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How Long Can Plants Go Without Water? Number of days explained

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As plant parents and gardeners, we may sometimes not have the time to attend to our plants and supply the water they need. It happens!

However, some plants can withstand drought conditions better than others. 

Most plants need to be watered at least once every week. Cactus plants can go months without water, while vegetable plants will last up to 2 weeks. Houseplants and other leafy greens will not go for more than a week without showing signs of dehydration and nutrient deficiencies.

Cacti and SucculentsHas no leaves, it doesn’t give up its water through evaporation as easily as other plants. Its stems are thick, with a lot of room for storing water.
Vegetable PlantsHas access to more soil and water when grown in the ground. It can be watered between 1 – 2 weeks.
HouseplantsMostly grown in pots and with limited space and soil, the plant will use up the water quickly. Weekly or bi-weekly watering is required.
Leafy GreensNeeds more water than other plants to feed their lush green leaves. Daily watering is required. 

Plants need water for photosynthesis and nutrient uptake.

Plants will become wilted and begin to brown around the edges if they are not watered within a specified time period. Other plants that are more sensitive will die far sooner than when exposed to drought conditions.

This article will explain how some plants can cope when they are not watered and how long they can survive. We will also give our best suggestions for watering your plants on time and what you can do to ensure an underwatered plant survives. 

I used this DIY Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit on my indoor plants and went on long trips and vacations; they were all healthy when I returned. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Upgraded DIY Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit

How Many Days Can Plants Go Without Water?

How Long Can Plants go Without Water

Up to a week, if you’re lucky! If you have an extremely well-established plant with thick roots and plenty of soil to hold onto the water, it can probably survive for more than a week without any watering at all.

The truth is that many different factors affect how long plants can go without water before they start to suffer. 

The conditions in which the plant grows will be one of them; plants that live in dry areas have adapted over time to go longer without water than plants that are used to more humid environments. 

It also depends on the type of plant; some species have developed tricks to get by with less moisture than others.

But no matter what kind of plant it is, most plants can’t go more than a few weeks without some water. 

And while they can survive longer than that under the right conditions, it’s not healthy for them and will almost always lead to eventual death. 

To prevent this from happening and keep your plants happy and healthy, check up on them regularly to make sure they’re getting enough water!

Let’s take a look at the time period of some most common plants that can survive without being watered.

How Long Can Houseplants Go Without Water?

In order to answer this question, we have to look at the type of plant itself. As with most things in life, plants have different needs, so they need different amounts of water. 

Some plants need more water than others, while some plants can even survive on less water than others.

However, there are exceptions. Some plants should never go without water for more than a couple of days. 

This can be because they have delicate root systems that don’t tolerate dry soil, or because the plant is very susceptible to root rot if watered regularly.

With that in mind, here’s a list of 9 houseplants that can safely go for longer than two days without water.

Plant SpeciesDays Without Water
Aloe veraMore than 7 years
Snake Plant2-3 Months
Lady Palm1-3 Months
Boston Fern4-7 Days
Philodendron Plant2-3 Weeks
Pothos Plant2-3 Weeks
Ficus Tree10-14 Days
Spider Plant2-3 Weeks
Peace Lily10-12 Days

How Long Can Outdoor Plants Go Without Water?

When you’re looking at how long outdoor plants can go without water, there are a few things to consider. 

First, how big is the plant? If it’s a small herb or even just a single stem of grass, it will be able to go longer without water than a large shrub. 

Second, what kind of soil does your plant have? If your plant is in loose soil that drains well, it will be able to go longer without water than if it were planted in clay. 

Finally, what time of year is it? In the summertime, you’ll have to water more often than in winter because the sun is beating down on your plants and drying them out much more quickly.

Read on for our list of the best outdoor plants that can survive without water for a very long time!

  1. Agave
  2. Bougainvillea
  3. Lantana
  4. Portulaca
  5. Verbena
  6. Wallflower
  7. Adenium
  8. Lithops
  9. Gaillardia
  10. Oleander 

What Happens If A Plant Isn’t Watered For A Long Time?

Let’s talk about what happens when you don’t water a plant. If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we published an article on watering plant leaves, so this one seems kind of obvious. 

But there are some specific details about what happens to a plant when it’s not watered for a long time, and we’d like to share them with you.

Photosynthesis Stops

Photosynthesis stops

For a plant to grow, it needs water, just like we humans need food. Water helps plants transport minerals through their systems and also helps them grow their roots and stems. 

