How Long Can Succulents Survive Without Water?

How Long Can Succulents Survive Without Water?

Let's put this into perspective for a second.  

Humans can maybe go 4 days with no water before the body starts to shut down.  Succulents can go months, seasons, and sometimes a lifetime, without water and survive just fine.  

It's safe to say succulents are pretty hardy plants in this aspect.  While they aren't all frost hardy, they are definitely "survival in rough conditions" hardy.

Their extensive root systems have adapted to drinking and storing water reserves in their leaves and stems.  When they need water, they tap their reserves.  It's pretty amazing what these tiny but mighty succulents can do.    

And that's what this article is all about - There are environments where succulents can handle no physical watering for long periods of time.  

We'll break this all down by environment, size, dormancy and everything in between.

Outdoor Hot Climates

Watering succulents every 1-3 weeks is necessary in the spring and summer months. The soil will dry out quickly when:

  • They are outdoors
  • They get direct sunlight
  • They get artificial sunlight
  • They have a fast draining soil
  • They are in pots that allow the soil to breath and dry out faster  

Indoor or Cool Climates

Succulents that are planted indoors or in the cooler months outdoors will generally require less water.  They can go up to 1-3 months of no watering.  

Indoor succulents will have less exposure to the elements outdoors - wind and sunlight outdoors tend to dry out the soil faster than it does indoors.  

In cooler climates, generally fall and winter, the soil stays moist for longer periods of time.  

A good way to keep from overwatering indoors and the cooler months is reading more about our toothpick test, which is here.  

It's important to check the soil before watering indoor succulents and ensure the soil is bone dry between watering to prevent root rot.  

Some Coastal Beach Cities

Along the coast, especially Southern California - you may find that succulents may never need to be physically watered. 

The reason is the humidity in the morning air might just be enough to sustain them year-round.  

I know succulent owners who have never had to water their succulents because of this.  How amazing is that?

Young and Small vs Mature and Big Succulents

You will find that smaller succulents tend to need more water than big ones.  The main reason - bigger succulents have a higher capacity to store more water away. 

2 inch succulents don't have that benefit quite yet.  But they sure want to. :)

Smaller succulents will need to be watered more often - every 1-3 weeks.  While larger species can go 1-6 months between watering.     

Dormant vs Active Growing Succulents

Dormant succulents don't need much from you.  When soft succulents notice the temperatures have dropped to around 40-50 degrees F, they will naturally go into dormancy.  During this time, they will not require much water or care.  They prefer neglect.  

In the active growing phase - they will love water - but only when the soil is bone dry.  

Click here for more on succulent dormancy.

Signs It's Watering Time

There are some obvious signs your succulents will give you if they need to be physically watered.  They can't bounce back from overwatering, but they can certainly come back from underwatering.  

To mitigate dying from low water, succulents will:

  • dry out
  • wrinkle their leaves
  • shed unnecessary growth
  • leaves will feel flat and not plump

Once you notice these signs, it's watering time.

 

  

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