a succulent stretched out in the window sill

Do Succulent Plants Need Sunlight? All your Questions Answered

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You can absolutely grow succulents indoors, provided they receive some type of light. To grow these fun little plants, sunlight is best, but some varieties can survive and thrive under a grow light.  

Succulent plants need enough sunlight, but not too much or they will get sunburned. Aim to give them at least 6 hours of consistent sun per day but not in direct hot sun. Indirect light or diffused sunlight is optimal for succulent growth.

Succulents are quite resilient and give you enough notice through signs and symptoms if they are unhappy with the amount of sunlight they’re getting.

When you bring home a succulent (or plant a new one), it’s best to experiment with its position in the house for a few weeks.

Newly planted succulents are more sensitive to their changing environment, so watch how it responds to its new home. If it looks the same after a week to 10 days, keep it where it is and continue to watch for another couple weeks.

If after a week it starts to turn droopy, pink or yellow – move it to a spot with a different amount of sun and then monitor it again.

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How Much Light Do Indoor Succulents Need?

Caring for succulents is not as hard as you may think – you can get by with some trial and error before it can’t be brought to life. While the appropriate amount of water is important, indoor sunlight is probably the biggest factor to your plant’s survival.

For a thriving plant, you will need to ensure that your succulent gets several hours of bright light if it’s kept indoors.

You will know that your succulent has found its perfect spot in your home when you start to see bright green growth, plump petals and bright color throughout.

Depending on the variety of succulent, you may also get a slight blush or purple tinge to the leaves.

One of the best and most unique features about owning succulents is that you can actually influence colors by adjusting the amount of sunlight they get.

Once you’re familiar with the signs of enough or too little of light, you can play around with color change. Make sure your adjustments are gradual – you don’t want to shock your plant. 

Once you have determined the perfect spot for your plant, indoor potted succulents will thrive all year long, even in colder, northern climates.

Do Succulents Need Direct Sunlight?

Succulents love direct sunlight as long as it’s not too hot. You don’t want to place your plant directly in front of the window of direct sunlight. Here it will become too hot and actually start to burn. A few feet away from a direct sunlight window will keep your succulent happy!

While indoor succulent plants love bright light, they don’t always need full sun. If they have consistent filtered or diffused light all day long, they will probably do ok.

Signs That Your Succulent Needs More Sun

If your succulent isn’t getting enough sunlight, the first tell-tale sign is when it starts stretching out and leaning heavily toward the light source in the room. This is called an etiolated succulent, which happens when it’s trying to grow in the absence of sunlight. 

Other signs that your succulent plant needs more sun is when it becomes dull or pale looking, as well as when the petals/leaves start to become droopy. 

The best way to tell if your succulent needs more light (and not other problems like over or under watering), is if it’s stretching out to expose the most surface area possible to receive the most light.

a succulent stretched out in the window sill

Are Succulents Good in Low Light?

Most succulents will not thrive in low light conditions. While you can keep this type of plant alive with a grow light, it’s best if you can give them at least a few hours of natural sunlight a day. This grow light is one of the best out there (and very reasonably priced) – but the best part is the built in timer. 

If your winters have short days and long nights or if you live somewhere with many cloudy days, you can still keep beloved succulents. 

If you want your succulents to thrive indoors all winter long, supplementing with artificial light is a great idea. 

Signs that your succulent isn’t getting enough light include becoming long and stretching toward the sun and droopy, lifeless petals. 

If you can manage to keep your succulent alive in low light conditions, it likely won’t grow very fast, if at all.

What Succulents Don’t Need Sunlight?

There are select varieties of succulents that will grow with limited sunlight. If you don’t have a bright area in your home or office, there are a few options you can choose from. 

Haworthia

Haworthia is the most popular variety of succulents that don’t need much sunlight. I have one of these in my cubicle at work (a very low light area) and it’s been surviving for several years.

By contrast, I have a few of the exact same succulents in my home that receive plenty of sun, and they’ve grown a lot since I’ve had them. If you’re a beginner in the houseplant world, the Haworthia is a quintessential looking succulent that can grow in low light conditions.

Gasteria

The Gasteria (also known as ox tongue) is a nice mix between Hawthoria and Aloe plants. They are native to South Africa and originally thrived in shady conditions. 

Crassula or Jade Plants

Jade plants are another favorite. They prefer bright light but are tolerant to low light conditions. I wouldn’t recommend one for a dark office, but jade plants can survive on only a few hours of bright light a day and be perfectly happy. You’ll know if it’s not getting quite as much light as it wants if it becomes ‘leggy’ – when it starts reaching tall and towards the light. 

Sansevieria or Snake Plants

The Sansevieria (Snake Plant) is one of the best succulents to grow in low light. To some people, it looks more like a tropical-style plant instead of a succulent, but it is part of the succulent family and a close cousin to the agave plant.

Keep in mind that the snake plant will need a lot less water when it’s living in low light conditions, as they are prone to root rot.

Final Tips for How to Care for Succulent Plants Indoors

Whether you’re bringing in your succulents for the winter, or keeping them inside all year long, make sure your plant isn’t in direct hot sun at first.

Test it out with indirect bright light for a while and see how it responds.

Then, you can slowly move it closer to the window as it settles into its new home inside. 

When growing succulents indoors, be careful not to overwater them. When they’re potted and inside the house with generally less sun than outside, remember that they won’t need as much moisture.

As they’re naturally drought resilient, err on the side of less water, because you can always give it more if it needs it. 

With the right amount of sunlight, your house succulents will flourish all year long.

Stay Green!

(Read Next: 13 Indoor Plant Tools to Instantly Boost Your Plant Parent Status to Expert)

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