How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?

Did you know that the average person can survive without water for no more than three days? The average plant, on the other hand, may last up to a week without water.

That only shows how vulnerable we are as humans. But what about even more resilient plants like succulents? How long can succulents go without water?

Succulents can go without water for up to three months. This period could be slightly longer or shorter, depending on several factors like the type of plant, the soil, the temperature, and the growth stage.

In this article, we’ll have an in-depth run about succulents so we can understand why don’t they need water as much as other plants, as well as how to water them correctly to avoid any issues.

Why Do Succulents Need Less Water?

Succulents need less water because of their ability to store moisture inside their leaves. The word “succulent” is earned by plants based on what they do, not their relatives.

That’s why there are thousands of succulents out there, and some of them can look so different from others.

These resilient plants often have fewer pores on the surface of their foliage than your average plant. The reduced number of pores limits the amount of water vapor that usually escapes the plants through those pores, leading to much better retention of water.

This water retention doesn’t only lead to less water requirement, but it also means better temperature regulation for the plant. In other words, the stored water cools down the plant when the weather is too hot.

That being said, we did mention earlier that succulents can go between 1–3 months without water, but why is there a range? Why aren’t all succulents lying in the 3-month category?

There are various reasons for this.

Factors Affecting Succulents’ Water Retention

Here’s why some succulents can survive longer than others:

1. The Pot Size

Small succulent in a pot

If your succulents are in pots, then how big or small the pots are can change the water demand of your succulent.

Needless to say, bigger pots contain more soil which drinks up more water. The plant will have more water stored in the soil when it runs out of moisture in its stem and leaves.

2. The Sun Exposure

Did you know that plants breathe oxygen at night just like us? That’s because, at night, plants don’t undergo photosynthesis to make their food like they do in the morning.

Any green plant contains a substance named chlorophyll, that substance is what gives it the green color, and it’s one of the main activators for a vital mechanism called photosynthesis.

During this process, the plant uses sunlight, water, soil nutrients, chlorophyll, and CO2 to make its food. Oxygen is one of the byproducts of this process.

However, when there’s no sun exposure, then photosynthesis won’t start, so the plant won’t need to consume water for the process, increasing its ability to retain water.

Read more: Variegated Succulents: The Ultimate Guide

3. The Position of the Plant

Where place your succulent will have an effect on its water consumption. For example, if you place it outside, then it will be more exposed to elements like temperature and wind.

This will dry the soil faster and reduce the plant’s ability to retain water.

On the other hand, placing the pot in your house provides a less harsh environment, favoring the plant’s water retention.

4. The Type and Size of the Plant

1 succulent 11

As stated earlier, there are many succulent varieties out there. One of the most common types that many plant owners have in their households is the Rosette. It resembles a flower, giving it its iconic name.

Another succulent that even non-plant enthusiasts can quickly recognize is the cactus. Cacti are notorious for living in deserts for weeks without any water.

You might have already guessed that cacti can store water more than Rosettes, which is because of how cacti fold their leaves to make those spikes. Folding the leaves reduces the surface pores, leading to a greater ability to store water.

Furthermore, the size of the plant also matters. If we have two succulents of the same species but of different sizes, the bigger plant will stay longer without water. That’s simply because it can store more water.

5. Temperature and Humidity

Much like you’d be more thirsty when the weather is hot or humid, any plant would require more water when the temperature is high. Even water-holding plants like succulents are no exception in this case.

So, if you live in a humid area and are seeking longer intervals of watering your succulent, then you should consider placing it indoors where the temperature isn’t too hot.

6. The Growth Stage

Plants can be in the growing stage or in a dormant stage, which means that their growth speed is reduced.

Growing plants require more food, which means more photosynthesis and more water consumption.

In other words, younger succulents typically consume more water than matured ones.

7. The Soil Type

Succulents prefer well-aerated soil with minimal water retention. Using heavy soil that can store water will risk causing mold or root rot on the roots of your plant.

This rot will reduce the ability of the plant to absorb water, showing dryness symptoms. This gives you the false impression that you need to add more water, which makes the condition even worse.

Also Check: Why Are My Succulents Turning Brown?

When Do I Water My Succulents?

Just because a plant can survive without water doesn’t mean that you need to wait for as long as possible before you water it.

You should water your succulents once every other week during non-rainy seasons.

Constant water deprivation will make it harder for your succulent to thrive. So, you should recognize the signs that you’re not providing enough water to your precious plants. Here are some of those signs:

1. Flat Leaves

Succulents’ leaves normally tend to be on the flatter side, but they’re still plump to touch as if they’re a bit squishy.

However, when the plant is ever deprived of water, that plumpy sensation will be a lot more subtle. The leaves would look flatter, thinner, and somewhat brittle.

2. Wrinkled Foliage

Despite the semi-flat appearance of succulents, they often have full, healthy-looking leaves.

When the plant isn’t getting enough water, then those leaves will look wrinkled, dry, and almost freckly.

3. Dry Soil

Dry cracked soil

Having dry soil can be a subjective indicator to many people. That’s because the term (dry soil) is different among plants.

For example, dry or semi-dry soil for your common houseplant is still acceptable for succulents.

As a general rule, you should water your plants once the top 2–3 inches are dry. You can check that with the finger dip test.

However, this doesn’t apply to succulents. You’ll need to wait until half the soil is dry. The finger test won’t help you here, so you might need a soil dryness meter.

If you don’t have a meter, then just water your succulent every 10–14 days.

Final Words

Succulents can stay without water for at least one month and up to three months. This depends on various conditions. Some of them concern the plant itself, while others are related to the soil and surrounding environment.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should wait for a whole month to water your succulent. Unless you’re living in a cold area where rain takes care of watering your plant, you have to water your succulent every other week for it to thrive.