How To Water Succulents Without A Drainage Hole

How To Water Succulents Without A Drainage Hole

Succulents come in all shapes and sizes, and the smallest plants are often grown in pots without a drainage hole. Drainage holes in pots are there to allow excess water to drain through the potting soil and exit out the bottom so the plant roots are not sitting in soggy soil.

Most plants would drown in non-drainage pots but there are ways to water succulents that are being grown in these types of containers without drowning them. Read these tips and learn how to water succulents without drainage holes so you can keep your plants healthy.

How Does Drainage Matter For Succulents?

Succulents are native to dry, arid climates and store water in the leaves. This is why their leaves are plump and they are able to thrive during times of drought. The plants absorb water from the soil and disperse it throughout their leaves and stems but there comes a time when they are full and can’t absorb any more water.

If there’s still water in the soil after the succulent is fully hydrated, that leaves too much water in the soil. The roots of the succulent will be in soggy soil and will begin to rot within a couple of days if the soil does not dry out.

succulent's leaves are turning transparent and brown

Careful application of water to succulents being grown in pots without drainage holes is needed to prevent root rot.

Watering Succulents Without A Drainage Hole

Decorative pots usually don’t have drainage holes, plus we like to keep pots of succulents sitting on countertops, desktops, bookcases, and other places indoors where water spots are not desirable. However, these succulents being grown in non-drainage pots still must be watered. Measuring the water and applying it directly to the top of the soil without getting the leaves wet is essential.

Indoor Or Outdoor

Succulents grown indoors in non-drainage pots are in a controlled environment and won’t require as much water as those being grown in an outdoor environment.

If outdoor plants are exposed to direct sunlight and high temperatures, they will need a little more moisture every week than the plants living indoors. Also, if the outdoor succulents are exposed to dew or rainfall, they will need to be water less frequently.

Well-Draining Soil

Succulents need to be planted in gritty soil that allows water to drain through quickly. Use a gritty soil mix formulated for growing succulents and cacti. Add a layer of bigger rocks in the bottom before adding the gritty mix to the pot to promote good airflow and water drainage.

Activated charcoal helps absorb excess water. It also contains natural antimicrobial properties which can help prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Add a 1/2-inch layer of activated charcoal to the bottom of the pot or over the rock layer.

How Much Water

The goal is to provide enough water but avoid the excess water at the bottom of the pot. Trial and error will let you know how much water to use for each succulent.

Each plant variety and soil mix will require a different amount of water. A general rule is to apply water that is 1/2 the amount of soil. For example, a pot that contains 1 cup of soil should be water with 1/2 cup of water. Start there and adjust the amount of water as needed.

If the leaves of the succulents are plump and the proper shade of green, then the plant is getting enough water.

If the leaves are plump but pale, and/or the plant looks wilted, that indicates too much water.

If the leaves are thin and shriveled, the plant is not getting enough water.

how succulents react when getting different amount of water

A clear glass pot allows you to see how much water is in the pot.

If you pour on too much water, use a paper towel and try to absorb some of it. If the pot is small, you may be able to pour the excess water out. Gently place your finger over the succulent and tilt the pot until the excess water drains out. Try to not disrupt the plant’s roots.

How To Measure Water

The key for measuring out the exact amount of water the succulent needs, use a measuring cup. This way you won’t over-or-underwater the plant. 

A squeeze bottle with measurements marked on the side makes watering several succulents quick and easy.

A measuring spoon is also a useful watering tool to ensure the succulents get just the right amount of water.

A syringe can also help measure out the right amount of water and help remove any excess water.water succulents with long neck squeeze bottle

How Often To Water

Succulents will need more water during their active growing season and warm weather. During these times, water the plants every 7-10 days.

During the winter months when the temperature is cooler and plant growth has significantly slowed down, reduce the watering applications to every 14-days.

Some Tips For Watering Succulents Without A Drainage Hole 

* Observation is key to keeping the plant healthy and hydrated. The succulent will let you know by its appearance if it needs more or less water.

* It’s better to underwater succulents being grown without drainage than to overwater them. Try to start with a small volume of water, then increase by step by step until you find out the precise amount.

* If you have adjusted the water ut the succulent is still not thriving, transplant it into a slightly larger non-draining pot with a fresh growing mix.

succulent shrub grow in a white planter

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