How Long Can Succulents Live Without Soil? (My Best Guide)

Succulents have recently gained some traction in the popularity stakes amongst the gardening community. They are generally easy to maintain; they don’t require much space, and are cost-effective.

One of the biggest debating points within the green thumb circle is whether or not succulents can live without soil. Soil is vital to ensuring long-term stability for a plant such as these.

Do you know how long can succulents live without soil?

In most cases succulents won’t be able to survive more than 2 weeks without soil. Even that would need extreme level of supervision and care.

Soil helps strengthen the roots, holds necessary stores of water, and keeps nutrients within roots’ reach. They can, however, be without soil for a short period when going through processes such as replanting and/or changing compost/soil.

How long can succulents live without soil

In this article, our thorough research will help answer questions relating to removing succulents from their soil, how long they can be in this state, and creating a base that isn’t just soil.

Can Succulents Survive Without Soil?

Succulents can survive for short periods without soil. This is mainly because they store water within their leaves for times of drought or dormancy.

It’s in their place of origin genetics to do so.

Can Succulents Survive Without Soil

The soil surrounding a succulent root system provides water and food for the plants. So when removed from the soil, a plant like this can survive but will need to start to find some food source within a short period.

Do succulents need a lot of soil to thrive?

Succulents need soil that offers good drainage. You could say they do not need much soil to thrive. But, the soil mix prepared for succulents must contain materials other than soil to complement the lack of total soil volume.

For example, materials such as sand mixed with coco coir, chicken grit, pea gravel, and even small shells can be created and added to the base soil to produce a beneficial succulent growth mix. 

How long can succulents live Without soil?

Succulents can survive anywhere from a couple of days to 2 weeks without soil. But, they must be placed under strict supervision when doing so.

All it takes is too much light, wind, or sun to set upon these plants in this condition, and the succulent will be severely affected, if not suffer fatally.

It is not recommended to do so unless you are rehoming your plants or something of that nature.

Some factors that can affect the timeframe that a succulent can be without soil include the size of the plant, the age of the plant, and the climatic conditions they are subject to.

How long can succulents live out of the soil

A larger plant can be tricky. It could be large but newly planted and may not be strong enough to withstand longer periods without the soil’s nourishment.

At the same time, a larger plant can also be much older and more established and hold more moisture, so it may last longer.

The climate can also affect a succulent in that the unearthed plants can use their moisture stores faster if it is warmer and drier. In this case, the time spent out of the soil will be much less before they must be repotted. 

Why Is Soil Essential To The Succulents?

Soil is essential not only to succulents but to any plant. It is the material that holds everything into place, almost like an anchor that keeps the plant sitting at the right height, in the right line, and stops it from tumbling.

It is the central cog of the machine that helps all of the other moving parts operate to perfection.

Without soil, a plant’s root system would have no resistance. Therefore it would not be able to grow strong and healthy. As a result, the plant would grow much smaller and more compact.

The root system must also grow strength to search for water and nutrients within the soil, which leads to the next point.

Soil allows water to pass through, nourish the succulent and drain out. Soil also helps to hold nutrients within arm’s length of the roots, making them available for the roots to take in and use when needed.

If the soil wasn’t there, the food wouldn’t receive any food. 

Tips to Increase the lifespan of the succulents without soil?

Firstly, succulent seedlings should never have their roots exposed. The older plants can go for up to a week with their roots exposed while making preparations for replanting.

There are only a few reasons to remove your succulent from its soil or sandy-based growing material.

Tips to Increase the lifespan of the succulents without soil

These include when you clean your succulent from any infestations, and you need to remove it to get access to the roots.

Additionally, you would remove the soil when repotting. How do they survive without the soil, though? Here are a few things you can do to ensure they stay alive when you perform the required maintenance. 

Give them extra nutrients

Feeding your plants a light dose 2 weeks before your intended repotting day is possible. This will give the succulents the chance to take in any nutrients they haven’t been able to for as long as their last feed occurred.

You don’t want to give them a full dose. Giving no more than ¼ of a normal dose of a liquid 15-15-15 balanced blend is best. This will give them just enough food to keep them full during transfer when they don’t have access to soil and nutrients. 

Watering them correctly

It’s a good idea to observe the succulent’s water intake around a month before the intended replanting date. Try to make sure that it has enough water without flooding it. This is crucial for the plant to soak in enough moisture to keep it hydrated during the transfer time.

