Tell me if this sounds familiar to you:
Me: “Don’t water that succulent again, you’re going to kill it.”
Me to Me (a week later): “Soak that MF”
When I first got into succulents, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been guilty of drowning my plants in the winter.
I used to blame the transition from watering often in the summer to not watering at all in the winter. But that’s not a good excuse - fall season lies between summer and winter SOOOO… is there a good excuse????
The answer is HELL to the NO.
PUT. THE. WATER. DOWN.… and read the following:
When You Shouldn’t Water Succulents in the Winter
In my experience, there are many times you shouldn’t water them. Succulents for the most part go through a dormant or hibernation phase in the winter, where all they want is for you to leave them alone. Kinda like a bear, right?!
Remember that cold weather means succulent soil stays wet longer, and will not need to be watered as frequently.
Basically, you shouldn’t water succulents when:
- ...you have a set weekly or biweekly watering schedule - throw that out the figurative window
- ...the plant looks fine
- ...the soil still feels moist
- ...the soil looks moist
- ...the soil doesn’t feel moist, but the plant still looks good
- ...you think they need some water
- ...you don’t do the toothpick test
What is the toothpick test you ask??? I’ll tellya…
- Take a fresh toothpick
- Insert toothpick into soil (don’t worry, you won’t hurt the succulent)
- Pull toothpick out
- Check toothpick
- Soil residue on toothpick = soil is moist = no water
- Clean toothpick = soil is dry = water
It’s the best test that has saved me from myself… and my plants on countless occasions.
When you Should Water Succulents in the Winter
Two things should determine whether you should water your plants:
- When the soil toothpick test explained above - says it's OK - this is A MUST.
- The succulent starts to show signs of shriveling up a bit. It almost looks like when you’ve been in the bath for too long and your hands look all wrinkled.
Healthy succulents have chunky stems and leaves because that’s where they store water reserves.
When the water reserves run low the plant will become a tad wrinkly.
Totally normal, and easy to fix with a drink of water. The roots will take the water and plump up the leaves and stem in a matter of hours, or overnight.
How to Water Succulents in the Winter
Watering succulents in the winter is no different from summer and spring seasons. The only major difference is the frequency of watering.
It’s like washing your car - in the spring and summer you’ll constantly want to wash it to keep it clean. In the winter if you know it’s going to rain within 4 days or so, that car isn’t getting washed. Because… What’s the point?
Back to succulents though… Cooler temperatures mean soil stays moist - longer.
When your succulents are ready to be watered in winter, follow these rules:
- Give the soil the succulent is planted in a good, solid, thorough soak.
- Don’t use a spray bottle, don’t mist, and focus on the soil because... succulents drink from their roots.
- If you get water on the plant, make sure to remove any standing water on the plant.
- If you leave standing water on the plant, it will eventually rot out from the top on down.
- To remove the standing water, you could just hold the plant with your hand and tip the plant over to remove excess water - highly recommend this.
- You can also use a straw to blow the excess standing water away.
- And lastly, you can use a paper towel and carefully blot the top of the plant to remove excess water.
Other Important Succulent Winter Factors
Soil, pot and their environment are other factors that should be considered when watering your plants.
- Soil: Should be fast draining. A succulent and cacti soil, mixed with perlite would be ideal. For a succulent recipe we recommend, click HERE.
- Pots: The pots you use affect how often you water them. Drainage hole? If they don’t, be even more careful watering your plants.
- Terra Cotta: These are ideal for succulents as they allow the soil to breath and dry out quicker
- Glass: Usually do not have a drainage hole, so be extra careful when watering.
- Plastic: These are okay, not my favorite option, but will not allow soil to breath as much.
- Ceramic: I like the variety as far as aesthetics, and it's the next best option other than terra cotta.
- Environment: Indoor and outdoor provide much different environments as well.
- Indoor: Succulents will need to be watered much less indoors than if they were outdoors.
- Outdoors: Elements like sunlight could dry the soil faster, and rain could make it so your plants will never need to be manually watered by you.
- Covered patio: If the plants are outdoors in a covered patio, definitely check the soil before watering.
Bottomline: Always use the TOOTHPICK TEST before watering.
If you want Spring and Summer Watering tips we have those too. To see those watering tips CLICK HERE.