Plants need water in their cells to carry out life functions, such as producing chlorophyll (the green pigment found in plants) and photosynthesis. Without water, the cells dry up and die.

Nutrient Absorption Halts

lack of nutrients on dragon fruit

Water acts as a solvent of plant nutrients and helps uptake nutrients from soils. Any nutrient the plant needs must be in solution to pass through the plant-root membrane from the soil.

Without water present in the soil, there is no way that the nutrient from the soil will get into the plant.

As a result, when drought conditions present, the plant goes into a state of dormancy where there is little water and nutrient uptake from the soil, resulting in little or no growth during this time.

Plants that are not accustomed to going into dormancy, it can only survive for a short period before it starts showing signs of deficiency and then starts losing leaves and dying.

Wilting and Shriveling Sets in

wilting plant

If a plant is not watered regularly, it begins to lose moisture from its leaves and even from its roots. As the water content decreases, the cells die off or shrink tremendously. Eventually, the leaves begin to wilt. 

The wilting leaves may curl inward toward the stem; if they remain curled after being watered again, they may turn brown or black around the edges before turning yellow or tan toward the middle of the leaf.

Plants will Eventually Die

When your plant is dry, it will still be green at first, but soon its leaves will turn brown and crispy. Once they’ve dried and turned brown, they’re done being useful to the plant, the plant can no longer make food from them. 

So your plant will begin to use its other leaves to make food for itself. If the plant doesn’t have enough other leaves, it may just die of a lack of food.

Things to Consider When Watering After a Dryspell

Be Careful Not to Overwater

It’s easy to rush to watering plants when it starts to show signs of dehydration, and more often than not, we tend to water more than is required in an attempt to rectify the situation.

At this point, it is easy to drown the plant in the water, hoping it will recover, but this is not the case. If too much water is applied at one point in time, it can cause to soil to become waterlogged.

Waterlogged soil will tend to harbor fungus and mold, which will attack the root system and cause root rot.

Consequently, this waterlogged soil will have to be treated or even discarded and replaced to prevent diseases from being carried to successive plants in the same space.

We at flourishingplants recommend that potted plants be bottom watered after a dry spell. We have a detailed post on bottom watering plants, which can also be used in your normal watering routine.

Water Lightly and Consistently

Water the soil lightly but consistently to ensure the soil is receiving and absorbing the water. Drought conditions can cause soil to become hydrophobic, meaning that it would repel water rather than absorb it.

By watering lightly but consistently, there is little chance for the water to run off; instead, the small amount of water will sit on the soil and be slowly absorbed until the soil is back to its normal state.

Plants That Can Grow Without Frequent Watering

Many people don’t have enough time to water a plant every day. A lot of plants die because they get overwatered. But when you’re busy, sometimes you forget to water your plants. That is why I am sharing some of the plants that can grow on their own and don’t need too much care.


Another great choice if you’re looking for plants that don’t need a lot of water is cacti! Some cacti even have beautiful flowers that bloom after years of neglecting them, which means you won’t have to worry about having to take care of your cactus every day!

Aloe Vera 

Aloe vera has many medicinal uses, but it also makes an excellent houseplant. Aloe Vera is an easy-care plant that requires very little water and will grow in almost any environment. 

It is a great plant for those who have problems with watering plants, as it does not require much attention at all.

Cast Iron Plant 

This hearty plant is great in an office setting or kitchen because it can grow upwards of 12 feet tall! It only needs about 1 inch of water every few months to stay healthy. 

This plant is pretty self-sufficient and one that should be looked into by those who have trouble keeping plants alive.


This plant is great because it’s drought-resistant and only needs to be watered once every few months. It’s also relatively low maintenance, it doesn’t need much sunlight or fertilization. All you have to do is make sure it gets enough room!

Jade Plants

Jade plants are one of the most popular houseplants, and they’re very low maintenance. They prefer indirect sunlight and thrive in apartments where they don’t receive much natural light. 

Jade plants prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They like humid environments, but they don’t need watering as often as other houseplants.

The Takeaway

The bottom line is that plants need water to survive. When it comes to how long each type of plant can go without water, the answer will vary depending on temperature and air humidity. 

Plants will become wilted and begin to brown around the edges if they are not watered within a specified time period. Other plants that are more sensitive will die far sooner than when exposed to drought conditions.

All plants demand to have water at least once a week for the best results. Cactus plants can remain for months without being watered, whereas leafy greens and houseplants cannot go more than seven days before beginning to feel symptoms of dehydration and nutrient deficiency.

Vegetable plants may be able to survive up to two weeks without attention.

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