How To Bottom Water Succulents (Plus Care Tips)

Watering succulents is tricky, especially if you’re new to these plants. Thus, learning how to bottom water succulents is necessary to ensure that they remain healthy.

Bottom watering is a method that you use when your succulents aren’t receiving enough water. It’s a technique of watering that directly sends water to the roots of your flora.

Luckily, you found this post! Keep reading as we will explain how to bottom water succulents, when, and how often you should do it, as well as some care tips to keep them in good shape!

Potted plant in water

When Should You Bottom Water Your Succulents?

As we mentioned above, bottom-watering is needed when your succulent plants are no longer receiving enough water to sustain them.

It’s commonly the case when your plants are root-bounded or have developed hydrophobic soil. So, here’s all you need to know about them:

What is Root-Bounding?

Root bounding is basically your plants outgrowing their pots. As the name suggests, it means the roots have grown so much that they fill the whole pot space.

When a plant is root-bound, it’s suffocated by its own roots and can no longer absorb any nutrients or water. This results in dehydration which could kill your succulents.

Did you notice some roots shooting out of the pot’s drainage holes? Can you observe some yellowing of the leaves and stems even though you’re watering them consistently?

These are the common symptoms of a root-bound plant and your best course of action is to bottom-water or repot your succulents.

What is a Hydrophobic Soil?

A hydrophobic soil restricts your succulents’ water absorption. It happens when the soil of your pot gets so hard and compact that it can no longer keep water.

Does the water go straight to the drainage holes of the pot when you water your succulents? Did you notice that the potting soil is constantly dry? These are signs of water-repellent soil.

The effects of hydrophobic soil are similar to a root-bound plant. Your plants appear dehydrated and yellow even though you water them. For this, you should bottom-water your succulents.

Also Check: Fast Growing Succulents

How to Bottom Water Your Succulents

Bottom watering your succulent plants is simple. For this, you’ll only need two things: water and containers large enough to put your potted plants in.

Follow these steps to bottom-water your succulent plants:

  1. First, find a container, tray, or basin large enough to hold your succulents.
  2. Fill your container with water, enough to reach half the length of your succulent pots.
  3. Use distilled water or rainwater to get the best results.
  4. Avoid using tap water as it may contain chlorine that can damage the roots of your plants.
  5. Leave the pots submerged for 5 to 10 minutes (longer if root-bound or hydrophobic) enough for the water to reach the top of the potting soil.

To check if the water has soaked your plants well enough, press a finger on the soil about one to two inches deep. You might need to check a few times so that you don’t over-water them.

If you feel that the soil is moist, it means it has absorbed enough water and you can take them out of the container. Then, allow the pots to drain for a few minutes.

Bottom water your succulent plants once a month to keep them healthy. It’s a good way to maintain them, especially if you don’t plan on repotting them anytime soon.

Benefits of Bottom-Watering

Colorful succulents

Now that you know how to bottom-water your succulents, let’s go on to the benefits of this method. What are the advantages of bottom-watering your plants?

1.   Stronger Roots

Bottom-watering ensures that the root system of your plant is evenly receiving water. Because of this, it improves the health of succulent roots and, in turn, the whole plant.

This is especially true if your succulent is root-bound or hydrophobic, and top watering can no longer give the roots enough moisture.

2.   Prevents Bacterial Build-up and Rotting

Top watering can cause many problems for your plants if you live in an area with a humid climate. High humidity is bad for most succulents as they’re often desert plants.

When you top water your succulents, the unique foliage will catch the water. This water build-up can become a breeding ground for bacteria that results in rotting and plant diseases.

Switch to bottom-watering when you notice the leaves are turning black from their base. It will help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, mildew, and molds on your succulents’ foliage.

3.   Prevents Fungus Gnats

Fungus Gnats thrive in moist conditions with decaying vegetation and fungi. If you frequently top-water your plants, the moist exterior of the soil will eventually house these annoying pests.

Bottom-watering, however, will keep these pests away from your beloved floras. As the plants will absorb the water from the bottom, the upper layer will remain dry as you water them.

4.   It Doesn’t Wash Away Farina

Farina, also known as epicuticular wax, is a powdery protective layer found in the foliage of your succulent plants. Its purpose is to act as a barrier against UV and extreme moisture preventing sunburns and rots.

Constantly top-watering your plants will risk washing away this protective layer. If that happens, your succulents will be more susceptible to UV burns and foliage rotting.

5.   When You Can’t See the Soil

Some vined succulent plants, like String of Hearts and Rosary Vines, cover the exterior of the pot. This makes it hard to water them from the top as the stems are blocking the way.

If you have this issue, it’s best to bottom-water them. Place your pots in a large basin with water, while taking extra care not to damage the vines.

Related: 15 Not-So-Basic Succulents That Look Like Aloe

Care Tips for Your Succulent Plants

Taking care of your succulent plants requires extra attention. That said, here are some gardener’s tips on how to maintain them so that they last longer in your care.

How to Fix Root-Bounding

Root-bounding is an eventual situation for succulents as they’re usually planted in small pots. Fortunately, you can prevent it from harming your floras by repotting them every few years.

Here’s how to repot a root-bound succulent:

  1. First, prepare the new soil and pot you’ll transfer your succulents into.
  2. Then, gently remove the succulent from its pot using a knife or you can break the pot using a hammer.
  3. Once out, shake away the old soil, untangle the roots, and trim any unhealthy ones.
  4. Transfer the succulent into the new pot and cover it with enough soil.
  5. Make sure to fill every gap and space to secure the plant.

One important thing to remember is that the new pot you’ll be transferring your succulents to should be larger by an inch or two. This is to accommodate the growth of your flora.

How to Prevent Hydrophobic Soil

Planting succulents

Frequent bottom-watering will help solve a hardened, compact soil that repels water. It will help break down the tough soil around the roots that prevent your plants from taking in water.

Another long-term solution to hydrophobic soil is to add inorganic mulch, like stones, pebbles, and gravel. This will help retain water and moisture on the exterior layer of your pot soil.

Bottom Line

Succulent plants are surely one of the best indoor plants for their toughness. However, some tendencies of novice succulent owners are to let the soil dry out or forget to repot them.

These bad habits develop into issues like hydrophobic soil or root-bounding that eventually harm the plants. This is where learning how to bottom water succulents comes in.