Do Succulents Need Drainage?

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Succulents are a type of plant that is becoming increasingly popular, both as houseplants and outdoor plants. Succulents have adapted to survive in arid or semi-arid climates, storing water in their thick leaves, stems and roots.

To ensure your succulent stays healthy and thrives, it is important to understand the basic requirements and care instructions. In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most critical elements that you need to consider when caring for succulents: drainage.

Do Succulents Need Drainage?

succulents drainage

The short answer is yes, succulents need drainage. Like all plants, they need oxygen to the roots in order to survive and thrive.

Without proper drainage, excess moisture can build up around the base of the plant and cause it to rot instead of growing healthy roots. The soil should be well-draining so that water can flow through it and excess moisture can evaporate quickly.

There are a few ways to ensure that your succulent is draining properly. First, use a pot with at least one drainage hole in the bottom for excess water to escape.

If you’re using a self-watering container, make sure there is adequate drainage or the potting mix may become waterlogged and lead to root rot. Additionally, you can use a potting mix that is specially formulated for succulents. This type of soil will hold moisture while allowing excess water to drain away from the plant’s roots.

Types of Succulents and Their Growing Conditions

There are thousands of species in the succulent family, and each type has its own specific needs when it comes to temperature, humidity and sunlight.

Most succulents prefer bright, direct sunlight for a few hours every day, and temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). As far as humidity goes, most succulents thrive in low to medium levels of around 40%.

The Role of Drainage in Helping Succulents Thrive

Good drainage is essential for the health of succulents, as too much water can cause root rot and other issues.

Poor drainage prevents oxygen from getting to the roots, which can stunt growth or even kill the plant.

In addition to allowing excess water to escape, a well-draining soil mix will help keep oxygen levels high, which is vital for healthy root growth.

Types of Soil Suitable for Succulents

When choosing a soil mix for your succulent, it’s important to find one that is well draining and fast drying.

While regular potting soil can be used, it tends to retain too much moisture and can lead to root rot.

Instead, look for a soil mix specifically designed for succulents or cacti or make your own with a combination of potting soil, sand and perlite.

How to Create a Suitable Drainage System

The container you use plays an important role in drainage. Ideally, you should use one with at least one hole in the bottom to allow excess water to escape.

If your container doesn’t have a hole, be sure to place it on a tray or saucer that will catch any runoff and prevent it from pooling around the plant’s roots.

You can also create an additional layer of drainage by adding a layer of gravel, broken terracotta, or mesh netting to the bottom of your container. This will help ensure that the soil doesn’t become waterlogged and can also provide extra oxygen for the roots.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to succulent care, there are a few common mistakes that can lead to health problems. These include:

  • Overwatering or watering too frequently
  • Using the wrong type of soil or not creating enough drainage
  • Not providing enough light or proper growing conditions

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I water my succulents?

Succulents require less frequent watering than other plants. Water only when the soil is completely dry, and be sure to allow the soil to drain properly. It’s also important to make sure your container has adequate drainage holes.

How much light do succulents need?

Most succulents prefer bright, indirect sunlight. However, there are some that can tolerate partial shade or full sun for several hours each day. Be sure to research the specific needs of your particular plant before placing it in direct sunlight.

What if my container doesn’t have drainage holes?

If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, it’s best to either use a tray or saucer beneath the pot to catch any runoff water. You can also create additional drainage by adding a layer of gravel, broken terracotta, or mesh netting to the bottom of your container.

Can I plant different types of succulents together?

Although you can plant different types of succulents together, it’s important to keep in mind that each type has its own specific needs when it comes to temperature, sunlight and humidity. Be sure to research the individual requirements for each type before planting them together. Additionally, be sure your container has adequate drainage and use a well-draining soil mix.

Benefits of Using a Water-Catching Tray or Saucer

Using a water-catching tray or saucer can be a great way to ensure that your succulent isn’t getting too much water.

It will catch any excess, allowing you to empty it regularly and prevent the soil from becoming soggy. This is especially important if you tend to overwater your plants, as it can help to protect them from root rot.


Providing your succulent with adequate drainage is an essential part of keeping it healthy and happy.

The key is to use a fast-draining soil mix, ensure there are holes in the bottom of the container for excess water to escape, and add additional layers of gravel, broken terracotta, or mesh netting to create a good drainage system.

Finally, using a tray or saucer will help to keep your succulent from being overwatered.

By following these tips and properly caring for your succulents, you can ensure they thrive and bring you lots of joy!