Generally speaking, plants have four major needs: water, sunlight, temperature, and soil. That’s what 95% of all plants need to survive, in quantities and qualities fitting for each plant in question. But how much direct sunlight do succulents need? Well, it depends on the type of succulent you have in your garden or back at home. Each succulent variety has certain sunlight requirements.
In most cases though, succulents need at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight exposure every day. The morning sun is ideal for succulents in my experience. Harsher sunlight (such as in the afternoon between 1pm and 4pm) can be even deadly to some succulents. Remember that some succulents are vulnerable to sunburn and direct sunlight they are exposed to for a long period of time will damage them. This commonly happens with soft succulents. If left untreated, the plant may eventually die.
Shade is a good idea in tropical locations
If you are living in a tropical area where the sun is hotter than it is in other geographic locations, especially those succulent plants are native for, providing the plants with shade will help them survive.
Many have fallen for the misconception that succulents are resistant to scorching sun. But my personal experience suggests the opposite. The truth is that succulents could not stand the punishing sunlight. In fact, if left unattended, succulents may die under the strong direct sunlight. It happened to many of my readers who sent over complaints, not understanding why their succulents died.
Acclimatization to direct sunlight
If you transfer an indoor succulent outside–which is often a great idea, do not directly bring the plant outside under strong sunlight. The plant needs a transition period. This means that indoor succulents need gradual exposure to direct sunlight to allow them to adjust to the new environment. This is the way to ensure the plant will endure such an environment.
If succulents are placed under minimal sunlight, they tend to stretch their stems. The stems will lean towards the well-lit areas of the house. Succulents do change color too if they receive too little sunlight. This is good evidence that suggests that succulent does need direct sunlight to thrive and live longer. In the absence of one important ingredient they need for their growth such as the sun, succulents may survive, but they won’t thrive.
Succulents that tolerate low-light environment
Many succulent growers wonder if it is possible to grow succulents without giving them sunlight. Well, as I mentioned earlier, succulents do need sunlight to grow healthily. Without it, the plants may survive, but will never thrive.
However, we know a few indoor succulents that can tolerate low-light environments and do decently well in such. These types of succulents can grow well indoor with minimal sunlight exposure. I will share with you 8 best indoor low-light succulents. Here are the succulents that don’t need much sunlight to grow well.
1. Snake Plant or Sansevieria trifasciata
Snake Plant is also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue. This succulent is super versatile that it can survive in dimly lit areas for a considerable amount of time. This is the reason why snake plants are commonly found in offices as ornamental plants. They seem okay with no direct exposure for a long period of time. They can even tolerate neglect.
They can also tolerate with minimal water. You can just water snake plants a few times in a month and they will be alright. But what fascinates me the most about this plant is its ability to propagate almost effortlessly. You can start with a little shoot and grow a garden of snake plants later.
2. Jade Plant or Crassula ovata
Another great succulent that does not need much sunlight is the Jade Plant. When it comes to versatility and low-light tolerance, this plant is one of the best. This succulent is not only good for indoors but also outdoors. But unlike other succulent varieties, the jade plants grow bigger. I personally love this plant in my garden due to its size.
Jade plants are also known for their ability to survive neglect and extreme environmental conditions such as drought. They can be considered as one of the most resilient succulents you can have in your garden. Most succulents die on neglect and abuse. Jade plant on the other hand always makes its come back after losing their leaves or any tragic situations. If you are looking for a succulent that could survive nearly on its own, you might want to try Jade Plant.
3. Bear Paws or Cotyledon Tomentosa
Another good contender in this category is the Bear Paw. Bear Paws do prefer direct sunlight exposure but they can grow well indoors. This succulent gets its name from its very structure. It has thick and fuzzy leaves that have 3 or more teeth at the end similar to the paw of a bear.
Because Bear Paws need more sunlight than other succulents, I suggest that you expose this plant under the sun once a day for about 3-4 hours. Of course this may be difficult if you work and your plant is back at home, so consider it carefully before you decide to purchase it.
4. Zebra Cactus or Haworthia attenuate
If you are looking for a succulent that does not need much sunlight and can also boost the ambiance of your office, then the Zebra cactus is what you are looking for. This succulent variety has a unique feature that makes it stands out of other succulent varieties.
The Zebra Cactus is a slow-growing succulent making it one of the best indoor ornamental plants you can have in your office or house.
5. Burro’s Tail or Sedum morganianum
The Burro’s Tail is another excellent variety of indoor succulent. And probably the easiest trailing succulent to grow. This succulent is good for the low-light environment. The only drawback that I have seen with this plant is that its leaves could easily fall when firmly touched.
If you are growing this plant indoor, I suggest that you place it in the corner of the house to protect it from traffic. You can also hang it from the ceiling to make the plant undisturbed.
What I like the most about this plant is that it is super easy to propagate. You can propagate using the leaves. As long as you do it right, this succulent will just grow almost on its own.
6. Aloe or Aloe vera
As you might notice, Aloe is everywhere. You can find it in many homes. So people love this plant.
Well, there is a very good reason why millions of plant enthusiasts grow this plant. And that reason is Aloe plants are super easy to grow. You don’t need a green thumb to grow it. As long as they get their basic needs, they just grow without your constant care.
Just water this plant once a week and it will thrive on its own. You can place this plant in your office or in the outdoor garden.
7. Ponytail Palm or Beaucarnea recurvate
You might not expect it, but the Ponytail Palm is actually a succulent. This plant has cute features that will surely enhance the aesthetic value of your garden.
What I like about this plant is its ability to survive on neglect. It grows slowly and requires low maintenance too. This plant can grow well both indoors and outdoors. I like this plant outdoor though due to its size. It can be a great inside because it can survive in the low environment.
8. Cylindrical Snake Plant or Sansevieria cylindrical
The last but not the least succulent that only a little sunlight is the Cylindrical Snake Plant. This one is one of the most unique and beautiful succulents you can have in your garden or house.
Its ability to survive under low or direct sunlight makes this plant versatile. It only needs little maintenance so you don’t have to worry about its health, and can just enjoy its beauty. You need to be careful though. This plant has sharp leaf tips that can cut your skin if you accidentally bump on it.
Although many succulent varieties are versatile and seemingly resistant to low-light, they cannot survive with the total absence of light. However, there are succulents that can survive with minimal sunlight source. But they too need at least minimal sunlight exposure (at least behind the window).
As a succulent grower, it is part of your job to figure out what type of succulent you are growing. Different succulent varieties have different sunlight requirements. I hope that this post helps you to successfully grow your succulents. For more information about succulents, feel free to visit my complete guide on succulent growing.