Are succulents good in low light? In this article, let’s talk about whether succulent plants can grow well in low light.
Succulent plants are known to be sunlight loving as they prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Well, most of them are really high light loving plants. They are known as plant camels, for they are considered as the toughest. They can endure strong winds, extreme heat, or humid.
But as succulent plant lovers grow more of them, the better they know of their nature. It is now clear that not all succulent plants are sunlight loving. They are actually very adaptable, and can grow even if they are placed in the shade.
So, are succulents good in low light? Well, as mentioned, there are some succulent varieties that grow well indoor. But there are also other varieties that love sunny environment.
As a succulent grower, you need to understand the sunlight needs of your plants. Obviously, not all succulents love outdoor or indoor environments.
How to Know Indoor and Outdoor Succulents?
In considering succulent plants for growing, it is important to understand the preferred light levels of the plant. High light loving succulents are those colorful ones like vibrant purple or pink. They need at least six hours of bright sunlight a day and can live in direct sunlight, even when temperatures are 40° C.
The low light loving is usually just dark green, and looks more like aloes than flowers. These kinds of succulents are the ideal plants for those people, who live in a place with less than the ideal lighting conditions, for it can tolerate low level of light.
You should know that low light and no light are two different things, and even succulents cannot live in an area without light.
Low light means the plant is placed indoors away from the window, thus receiving not enough bright light. Example of this are the succulent plants on the tables inside a study room or in the dining area.
However, when it is placed in a bathroom where there is really no enough light, it is necessary to make use of a grow light (check my recommended grow light on Amazon) to provide them even an artificial light to suffice their need of energy since low light loving succulents can also do well in artificial lights.
Even there are succulents that prefer low light, it is still best to “rotate” them regularly from artificial light to a natural one to gain best results. Just remember to get them back immediately if they are placed in direct sunlight, especially when they have been indoors for a long period of time.
On the other hand, low light can also be called a low light when it is outdoors. An example is a succulent plant under a shady tree. There are plenty of succulents that can do well in low light settings, and they are the ones that do well as house plants.
In growing a succulent plant, you should know the difference between direct and filtered sunlight to help the plants grow at its best. Direct sunlight is when the light from the sun is directly received by the plant without any interference, while the filtered sunlight is when the plant receives the light through a barrier like trees or curtains.
When succulent plants are receiving much of direct sunlight, they could be sunburned when overexposed to light and temperature above 32°C. It is recommended that they only receive filtered sunlight in the morning and evening and put into partial shade every afternoon.
However, succulents that are more low light loving also need to be introduced to sunlight. They should be placed in a shade first, then give slight amount of sunlight every day, gradually increasing until they become used to it. Note the amount of sunlight that they love and need the most. That would be the best amount for them to grow and bloom.
There are instances when the plants’ stretching is mistaken for quick growth. These usually occurs to high light loving succulents when they are in need of more sunlight. This is because unlike the low light loving succulents that need only three to four hours of good sunlight a day, the high light loving succulents ask for up to six hours. When they are not contented with the light they are receiving, then it will start to spread its leaves farther than before or elongate its body towards the nearest source of light.
It is called etiolating, when the plants lack in photosynthesis. When this happens, you consider buying some reliable grow lights or just simply reposition the plants where they could have more morning light and less afternoon light.
Examples of Succulents Good in Low Light
The following are examples of common and cheap succulent plants that loves low light:
1.) Burro’s Tail (Sedum Morganianum)
It resembles a braided tail with thick, fleshy leaves. They are color green, green-gray, or blue green and can grow up to 24 inches. It is considered as the easiest trailing succulent plant. It is so adaptable, and low chance of etiolation would be observed since it is a vine.
Just a reminder that its leaves can be easily fallen, so it is best hung on a ceiling in a low traffic area. Even repotting them could damage the plant because of its sensitivity. But propagation is easy. Just cut even a couple of leaves and plant them would still make them grow. They only need four hours of filtered sunlight and should be watered only when the soil is dry completely.
2.) Zebra Cactus (Haworthia Attenuata)
It is great for desks, because it is slow growing. It is recognized having a thick, polka dotted, green leaves, usually around only three to five inches tall. It should be planted in a well-draining soil (may be amended with coarse for better drainage), and is required to be watered when the soil is completely dry and when the leaves start to curl.
Remember to water only the top of the soil and not the plant itself. It is advised to fertilize them once a month during their active growth. They should also be placed in a bright but indirect sunlight. Repotting them is also necessary so they could continue to grow.
3.) Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)
It looks more like a bonsai because of having a miniature tree image, usually grown indoors. Its leaves are thick and oval in shape, typically shiny green and sometimes with red color on the edges when grown in high light. They can produce pink or white flowers at best conditions.
Jade plants should be provided with just enough daylight, reduced watering, no fertilizers, and give full darkness at night time. These care tips would definitely help them bloom, though they rarely do. But a tip given by experts is to water them moderately during their growth, usually summer season.
When buying a succulent plant, it is important to also consider the availability of light at home and the best care needed by a succulent to reach its best growth. However, there are still amendments that can be done if the level of natural light at home cannot be controlled.
Best Grow Lights for Indoor Succulents
Indoor succulent plants or the low light loving succulents do not need grow lights to survive even when it is not sunny. However, if it is rainy season and there is really no enough sunlight coming in the house, the common issue will be their fading color. This would be the time that you can make use of a grow light, commonly fluorescent and LEDs.
Fluorescent lights provide “full spectrum”, since it could give red to ultraviolet lights. They are actually referred to as “cool” or “daylight”. In short, they best resemble natural daylight the most.
Among these, the T5 fluorescent growth light or the Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) (check this on Amazon) could be used as alternatives to sunlight. The T5 is said to be the best performing among the most popular lights for growers. It has high output, meaning it could emit a high level of heat so they should be placed away from the plants to avoid issues.
When you already have the right fluorescent light and enough space, setting up will be easy. The light should be installed at least six inches but not more than 40 inches away from the plants to ensure that they would not be burned or grow unhealthy.
Being too close to the grow light could dehydrate them. However, setting the exact distance between the light and the plants depend on other factors. For example, small plants will be okay to a 10-inch distance from the bulb, but bigger plants would like more if the light is placed just six inches above them. It also depends on the succulent’ tolerance to heat.
Fluorescents are recommended to be just 6-12 inches far from the plants, while LEDs are recommended 18-24 inches away. The color temperature should be 6500k for best growth, and 3000k for blooming. But be careful if have monocarpic succulents for they would bloom with too much light.
Remember that the lights do not need to be turned on all the time, because they too need to “respire”. They could be exposed to the artificial light from 12-14 hours a day, rotating them weekly so each angle of the plant receives the same light amount.
I hope this helps. Thanks for reading.