How Long Can Succulents Live Without Soil? 5 Important Tips!

a type of succulent laying on a table without soil

Succulents are some of the most effortless plants to care for, especially if you’re a beginner. As they’re drought resistant, you can go weeks or even months without watering them, and they will still thrive. So if you tend to forget about watering your plants, it’s okay; yet they still need soil for nutrition.

Succulents can live without soil for only 10 to 14 days, according to many plant experts. The short lifespan is due to the earth being their primary source of vitamins. To help succulents live longer without soil, use coco fiber or sphagnum moss to provide them with some nutrients. 

In this article, we will share five important tips on keeping your succulents alive and thriving in the event that you need to keep them without soil for a short period.

Important Tips To Help Succulents Live Without Soil

Understandably, you may have a good reason why you don’t want your succulents in the soil. Perhaps you hate the feeling of dirt under your fingernails. Or maybe you have a cat whose favorite pastime is knocking over plants. Either way, you want to go the soilless route.

The first thing you need to know is that this is a difficult task to undertake. After all, a two-week life expectancy is not the lifespan you want a plant to have. So what can you do to allow your succulents a longer lifespan?

Here are a few of our top soilless suggestions:

close up of someone's hand holding a succulent without soil and roots hanging

1. Let There Be Adequate Light!

Lighting is one of the most, if not the most, vital factors in plant care. If you remember your third-grade class science class, your teacher most likely talked about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is when plants and other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from water and carbon dioxide. 

Yet, the detail you may not have learned is that every plant requires a different amount of sunlight for them to get its proper amount of food.

Succulents are a member of the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) family and there are many different types of succulents. This means they store water in their leaves and stems, which allows them to withstand drought better than other plants.

Being a CAM plant also means that succulents have reduced stomata, reducing evapotranspiration during the day and allowing them to collect carbon dioxide at night.

For these reasons, ensuring your succulent gets the proper amount of lighting is vital to their wellbeing. If you need to get your succulent out of the soil for a short amount of time, keeping it in bright sunlight or under grow lights is your best bet to ensure their survival.

2. Staying Properly Hydrated

female florist watering and hydrating succulents in her shop

Even the most drought-resistant plants appreciate a nice spritz or drink of water now and then. The trick is ensuring they get the proper amount of hydration. Overwater them, and they’ll die. Underwater them and they’ll eventually shrivel up.

Water is the most pivotal detail to remember if you’re housing your succulents in a terrarium or another soilless arrangement.

Most terrariums and other soilless arrangements come without drainage holes. Without drainage holes, the excess water has nowhere to go and stays within the pot. A situation like this one can lead to your plant becoming overwatered.

An overwatered succulent will get soggy and soft. An underwatered succulent will shrivel up and become dry. If you notice parts of your succulents becoming crispy, this is an indicator that it needs water.

To avoid overwatering your succulents, misting them is your best option. Using a plant mister, spray bottle, or a syringe will help provide your succulent with a sufficient amount of water. 

3. Extra Nutrition

When we need vitamins and nutrients, we take a supplement or change our eating habits to accommodate our needs. However, plants cannot do these things. They need to rely on us and nature to provide them with what they need.

Soil is a crucial aspect of growing healthy succulents. The plant gets all its essential nutrients from the soil. These nutrients are needed to promote a healthy, thriving, and beautiful plant that can last for a long time.

Having suitable soil can also help prevent the succulent from being overwatered. An overwatered succulent can become soggy and soft, which can lead to the plant developing root rot, which isn’t an issue you can bring a plant back from having.

A fast-draining soil flushes out excess water, leaving the plant with only the water it needs to survive. Proper water circulation also helps keep the adequate amount of nutrients in the plant as well.

However, if you are going the soilless route, you need to make up for the lack of soil by providing them the nutrition they need by feeding them fertilizer. 

The fertilizer you use should be specific for succulents as it will provide them with the best nutrients. You’ll want to dilute the fertilizer with water, using either ½ or ¼ fertilizer in proportion to the water. 

Overusing the fertilizer can cause harm to the plant, so we recommend using the diluted fertilizer once a month. To prevent overwatering, don’t water your plants after using the diluted fertilizer water.

4. Use Coir/Coco Fiber or Sphagnum Moss Instead of Soil

Coir and moss are two excellent soil substitutions for succulents. They’re easy to sweep up if spilled, hold moisture well, and can be used in many types of arrangements, such as driftwood and terrariums.

Though coir and moss don’t offer the nutrients that soil regularly does, your diluted fertilizer mixture can help compensate for that loss.

The biggest pro to using coir and moss is that you won’t have to worry about issues like root rot. The coir and moss are both open enough to let excess water flow through them but also tight enough to retain the moisture your plants need.

5. Use Rocks (With a Small Amount of Soil)

With this suggestion, you might still need to use a small amount of soil mixture. However, when a succulent rock garden is done right, you can often avoid needing to use soil.

The most vital aspect of this method is choosing the correct rocks. Here are our top three suggestions:

  • Granite. Granite is not just ideal for kitchen and bathroom counters but also an ideal rock to use in a rock garden. Granite is porous in nature, meaning it has excellent airflow to help roots grow faster and provides good drainage. The only downside to using Granite is that it is heavy and takes longer to clean.
  • Marble. Marble, like Granite, is another popular choice for kitchen and bathroom counters. However, it is also a fantastic choice for a rock garden. Marble has small holes throughout it, providing excellent airflow and drainage for your plants.
  • Quartz. Not only is Quartz an excellent choice for cleansing your aura, but it is also a great choice for succulent gardening. Being a crystal, Quartz has the right amount of hardness needed for succulents. Its crystal structure is also full of tiny holes that retain water well and allow for excellent root growth.

If you decide to go the succulent rock garden route, have some fun with it! There are a lot of rocks that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so let your creativity run wild with the suggestion!


As we’ve seen, succulents live their best life in the soil. However, raising them without soil is possible but shortens their lifespans significantly. 

Whichever route you take with caring for your succulents, we wish you the best of luck in all your plant care endeavors!

Learn even more about succulents!

Recent Posts

Legal Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, also participates in other affiliate and advertising programs, such as AdSense, ShareASale, Awin, Etsy, and CJ among others, and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.

Succulents Starter Kits