How To Water Outdoor Succulents (Tips And Tricks)

Most succulents originate from dry, arid areas of the planet and are low-maintenance plants that are especially suited to extreme environmental situations that would cause most species to fail. They usually grow in hot regions with little rainfall, have thick, fleshy, and rubbery leaves, grow shallow roots, and develop slowly to adapt to these conditions. Watering outdoor succulents is easy as they require very little care to flourish.

Here’s how to water your outdoor succulents properly:

  1. Water your plants at the correct times.
  2. Take care not to overwater or underwater.
  3. Use the best water for succulents.
  4. Water from the bottom up.
  5. Inspect the soil before watering.
  6. Use fast-draining soil.
  7. Use a pot with practical draining holes.
  8. Maintain ideal environmental conditions.

Many gardening enthusiasts, newbies, and professionals prefer outdoor succulents like aloe and cacti plants because they require very little care when it comes to watering and pruning. However, these plants still need some help to ensure they’re able to bring as much color as possible to your garden. Read on to learn all there is to know about watering and caring for your outdoor succulents.

1. Water Your Plants at the Correct Times

Succulents are one of the most intriguing plants on the planet. They can store a lot of moisture in their leaves, which allows them to tolerate long periods of drought and thrive on very little water. Because of this adaptive feature, it is preferable to let them dry out rather than get them excessively wet.

Nevertheless, they get thirsty from time to time, just like all living creatures. Therefore, it’s critical to pay attention to their watering requirements, just as any other plant.

The ideal time to water your outdoor succulents is early in the morning, just before ambient temperatures rise. Watering at this time will help prevent rapid evaporation and ensure that all the water you use is absorbed by the soil and the plant’s roots.

You may need to water them more or less often depending on the extremity of the surrounding conditions.

Additionally, you need to watch for signs of dehydration and ensure the soil is sufficiently dry between your watering sessions. The key is to check that the top 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) of the soil is dry before the next deep watering session.

Whether in-ground or in pots outdoors, succulents have shallow roots that tend to absorb moisture closer to the surface. In pots, the soil can drain quickly due to the lower volume. On the other hand, in the ground, the water can leach beyond the reach of the roots or evaporate quickly.

The main factors that affect watering times and frequency are ambient temperature, soil moisture content, and relative humidity. Since succulents need little water, it’s crucial for you to monitor these conditions closely to guarantee your watering process is efficient.

You typically should water your outdoor succulents more frequently than their indoor counterparts because they’re exposed to uncontrolled environmental conditions, such as intense sunlight and rapidly fluctuating humidity.

You can use moisture and humidity meters to efficiently monitor soil moisture content and relative humidity, respectively.

2. Take Care Not to Overwater or Underwater

Due to their nature and the exposure to more frequent rain in your region compared with their native habitat, outdoor succulents are more prone to overwatering than underwatering. Both of these situations may carry serious risks and can cause severe damage to the root of your succulents.

Therefore, it is essential to know what constitutes the right amount of water during each watering process.

It is best to underwater your outdoor succulents if you’re unsure of how much water they need.  Underwatered succulents that have been partially dried can revert to their previous form in a matter of days or hours after being rehydrated.

However, overwatered succulents may rot and have a more difficult time recuperating. Some may even be unable to recover if the damage is extensive.


Your succulents may become overwatered if you don’t allow the soil enough time to dry thoroughly between waterings. Stem rot, leaf crack, and root rot are just a few of the issues that can arise from constantly overwatering your outdoor succulents.

A telltale sign of overwatering is rotting in stems, which usually means that the plants’ roots have also become damaged. Other symptoms of overwatering include discoloration and dramatic changes in leaves. They may also become spongy and mushy in extreme cases, even turning translucent.

The first step in resolving an overwatering problem is to cease watering the succulents in question. After that, take the succulent out of its container (or out of the soil). Then, remove all dirt from the plants, taking extra care to brush off any remaining soil that clings to the roots.

