Succulents store extra water in their leaves, stems, or roots, which gives them the ability to survive a while between waterings (sometimes a month or more). Because they have a reputation for being drought-tolerant and growing in arid conditions, many people don't realize that when you bring them into your home or garden, they still need to be watered regularly. In order to keep your succulents thriving, it's not a good idea to force them to go without water for weeks or months at a time. No matter where you end up planting them, there are a few tips you can follow for how often to water succulents that will save them from drying out too much, and also prevent you from overwatering them.
Sedums, Sempervivum (commonly called hens-and-chicks), jade plants, kalanchoe, aloe vera, and Sansevieria (also known as snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue) are popular choices for indoor plants. Succulents also include cacti, which generally need less water than other succulents. Rather than giving these water-thrifty plants little splashes of water here and there, give them a good soaking until water runs out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Be sure to empty the extra moisture from the saucer beneath the plant pot; too much wetness will rot the roots. Then let the soil dry out completely before watering again. Check the soil a week after watering; if it still feels moist, wait another week.
Succulents need more water in the early spring when the plant starts actively growing. Water needs may lessen in the summer and even more so during the winter. When the light decreases during the winter months and most succulents are in a dormant period, their water requirements also decrease. During winter, water your succulents when the soil is dry. This could be as infrequently as once per month but will depend on your home's conditions. The frequency of watering will also depend on the size of the container. The larger the container, the more moisture it can hold. Small, shallow pots may need to be watered more frequently.
Summer is a good time to move potted succulents outdoors. Though they love sun, give them a chance to acclimate to outdoor conditions by placing them in a partially shaded area before moving to a sunnier location. Keep them out of intense sunlight from late morning to midafternoon. Outdoor plants generally need more water than indoor plants. Again, your conditions will dictate how often succulents will need water. Start by checking on a weekly basis, paying attention to the condition of the potting soil and whether it's bone dry or still has some moisture. Succulents (and cacti) grown in shallow containers may need water every few days.
How to Water Succulents in the Ground
Succulents, particularly sedums, can also thrive in the ground. They might need to be watered weekly, depending on your area's climate. Established plants will have a stronger root system and tolerate dry conditions much better than new plants.
Whether you grow hardy or annual succulents, they need to be in well-drained soil. If your soil stays too moist, you can use a raised bed or try mounding up the soil in the areas where you plant succulents. One- to 2-foot mounds of well-aged compost mixed with perlite will help ensure plants thrive even if they are in conditions that are different from their native areas. Good soil, a good soaking, and good drainage equal happy succulents.