succulent cactus indoors

Can Succulents Die From Too Much Water?(2021 Guide)

Succulents are often regarded as highly beginner-friendly plants as they have very low watering needs and can adapt superbly to the basic environment. However…

Can succulents die from too much water? Succulents are extremely sensitive to overwatering and regularly watering them too much will lead to root rot which if not taken care of in the early days, can kill the succulent within weeks.

Why unlike Other Indoor plants, Succulents dont like wet conditions?

Succulents are xerophytes which means they naturally grow in drought-prone areas. These places get a handful of rain within a year and hence most of the time the plant needs to adapt themselves to the scarcity of water.

So in order to survive succulents have no option but to adjust themselves as per the needs of their habitat.

They have adapted themselves in such a way that makes it possible for them to extract every last drop of water available to them. Also, they have elaborate systems in place that allow them to store the water for days if not months and use the water efficiently to survive in arid conditions.

The secret of making sure every plant survives best is to provide them with conditions and care that resemble their natural habitat.

So over time, as the succulents have grown accustomed to the dry and gritty conditions, they won’t be able to grow under wet and damp soil conditions as it’s something they are not habituated with. Their evolution and adaptation for centuries only allow them to survive best under low to moderate watering.

What happens when succulents get too much water?

The succulent roots are very sensitive to waterlogged soil conditions and hate sitting in moist soil for long as it can easily catch a root rot.

Overwatering once in a while won’t be a problem however if you keep up with this practice thinking that watering the plant more will help it to grow better (Which sadly I am guilty of in my early days with succulents), in the long run, it will harm them.

Root rot is a very bad nightmare for plant lovers which is commonly caused by fungal infection and is commonly caused by the conditions of:

  • Poor Drainage conditions
  • Overwatering practices
  • Underexposure to the sun

Root rot then can spread to the upper plant body within weeks if nothing is done and then sadly nothing can save the plant in later stages of the root rot.

What to do If you have been giving too much water to your succulents?

Firstly observe the succulent closely to see if it’s showing any signs of overwatering or not. You can read all about the signs, symptoms, and solutions of overwatering here.

If you dont see any prominent signs of distress by the succulent, in order to be extra safe dont water the succulent for a week. Let it recover a bit and during this time closely monitor the soil and see how long it roughly takes for it to be properly dry.

  • Succulents can very easily tackle underwatering for weeks so you dont have anything to worry about.
  • Here on you should be wary of not overwatering them and make sure the plant is dry before you water them.

If you have been giving the succulent a little too much water lately and recently the succulent is being all gloomy and unhealthy, it will be a good idea to check for signs of root rot and repotting the succulent if possible. Refer to the following post for more info on this: 6 Signs of Root Rot in your Succulents(& their solutions)

Placing the succulent in a location that gets 4 to 5 hours of bright indirect sunlight is also a great way to make sure the plant recovers quickly.

The proper dose of sunlight can act as a tonic and if no major damage has taken place, the succulent will bounce back to good health shortly.

So How Much Water Does Succulents need?

Even though you need to be cautious about your watering routine with succulents, you dont need to hold back on watering! In the deserts, rain is scarce but when it rains it pours.

So like that drench the succulent in water and dont stop until you see water oozing out of the bottom drainage holes. Deep watering is a great practice and in fact, encourages better root development.

In case your containers don’t have drainage holes, you need to be a little cautious with the water quantity. Water the succulent soil in a way so the soil gets sufficiently wet and then after a few minutes carefully tilt the pot and drain the excess water out. You can also use the concept of double potting (source).

You need to take some extra precautions while growing succulents in decorative pots with no drainage holes. I have discussed it here: How to Water Succulents Without Drainage

Generally in the Summer, if you have a drainage friendly soil mix and the succulents get proper indirect sun, watering once in 5 to12 days is great.

As soon as the temperature drops in the colder months, you need to cut down on watering and water them once in 17 to 28 days as per the soil dryness.

How Not To Overwater Your Succulent in the Future?

The golden rule for watering succulents is to only water the plant when the potting soil feels dry. Succulents are quite a low maintenance plant and if you can stick with this rule, the plant will take care of itself quite well in most cases provided it gets bright sun to some extent.

The time it will take for the succulent soil to be dry depends on a variety of factors including the soil composition, the kind of sunlight the succulent gets, and the weather conditions of your place.

So the best practice is to use a moisture meter which will put the guesswork out of the equation and will let you know exactly whether you should water the plant or not.

Whenever you find yourself in doubt, dont water the plant for a few more days as underwatering won’t affect the succulent even closely like the way overwatering will.

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Succulents, unlike tropical plants, are highly sensitive to overwatering and hence you need to be really careful of the watering practice. Instead of sticking with a fixed watering routine, make a flexible watering routine where you only water the plant as per its need.

The need will change as per the weather conditions and will be more in hotter months than in colder months.

The fact that succulents are sensitive towards overwatering, kind of forces its growers to be sensible with the watering, and this is great news as you dont need to think about its care every single day. You can drench it in water, come back after a week to check the soil dryness, and decide accordingly.

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