Welcome to the Succulent Supply Co care series. This is a series of weekly posts about the often misunderstood world of succulent care, growth and propagation.
Last week we looked at one watering mistake we’ve all made with succulents.
This week we are going to continue to focus on watering, as it’s quite a big topic and very important to the survival and health of your succulents. We’re going to answer a few questions you might have on watering;
- How to water succulents?
- How often should you water succulents?
Be extra careful when watering succulents in pots that don't have drainage holes, there are some tips on managing this below.
How often should you water succulents?
When it comes to how often we quench our succulents' thirst, we want to refer to their natural habitat, where they thrive, grow and flower without inhibition.
Succulents have adapted to survive through periods of drought, but these dry patches are predictable and often short (2-3 weeks).
If we think about this a bit more, let's imagine our own succulents sitting at home, a short predictable 'drought' period is going to be in-between watering. To make sure your succulents recognise this as a dry patch, we need to let the soil completely dry out before the next watering session.
To check the soil is completely dry before we water, we use these three methods:
- Test the soil by hand - Check the top of the soil and see how it feels, if you do feel some moisture then wait a few days and check again. If the top of the soil is dry then check the drainage hole in the base of your pot. If there is still moisture at the drainage hole then wait another few days before checking again.
- By weight - You can do this with scales or just by feel, but if your succulent pot does not have a drainage hole (hanging succas anyone?) then it's best to check the weight of the pot. If it feels heavy then there is a good chance your succa still has plenty of water. Its best to get an idea for what it feels like when you have just watered your succulent and then you can best figure out when the water has been absorbed. We found a good way to do this was to thoroughly water our succulent, let the water drain away, and then weigh it to find out its ‘fully watered weight’. We made a note of this in our succulent diary and then checked the weight again in about a week and made a note of the weight we felt was closest to it’s ‘fully dried out weight’.
- Technology - Yep sometimes it's just easier to let a machine figure it out, especially if you’re early on in your succulent career. Or if you have a new succulent and pot combo that you’re still getting used to. We’ve got a moisture tester in stock in the store that we’ve had great success with.
How to water your succulents?
When it is finally time for watering, make sure to give the soil a thorough drenching. You might need to give it a drench, let the water drain away, and then drench again to make sure the soil, and therefore your succulent's roots, have been thoroughly soaked.
That is the aim here, getting water to the roots of your succulents, that's where they need it! In summary, your watering routine is going to look like this;
1. A thorough soaking. Allow the water to drain away, don't leave your succulents sitting in water. Possibly water again if you feel that the soil didn't thoroughly soak up your first watering.
2. Put them back where they belong (a sunny, bright windowsill perhaps) and give them chance to absorb their water and for the soil to dry out. This could be anywhere between 1 - 2 weeks, depending on where you live, what the humidity is like in your home and what time of year it is.
3. Check for dryness. The best way to know if it's time to water again is to check the soil. Sticking to a 7 day watering schedule might work for some but it's going to be safest to check before you next water. You can either check the top of the soil by poking your finger in, check through the drainage hole for damp or dry soil, or feel the weight of the pot.
4. Water again. Once you're happy your succulents soil has dried out, you could even wait another day or two before watering, as it's better to err on the side of caution here, this dry period encourages your succulents to grow more roots in search of water. More roots mean healthier, happier succulents.
The trick here is knowing when to water again, I've always found the best thing you can do to be a successful succulent parent is to keep a relatively close eye on your wee succas. I love to 'do the rounds' every few days or so and check up on how everyone is getting on - do they need to be turned around for an even sun tan, do they look ready for their next watering, have they had a good day? It's a very calming way to start the day, with your first cup of coffee, saying 'Hey, how's it going?' to all your succulents and house plants.
It also helps to have a watering can you love to have around or on display, is easy and fun to use and turns this potential chore into a delight. Our Stainless Steel watering can also comes in a Rose Gold finish or Gloss Black, and being made from steel it will last forever. The gooseneck stem means you get a slow and very precise flow of water, perfect for those smaller succulent arrangements when you need to get the water in just the right spot otherwise it shoots off all over your windowsill/table/floor/carpet! Don't worry - we've been there many times too.
There we have an essential summary of how to water succulents, next week we're going to be looking in more detail at succulent seasonality, and how knowing this can take your parenting skills to the next level.