Carefully examine the plants for decay and water damage after you’ve cleaned them. You need to cut off the rotten roots or even sacrifice a small part of the healthier-looking roots to ensure the plant survives. Just ensure not to remove more than a third of the total root mass.

Make sure you throw out the damaged parts and air dry the healthy sections for a few days. Afterward, you can replant the leftover succulents and start watering them at least one week after replanting in fresh and sterile soil.


When you underwater succulents, you’re not giving them enough water to grow. Your outdoor succulents may withstand water shortage, but they won’t grow well in that environment. You’re most likely not giving your plants enough water if you find wrinkled and dried-up leaves on them.

Furthermore, succulents’ roots will decay if the soil is consistently moist. Instead, employ a practical watering approach to ensure that your succulents receive only the amount of water they require.

The “soak and dry” technique is one of the most efficient watering methods you can use to water outdoor succulents. The method is pretty straightforward and the best way to ensure that you don’t overwater or underwater your plants.

To use the “soak and dry” technique, simply water the soil until it is thoroughly saturated or until the water drains out of the pot’s drainage holes. However, ensure the soil is dry before you water it again.

The most uncomplicated technique you can use to rescue a succulent that has been underwatered is to water it deeply a little more frequently than before. However, you mustn’t overwater your succulents to compensate for the lack of water in the past.

For instance, if you used to stick to a schedule (watering your succulent every 7 days), you can reduce the number of days between watering sessions. Chances are the soil is draining too quickly due to quality or seasonal temperature changes.

You can also use a moisture meter and water your plant when the soil moisture reading is between 2 and 4.

3. Use the Best Water for Succulents

The temperature and quality of the water used in watering your succulents play a vital role in ensuring they turn out well. You can check the water temperature with the aid of thermometers, but you may need to physically check the water to ensure it’s not dirty or contaminated in any way.

Water temperature can have a considerable effect on your plants. It affects plant growth by influencing their major biological processes. These processes include transpiration, photosynthesis, translocation, and the capillary action process that absorbs water and nutrients through plant roots.

When watering succulents, the water temperature should be between 62 and 72 °F (17 and 22 °C). However, an optimal temperature of 68 °F (20 °C) is suitable for most plants to thrive. Warmer and colder temperatures can affect the metabolic processes of plants and soil microbes, so be careful to check the temperature of the water during extreme weather conditions.

Rainwater and distilled water are the most suitable varieties for most outdoor succulents. Using tap water is not a good idea. Minerals like magnesium and calcium found in tap water might accumulate in the soil or show as white dots on the leaves.

You can even collect and store rainwater in tanks and use it to water your succulents throughout the year. However, you mustn’t use metal tanks to hold the water as they may contaminate it and cause severe harm to your plants.

4. Water From the Bottom Up

You should water your potted succulents from the bottom. Watering from the bottom means that you must directly water the soil during the watering process. Watering the soil directly will enable water to get into the plant’s roots, the primary mechanism used in absorbing water and essential nutrients.

How Bottom Watering Works

Watering from the bottom up is especially important when caring for succulents, as the leaves of some plant species may change color when they get wet. Furthermore, succulents are more prone to rot in the presence of excessive moisture. The leaves of rosette succulents, for example, are especially predisposed to this condition.

Bottom watering is beneficial to many plant species but is particularly favorable to succulent plants in various ways. The roots of succulents grow directly toward moisture when watered from the bottom up, and they become stronger.

Here are a few steps you can follow to water your succulents from the bottom up:

  1. Fill a large bucket or similar container halfway with suitable water. A collapsable sink is a handy option for holding your planter during the watering process. Remember to use only rainwater and distilled water for your succulents.
  2. Place the potted plant in the container and allow it to soak up moisture for at least ten minutes. Don’t leave the pot soaked in the water for longer than 30 minutes unattended. 
  3. Check the moisture level in the container to confirm if the plant has absorbed enough water. You can use a soil moisture meter to accurately check your soil’s saturation level. However, you should give the plant a few minutes longer if the soil isn’t wet enough.
  4. Remove any surplus water. You should ensure you use pots with drainage holes so that all the excess water drains out completely.