Adequate light

Allowing adequate light is quite an easy task to manage. Simply place your plant where it can receive at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day.

Giving them ample sunlight leading up to transferring them will allow them to get that extra strength required to get through the period without soil.

What Kind Of Soil Is Perfect For Succulents?

Succulents thrive best in well-draining soil. Their root system is shallow, so they need the water to be able to flow towards the roots and then drain out past them again.

You can make some good quality blends by starting with ⅔ of a mineral such as coarse sand, perlite, volcanic rock (pumice), or fine gravel. Then add in ⅓ of an organic matter such as potting soil, pine bark, compost, or coco coir. Mix it up and carefully plant your succulents in this wonderful mix. 

How Long Can Succulents Be Left Bare Root?

The seedlings of succulents should never have their bare roots exposed. They will go into shock and become hard to revive.

Only expose them for as long as it takes to transplant them. Even then, be careful and keep them grounded until the very last minute.

How Long Can Succulents Be Left Bare Root

On the other hand, mature succulents can last up to a week with their roots exposed. Often, the roots need to be exposed and left to dry out as part of the transfer process. They may need around 6-7 days to dry out completely.

There have been cases where plants of this nature have lasted longer than 7 days without soil, but they soon become distorted without the nutrients and water that soil provides. 

Can succulents grow in shallow soil?

Yes, succulents can grow in shallow soil. Given that these plants have a shallow root system, they don’t require deep volumes of soil to grow.

Having more soil and a larger pot could negatively affect your succulent. With excess space and volume of soil, there is the risk of the growing material not drying out completely.

It can also be difficult to regulate the amount of water the plant should receive. You may give it some water, then notice that the top inch or so is dry.

Then you add more moisture without allowing the bottom pool to drain. The soil can become soggy and moldy as a result. 

How do you preserve succulents without soil?

Bare rooting your succulents isn’t ideal, but possible. You may be looking at creating some kind of exhibition or craft arrangement where your succulent isn’t planted in soil.

If this is the case, they will need you to give them a few things in advance to ensure their survival. These include food, water, and light.

How do you preserve succulents without soil

Giving them ¼ of a dose of liquid fertilizer will give them the energy they need to stay bare-rooted. Also, watering them a little extra before uprooting will ensure their stores are at maximum.

Additionally, ensuring they have had adequate sunlight before removing them from their home is essential for energy harvesting.

Completing just these 3 tasks in the week or 2 leading up to bare rooting will give them a much better chance of staying alive during the time of exposed roots. 

Can succulents grow in rocks without soil?

Succulents can grow in rocks without soil IF, and that’s a big IF; they are constantly maintained. They can grow for 7-8 weeks without any attention. They will survive on the food and moisture stores in their leaves and stems.

Can succulents grow in rocks without soil

`They will, however, not grow as vibrant and lush as when grown in soil. They will grow distorted. It’s not an ideal way to grow a succulent. You will need to feed and water them much more frequently as the rocks won’t hold any food or water. 

Frequently Asked Questions (fAQs)

How long can succulents go without water and soil?

This depends on whether they are grown indoors or outdoors. Indoor-grown succulents aren’t exposed to extra stressors such as wind, heat, heavy rains, etc. They can often last anywhere from 1-3 months without water and 1-2 weeks without soil. On the other hand, those stressors can quickly dry up water supplies and only allow them to last 2-4 weeks without water outdoors and 1 week without soil. 

How many days can succulents survive in a box?

As a succulent is delivered, it can usually last 14 days packed down in a box. They may last longer, but after this time, they will start to become distorted and not grow as vibrant and lush.

How do you keep succulents alive before planting?

Depending on how you have purchased them, the methods may vary. If you buy them from a nursery, you can see if they have some half-decent quality soil that you could plant in temporarily so you can transfer them soon after.

If you have ordered them online, they usually come packaged in the safest way possible for the plant, so you just plant them as they arrive. In both cases, allowing adequate water, light, and smaller doses of liquid fertilizer can be advantageous to the transfer.


As we know, succulents can live only for a short period without soil. Ideally, they should stay on their soil 99% of the time unless they are being replanted.

Seedlings should not have their roots exposed. On the other hand, mature plants may need a week of air drying their roots while going through a transfer period.

We hope that this article has been helpful, and we look forward to seeing you on the next one. Happy growing!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top