The vast majority of succulents do not like to be and should not be misted. The best way to water succulents is to drench thoroughly once the potting mix has dried up from previous watering. This also applies to young succulents and cuttings.
One thing to remember is that the term succulent describes a great number of sometimes very different plants that live in different environments. For the most part, succulents are found in dry, arid regions with infrequent rain, however, a few succulent species can be found in tropical jungles.
Below I will discuss why misting is bad for succulents and answer a few FAQ’s about misting. The advice given in this article is based on growing succulents at my nursery for nearly 10 years.
How often should I mist/ spray succulents?
Never. Succulents should not be misted, even when they are quite young. Most succulents dislike having their foliage wet. Misting is also likely to, paradoxically, starve succulents of water.
Some succulents even actively repel water from the surface of their leaves. When the leaves come into contact with water, drops bounce off and they look completely dry.
There are websites out there advising to mist young succulents or succulent cuttings. In my opinion, this is not a good idea either. While cuttings and young succulents should be watered regularly, misting, just like with mature plants can encourage mould and fungus and stump any good root growth. This is because the water from misting only wets the surface of the potting mix and evaporates fast while proper watering will wet all of the potting mix and encourage roots to grow deeper and be stronger.
The exceptions in the succulent world that may respond well to misting are the ‘jungle cacti’ or succulents in the Epiphyllum/ Rhipsalis and some other genera that are endemic to humid environments. However, misting on its own is unlikely to sustain good root growth on any succulent. In my opinion, it is just best not to mist any succulents, including jungle cacti, watering well instead will ensure decent root growth and a happy plant.
Do Echeveria like to be misted?
Echeveria dislike being misted and should not be misted as a means of watering. Misting echeveria can help fungus or mould develop which in extreme cases can rot a whole plant.
Echeveria are particularly sensitive to misting and most of the plants in this genus are likely to respond negatively if misted on a regular basis. Echeveria are native to dry and semi desert areas where humidity is usually quite low.
While the majority of echeveria at the nursery are grown outside and so they do get rained on, there are a quite a few species within this genus we can only grow successfully in igloos or covered greenhouses where rain can’t reach them and watering is controlled.
I have noticed that increasingly many hybrid echeveria that have been selectively bred by humans tend to develop marks if they are left out during rainy spells and humid spells. A couple of years ago I have written an article on succulents and rain, in which I stated that only a few select plants at our nursery live in an igloo, with the rest being exposed to the elements. I had to amend this article lately as the list of succulents that are now growing under cover is continually increasing as we get new hybrid varieties of echeveria in.
There are not many other succulent genera that dislike being misted as much as Echeveria. Although I can think of some others such as Fenestraria or Lithops that split their leaves open when overwatered, but echeveria just tend to develop so many problems if the humidity is high or they are being misted.
Why you shouldn’t mist succulents?
Succulents should not be misted because the great majority dislike having their leaves constantly wet and it can promote fungus, mould, rust and rot. Misting also does not wet the soil enough for roots to grow deep and strong.
While some succulents in the wild tend to collect morning dew (there are species that even have a grid body so morning dew is collected and runs down straight to the roots) the day that follows is warm, dry and definitely not humid and these plants quickly dry up. Unless you live in the desert or areas that have very low humidity, succulents have to deal with moist air they wouldn’t otherwise get in their natural environment. And to mist them will only make things worse as the humidity around misted plants will naturally be higher.
There are just so many negatives when it comes to misting succulents. While misting can be beneficial for some groups of plants succulents aren’t one of them.
What happens if I mist succulents?
When misted regularly many succulents are likely to develop brown or black fungal spots, mould, rust and rot. Succulents can also dry out if they are misted instead of watered as misting is unlikely to deliver enough water to roots.
By misting, the humidity around the succulent increases and this can have a very negative effect, especially on species (many echeveria) that dislike humidity.
While there are very hardy succulents that would survive misting, it is likely most would develop some kind of problem or other if they are misted on a regular basis and not watered properly.
Can I mist indoor/terrarium succulents?
No, indoor succulents or succulents in terrarium should never be misted. Succulents grown in the house have less fresh air available and are at much higher risk of rotting when misted than succulents grown outdoors. Most succulents should also not be grown indoors.
To see which succulents grow well indoors see this article. The great majority of succulents are not happy house plants and prefer growing outdoors in fresh air and at least some sun (depending on the species). The only time succulents have to be moved indoors is in winter when frost and snow is expected as, unfortunately, most succulents are not frost tolerant. But long term, succulents need lots of light, some direct sun and an abundance of fresh air. To see how to make a terrarium, read this article.
Which succulents will tolerate being misted?
Some succulents are found in humid jungles. These are plants from Disocactus, Epiphyllum, Hatiola , Hylerocereus, Rhipsalis, Schlumbergera, Selenicereus and some other genera. They will tolerate high humidity and misting but should also be watered.
Misting alone is not going to sustain any plant long term as substantial amount of water needs to reach the roots. Even with succulents that are found in humid areas I would still not recommend misting. We grow many of these plants in the nursery and they are just fine with a deep soak once the potting mix dries up.
In conclusion, do not mist succulents. Just don’t do it. Water well instead and let the potting mix dry up before watering again.