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How to Save Underwatered Succulents

4 min read

How to save underwatered succulents


One of the most wonderful things about succulents is that they do not require a lot of water. Thanks to their ability to store water in their leaves, succulents can survive with little or no water for quite a long time. With only 0.5% of the world’s freshwater suitable for human use, we are facing an increasing water shortage on a global scale, and planting succulents is an effective and lovely way to save water. Easy to care for, resilient, and drought-tolerant, succulents are perfect plants for beginners and even black thumbs to start with their houseplant obsession.

But no matter how drought tolerant these plants are, it doesn't mean that they don't need water at all. Just like any other houseplants, succulents still need a good soak of water every now and then to keep them happy and thriving, especially during their growing season.

To give you a headstart, we have shared a few helpful tips to assist you in identifying an underwatered succulent, as well as how to save them. So make sure to keep on reading to learn more!

How to identify an underwatered succulents?

The best way to determine if your succulent is dehydrated due to lack of water is through its leaves. If the leaf feels crispy and starting to have wrinkly and shriveled up leaves, then it's the best time to give your succulent a good soak of water, as these signs are indications of underwatering.

How to save underwatered succulents
Crispy shriveled up leaves are indications of underwatering.
Photo credit:


Signs to watch out for

1. Your first indicator to tell if your succulent is not getting enough water it needs is when the leaves start to feel rubbery and bend easily, as the water stored in its leaves is starting to run low.

2. Another sign to watch out for an underwatered succulent is when its leaves begin to have brown edges, and at the same time, feels crispy and light, especially if these signs start at the bottom of the plant. However, if the leaves feel soft and limp, then you are most likely overwatering your succulents.

3. Slower and stunted growth is also one of the signs that your succulent is underwatered and would also fail to produce flowers during its blooming season.

4. Leaves start to drop. An overwatered succulent will also show this sign, so if your plant starts to drop its leaves, it's best to check for other symptoms to determine whether the leaves dropping is caused by underwatering.

5. Your succulent will also start growing aerial roots, which will appear as clear, white, or pink tendrils that grow out of the stem above the soil due to lack of water, as it is currently trying to collect the water it needs from the air.

How to save underwatered succulents

Aerial roots is another indicator to tell if your succulent is not getting enough water

How to save an underwatered succulent?

Saving an underwatered succulent is easy and can be done in 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Give the plant a good, thorough soak of water (ensuring that the water will get to its roots).

Step 2:Allow the water to be absorbed completely by the soil, then pour more water. Repeat this step until the water starts coming out of the pot's drainage hole.

Step 3: Make sure to allow all the water to drain out to prevent them from sitting in wet soil.

Once you're done, your succulent should look and feel firm again after just a few days. If it still looks or feels rubbery and wrinkled after about 3 to 4 days, simply repeat Steps 1 to 3 until they look and appear firm again, then you may resume your regular watering routine.

How to save underwatered succulents
Give the underwatered succulent a good, thorough soak of water.
Photo by Teona Swift from Pexels

Aside from the steps mentioned above, you can also consider using the Water Therapy method to help your succulents recover from stress or damage, especially if they are suffering from extreme dehydration.

Tips to avoid underwatering

1. Repotting helps avoid underwatering, especially if your succulent has become rootbound or the water is drying out too fast every time you give it a good drink. Keep in mind that the soil that dries out too quickly will not allow its roots to absorb the water it needs to stay healthy and hydrated.

If repotting is due to rootbound, make sure to transplant your succulent to a slightly larger container or pot (at least 10% wider and taller than the plant) to give the plant more room to grow.

Also, it's important to ensure that you are using the right type of soil to prevent problems related to watering. Preferably, a ready-made soil mix (either a cactus or succulent soil mix) or a mixture of 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts bark fines, and 1 part perlite or pumice if you decide to blend your own. 

Repotting helps avoid underwatering
If repotting is due to rootbound, make sure to transplant your succulent to a slightly larger container or pot.
Photo by Gary Barnes from Pexels


2. Avoid placing your succulents in hot spots or where there are warm drafts, as this significantly increases the evaporation time of the water from the soil, leading it to dry out within only a day or two.

3. Adjust your watering routine based on the season. Remember, a succulent that needs to be watered once a month in winter may need watering at least once every 7 to 10 days in the summer, so it's highly recommended to be aware when your succulent is actively growing and when they enter their dormancy period.

How to save underwatered succulents

it's highly recommended to be aware when your succulent is actively growing and when they enter their dormancy period.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


See more about What is Aerial Roots on Succulent Plants


For Types of Succulents Careguide. Read more information here.

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