You can water a succulent either from the top or from the bottom, but watering from the bottom is the better method.
Watering from the bottom has several benefits, such as helping the roots grow better, preventing fungal and bacterial growth, avoiding possible damage to the plant, reducing the chances of root rot, and ensuring the plant is watered more efficiently.
If you water a succulent from the top, you should avoid getting water into the leaves and the crown of the plant, because stagnant water in the foliage can cause crown rot. If you choose to water your plant from the top, do so using a small watering can and make sure the spout is directed at the soil, so that it will only pour water into the soil and not over the plant’s leaves.
In this article, we will discuss more about why bottom watering is the better method for your succulent, as well as how to do this properly. So, if you want to learn more about this watering method, just keep reading.
How do I water my succulent from the bottom?
Before you try watering your succulent from the bottom, check the pot to make sure that it has drainage holes at the bottom. The weight of the pot is also important, because if your succulent is still in a grow pot, it might be too light and could tip over in the middle of the watering process.
After checking the pot’s weight and drainage holes, get a basin that is at least a couple of inches deep, a towel, water and some form of timer, such as a stopwatch on your phone.
With all of the materials ready, lay your towel out and fill the basin two inches deep with water. Then, place your succulent in the water and leave it there for 15 to 30 minutes. The larger the plant, the more time it will need in the water.
After 15 minutes, check the top layer of soil to see if it is moist. If the soil is moist, remove the pot from the basin and place it on the towel for about five minutes, so that the excess water can drain out.
You can then return the plant to its original spot.
Is there another method of bottom watering for succulents?
If you do not enjoy the process of moving the plant back and forth from the sink every time you water it, there is another method you can try.
For this method you need to make sure that the plant’s pot has drainage holes at the bottom, and you should also have another, bigger pot that does not have holes. This bigger pot can be a decorative pot.
Fill the bigger pot with about an inch of water, and no more. Adding too much water can lead to overwatering; you should always remember that succulents are drought-tolerant plants that store water in their leaves and stems.
Place the plant’s pot into the bigger pot, and the soil in the smaller pot will simply soak up the water from the bigger pot until it runs out.
This method will keep the plant hydrated for a while and you do not need to constantly worry about watering it. And, because the water is shallow and there is not too much of it, it will not cause root rot.
Just make sure that the soil in the pot is well-draining so that the moisture does not stay around the roots for too long.
When do I water my succulent from the bottom?
Watering from the bottom can be used as your regular watering method, but it is especially useful if the soil is very dry and has become hydrophobic; if the succulent is rootbound; to avoid damaging the plant’s waxy coating, or farina; and to prevent fungal and bacterial growth on the leaves and crown.
How often do succulents need to be watered?
As we mentioned, succulents do not need to be watered as much as other plants. They can last longer with a good soak than the typical houseplant.
One factor that can affect the frequency of watering is the size of the pot. If the pot is big, it will hold more soil and therefore retain more moisture.
Inversely, if the plant’s pot is a bit small for it, you might need to water it more often. There is less soil in a small pot, so less moisture is retained for the plant to use until the next time you water it.
Take into account the climate and the weather where you live as well. If you live somewhere with low humidity, the soil in the pot will dry out faster and you will have to water the plant more frequently, while in a humid environment the soil will dry out slower and you will not have to water it as often.
Check the soil’s moisture by touching it. If the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still damp, wait one or two days before checking again.
How will I know if a succulent is getting too much water?
If you are overwatering your succulent, the signs to look for are leaves turning yellow or brown, leaves that are soft and mushy to the touch, wilted leaves, leaves falling off the plant, and a shriveled and shrunken appearance overall.
The plant might even have root rot if the stems and leaves have turned black and if you detect a smell of rotting vegetation.
A healthy succulent has vibrantly-colored leaves that are firm and not droopy. If the plant is healthy, it should show signs of growth and will eventually outgrow its pot.
You can water your succulent either way, but there are more advantages to watering from the bottom. Benefits of this method include helping the roots grow better, preventing fungal and bacterial growth, avoiding possible damage to the plant, reducing the chances of root rot, and ensuring that the plant is watered more efficiently.
Watering a succulent from the top can leave stagnant water sitting on the plant’s foliage and in the crown, which can encourage fungal and bacterial growth.
If you prefer watering your plant from the top, make sure you pour the water directly onto the soil and soak it properly so that all the roots get water. Try not to get any water on the crown or the leaves.
No matter which method you end up using, the important thing to remember is to water the succulent only when the top two inches of soil are dry.
Image: istockphoto.com / Alexander Lyakhovskiy