation?
It’s almost like having a brand new baby and learning about the feeding schedule!
So if you want to find out how long can succulent go without water, keep reading this in-depth and informative article.
Table of Contents
How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?
If you are a succulent lover, you probably already know that succulents and cacti need very little water and are capable of going for long periods of time without water.
Thanks to this amazing ability can quickly adapt to changes and thrive in environments where most plants wouldn’t survive.
This is because their leaves and roots have the ability to store water for surviving in extreme weather conditions, giving them a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, a characteristic known as succulence.
To determine how long can succulents go without water, it all depends on various factors such as
- type of succulent
- outdoors or indoors growing
- pot material and size
- type of soil
- season of the year
As a general rule of thumb, succulents may go without water for a couple of weeks up to a month. But let’s dive in and find out more about the relevance of each single of these factors.
Type Of Succulent
Each type of succulent is different and has its specific needs when it comes to the watering schedule. Some types of succulents have the ability to store more water compared to others and can go on longer without water.
As a general rule of thumb, species with fleshier stems and leaves can store more water. The water stored in the swollen parts will slowly be made available to the plant, and as it is used, the plant will start shriveling.
As the plant loses more water, it may also lose some of the bottom leaves, but that’s perfectly normal and shouldn’t alert you. It’s actually a sign the plant is growing healthy and you’ll notice even thicker and more compact leaves.
Succulents like Graptopetalum and Crassula can hold water for as long as three months. Some desert cactus species, like Prickly Pear and Saguaro, can go for two years without water. The indoor varieties, however, do require more frequent watering, depending upon the species.
On the other hand, succulents with smaller and thinner leaves, like Epiphyllums and Echeveria Glauca, won’t be able to go more than a month or two without water. This is because they simply aren’t able to retain enough water to stay alive in their thin leaves.
Outdoors Or Indoors Growing
How long succulents can go without water depends also on where you keep them. Clearly, succulents that are planted outdoors in full sun will require frequent watering compared to those grown indoors in filtered light.
Although outdoors succulents have the ability to adapt to temperature and humidity, warmer weather will cause more water loss, so the more extreme an environment is, the more quickly a succulent is going to lose water. So, how long can succulents go without water?
In an outdoors hot climate, you might need to water your plants every 1 to 3 weeks, whereas in cooler climates you can go without water for one month and more.
Succulents usually thrive in an outdoor area that has access to the morning and afternoon sun. If you have no other option but place your succulents in a location that has full sun for most of the day, it’s a good idea to reduce sunlight by using an umbrella or a shade cloth to avoid sunburns.
On the other side, if you live in a milder climate, your succulents have a higher chance to survive for a longer period without water because the sun is not as aggressive.
If you grow your plants indoors, they can go longer without watering because are not exposed to direct sunlight, but you need to make sure to keep them in a room with plenty of light.
Succulents grown indoors are able to retain more moisture and can survive without water for longer periods, but is a good practice to water every 14-21 days.
Pot Material and Size
If you grow your succulents in pots, your plant’s ability to survive without water will depend on the characteristics of the container itself.
If you are asking yourself how long can succulents go without water, here is my answer: generally speaking, compared to succulents planted directly to the ground, those planted into pots cannot survive long periods without water.
The water in small or shallow pots will dry out much more quickly than in larger, deeper containers, whereas succulents planted on the ground have more access to moisture from the soil.
Even the material and the color of your pots will affect the rate of water loss. Dark-colored containers attract the sun rays causing the water to evaporate faster than the light-colored ones.
Terracotta or clay pots provide a healthy environment for most plants. The porosity of clay allows air and moisture to penetrate the sides of the pot.
That being said, terracotta pots release moisture faster when it’s hot outside, which means you’ll need to water plants more frequently to prevent soil from drying out.
Plastic pots, on the other hand, are lightweight, strong, and flexible. They will not absorb excess water from the soil and retain moisture for nearly double the time of clay planters. That means if you tend to forget to water your plants regularly, plastic is probably a safer option than clay.
There are pros and cons to each type of pot you use, so it’s important to evaluate your needs and choose accordingly.
Type Of Soil
It’s very important to plant your succulent in the right type of soil because it has a direct correlation with the amount of moisture stored in the pot and can determine how long can succulents go without water.
Unlike other plants, succulents prefer well-draining soil which can drain water out as quickly as it can soak it up. This type of soil mix contains the right balance of organic and inorganic materials and is formulated with larger particles than common potting soils.
This will allow for better drainage and less water retention. It will also help to prevent soil compaction, which allows better airflow around the succulents’ roots. Using a well-draining soil mix is crucial to prevent the roots from becoming oversaturated with moisture, which will eventually cause root rot.
