How to Water Succulents without Drainage

Discover how to provide the right amount of water for your succulents when using planters or pots without drainage holes.

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Determining the appropriate frequency of watering your succulents can be challenging, but it can be even more difficult if the pot does not have a drainage hole.

Succulents require rapid drying of their roots.

They don’t tolerate being submerged in water for extended periods of time and will start to deteriorate if exposed to moisture for an extended time.

I strongly suggest that novice succulent growers begin with pots that contain a drainage hole.

If you plan to keep your succulents indoors, it is best to use a pot without a drainage hole so you can place it on a countertop without worrying about water spilling out the bottom.

To master the skill of watering succulents, check out my free cheat sheet so you know when your succulents need more or less water. Click the link to get it – it’ll be a great resource.

Here are some tips for keeping your succulents healthy in pots without drainage holes:
1. Water them sparingly. Succulents do not need to be watered frequently, so only water them when the soil is completely dry.
2. Use a potting mix specifically made for succulents. This will help prevent the soil from becoming too soggy.
3. Increase the drainage by adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot.
4. Use a watering can with a long, narrow spout to target the soil and avoid getting water on the leaves.
5. Place the pot in a shallow tray of water and let the soil soak up the moisture.
6. Place the pot in a location with good air circulation so any excess water can quickly evaporate.

Well-draining soil

Having a soil that drains well is essential for pots that don’t have holes for drainage. If the soil is composed of larger particles, such as 1/4″ or 6mm, it allows for more air to circulate and the water to evaporate more easily, even though it has nowhere to flow out.

I usually opt for Bonsai Jack’s gritty mix, but I often choose pumice for its tidier appearance when placed in glass containers.

Many people think that adding larger materials to the bottom of a pot is a good way to improve drainage, but this can actually be detrimental to succulents. Because of this method, the water that is meant to be drained away ends up pooling at the bottom, while the soil at the top of the pot traps the water, making it difficult for it to evaporate.

To ensure fast evaporation, it is recommended to use a uniform particle size of around 1/4″ (6mm) in your planter.

Check out the video below to see how I water my succulents, even in pots without drainage holes.

Measure it out

Measure it out

However, many non-draining planters do not work this way.

I suggest measuring the quantity of water you give to your plants.

There are a number of ways to measure liquids. The most straightforward is to use a measuring cup, which should be in your kitchen.

An alternative would be this squeeze bottle from my favorite garden tools set, which has measurements on the side to easily monitor the water level.

An alternative way to ensure your succulent is getting the right amount of water is to measure out a specific quantity and use any type of cup or measuring spoons to pour this into the pot. This makes it much easier to understand exactly how much water your plant is receiving, and you can prevent over-watering or spilling.

How much water

The most difficult aspect of caring for succulents without drainage is determining the right amount of water to give them.

The aim is to saturate the soil with water, making sure it is completely moistened without any excess pooling in the bottom of the pot.

If you added too much water, you can try and soak up some of it with a towel or paper towels. If the pot is not too large, you can pour out the extra liquid.

Even if you determine a specific amount of water to give your succulents, you must still be observant for signs of incorrect watering due to the varying water retention qualities of different soil types.

In other words, it is suggested that you add an amount of water that is equal to half of the capacity of your planter. For example, if your planter can hold one cup of soil, you should pour in half a cup of water.

Make sure you get the Succulent Tracker app (Apple | Android) to help you monitor when you water your succulents, how much moisture to give them, when you repot them and more. This app has been invaluable to my succulents!

To ensure your succulent remains healthy, pay attention to the amount of water and how often you water it over the next few weeks and adjust your watering plan accordingly.

How often to water

The same query is posed to me repeatedly, and the response is straightforward:

Only water the soil when it is completely dry.

Using different words: Following a rigid plan of irrigation on a regular basis may not always be successful.

Watering your succulent only when the soil is dry is especially beneficial when the pot does not have a drainage hole. This is because the water will stay in the soil for a longer period of time, providing more hydration for the succulent and allowing for longer intervals between waterings.

The Succulent Tracker app (Apple | Android) helps you keep track of when you last watered your succulents. It records the date for you, so you don’t have to remember, and then calculates the average number of days between each watering.

You won’t have to speculate how long it has been since you last watered and can set alerts to remind you when you expect you will need to water again.

Each succulent will have its own unique watering needs based on various factors.

Take a look at this brief video to find out 5 aspects that influence how often you should water your succulents.

Rewording: To restate something in different words.


When should I water my succulents without drainage?

The video on YouTube is a demonstration of how to make homemade ice cream without a machine.

How do you water a plant that doesn’t have a drainage hole?

Instead of flooding the potting mix with water, you should be cautious when adding water and make sure the soil is moist around the roots without saturating the mix and leaving water in the bottom of the container.

What happens if a planter doesn’t have a drainage hole?

If water is unable to drain appropriately, it will accumulate inside the pot and rob the roots of oxygen, leading to root rot, which can be fatal to the plant.

How often do you water succulents without drainage holes?

I suggest using a container with drainage holes for outdoor succulents, as well as a potting soil that has good drainage capabilities. Make sure to water them regularly, with more frequent watering if it is particularly hot and dry. The drainage holes will help the excess water to escape, and the soil should hold onto the rest.

When should you not water succulents?

Succulents, on the other hand, need the opposite.

When it comes to succulents, the most vital rule to remember is to only water when the soil in their pot is absolutely dry. It is essential to let the soil dry out completely between waterings, so wait until the dirt feels crumbly and dry before watering. This is in contrast to other houseplants, which require their soil to remain moist.