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How Much Sunlight Does a Succulent Need?

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Succulents are indigenous to semiarid areas that provide sporadic rainfall and ample light. Indoor plants often suffer from water excess and light deficiency.

Succulents are typically sun-loving plants that require lots of light. Light is one of the most restricting elements to growing indoor succulents. Place your succulents in a light-filled area or add extra light using grow lamps that offer full-spectrum, high-output lighting.

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Succulent Light Basics

While some succulent species may survive in lower light conditions, most need six to eight hours of intense light to thrive. A plant’s natural habitat is often the best hint of its environmental preferences.

Plants that grow in desert xeric landscapes prefer high light and low humidity levels. These plants can tolerate varying temperatures because day and night desert temperatures are often contrasting extremes.

Some succulents, however, cannot endure intense sunshine for long periods. These plants typically do better in indirect light, comparable to growing in the shade from a taller plant.

Getting the appropriate amounts of water and light is essential for keeping your succulents healthy.

Plants that need more sun tend to etiolate, bending oddly towards any light source. Plants that require less light wilt and appear nearly sunburned.

Succulents that are “stressed” may start to blush or display colors other than green; this could be caused by underwatering or by receiving more light than required without being burned.

Blushing is common in succulents and provides them a lovely color variety as long as they get enough water. Learning about your succulents will make caring for them much more manageable.

Succulents Light Needs

Succulents need a lot of light but only moderate water and fertilizer.

Light is one of the most restricting elements to growing indoor succulents. Place your succulents in a light-filled area, or add extra light using grow lamps that offer full-spectrum, high-output lighting.

Find the indoor space with the most light possible; ideally, this area will have at least six to eight hours of bright, indirect light.

Some species may survive in lower light conditions, but most require six to eight hours of intense light to thrive.

It can be challenging to achieve this level of illumination indoors.

Plants should be rotated frequently to prevent uneven growth, and plants will have lanky, pale growth are not getting enough.

For the summer, succulents can be relocated outside. Still, they should be in partial sunlight and shielded from the intense afternoon sun. The intensity of the light can harm and burn the leaves and stems.

Below is a table that reflects some succulent plant sunlight and water needs

Common NameScientific NameLight NeedsWater Needs
Desert RoseAdeniumFull sun*Occasionally Dry; Very Dry
Tree HouseleekAeoniumFull sun*; Partial Shade**Very Dry
Century PlantAgave Full sunOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
Aloe VeraAloe veraFull sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
Eve’s Needle CactusAustrocylindropuntia subulata Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
Bunny CactusCephalocereus senilis Full sunMoist, Occasionally dry
Baby JadeCrassula ovata Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
String of BeadsCurio rowleyanus Partial ShadeOccasionally Dry
Living StoneDinteranthus vanzylii Full sunVery Dry
Mexican GemEcheveria elegans Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
EchinocactusEchinocactusFull sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
Dragon BonesEuphorbia lactea Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
Lawyer’s TongueGasteria obliqua Partial ShadeOccasionally Dry
Zebra CactusHaworthiaFull sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
Coral YuccaHesperaloe parviflora Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
StonecropHylotelephium sieboldii Full sun; Partial shadeVery Dry
Buddha BellyJatropha podagricaFull sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
Chandelier PlantKalanchoe Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
MescalLophophora williamsii Partial ShadeOccasionally Dry
Living Rock CactusPleiospilos bolusii Full sunOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
Holiday CactusSchlumbergeraPartial ShadeOccasionally Dry
SedumSedumFull sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry; Very Dry
Carrion PlantStapelia hirsuta Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry
Inch PlantTradescantia zebrina Full sun; Partial shadeMoist, Occasionally dry
Curveleaf YuccaYucca gloriosa var. tristis Full sun; Partial shadeOccasionally Dry

* Full Sun means direct sunlight for more than 6 hours a day

** Partial Shade means direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours

How Light is Commonly Quantified

Light is generally quantified in foot-candle or lux, but growers may use terms such as low, medium, and high. Other growing guides may use words such as full sun, partial shade, partial sun, or shade.

Below is a table clarifying what is meant by each term.

Foot-candlesLight LevelArea’s light intensity at mid-day
25-100 ft.cLowTypically, areas with this low light intensity receive relatively little natural light, and many merely have overhead lighting. They frequently inhabit areas that are far from windows or that are substantially shadowed.
100-500 ft.cMediumAlthough no direct sunlight is present, areas with more moderate light intensity are typically near windows. They can frequently be found in east or west-facing windows that are shaded or in north-facing windows that are not.
500-1000 ft.cHighHigher light levels are typically seen near windows, where they may also receive some direct light. However, if there is direct light, it is muted by outdoor greenery or shaded by window coverings. They frequently hang out under windows with an unobstructed east or west orientation. It may also be seen close to south-facing windows that are shaded.
Over 1000 ft.cDirect sunlightThese spots are right in front of windows, with nothing but transparent glass standing between the plants and the sun. For plants that require “direct light,” four or more hours of sun exposure is ideal. This is typically observed in windows facing south or southwest that are not shaded.

The Best Position for Succulents

Remember that obstructions like trees, overhangs, and other structures can affect windows and illumination. It is good to “zone” your home before purchasing plants. Assuming there are no external light obstructors, the following is how windows are classed for light availability:

  • Low Light – North-facing windows
  • Medium Light – East or West-facing windows
  • Bright Light – South-facing window (ideal for Monstera)

In Summary

If you provide succulents with well-draining soil, avoid overwatering them, and provide them with ample bright light, you have a high chance of success.

As seen from the table above, only a couple of succulents prefer shade.

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