How to Tell If Succulent Needs Water?

How to Tell If Succulent Needs Water

An underwatered succulent’s leaves will feel rubbery and will bend quite easily. The leaves will also shrivel and the tips will turn brown and curl inward and downward.

Succulents are known to be very hardy and survive for long periods of time with no water. However this does not mean that they do not need water. They are just very efficient at retaining water in case of droughts.

Thankfully, underwatered succulents are easy to remedy and we will learn about that and more in this article, so keep reading.

How can you tell if a succulent needs water?

Succulents store their water in their bodies and leaves, so when they are properly watered the leaves should feel plump and firm. If they are underwatered, their leaves will feel as though they have been deflated.

Another sign that your plant needs water is if the leaves are shriveled and wrinkled. As mentioned above, when a succulent’s water stores are running low, the leaves will show it. The leaves and the plant itself will start to droop and look more wilted the more severe the water deprivation is.

Look closely at the base of the plant for aerial roots. These are white or pink tendrils that grow out of the plant’s stem. A succulent that is desperate for water will grow these aerial roots so that it can collect water from the air, as there is no longer moisture in the soil.

Lastly, if the succulent’s leaves are looking dry, brown, or dead this means that the plant needs water, and you are probably leaving it out under the sun for too long. Some succulents will go as far as dropping leaves in order to conserve water and energy, so they can concentrate all of their resources on surviving.

Do dried leaves at the bottom of the plant always mean that my succulent needs water?

No, sometimes this is completely normal. As a succulent grows older, the more mature leaves are at the bottom and naturally they will wilt and die, making more room for new leaves to grow. You should only be worried if the leaves that are turning brown and dying are the ones at the top. The leaves at the top are new and should not be drying out if the plant is properly watered.

How do I save an underwatered succulent?

Fortunately, it is quite simple to remedy an underwatered succulent. Even those that you think are too damaged could still have a chance.

Use a watering can and not a spray bottle. A spray bottle usually just wets the leaves and top of the succulent. Succulents do not absorb water through the leaves but through their roots. Pour water onto the soil at the base of the plant and wait until the soil fully absorbs the water.

Pour more water until you can see the excess water flowing out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Wait until all of the excess water has drained completely. After a couple of days, your succulent should be back to its original vigor.

If your succulent does not look any better after a few days, repeat the process.

If your succulent has fully recovered, water it a little more frequently than you were before so it will no longer be underwatered.

Take care not to overwater the succulent, which will be much harder to remedy.

Perfect your watering methods

Be a responsible owner. Do research regarding your succulents and learn about how to properly grow and take care of them.

One of the most crucial pieces of information is how to properly water a certain plant. You must know the signs to watch out for in the event that you are incorrectly watering your plant.

Make sure you take into account the climate of the place you live in, the level of humidity or dryness, the temperature, and whether your plant is currently in its growing season or dormant.

In a humid area with plenty of cold weather, you might have to lessen the water you give your plant. When it is a dry area with little to no rain, you might have to water more often. When your plant is in its growing phase, water it more often than you normally would, as it is maturing faster than the rest of the year.

The easiest way you can tell if your succulent needs water is to touch the soil at the base of the plant. Stick your finger in and if the soil is dry, it is time to water. If the soil is still a bit moist, it is best to wait a day or two.


You can tell if your succulent needs water by whether the leaves are shriveled and wrinkled. These leaves will also feel rubbery and easily bend when touched. When leaves are brown at the top, that also means that water is so scarce that they can no longer be supplied with water.

Remedy an underwatered plant by soaking the soil at the base of the plant until you can see the excess water flowing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. The plant should be back to normal in a few days time.

Image: / Alexander Lyakhovskiy