Can Succulents go Without Water? + [What They Really Need]

can succulents go without water

Water always acts as a nourishing agent in all aspects of life. Being intrigued with the beauty of plants, you can be tempted to increase the amount of water added to the plant daily to increase its beauty. But can succulents go without water?

Succulents rarely need water for nourishment and survival. Thus, succulents can go without water for a long period of time. Well known succulents to us are Aloe Vera and Agave plants.

Please keep reading to find out why succulents can go without water. I have also discussed other agents necessary for succulent plants to thrive.

Also check – Best Plant Watering Reminder Apps

Why Can succulent go without water?

Succulents have always been perceived as unique, beautiful to look and nearly indestructible by human beings. Thus, they tend to be a popular choice with home gardeners. Across the plant kingdom, succulent syndrome is the most remarkable adaptation to its ways in response. The storage of significant amount of withdrawable water in the living cells is what brings about the name succulent. This causes interesting varieties of leaf forms and plant shapes which includes tight rosettes, trailing columns of teardrop leaves or bushy and paddle leaves. Thus, easily identified by parts that are thick, fleshy, and engorged to store water.

Basic requirements when growing succulents

Water

In most arid desert environments, succulents are not abundant because they tend to survive in zones where there is regular, predictable, and not necessarily frequent rainfall. This environment well describes a semi-arid zone.

How about home care?  Keeping track of watering moments for a succulent is a gamechanger. Thanks to the digital world, there is the Succulent Tracker App that assists in taking note of when to water the succulent and pops up reminder notifications on your screen when you had forgotten of it.

Do we have to consider if the succulent is grown indoors or outdoors when watering? Absolutely yes! For indoor succulents, water should not get on top of the leaves. Then for the outdoor succulents it is not much of an issue since there is more airflow and water will dry out quickly. For indoor succulents, watering it 14-21 days is a good frequency to keep them alive.

How do I water them? Normally, we use spray bottles to water plants while nurturing them at home. But this is not the right way for succulents. The “soak and dry” method is the best way to water the succulents. You just soak the soil completely first then let the soil dry out completely before watering again.

Soil

For a healthy succulent, a well-draining soil is crucial. A determining factor to the soil which you need is the environment you live as well as the location where you will keep the succulent.

Using large particle size of soil, roughly ¼ or 6mm acts as well draining soils. For indoor succulents, we can combine the following;

  • 1 Part Pine Bark Fines

The pine bark with its air pockets for ventilation is an organic element and holds water thus it takes a long time to break down.

  • 1part Turface (an absorptive rock)

 For Turface, its advantage is that it absorbs some of the water and slowly releases it.

  • 1 Part Crushed Granite

 Lastly, crushed granite allows water to flow among all the particles in the pot.

This does not mean that succulents cannot grow in a variety of soils. It will but the mix above is very porous hence water flows out easily and there is plenty of air thus the roots are not left in soggy soil.

When it comes to outdoor succulents, the best soils are;

  • 1 Part Coconut Coir

It is light in weight, absorbs water easily and drains well.

  • 1 Part Pumice (or Turface or Crushed Granite)

Pumice does not dry out faster and drains out quickly due its weight being light.

Finally on soils, Coarse sand can be used in succulent soil recipes. Since it drains well.

Light

Either planted indoors or outdoors, succulents prefer bright light for at least 6 hours. The leaves will automatically detect if you are giving them enough light exposure level. For some species they tend to scorch on sudden exposure to too much direct light. For others, the leaves turn brown or white as the plant bleaches out since its soft tissues are destroyed.

But for an under-exposure, the succulent begins to stretch having spaced leaves and elongated stem. For such a case, to get it back to normal, you just need to provide a better source of light.

Type of container

They can grow in a shallow container only that ensure the container has draining holes at the bottom. Cover the draining holes with a piece of plastic window screening or a piece of landscape fabric or a commercial pot screen to keep the soil in the container while letting excess water drain.

Temperature and humidity

Ideally, succulents survive during the night between temperatures of 50 and 55 while they survive during the daytime between temperatures of 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

For humidity, some succulents prefer more humidity than others. Either way, they can survive with humidity levels slightly above or below 80 percent humidity.

Fertilizer

Adding fertilizer to the succulent plant is more like feeding the plant. Fertilize succulents as you would other household plants. Feeding encourages flowering. But depending on the type of succulent for some die once they have flowered.

Failures while watering succulents

A succulent does not like sitting in wet soil for more than 2-3 days. Due to being overwatered, it might at first plump up and look very healthy but might be rotting from its root system upwards. With time, the leaves will become soft and discolored (their leaves may turn yellow or white and lose their color). At this point, it might be beyond repair, but you can as well inspect the roots, cut the dead ones are replant in a drier pot. Also, you can take the healthy cutting and propagate the parent plant. Therefore, the best time to water the succulent plant is when its leaves show signs of under watering which is stunted growth or brown spots on its leaves developing.

When watering succulents constantly with small amounts of water, like using a spray bottle, will produce a weak root system that cannot withstand very long periods of drought hence leading to its death.

Wrapping Up

Succulents are the best plant you can decide to grow in your house if you are a lover of plants. Being human with a lot of ups and downs in life, its possible to forget to water this plant a day or two. Instead of it dying, it will appreciate your forgetfulness and thrive more beautiful and healthier. So, yea, it is true that succulents can go without water.

Sources

https://www.thespruce.com/grow-healthy-succulent-plants-1902806

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982217302907

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succulent_plant