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How Often to Water Succulents

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Consider measuring soil moisture if a watering schedule guides your plant watering regime.

All succulents and cacti share a modified morphology optimized for water conservation. Because of this evolutionary adaptation, they require far less water than other houseplants. It is preferable to be guided by soil moisture rather than a timed schedule.

How Often Should I Water My Succulent?

Succulents provide the highest rate of return on investment since they add aesthetic beauty without meticulous maintenance. Succulents also come in many structures, colors, formats, and flowers, satisfying even the most discerning designer in aesthetics.

With cacti and succulents, you can add beauty, intrigue, and fascination indoors and out, in homes and businesses, with a large range of flowers, hanging baskets, structural forms, and sizes—all of this without the need for constant worry about watering schedules.

Succulents have flourished in these xeric circumstances and are indigenous to dry parts of South Africa, Central America, and South America. They do this by storing water and controlling transpiration.

Even though succulents can tolerate dry conditions, they can be underwatered. This guide was put together to assist you in keeping them happy and healthy.

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How Succulents Survive in Desert Conditions

Cacti and succulents are one of nature’s wonders not yet fully understood. Scientists are constantly working to discover how these plants work in the hope of using their water conservation abilities in other crops.

We know that a key factor to this ability can be ascribed to CAM (Crassulacean acid metabolism). This acid is formed when plants literally hold their breath during the day and only breathe at night.

In CAM photosynthesis, the leaves’ stomata (breathing pores) open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2) to complete the photosynthetic process while remaining closed during the day.

Midday desert temperatures are high, and plants need to minimize moisture loss by closing themselves off to survive. By shutting their stomata during the day, they preserve water, only opening them in the cool of the night.

Additionally, succulents’ morphology (the form and structure of a plant or its parts) has changed to retain water over time. Succulent plants don’t lose water during the day as other plants do; they store water in their morphology, so they may endure droughts without drying out.

How do I Know if I’m Overwatering My Succulent?

For a succulent, too much water can be defined as “A root state that is seldom allowed to be dry.” Too much water is when a succulent’s roots are damp more often than not.

Succulents, unlike most houseplants, cannot tolerate moist soil and require their soil to dry out occasionally. Dry conditions make them happy and feel right at home, and happy succulents mean a happier you.

It, therefore, stands to reason that if your potting soil is inclined to retain water, it will hamper the root’s ability to remain dry. One of the essential skills an indoor gardener need is the ability to create potting soil customized to different plant needs.

This entails managing water retention (field capacity), air availability (porosity), and the tension between the two to meet the needs of a specific plant species.

How do I Know if My Succulents aren’t Getting Enough Water?

Since succulents are indigenous to arid climates, these plants often have small root systems close to the soil’s surface. This enables them to quickly absorb moisture that occasionally falls on the area.

Turgor Pressure

Turgor pressure refers to the force water applies to a cell wall. Turgor pressure, sometimes mechanical action, is produced when water fills the cells and pushes up on the cell membrane and wall.

To preserve turgor pressure, plants must maintain a hypotonic environment in which their internal cells have a higher osmotic concentration than the surrounding medium. The higher concentration of solutes inside the cell makes it easier for water to flow up the plant and reach all cells.

After all the cells have reached their optimal turgor pressure and to sustain the established flow of nutrients from the roots, xylem droplets may begin to form on leaves at night, and this process is known as guttation.

Turgidity Loss

Your plant becomes flaccid when insufficient water sustains the internal pressure (turgidity). The plant may wilt, the leaves begin to droop, and the surface areas contract and wrinkle.

This could be a sign that your plant doesn’t have enough access to water, but it can also be due to a vascular tissue blockage caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The latter could be brought on by too much water accumulating around the roots, usually caused by poor drainage.

Other Signs of Underwatering

Yellowing and wilting leaves or even dried leaves near the bottom of the tree is a signs of water deficiency. In advanced cases, some branches will have died.

Depending on your growing medium, some materials such as peat, milled bark, and other similar organic materials are tough to wet should they dry beyond a point, becoming hydrophobic.

An alternative is coconut coir which readily absorbs water and drains well while remaining damp.

Possible Causes of Poor Drainage

Your selection of growing media is essential for all aspects of water management. Every indoor plant needs proper drainage, yet each has different requirements for water retention.

Soils containing LECA expanded shale or pumice need more frequent waterings, while growth media rich in organic material minimizes watering frequency.

Root compaction, especially if they’re blocking drainage holes, can cause poor drainage. Repot your succulent if roots need to escape the pot.

When Should I Water My Succulents

We see that loss of turgidity means insufficient internal cell pressure that could be caused by underwatering. However, the same signs can mean we are overwatering!

Wilting leaves are not the best indicator of a plant’s hydration needs. Instead, you may want to use the test methods below:

  • Feel the dryness of the potting soil to determine the soil’s moisture content with your hands. Water is required if the mixture feels dry after inserting your finger into your second digit.
  • A clay pot’s potting mixture shrinks away from the sides as it dries out. Tapping the pot’s side with a stick or your knuckles will sound hollow if water is needed; if the sound is dull, the soil is moist.
  • Calculated weight: Weight loss is seen as potting mixtures dry out.
  • Assess the soil color: The potting mixtures’ color will change from dark to light as they dry.

A tell-tale sign of root rot is brown to black lesions with mushy gray to black roots. Look for weblike red-brown mycelium across the leaves and the potting medium’s surface.

The greatest threat to succulents is your love expressed as watering. If in doubt, don’t water for a day or two before watering aging. Their love language is dry roots, so give them that.

In Closing

Exactly how frequently should I water my succulent? My advice? Enough times protect it from becoming bone-dry soil for more than three days. You can ensure its happiness by meeting your succulent’s individual lighting needs, allowing it to dry out between waterings and excellent air circulation.

Succulents require xeric habitats, which require little or no moisture. Their health depends on having soil that drains efficiently and has some organic content.

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