Succulents add aesthetic appeal to any space and are relatively easy to care for. Still, growing your succulent can come with uncertainties. It’s well known that these popular plants thrive in warm and sunny conditions- but can succulents grow in the shade?
Succulents can grow in shade. These hardy plants, known for their ability to survive in dry climates, are adaptable to a variety of lighting conditions as well. Some succulents may even prefer partial shade. In some cases, they grow bigger and brighter with less sunlight than you might think.
Not only can succulents survive in the shade, but some even thrive in shady conditions. If you want to know more about these versatile plants and their sunlight requirements, then read on!
Can Succulents Grow in Shade?
Many varieties of succulents can and do grow well away from direct sunlight. This is because some of them can be damaged by too much sun or heat. They can be sensitive to harsh conditions and prefer milder surroundings.
Shade can mean an area where the sunlight is indirect for much of the day, such as under ledges, under trees, or in the shadow of buildings. Indoor locations such as on a bookshelf near a window are also ideal for plants that prefer partial and low light. All of these places would be good locations to grow plants that enjoy low lit areas.
How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need?
As a general rule, all plants require sunlight to grow. Even succulents that grow well in shade still require about six hours of indirect sunlight per day when growing outdoors. If placed indoors, they may require 12 or more hours of indirect sunlight through a window.
There are a couple of ways you can tell how much sunlight your plant will need. The following sections will examine these ways.
Check Your Label
Most plants are sold with labeling that tells you the conditions required for growing. It includes a statement such as full sun, part sun, part shade, full shade.
- Full sun: Plants that are labeled “full sun” require the most sunlight and would not do well in shade. These will need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun each day.
- Part sun: This category needs only half that of full sun. These will grow well in 3-6 hours of direct sun daily.
- Part shade: These require the same 3-6 hours of sunlight per day as part sun but do not tolerate direct sunlight. Succulents labeled part shade will need protection, such as shading from the strong mid-day sunlight and heat.
- Full shade: These require the least amount of sunlight and do well in up to 3 hours of light each day.
Look at Your Succulent
Your succulent will show if it is getting enough sunlight, not enough, or too much. These plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so each one is different. You may find plants with thick or thin bases, waxy or hairy leaves, and spiny or smooth surfaces.
Although they can look very different, most will demonstrate certain characteristics when they find themselves in undesirable conditions. Here are some of the common signs you might notice if your succulent is not enjoying the lighting situation.
|Too Much Sun||Not Enough Sun|
|The Effects||Leaves may burn||Leaves will “stretch” or reach toward the light|
|The Signs||Pale or white patches develop, dry or dark leaves||Tips of leaves may turn up to the light or down to increase the surface area|
|What to do||Move to a shadier area||Move to a brighter area, or consider a grow light|
You must pay attention to your succulent. If it needs more or less sunlight, the plant will begin to let you know. Its colors may change, appear faded or lighter, and seem less vibrant. In some cases, a flowering plant may not produce blooms when it is not receiving enough light. It is important to keep a close eye on your plant’s physical changes to get an idea of how it’s doing.
If you find that the plant is not growing well, you can move it to a new environment, and many of the signs above will go away after some time. The color and shape of your plant will return. Use caution, however, if you spot the white patches associated with “sunburn” or too much light. These may never go away.
Which Succulents Grow Best in Shade?
You may be wondering which of those plant species are right for the shade. When you visit a plant nursery or begin your search online, there are some names that you can ask for or look for. Here are some of those succulents with their scientific and common names listed below:
- Aloe Vera (medicinal aloe): This well-known stemless plant species has thick fleshy green leaves that grow long and pointed and fan out in all directions. They do not like direct sunlight because it tends to dry out their leaves.
- Senecio Rowleyanus (string of pearls): These succulent plants are great for hanging planters because they grow long cascading strings of small spherical leaves that look like beads on the necklace they’re named for. In some conditions, this plant blossoms small white flowers that smell of cinnamon. They do not do well in full sun and require milder temperatures.
- Sansevieria (snake plant): Although the thin, flat leaves do not look like those of other succulents, this one is great for beginner plant lovers because it requires minimal care. It grows well with little watering and low lighting.
- Gasteria (ox tongue): This species is rarer than the others, so it may be harder to find. Similar to an aloe plant, it has thick fleshy green leaves. Contrarily they grow shorter and more rounded. The surface of the leaves will be rough, like the animal tongue for which it’s named. Of all succulent plants, this one tolerates much lower light levels.
- Agave attenuata (foxtail agave): These succulents grow well outdoors in rock gardens and are indigenous to the southeastern United States and Mexico. They can grow very large rosettes of long fleshy spine-tipped leaves. This plant can tolerate part shade.
- Sedum morganianum (burrow tail): This trailing plant produces crowded bluish-green fleshy leaves that can overlap, appearing like a braided donkey’s tail as the common name suggests. They are easy to propagate because when the leaves fall off of the stalk, a new plant can grow out of it. Either partial sun or full shade are good options for growing this plant.
- Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri (easter cactus): This plant blooms in late winter or early spring hence its name. It grows with leaves in flattened segments with serrated edges. Flowers come in a variety of colors, from lavender to red. This plant likes indirect sunlight.
These varieties are known to prefer less sun. Now keep in mind that all plants require some light. That means you would not want to place any plant in a closet and expect it to live. However, these on the list will do well in partial sunlight, under shade trees, and even indoors.
When choosing a plant for your space, take into account the primary lighting and also indirect lighting that may be reflected onto your plant off of light-colored or shiny surfaces. Consider the species listed above when you are looking for a succulent species that is known to prefer low lighting and partial shade.
So, as you can see, some succulent plants not only survive in the shade, but some do very well there. Now you’re well prepared to grow your succulent into the perfect outdoor scenery or addition to lovely indoor décor.