Watering Succulents with Ice Cubes: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the reasons we love succulents so much is that they can be relatively easy to care for once you have an established routine. In many regions, succulents have a reputation for being low-maintenance. Among the many debates and discussions in succulent care, one topic that has generated significant interest is watering succulents with ice cubes. Does this method hold any scientific merit, or is it just a fad?

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore the practice of watering succulents with ice cubes. We’ll delve into the science behind this method, its potential benefits, and its compatibility with various succulent species. By the end of this article, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of whether using ice cubes is a suitable choice for your succulent care routine.

watering succulents with ice cubes succulent care

Understanding the Basics of Succulents

Before we dive into the debated world of watering succulents with ice cubes, it’s essential to grasp the basics of succulents. Succulents are a diverse group of plants that have evolved unique adaptations to thrive in arid and semi-arid environments. Their most distinguishing feature is their ability to store water in their leaves, stems, or roots, which allows them to survive extended periods of drought.

Succulents are favored by many plant enthusiasts for their intriguing forms, colors, and low maintenance requirements. These adaptations make them a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens, as well as in the world of xeriscaping – a landscaping approach that focuses on water conservation.

Xeriscaping is a landscaping and gardening approach designed to conserve water by using drought-resistant plants and water-efficient techniques. It focuses on creating visually appealing and sustainable outdoor spaces while minimizing the need for excessive watering. Xeriscaping typically involves selecting native or well-adapted plants, optimizing soil quality, and employing irrigation methods that reduce water waste. The goal is to create beautiful landscapes that are environmentally friendly and require less water to thrive.

how often to water succulents

The Science of Succulent Water Storage

To understand whether watering succulents with ice cubes is a viable method, we need to explore how succulents store and use water. Succulents have specialized water storage tissues, often in the form of fleshy leaves, stems, or roots. These tissues are designed to absorb and hold water, which the plant can utilize during dry periods.

One of the key adaptations in succulents is their ability to absorb water efficiently when it’s available and store it for later use. This mechanism allows them to survive in regions with irregular or limited rainfall. The water storage tissues are usually packed with tiny water-holding cells that can expand and contract as they fill and release water.

Why Watering Succulents with Ice Cubes Gained Popularity

The concept of using ice cubes to water succulents gained traction in recent years, especially in indoor gardening communities. The appeal of this method lies in its simplicity and the belief that it prevents overwatering, a common issue in succulent care. Here’s why it has garnered attention:

  1. Precise Watering: Many succulent enthusiasts appreciate the control the ice cube method offers. It allows them to target specific areas of the soil, preventing water from reaching the foliage, which can lead to rot.
  2. Preventing Overwatering: By providing slow, gradual moisture, the ice cube method is thought to reduce the risk of overwatering, a common cause of succulent demise.
  3. Minimizing Soil Erosion: Traditional watering methods can displace soil and expose succulent roots. Using ice cubes is seen as a way to avoid disturbing the soil and plant.
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The Science Behind Water Temperature and Succulents

Before we explore the ice cube method further, let’s examine the potential impact of water temperature on succulents. The temperature of the water you use can influence how succulents respond to watering. Understanding this aspect is crucial for informed plant care.

Cold Water: Some succulent experts advise against using very cold water directly on succulents. When exposed to a sudden temperature change, such as cold water on warm soil, succulents may experience stress and potential damage. This is because rapid temperature changes can cause cells to contract or expand quickly, leading to damage.

Room Temperature Water: Water at room temperature, around 68-72°F (20-22°C), is generally recommended for most succulents. It provides a gentle transition for the plant and minimizes the risk of shock.

Warm Water: Warm water can be used for certain succulents that thrive in high-temperature environments. Providing warm water can mimic their natural conditions and be beneficial for their growth.

The Ice Cube Watering Method: How It Works

The ice cube method involves placing ice cubes on the soil around the succulent instead of traditional watering. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use this method:

  1. Prepare the Ice Cubes: Fill an ice cube tray with water and freeze it.
  2. Place the Ice Cubes: Once the ice cubes are frozen, place them on the soil surface around the succulent, ensuring that they don’t touch the plant’s leaves.
  3. Let Them Melt: Allow the ice cubes to melt slowly, gradually releasing water into the soil.
  4. That’s it!
how often to water succulents

Is the Ice Cube Method Effective for Watering Succulents?

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter: Is the ice cube method an effective way to water succulents? This is a question that has sparked much discussion among plant enthusiasts and experts.