Season Of The Year
The season of the year is another critical factor that affects how long can succulents go without water and will also determine the frequency at which you’re going to need to water your succulents.
During the warmer months, succulents require more moisture compared to the cooler seasons. At higher temperatures, the moisture evaporates faster and this means that you will need to water your succulents more often.
During the growing seasons (spring, summer, autumn), you will need to water your succulents more often.
Generally speaking, during winter most spices undergo a dormancy stage, a temporary period of time during which the plant experiences slowed growth. The same happens in trees: they lose their leaves each winter and regrow them in the spring once active growth begins again.
When succulents go dormant during the winter, they are not actively growing much, so they don’t need as much water and they can last for a few months (depending on the climate) without water.
However, if you own a succulent that go dormant during summer, for instance, an Aeonium, it is a good idea to water it from time to time to protect it from the high temperature and faster water evaporation rate.
How To Water Succulents?
Watering succulents is much different than watering any other type of plant. Most species of flora need to be watered every day or every few days, but succulents don’t need watering so frequently. In fact, too much water could lead to root rot and, ultimately, can cause your succulent to die. So, not only you need to know how long can succulents go without water, but also how to properly water your succulents.
The best strategy, for both indoors and outdoors plants, is the “soak and dry” method and it’s very easy to do.
You want to water the soil until it is completely soaked and wait until it’s totally dried out before watering again (this may depend on your location and container). It’s also important to keep the succulents in well-draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole.
I also want to mention another watering method called “bottom water”, meaning watering the pot from the bottom instead of pouring water into the top surface.
To do that simply pour about an inch of water into an empty terracotta saucer and place the pot on top of it. By using this method the roots will sense the presence of water at the bottom and will make an extra effort to reach it: in no time your succulent will develop bigger and stronger roots!
How To Water Succulents in non-draining containers?
Succulents are happiest in containers with drainage holes, but can also survive in terrarium containers without holes. Terrariums allow you to design and create tiny ecosystems of small succulents and other decorative elements inside a glass enclosure and are low-maintenance, space-saving, and simply beautiful!
The stones and pebbles in your terrarium will act as drainage holes, allowing the water to wet the roots and, at the same time, letting slide off the excess on the bottom of the container.
Try to use a plastic clear bend mouth watering can pour directly a small amount of water on your succulent terrarium. This way is better than spray water on your plant and will provide moisture without leaving watermarks all over your clear container.
Only water your terrarium with a small amount of water every couple of weeks. Do not overwhelm the plant by soaking it with water, as the plant will become too wet and die. Remember that less is more when it comes to watering your succulents.
How Often Should You Water Succulents?
Another topic related to how long can succulents go without water is the watering frequency. It can be difficult finding the right watering schedule for your succulents. But with the right knowledge, your succulents will be thriving in no time!
If you want your plants to develop well, you should water them thoroughly and keep in mind that succulents don’t like to be watered too often. Did you know that about 93% of succulent deaths is due to overwatering?
Succulents are, indeed, natives of arid environments and have adapted to prevent water loss, storing water in their roots, stem, and leaves.
To assess the watering time, you have to take a closer look at your plant. If you notice your succulent is showing shriveled and wrinkled leaves, it could be a sign of dehydration.
Additionally, your plant may start growing aerial roots, which appear as clear, white, or pink tendrils that grow out of the stem above the soil to collect water from the air. So it’s time for a good soaking!
Usually watering indoor succulents every two to three weeks is a good frequency to keep them alive and healthy, but keep into consideration also the following advice.
But before you start watering, check the soil by sticking your finger inside it to make sure it’s completely dry, and if it is, water your plant with one of the above methods mentioned (‘Soak and Dry’ or ‘Bottom Water’).
Or you can try the super-easy toothpick test:
insert a toothpick in the soil, if it is dry, and there is no soil residue on the toothpick, your succulents want water. If the soil is still moist you’ll see some residues on the toothpick and that means you should wait a bit longer before watering again.
Always keep in mind that succulents can last multiple weeks, and even months, without water, but will suffer greatly or die from overwatering.
How Do You Water Succulents While On Vacation?
When you are away from home for a long period of time, you want to make sure that your plants stay healthy.
The best thing you can do is to ask a friend or a neighbor to come and water your plants or, if that’s not possible, you can hire a sitter. With few written instructions, the person of your choice will know exactly what to do and your succulent will be there to greet you when you get home!
You can also use an indoor automatic watering system or check out this instructive video below for more genius tricks on how to water your plants while on vacation!
Hope you enjoyed reading this article on How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water? and found it comprehensive and enlightening! If you like, feel free to leave a comment or share your knowledge on this topic in the section below.
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