How To Know When Succulents Need Water?


Succulents are one of the most unique healthy and greenery that are popular collection plants. They will make your home happy and they are not difficult to care for if you know their likes and dislikes.

They are often placed on a windowsill, or even outside and love bright, indirect light. Those amazing plants can even withstand extremely high and low temperatures.

Succulents have thick and juicy leaves which work as a water reserve. Sometimes, even professional gardeners make mistakes in overwatering or underwatering. Since you came across this article, you must be wondering how to know when succulents need water.

In this article, we will discuss how to know when your loved plant is under watered and how to solve this problem.

How to know when succulents need water

Twitter credit

Typically, over-watering of the succulents happens more than underwatering. Additionally, it is recommended to wait until the soil is completely dry before giving it additional water.

This is true about the watering characteristics of succulents, however, sometimes it can be difficult to determine exactly whether the soil has been completely dried or not. We are so afraid of overwatering that we underwater our favorite plants.

Succulents that have a good amount of water have plump and firm leaves. However, if they feel and look soft, then they are lacking water.

Another typical sign of underwatered succulents is the wrinkled leaves. When those little plants do not have enough moisture, they start using the reserved juice that is in the leaves. As a result, leaves start to become squishy and wrinkled.

How to know if Your Succulent is being Over or Underwatered?

The look of the leaves is the best indicator of whether your succulent is being overwatered or overwatered. While an overwatered plant will have mushy, nearly transparent leaves, an under watered plant will have wrinkled, shriveled-up foliage.

These are the plainly visible warning signals that your succulent is being overwatered or underwatered. However, the signs are sometimes difficult to read.

A succulent that has been lacking water may act similarly to a plant that has been overwatered. Therefore, other indicators might help you determine if you are indeed overwatering or underwatering your plants.

How To Tell If Your Succulent Is Underwatered

Water is stored in the stems, tissues, and leaves of succulents. These plants are able to resist prolonged droughts or extremely dry, arid circumstances because they have evolved to be well adaptable to very dry growing conditions.

But this does not mean that they feel comfortable when lacking water. Succulents actually enjoy a nice sip of water. When they run out of moisture, they will exhibit symptoms that indicate they need more. Here are several signs that tell you your favorite plant is underwatered.

  • Sign 1: Leaves start shriveling. As the water storage is used up, the leaves get emptier and the liquid is lacking. Therefore, the plant will start to wilt and become droopy.
  • Sign 2: In extreme cases, the juicy leaves of succulent plants will start to become brown and dry. The drying process starts from the bottom of the plant. This is because, when lacking moisture, the plant first uses the water storage from the bottom leaves. Therefore, all this results in dried-up and dead bottom leaves.
  • Sign 3: When touching, the leaves do not feel firm and flat, instead, they are soft like a pillow and have lost their plumpness. When checking, the under watered leaves of succulents will be deflated.

The underwatering typically occurs when you give your plant less water than it needs. Additionally, mostly when the plants are placed under high heat or bright light, this can cause the soil to dry up too quickly for them to absorb enough moisture before it evaporates back into the atmosphere.

What to Do with an Underwatered Succulent

A succulent that is underwater is relatively easier to cure than the one that has been a victim of overwatering. Usually, a good watering or two will cause the plant to revive.

When your plant starts to look underwater, don’t freak out and overwater it to make up for it. Simply water the plant well and wait till it dries before watering it again.

Make the necessary adjustments starting from your current position. If your plant has been receiving water once a month or less, try increasing it to every two weeks to see what will change and how the plant responds to these changes.

After watering your plant, you will quickly notice that in 2 or 3 days, it will start filling up the leaves again.

Some gardeners also recommend dumping the current potting soil and replacing it with the new one as soon as you find out that the succulent has been watered. Potting mix that is specially designed for cactus and succulents will do just fine.

Those mixes contain the elements that make the soil fast-draining and as a result, too much moisture will not be obtained. Just enough to keep the plant happy and thriving.

What Does an Overwatered Succulent Look Like?

When your succulent soil is kept excessively wet for a long time, overwatering happens. This typically occurs when you water your succulent before the soil has a chance to completely dry out. The extra moisture can gradually destroy your plant by causing root rot and fungus illnesses.

When the succulent is overwatered, you’ll initially notice the bottom leaves becoming mushy and in most cases, the stem gets the yellowish color and mushy texture too. When the leaves start to curl up and become black, it is another indicator of overwatering.

This is because too much moisture causes the stems to rot, which leads to mold growth and the plant dying.

If your succulent is overwatered, make sure to discard the old soil. This will prevent additional roots from appearing.

Clean the roots well and remove any rotted parts. After that, put your plant in a well-ventilated area and let it dry completely. After it is dried completely, plant it in a good cactus or succulent mix.

Succulents Watering Technique


When you don’t know the fundamentals, correctly watering your succulents might seem like a difficult process. However, once you do, it becomes simple.

In order for succulents of all kinds to absorb water efficiently when they are watered, they must all be grown in soil that drains quickly and has great drainage holes.

You should never plant them straight into regular garden soil since it retains too much moisture and leads to overwatering issues rather than preventing them in the first place.

The watering schedule of your succulents depends on various outer factors such as light, humidity, temperature, soil type, succulent species, etc. However, Generally, those little beauties are watered once every week.

Succulents must be watered only once a month in the winter because it is a dormancy period for them. 

Additionally, you can use a stick to see whether the soil is still moist or dry. When it feels dry, then give them a good amount of water.

A good amount means enough to make soil full of moisture but not so much that it can run off and flush all the needed nutrients out.

Bottom Line

So how to know when succulents need water? Succulents need water, but they prefer less frequent watering in comparison to other plants. If your plant has small wrinkles appearing on the leaves and it starts to shrink, then it definitely needs more water.

Those plants require a perfect sunlight and watering schedule in order to be healthy and happy. Therefore, the tips provided above will help you and guide you through the caring process.

Peride Beradze
Peride is an avid planter, Tour Manager and freelance writer. She is a plant collector who mainly focuses on succulents. She loves studying cultures, traveling and learning new languages.

Calculate the amount of soil you need for pots, raised beds or planter with the help of this easy to use Soil Calculator