Bottom Watering Succulent Plants – Is Watering Succulents From The Bottom A Good Idea?

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Is bottom-watering succulents the right watering method to care for your succulent plants?

Succulents grow in dry, arid conditions and have a well-deserved reputation for being resistant to drought. Because of this, many novice succulent owners believe that they do not need to water their plants regularly.

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The reality is succulents need water just like any other plant in your care.

But, it is possible to overwater a succulent plant. Because they typically come from desert areas, cacti, types of Aloe, Echeveria varieties, and other succulents keep water reserves in their thick leaves and stems. This decreases their overall water need.

Finding the right balance is tricky, especially at first. Both under- and over-watering your succulent is harmful to the plant. There is a very fine line between the two.

Bottom-watering succulents may be the solution you have been looking for.

What Are the Warning Signs That Your Succulent Plant Is Under-watered?

In nature, some succulent plants go an entire month or even longer before they receive any rainwater. That’s why it surprises some succulent owners that they can under-water their succulent indoor plants.

If your succulent is under-watered, it first becomes evident in the leaves. Underwatered succulent leaves will appear:

  • Flat or deflated
  • Droopy
  • Wrinkled
  • Shriveled
  • Brown
  • Dead

Related: How Often Should You Water Succulents?

What Are the Warning Signs That Your Succulent Plant Is Over-watered?

As bad as under-watering sounds, over-watering is a far more severe problem for succulents. Over-watering is the leading cause of succulent death. Why does this happen?

Succulents are adept at preserving water. Their storage tissues become oversaturated, swell, and burst when given too much. Leaves will appear:

  • Discolored
  • Yellow
  • Translucent
  • Mushy to the touch

When this happens, these leaves are dead, and the damage is irreversible. Take quick action if you want to salvage the plant.

What Is Bottom-Watering?

Bottom-watering is when you submerge the pot of your potted succulent in a larger container of water. You allow the plant to get moisture through the drainage holes at the bottom of its pot.

The cactus soil or potting soil mix of the succulent draws its needed moisture from below rather than from the water you sprinkle or pour on top.

The chief benefit of this method is that your succulents are always properly moisturized. Another advantage is that the process is so simple that you can bottom-water many plants at once.

The principal disadvantage of this method is that it is harder to add the proper amount of fertilizer.

How To Bottom-Water Your Succulents?

Bottom-watering succulents is a relatively simple process. A watering frequency of once a month or whenever the soil feels dry works for many homeowners.

NOTE: Make sure that your succulent plants are in pots with at least one drainage hole. Re-pot them, if necessary.

The first thing you need to do is find a tray or basin large enough to hold your plants and then fill it with an inch or two of water. Rain water or distilled water is best. Avoid tap water that often contains chemicals.

Then, put your potted succulents into the basin and leave them there between five to twenty minutes, depending on the size of the pot. Moreover, this allows enough time for the soil to draw in enough moisture.

When the soil is moist to the top, you will know that the process is complete.

At this point:

  • Take the succulent plants out of the basin
  • Pour out any remaining excess water
  • Put the potted plants back and allow them to drain for another ten minutes or so.

And that’s it! You have successfully bottom-watered your succulent plants.

Learn about the Soak and Dry Watering Method

Are There Any Other Reasons to Bottom-Water Your Succulents?

Sometimes, you need to bottom-water your succulent plants because the soil cannot absorb water. Either because it has become hydrophobic or the succulent has become root-bound.

Bottom-watering is a very effective way to repair hard, dry, compact, and water-repellent hydrophobic soil. Moving forward, regularly bottom-watering will prevent the problem from happening again.

When the roots of your succulent plant are too overgrown there isn’t enough soil to keep moisture from top-watering. Bottom-watering replenishes its moisture and keeps it healthy until you replant it in a larger pot with fresh soil.

Finally, in humid regions, top-watering can promote fungus and bacteria growth on your succulent. Bottom-watering succulents inhibits the growth of harmful mold, mildew, and other bacteria.


Proper hydration is the single-largest factor in caring for succulents at home. Bottom-feeding succulents eliminates most of the problems that plague novice owners.

Get in the regular habit of performing this simple chore, and you can enjoy the unique beauty of your succulent plants for years to come.

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