On the other hand, if you have in-ground succulents, be sure to water the soil directly. Many succulents grown in the ground are surrounded by small rocks for moisture retention and temperature regulation. They also prevent wet soil from splashing back up to the foliage.

5. Inspect the Soil Before Watering

Many plants require water in more significant quantities than others. Soil inspections are necessary to ensure the watering process is as effective as possible to prevent overwatering or underwatering your plants. Soils and plants present various symptoms when they aren’t properly hydrated, and you must learn to identify these signs successfully.

Generally, succulents will show creases and lose leaves when they want more water. Additionally, your soil will become cracked and scorched. Overwatered earth will be spongy and physically wet, but with excess water running across its surface.

Always check the soil for dryness, and you can water it when necessary. You should always ensure the soil is completely dry before watering it. Nevertheless, you should only stop watering after the soil has become fully saturated.

It’s usually better to underwater your succulents than to overwater them. Therefore, I recommend that beginners water at least once every week to start. Watering at this rate will help you monitor your succulent’s response so you can alter the watering schedule appropriately.

6. Use Fast-Draining Soil

Succulents can die if left in water for a long time. They prefer coarse, fast-draining soil to thrive, and you can help by using high-quality succulent soil. You must supply fast-draining soil that doesn’t hold water to ensure the roots of your succulents have enough room to breathe.

You may also increase drainage by mixing your soil with ingredients like perlite and sand. In addition to high-quality soil and drainage media, you should make sure your pots include drainage holes, which will help eliminate excess moisture that may otherwise lead to root rot.

Fast-draining soils are an essential asset when growing outdoor succulents. You can be more carefree while watering your succulents if you use fast-draining soil and a planter with drainage holes. You can easily purchase fast-draining soil from your local stores.

7. Use a Pot With Practical Draining Holes

Keep in mind that succulent roots will die if there’s too much water in the soil. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that your pots include holes for efficient drainage. You may buy specific pots with holes or alter an old container to fit your succulents.

Although succulents may be grown in ornamental pots without holes, the plant’s vulnerability will be significantly higher since water can collect at the bottom of the container and keep the soil moist for a long time. Using such pots also demands more time and experience since you must closely monitor and control the watering process to keep the succulents in top form.

However, you can also make your special plant pots at home. You’ll only need a drill to quickly make drainage holes in ornamental plant pots. 

The material used to make the pots is also important in ensuring your succulents flourish. Water evaporates quicker in porous materials like terracotta than in pots made from glass or ceramic.

Ensure you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each material and pot before selecting a container for your succulents.

8. Maintain Ideal Environmental Conditions 

Maintaining ideal environmental conditions is an integral part of the watering process. You’ll want to check and control essential conditions in the garden as often as possible to ensure the environment is at optimal levels. This maintenance will ensure that the watering process is as efficient and beneficial as possible.

Here are a few conditions to maintain before and after watering your succulents:

Water Temperature

The water temperature should be between 62 and 72 °F (17 and 22 °C) to ensure that it doesn’t adversely affect the plants. Watering with hot or cold water can kill your succulents.

Soil Moisture Content

Most succulents require that their soil be dry before being watered, so take care to only water your plants when the soil is dry halfway down or 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) in larger pots. You should not sprinkle succulents with water every day as this may cause more harm than good.

Relative Humidity

Outdoor succulents need a lot of moisture to survive. They can survive in a wide range of conditions, including extreme humidity. Still, a relative humidity of 10 to 30% will ensure the watering process is efficient, and the plant takes up as much of the water as possible.

Water Quality

Your succulents can become severely damaged due to inadequate water levels or poor quality. Ensure that you check on your water quality as often as possible.

Key Takeaways

Watering outdoor succulents is a simple affair. However, you need to use fast-draining soil to avoid overwatering and underwatering the plants. The tips I provided above will ensure that the succulents in your garden flourish with little to no issues, optimizing their function, appearance, and longevity.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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