How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water?

Succulents don’t need a lot of water. But just how long can they go without a little sip of water? Let's find that out, together!

The amount of time succulents can go without water varies widely. But most will tolerate anywhere from one to four weeks of no watering. Still, others can go all the way up to 3 months and, on rare occasions, 2 years like some species of cactus.

As you can see, all succulents cannot be pinned down to a particular number of days or weeks as far as going without water is concerned. There are at least 10,000 different species, remember. Significant variations in such a diverse group are to be expected.

That being said, it’s not only the species that’ll influence how far a succulent goes without water.

How Long Can Succulents Go Without Water? It Depends

Here are some of the factors that you’ll have to consider when thinking about water and succulents. They can significantly reduce or increase the amount of time your succulent goes without water.

Let’s dive in.

Species

There are about 10,000 species of succulents that differ in size, shape, color, and texture among other qualities. Oh, and water storage and utilization capabilities.

Some succulents are pretty good at these. Consequently, they’re in a better position to survive without water for an extended period. Others, not so much. They’ll shrivel if you cut off the water supply long enough.

A lot of this has to do with where succulents naturally grow. Those that grow in some of the dryer habitats are well-adapted to living with little water – and that’s a big chunk of succulents.

The few others that are native to fairly wet areas can surely survive a bit of water deprivation but not for so long.

Season

Changing seasons will influence your succulent’s water needs by directly affecting the plant and the environment around it.

Affecting the environment around it, in this case, refers to elements like temperature and humidity.

High temperatures naturally mean the plant loses more water than usual which means watering often. This is mainly during the warmer periods of the year, namely spring and summer. Most succulents will do just fine going without water for 1-2 weeks during this time.

The opposite is true for high humidity. High humidity means there’s a whole lot of moisture around the plant. So the succulent will hold onto water for long so you wouldn’t need to water that often.

That’s enough about how seasons bring about changes around the plant. Let’s talk about the effect of these seasons on the plant and how it affects the water needs.

Succulents have periods of active growth and dormancy that are dependent on seasons. For most, active growth is during the summer and spring while dormancy is during winter.

Growth is water-intensive so your plant will typically not stay that long without watering. This is where you’ll need to grab the watering can once every 1-2 weeks.

Dormancy, on the other hand, means your plant doesn’t use up as many resources including water. Most succulents can go for months without water and be just fine.

Be sure to do some background checks on your succulent species to determine whether or not it’s winter-dormant.

Age and Size

In succulents, older and bigger is always better when it comes to surviving without water for long. Of course, there are exceptions but these are far between.

Older succulents have well-developed tissues with better water-storage capabilities than the young ones that are just trying to catch on. Additionally, the old heads can also handle a bit of stress in their environment – including a slight lack of water.

Bigger succulents on the other hand have more capacity to store water compared to their smaller peers, so they can afford to go longer without it.

Geographical Location

Different parts of the globe come with their own set of conditions like temperature ranges, humidity, sunlight intensity, etc. These will inevitably affect various aspects of your succulent’s growth including water requirements.

As I’ve already mentioned above, high temperatures are likely to lead to shorter periods between waterings compared to cooler readings.

That being said, the effects of geographical location sometimes depend on whether you’re raising your succulents outdoors or indoors.

Outdoor vs. Indoor

Outdoor succulents have a lot more to deal with than their indoor peers – the sun, mostly. It’s a no-brainer that the sun will dry out the potting medium faster and accelerate the rate at which plants lose water.

But it’s not only the sun that has an effect on water loss.

Changes in seasons and the general climate of an area are also some of the things to consider. Their effect is more pronounced on outdoor succulents compared to indoor succulents.

For a general case, the indoor beauties can go for longer periods without water than the outdoor ones. Both the soil and plants hold onto water for long.

An important variable to note for the outdoor succulents is whether they’re planted on the ground or in pots.

Potted vs. In the Ground

Generally, potted succulents need more water than those planted into the ground. That’s because ground soil is slightly different from potting soil.

For one, its temperature remains constant for a larger part even when the atmospheric readings vary widely. Also, garden soil can remain moist for a longer period compared to a potting mix of the same type.

So it goes without saying – your grounded babies can go for much longer without water compared to potted succulents.

Knowing When to Water Your Succulent

As you’ve seen, there’s a lot to keep up with when talking about how long succulents go without water. It can be hard to pin down the exact time between waterings – especially if you’re a beginner.

Thankfully though, there’s a better way of going about the whole watering business – checking the topsoil.

As a general rule, it’s always important to allow the potting mix to completely dry out before you water your succulents. The topsoil is a good measure for this. You can try inserting your finger a few inches into the medium to check whether or not the soil is dry.

Alternatively, you can watch out for signs that your succulent needs water. Just like most plants, succulents will shrivel if left without water for long enough. This isn’t quite ideal as your succulent will always be underwatered and largely unhealthy. But as the saying goes, underwatering a succulent is far much better than overwatering.

Watering A Succulent Correctly

When watering succulents, it’s best to mimic what happens in most of their natural habitat. That is, a fairly long period without water is followed by a heavy downpour.

So after allowing the potting medium to dry out completely, grab a watering can and go all in – pour as much as possible until some of the water flows out through the bottom (if you have a potted succulent).

And while at it, be sure to have a well-draining soil mix that’s appropriate for succulents and the correct pot/container.

The correct succulent container in this case should:

  • Be of ideal size – leave 1-2 inches around the plant.
  • Have a drainage hole at the bottom.
  • Be made of terracotta or ceramic.

Final Thoughts

Succulents can do well without water for some time but just how long this is will vary. Generally, though, most will be just fine for 1-4 weeks.

If you’re looking for the most ideal time to water your succulent then waiting for the topsoil to dry is your best bet.

Also, don’t forget to look into the soil and container you’re using. They’re both crucial when it comes to watering your succulents.