The definitive answer to how often should you water succulents and expert tips for keeping your plants alive and healthy

Avoid killing with kindness by following our expert advice on the best way to water succulents and how often

Four different potted succulents in pastel colored and terracotta pots photographed to ask the question how often should you water succulents
(Image credit: Future)

How often should you water succulents to keep them happy and healthy? If like us you water yours intermittently and hope for the best, you may well be interested to hear the advice of an expert to ensure your much-loved houseplants are thriving rather than merely surviving.  

Succulents are well known for being one of the easiest plants to look after because they are drought-resistant and barely require any maintenance. But knowing how often you should water them can prove tricky because they are used to living in dry desert conditions - meaning all too often they fall victim to overwatering.

"The name succulent comes from the Latin word ‘succus,’ which means sap or juice," explains Morag Hill, co-founder of The Little Botanical. "It reflects how their leaves absorb water which sits in their leaves enabling them to thrive in hot, sunny conditions." 

As a result, succulents don't need watering as often as you'd think...

How often should you water succulents?

"Succulents are fondly known as ‘camels of the plant world’ because of their ability to cope without water, " explains Morag. "This means you only need to water them once a month. Let the soil dry out before giving your succulent its next drink to prevent overwatering. You will see their leaves become more turgid, they will look fuller and greener and all-round happier when they have had a good drink."

"Healthy leaves should be firm and thick. Soft, limp leaves indicate it’s time to hydrate your plant," Morag explains.  "If you’re someone who finds it hard to remember to water your plants, set an alarm on your phone on the day you water it for a month’s time."

succulents on a shelf with gardening books and copper watering can to highlight how often should you water succulents

(Image credit: The Little Botanical)

What is the best way to water succulents?

Little and often is the best way to water succulents, because these drought-resistant species are not used to being soaked in water. 

Morag explains the best way to water succulents will depend on the size of the plant: "for smaller plants, water directly into the soil, being careful to avoid the leaves. If you have a larger succulent, water it from the base by soaking it in a sink with cold water for roughly 10 minutes. Don’t do this any longer, as you’ll risk overwatering it."

"Succulents don’t like to be sitting in soggy, moist soil, so we’d recommend watering directly into the soil once a month or when the soil is dry," Morag advises. "And don’t water over the leaves. Draining any excess water away to ensure they don’t sit in water.  Unlike some green houseplants, we wouldn’t recommend misting your succulent as this can damage their pretty leaves."

How do you know when a succulent needs water?

Like most plants, be it your best cottage garden plants or indoor Monstera plants, the leaves are very telling for when a succulent needs water. "A succulent can certainly look thirsty," says Morag, "its leaves will look flaccid and floppy, and they can start to lose their green color. Their lower leaves can also shrivel up and turn yellow. All these are signs telling you that your little succulent needs a drink."

succulents in pink pots on a tray in the sun supporting an article asking asking often should you water succulents

(Image credit: Future)

Do succulents need direct sunlight?

"Direct sunlight isn’t a good thing, as it can scorch the leaves" Morga explains. "Bright, filtered sunlight that fills a large, airy room is best."

"Succulents love filtered sunlight and need about four to six hours of it a day. If they’re kept in the shade for too long, their stems become weak and they struggle to grow. They also lose their bright green pigmentation, becoming dull over time."

"Succulents have wax-coated leaves. Officially known as farina, it’s what protects them against direct sun," Morag reveals. "It also makes them water-resistant and provides them with a natural defense against pests and diseases. Unfortunately, the coating wipes off easily and doesn’t return, so try not to touch your succulent's leaves too often – if at all." A great tip for beginner gardeners who are looking to nurture houseplants for the first time.

Ideal for plant novices and experts alike, some  succulents are even pet-friendly – but always check product descriptions for confirmation first before buying plants online.

"There are approximately 60 different plant families that have succulents within them," Morag explains. "Some of the most popular species include the Cactus, Aloe Vera, and Hoya Kerrii. And with so many different succulents available, there really is something for everyone."

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.