Summer is rapidly approaching! And with temperatures on the rise, proper watering is very important for happy, healthy succulents.
There is a common misconception that succulents don’t need water or that they need very little. There is some truth in the “need very little” part since those chubby leaves store all sorts of reserves for the plants. However, those reserves mean that they need watering less frequently than other plants. Once those reserves have been drawn down a bit, the truth is that succulents like water, and they like to be watered deeply.
If your succulents are outside or in a greenhouse during the summer, you will want to water them about once a week. The soil should approach dryness, but not stay dry for long periods of time.
When watering established plants, ensure that the soil is saturated to the plant’s deepest roots. A general rule of thumb is to continue watering until water starts to come out of the bottom of the pot. Deep watering will promote healthy root growth, which results in healthier plants. Frequent, more superficial watering results in a shallow root system and a less-established plant.
Succulents do not like to sit in wet conditions for too long, however. So, drainage is important. In the ground, amending your soil with some pumice with facilitate drainage. In your container garden, a well-draining potting mix and a pot with a drainage hole will do the trick.
Here's an example of two identical haworthias, grown with different watering practices. The left was watered lightly; the right was watered deeply until water ran out of the bottom of the pot. The results: The haworthia on the left is smaller and has a less developed root system. The haworthia on the right has a strong root system, is full and has beautiful green coloring.
During the summer, the best time of day to water your succulents is in the early morning before temperatures rise. By avoiding watering in the afternoon when temperatures are at their peak, you avoid having hot water sit in the crown of your plant, potentially burning the plant.
If you cannot water in the early morning, you can water in the evening. However, this is not a good practice during the winter. Leaving the plants wet all night makes them more susceptible to fungal diseases during the cold months. We err on the side of keeping our plants a little dry during the winter just to avoid such cultural issues.
Remember that during these hot summer months succulents need a little more protection from the scorching sun, much like we do. Their leaves will burn when exposed to too much sun for long periods of time. We recommend keeping your succulents in a location that receives partial shade, like under an awning or a place with dappled shade from a tree.
Water is essential for your succulent’s health. Good watering ensures healthy roots which ensures a stronger plant that will be more resilient to pests and disease. Also, water is important for the other living things in your garden. Many pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds rely on the water that they collect from our watering.
Water is life!