Do Succulents Need Drainage?

Plant lovers enjoy growing succulents because these plants are resilient, easy to maintain and provide plenty of visual interest. But before placing a succulent in a planter or pot, do they need drainage? Many types of plants thrive in moist soil, but succulents may easily succumb to rot root and other health problems because they naturally hold onto water. We researched drainage solutions for succulents, how to grow a succulent in a pot without drainage holes, and other useful information, so you can care for a succulent with confidence.

Succulents need drainage to thrive and to prevent root rot and death. If a succulent is grown in a pot without drainage holes, you should reduce the amount and frequency during watering sessions. Ideally, it is best to place a succulent in a container with drainage holes and use a high-quality soil that drains well. Increase drainage in a pot without holes by putting gravel on the bottom and use a sandy soil, or drill your hole.

Close up of assorted succulent plants on wooden table, Do Succulents Need Drainage?

Succulents can live for many years if they are in a soil medium that is well-draining and porous and receives adequate bright, indirect light. Let’s discover more helpful tips to give succulents the drainage they need to thrive.

Drainage Solutions for Succulents

Succulents are natives to deserts and live predominantly in places where they receive little water and infrequently. Even though it is possible to keep a thriving cactus in a container without drainage holes, it is better to use one with holes to increase air circulation. Allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings to reduce the oft chance of developing fungus, root rot, or attracting parasites.

If you find a container you just have to have for your succulent, you can drill a drainage hole in it yourself pretty quickly, especially if the planter is made of ceramic or plastic. Otherwise, consider housing a succulent in a shallow bowl with one hole, add layers of gravel and charcoal before soil in a pot without holes, or keep a saucer under the planter with drainage holes. Check out this video for some helpful ideas.

Succulents need intense light above all else and can survive infrequent watering sessions. Use a soil that is high-quality, nutrient-rich, and drains well. If you feel you are prone to overwatering your plants, less is more, and mist instead of using a traditional watering can. Keep in mind that a succulent will be perfectly happy getting water at least once or twice a month if grown indoors. Check to see if the soil in your container is dry before you quench your succulent’s thirst, as they are comfortable in arid conditions.

What Plants Are Considered Succulents?

Aloe vera, cacti, ZZ plants, and orchids are some of the different types of plants that fall under the succulent category. Succulents thrive in arid conditions where there is little water, and their parts are often fleshy and filled with water. You can identify a succulent for having thick leaves, stems, and strong roots that retain water inside its structures to survive. There are over 25 different plant families that have succulents within, and many popular houseplants are succulents. Most are found in deserts, parts of Africa, and are low-maintenance.

Check out this assortment of mini succulents on Amazon.

Check out these hanging succulents on Amazon.

Can Succulents Grow In Pots Without Holes?

Yes, it is possible to grow healthy and happy succulent plants in a pot without drainage holes. Make sure that the bottom of your pot has a layer of rocks, pebbles, or pumice stone at the bottom for water to fall through and collect at the bottom. Ensuring that there is a layer or two between the soil and the bottom of a pot will reduce the chance of developing root rot, fungus, or attracting parasites. It is wise to spread a layer of charcoal half an inch thick on top of the rocks before layering with soil.

Consider placing a succulent in a shallow pot that isn’t deep if it is small, or non-traditional containers that are visually appealing. Remember, a succulent prefers a dry environment and doesn’t need overly moist or drenched soil.

Check out these beautifully potted succulents on Amazon.

Check out this attractive container for succulents on Amazon.

Check out this minimalist container for succulents on Amazon.

How Often Do You Water Succulents Without Drainage Holes?

If you have a succulent housed in a container without drainage holes, you may consider misting it occasionally instead of grabbing a watering can. Succulents like their soil to thoroughly dried out between waterings, so it is essential to check your plant to prevent overwatering. The soil should be moist up to the topmost inch to be safe. Water succulents that are outdoors or in a greenhouse in the summer every week. During winter months, a succulent needs watering deeply but only once a month.

Prepare to water your succulent no more than once or twice every two weeks, as succulents can withstand living for long periods without water. Too much water is more likely to kill your succulent than anything else, so misting is helpful. Ideally, a succulent should get water once or twice a month. Choose to mist once or twice a month so that the soil is slightly damp, and the leaves have beads of water that drip off. When in doubt, stick your finger in the dirt and stop yourself when it is moist.

Check out this beautiful vintage-style water mister on Amazon.

Check out this chic plant irrigation kit on Amazon.

What Other Plants Don’t Need drainage?

Many people eschew keeping plants because they fear they will neglect to give enough water to their foliage bearing friends. However, some plants don’t need a lot of water to thrive and can survive without drainage holes.  Bring home oleander, pothos, snake plant, spider plant, lucky bamboo, or croton if you don’t want to worry about drainage. Find out more about these plants in our post, “4 Houseplants that Don’t Need Drainage”.

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