Proponents of the Ice Cube Method:

  1. Precision: The ice cube method allows for precise watering, directing water to the soil and root zone while minimizing contact with the succulent’s leaves.
  2. Prevents Overwatering: Advocates argue that using ice cubes reduces the risk of overwatering by providing a controlled amount of moisture.
  3. Reduced Soil Disturbance: Traditional watering methods can displace soil and expose roots. Using ice cubes is seen as a way to avoid disturbing the soil and plant.

Critics of the Ice Cube Method:

  1. Temperature Shock: Some succulent experts argue that the sudden temperature change caused by ice cubes can stress the plants and potentially harm them.
  2. Ineffective Moistening: The slow melting process may not provide enough water to fully saturate the root zone, potentially leaving the plant under-hydrated.

Compatibility with Different Succulent Types

Whether the ice cube method is suitable for your succulents can depend on the specific type of succulent you’re caring for. Here’s a breakdown of compatibility:

Compatible Succulents:

  1. Haworthia: Haworthias are small succulents that are well-suited to the ice cube method because they have shallow roots and require less water.
  2. Gasteria: Gasterias, like Haworthias, have shallow roots and are adapted to arid conditions, making them suitable for this watering method.

Incompatible Succulents:

  1. Sempervivum: Also known as hens and chicks, Sempervivums prefer traditional watering methods due to their extensive root systems.
  2. Aloe Vera: Aloes have deeper roots, and using ice cubes may not provide enough water to reach the root zone effectively.
  3. Echeveria: Echeverias have larger root systems and may require more water than the ice cube method provides.
how to care for a succulent

Tips for Watering Succulents with Ice Cubes Effectively

If you decide to try the ice cube method for watering your succulents, here are some tips to maximize its effectiveness:

  1. Know Your Succulent: Research your specific succulent species and its water requirements to determine whether the ice cube method is appropriate.
  2. Monitor Soil Moisture: Keep an eye on the moisture levels in the soil. If the soil is still dry a few days after using ice cubes, consider adjusting your watering method.
  3. Observe Plant Health: Regularly check your succulent for signs of stress or underwatering, such as wilted or shriveled leaves. Adjust your watering routine accordingly.
  4. Use Room Temperature Ice: Allow your ice cubes to reach room temperature before placing them on the soil to avoid temperature shock.

Alternatives to the Ice Cube Method

While the ice cube method may work for some succulents, it’s not universally suitable. If you find that this method doesn’t meet your succulent’s needs, consider these alternative watering approaches:

  1. Bottom Watering: Submerge the pot in a container of water and let the soil absorb moisture from the bottom. This method ensures the roots get adequate hydration without wetting the leaves.
  2. Soak and Dry: Water your succulent thoroughly but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings to prevent overwatering.
  3. Misting: Use a spray bottle to mist the soil surface, providing a controlled amount of moisture while avoiding leaf contact.
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Final Words About Watering Succulents With Ice Cubes

The use of ice cubes for watering succulents is a method that has both proponents and critics within the succulent care community. Whether it’s effective or not depends on factors such as the type of succulent, your local climate, and your ability to monitor plant health. If you decide to try watering succulents with ice cubes, proceed with caution, and ensure it suits your succulent’s specific needs.

In the end, successful succulent care relies on understanding your plant’s unique requirements, so always research and adapt your watering routine accordingly.


  1. Is it safe to water succulents with ice cubes?
    • The safety of using ice cubes for watering succulents depends on the type of succulent and your local climate. Some succulents with shallow roots may tolerate this method, while others with deeper roots may not benefit from it.
  2. What are the potential drawbacks of using the ice cube method?
    • Some potential drawbacks include the risk of temperature shock, slow and inadequate hydration, and the method’s incompatibility with certain succulent types.
  3. How can I determine if the ice cube method is suitable for my succulent?
    • Research your specific succulent species to understand its water requirements. Monitor the soil moisture and your plant’s health, and adjust your watering routine as needed.
  4. What are alternative watering methods for succulents?
    • Alternatives include bottom watering, soak and dry, and misting. Choose the method that best suits your succulent’s needs and your local climate.


  • “What Temperature Should My Water Be?” Article by Fat Plants San Diego.
  • “Succulents, Water, Temperature, and Soil.” Article by Succulents and Sunshine.
  • “Succulent Care Guide.” Article by The Sill.

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