Water 101: How & When to Water Succulents

Mastering the Lazy Method of Watering Succulents

Some of the most commonly asked questions in succulent care are, “How often do I need to water my succulents?” and “how much water do my succulents need?”. Let’s be honest; we’ve all lost a succulent or two to overwatering, so don’t feel bad, and join us in learning about our “lazy method” of watering your plants.

In this guide, we are going to go over how often you should water your succulents, signs they need water, what the soak and dry method is, top watering vs bottom watering, and other watering tips so that your plants can be happy and thriving.

Watering Schedule: How Often to Water Succulents

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all watering schedule for succulents because conditions are going to be different for different plants! Watering only once a month might work for something like a lithops, but could leave other succulents feeling wilted and dry. 

By watering on an exact schedule, we might not be properly observing our plants' individual needs. So our advice is: ditch the schedule and start to observe and take notes.

Inspecting succulent, observing and taking notes

Treat your succulents like a moody teenager. You want to give them their space while still being involved and checking in on them from time to time. You are going to go about your life as you usually do and your succulents will thank you for respecting their personal space.

How to Tell if Your Succulents Need Water

So how do we know when it’s time to water? Well we have a simple lazy 2 step process to find out.

Step 1: Check the Leaves

In general, when your plant needs water the leaves will have a very dull and lifeless appearance, and when inspecting the leaves they will feel very shrunken, soft, and wrinkled. Give them a gentle squeeze with your hands. If the leaves still feel pretty firm and springy then consider waiting, but if they feel shriveled then you can head over to step 2!

Dry and wrinkled leaves

Step 2: Check the Soil

Check this with your hands by sticking a finger inside the soil or by using a tool like a wooden skewer to poke inside the soil. If it comes out with damp soil sticking to it then you need to keep waiting, but if it comes out nice and dry then it's time to water! With practice and observation you will also be able to tell your soil is dry by lifting the plant and feeling its weight. Dry soil will feel much lighter than freshly watered, heavy soil. This will come with practice and getting to know your plant.

wet soil on wooden stick
Damp soil sticking = don't water!

The Soak and Dry Method: How Much Water Do Your Succulents Need?

When it comes time to water, the soak and dry method is what we’ve found to be the most effective way to keep your succulents happy and healthy. This method involves completely saturating the plant’s soil with water so that moisture reaches all parts of the soil. After watering, the soil is given time to completely dry out before watering again, and the cycle continues. This method mimics the natural watering conditions of many succulents, which often experience periods of drought followed by heavy rainfall. 

Top Watering Succulents

Top watering is a simple and easy way to water your plants in which you will thoroughly and evenly soak the soil over the top! Pour a generous amount of water over your soil, avoiding the leaves if you can, and wait for the water to drain out of the bottom of the pot. Lifting the pot if it's set on a surface can also help you to create space for the water to drain and help you to better visualize things.

Top watering succulents

Now don't stop there! You will need to go through at least several rounds of watering before you're done. Watering only once (especially if the soil is completely dry) most likely will not get the entirety of the soil wet. A lot of the water can run down the sides before the soil can soak all the way through, so by doing several rounds of watering we are making sure that the soil is soaked as evenly as possible. And remember each time you're watering to make sure that the water is draining out of the pot completely. We like to call this our “active lazy” watering method because it involves a little more continuous effort.

Bottom Watering Succulents

An alternative method to top watering your succulents is bottom watering. Take your plant and place it in a container partially filled with water. Then... wait! The water will slowly start to saturate the soil through the bottom of the pot until it's had enough. This can be a great way to water multiple plants at once and allows you to walk away and do other things. We call this our “passive lazy” watering method because you can sit back and let the plants do their thing.

succulents in water

Tailor your watering style to your habits and needs. Bottom watering can be great when you’re busy doing other things, but you might find that you tend to forget them for several hours longer than you mean to! Maybe set a timer for yourself so that you don’t forget they’re there.

bottom watering succulents

Troubleshooting Watering Issues

If your succulent is underwatered give it a nice, long soak to make sure the soil absorbs all that moisture, and give it some time to bounce back.

If it’s been so long that the soil becomes hydrophobic and doesn’t seem to absorb any moisture no matter how many times you water it, bottom watering might be a better strategy to help saturate the soil.

If you overwatered, your plant may look brown and soggy. Reduce watering this plant and if you can, remove any rotten parts. Allow your succulent to dry out, and consider changing the soil. Tossing the plant and starting fresh is also a valid option! Don’t feel bad if you need to try again.

overwatered moon cactus
Overwatered Moon Cactus

Bonus Watering Tips:

Before we go we’d like to leave you with a few extra watering tips:

  • Well-draining soil and pots with drainage are essential.
  • When in doubt, underwater! Most watering problems with succulents tend to be from overwatering rather than underwatering.
  • Water less during dormancy. You can check when your plants' growing seasons are and adjust accordingly.
  • Do not use misters with succulents. You generally want to avoid getting moisture all over the leaves.
  • Observe and take notes. You’ll notice what works more for you and your plants if you do!


Watering can be a tricky part of plant care, and odds are we might lose a plant or two along the way, but it’s all part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid to fail and learn from those mistakes! You’ll get better with practice. We encourage you to think about what kind of style works best for you. Are you more active lazy with top watering, or more of a passive lazy with bottom watering?

Key Takeaways:

  • Ditch the watering schedule and instead observe your plants & take notes.
  • Leaves should be dry and wrinkled, and the soil should be completely dry when it’s time to water.
  • Soak and dry: cycle of fully soaking soil with water then leaving to dry completely.
  • Top watering involves watering over the top of plants (active lazy).
  • Bottom watering involves leaving plants in water and giving them time to soak up moisture from the bottom of the pot (passive lazy).
  • If succulents become underwatered then give them a nice full soak and give them time to bounce back.
  • Overwatered succulents become brown/yellow and mushy. Reduce watering, remove damage if possible, and give them time to dry out.