how long can succulents go without watering

How Long can Succulents Go Without Water?(Ultimate Study)

When I went away for a small vacation leaving my succulents at home I had this thought of “how long succulents can survive without water”. I researched a lot and in this post, I am going to show you everything I learned about this topic. So,

How long can succulents go without water? Succulents can live without water for 14-18 days before showing any prominent symptoms in the Summer. They will start shedding off leaves, branches & flowers in the third and fourth weeks of the dry period. After that, they will hit dormancy and can slowly die.

Succulents have many adaptive features that enable them to store water in their leaves, stems, and even roots. That’s how they can live without water for so long. They follow the CAM pathway for photosynthesis that ensures better usage of stored water. Aside from this they have sunken stomata and modified leaves that help in better retention of water.

Can Succulents Grow without water?

There is no photosynthetic plant that can survive without water.  Even though succulents are regarded as plants of drought-prone areas where water is scarce but even, those places receive some rainfall from time to time.

  • As a result, most of the succulents have adapted to thrive in that environment by enhancing their water reserving abilities.
  • So they need less care than most other varieties of plants that need to be regularly watered and pampered.
  • But it does not mean that succulents will survive with no water or with no care. It’s just that they are much more prone to survive drought conditions than other plants.

However, there is a difference between survival and thriving. Ideally, it is best to water succulents once in 5 to 9 days, if you want them to thrive properly and not just survive.

zebra cactus haworthia how long can go without watering

How long can Succulents go without water?

Well, the answer depends on:

  • Kind of succulent you have
  • Whether it is a potted plant or planted outside
  • Its overall size and age
  •  The kind of care you usually provide it
  • The current weather conditions in your place

Succulents are a huge breed of plant species that contain a variety of plants under their wing.

  • Mature plants are more tolerant of lack of water or any sudden stress in the environment than young succulents.
  • Additionally matured succulents have greater water reserves than young succulents. Remember as succulents are mainly drought-prone plants so they are naturally adapted to water lacking conditions.

How many days can a succulent go without water? In general, smaller succulents can live without water for about 2 weeks before showing any kind of problem (provided it is not kept outside directly under the open sun).

However, within the time frame of 15 to 28 days, they will start showing some initial symptoms of shedding of overgrown unnecessary parts like the branches and the leaves. After that, they will go into dormancy (in the hotter months).

During Winter months the succulents can tolerate 1 to 2 months of lack of water before showing any kind of stress but again it depends entirely on the succulent type. Some cactuses can remain for months without any watering especially in the winter.


How do you know when a succulent needs water?

The best practice is to only water succulents when the soil is dry. You can use your finger and deepen it inside the soil to check the moisture level. Alternatively, you can use a moisture meter.

  • If you don’t wanna grow through this small hassle, you can contact the nursery and ask them specifically regarding the water need of your plant when placed indoors.

A succulent will show symptoms if it is under-watered:

If your succulent is showing any of these symptoms then you need to seriously take a look at your watering schedule because this will slowly kill your plant.

So ideally you should try to water your succulent once in a week. The needs depend on your particular succulent type and the kind of soil it is residing in.

how long can succulents go without watering

How to water succulents the right way?

Some species of succulents are more susceptible to root rot than others. It is important that you gain some basic knowledge regarding your succulent after or before you bring it home.

  • You can obtain it online by researching specifically your plant variety or by seeking information from the nursery or garden house from which you bought it home.
  • As a general rule of thumb, only water succulents when the soil feels dry.

Succulents are desert plants so in the desert when it rains, it pours.

  • When you water, dont hold back and water until you see water coming out of the drainage hole. It is important that you wet the whole soil properly.

Always try to aim for the base of the stem and the roots while watering succulents as they absorb water mostly through their roots so ensure you are giving a good soaking to the soil and the lower portion of the plant.

  • Try using containers designed for watering succulents as they are specially designed to water with better control.

No matter what never overwater them! Succulents die of overwatering more rapidly than underwatering. When in doubt don’t water. Wait for a day or more. They can put up with under watering to some level but not with overwatering.

Also Read: Can Succulents Live & Grow inside?: Indoor Succulent Care

How often do you have to water a succulent?

This depends on:

  • The type of succulent you have
  • Its age and size
  • Whether it is outside the house or inside
  • The kind of soil it has and whether it is potted or not

There are some varieties of cactus that need to be watered once in 14 days and then there are succulents that need watering once every 5 to 7 days.

So it is always a great idea as mentioned before to collect as much information as we can beforehand bringing the succulent home regarding:

  • The watering schedule normally needs
  • The kind of soil to best use for it
  • The kind of sunlight it needs
  • Whether it’s essential to use fertilizers or not

If possible also search online and read more about your succulent type. All these may sound like a hassle but trust me it is not. It’s a lot less hassle than dealing with dying succulents! As you are bringing a living thing home, it’s kind of your duty to see that it grows to be healthy so this is the least you can do.

how long can succulents go without water

What type of water is best for Succulents?

The best water to use for watering your plants is rainwater. Tap water often times is slightly alkaline in nature and is rich in unwanted minerals not needed by the succulents.

You can easily collect rainwater and store it for future uses.  Succulents don’t need to be watered on a daily basis so you can easily opt for this option.

  • However, if you live somewhere where rain is scarce then you can also try to use distilled water or water obtained through reverse osmosis filters.

Can succulents survive a month without water?

Can succulents go 4 weeks without water? There are many succulents that can put up with no watering for a month. But if you want the succulent to live and thrive properly, you need to start providing proper care within this timeframe of 4 weeks.

Some varieties of cactus can put up with long periods of drought and remains okay for months without water.

  •  The succulent type, age, and size play a crucial role in this matter. The normal habitat of the succulent also plays a key role in answering this question. If it’s from extreme desert areas where water is scarce then it can go many months without showing any major symptoms.
  • Most succulents on the other hand if remains not watered for one month will slowly go into the dormant stage after three weeks of dryness and will eventually die.

Also Read: Succulent Bonsai: What is a Bonsai & How to Make them?


How to Avoid Overwatering?

The best way to sort this issue out is by using a succulent water bottle that will especially help you to water succulents in a controlled way.

Only water the succulent when the potting soil feels dry. When in doubt dont water. Roughly succulents need to be watered in a span of every 5 to 7 days in hotter months and once in 9 to 16 days in winter.

Is it better to mist or water succulents?

It is best to water them until water comes oozing out of the drainage holes instead of misting them.

  • By misting you will be changing the humidity of the environment around the plant. So it’s best not to mist them.
  • In fact, the University of Vermont discloses that this sudden moisture change on the leaves can further lead to the germination of certain fungal spores and if you have poor air conditions around the plant, then it can pave way for bacterial growth also.

How long can succulents go without water in winter?

Most succulents go through the growing phase in the summer and through dormancy during winter. In those scenarios, they can live without water for 1 to 3 months depending on the genus type and plant age. However, you should always try watering them once in 14 to 21 days in winter.

Succulents that go through the growing and flowering phase during winter need a little more frequent watering. Again only water these succulents when the soil is properly dry. Be extra cautious as in winter, the soil of indoor succulents take a longer time to dry up.

Also Read:

 How often do you water your succulents? If you have any queries let me know in the comments below.


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