Two years ago I was given an echeveria plant. Up until that time I had no idea how to keep a succulent, well truthfully most indoor plants, alive. Fortunately it came with watering instructions, an eye dropper pipette thing that looks like this, and a little bamboo pokey stick. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.) The instructions said to poke the stick in the soil. If the stick is damp/wet the succulent doesn’t need watering. If the stick comes out dry, water the echeveria with one graduated pipette full of water. I followed the same instructions (with slightly more water because it is a bigger plant) with the aloe vera plant buddy I bought the echeveria so he wouldn’t get lonely.
And whaddaya know? Both plants not only lived but they grew so much I had to repot them after I found an even easier and lazier way to water but not over water my succulent plants.
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It is very easy to over water a succulent plant. I know. I’ve done it in the past by watering a tiny aloe plant every week along with my regular houseplants, the soggy aloe got root rot, and took the big dirt nap. I took a hiatus from keeping houseplants shortly after that.
Years later after successfully growing plants outside, I got the plant gift and made it my New Year’s Resolution to keep it alive for the whole year.
Which I did with three little tools:
- A calendar
- A bamboo chopstick
- An ice cube
After poking my plants for awhile, it seemed I was watering them every 10 - 14 days. While some plant people are against it, I pick a day in the middle of the week to check/water my indoor plants because I can mostly remember that if It's Wednesday, it’s Plant Day. The only exceptions are the outdoor plants that I monitor with a simple rain gage similar to this one stuck in a plant pot and my Aerogarden because it has blinking lights to tell me it needs attention (you can learn more about the exact Aerogarden I have here.)
I poke the soil of my succulent with the bamboo chopstick and if the chopstick comes out the dirt dry, I water my succulents with an ice cube or two depending upon the size of the plant and ice cube. As the ice cube melts and its now warm water is slowly absorbed into the soil and makes its way to the roots of the plant. This is a slow process and the temperature of the melting ice doesn’t shock the plants because the succulents are sitting in full sun. By the time the melting ice works its way down to the plant roots, it’s about the same temperature as if I watered them with tap water. In fact, this slow watering technique helps my succulents develop nice, deep roots.
The big question is how much water or ice cubes do you water succulents with? That gets a little tricky because I don’t use traditional ice cube trays that make traditional size ice cubes. Long ago, I switched from plastic ice cube trays made with questionable ingredients to nontoxic and plastic free silicone ice cube trays (you can find a variety of silicone ice cube trays here.) Since I am a weirdo, I bought a bunch of novelty ice cube trays because having ice flamingos like these bob bob bobbing along in your drink is way more fun than boring cubes.
My echeveria has out grown its eye dropper. It needs slightly more water these days. Depending upon what the pokey stick tells me, I use 2-3 of these exact Iron Man Helmet ice cubes on the soil around the plant because the Iron Man ice cubes are small and won’t flood the still small plant.
The silver IKEA pot has pea gravel in the bottom and acts like a saucer as well as a covert nursery pot slipcover. I have s similar set up for his aloe plant buddy so they coordinate like best plant friends like to do.
My aloe plant has grown so large that it has out grown its original nursery pot (that I used to repot the echeveria) and needs more water on Plant Day. Again depending upon what the pokey stick tells me, I use 2-3 of these exact brain shaped ice cubes because they are the largest ice cubes I have and I can reenact that classic TV Public Service Announcement, “This is your brain. This is your brain on plants. Any questions?”
Plant experts may say that I’m wrong to do it this way but I’ve keep both succulents alive for two years (a record for me!) and they have grown so well they had to be repotted (another record for me!)
Looking for more succulent or wacky ice cube ideas? Check out the following options - and more! - below