Most succulents need at least a few hours of light a day, but there are those that are fine with being in partial shade for most of the day. Some even flourish in low light situations.
The important thing to remember is to do your research so that you choose the right succulents for a home that has little access to light. Also, you can always just purchase a grow lamp if you want to grow succulents that do need light to grow properly.
Can succulents grow in shade or low light?
Yes, succulents can grow in the shade or indoors with minimal light. Although possible, this can be trickier than growing them with access to lots of sunlight. You have to make sure you do not overwater these plants, because they do not get the same heat that outdoor plants do, which can help dry them out. Overwatering can lead to root rot and fungal problems. Using a well-draining succulent soil mix, as well as a pot with drainage holes, can benefit the plant greatly. These plants can also do well if provided with enough lighting, whether natural or artificial.
How does shade help succulents?
Most succulents like sun for a few hours a day; some even etiolate when they do not get enough light, meaning they become leggy and stretch toward the nearest light source. They need sunlight to grow properly, become more vibrant, and produce flowers.
Succulents love the sun, but if they are exposed to too much sunlight, especially in areas where the temperature can exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant’s colors may fade, their leaves will spot, and they will scorch in the intense heat. Most succulents still need some shade, especially during the midday and afternoon hours. You can give them shade by placing them on the correct side of buildings, lattices, arbors, shade cloth, trees, or thick shrubs or bushes.
What should you keep in mind when growing a succulent in the shade?
The kind of succulent you are growing
There are thousands of succulent varieties and they all have their distinct differences. Each species is unique and has its own requirements to grow. You can read up on the succulents you currently own or those that you wish to own. You will then know which ones are more tolerant of little light and which prefer growing outdoors.
The kind of soil you use
No succulents like having perpetually wet soil. Soaking their roots in wet soil will cause root rot and make the plant more susceptible to fungal and bacterial problems. When you use soil that is too dense for succulents, such as pure gardening soil, it does not dry quick enough for succulents. Succulents need well-draining soil, especially those in low light conditions, because they do not have the heat from the sun to help dry out the soil. You can make your own succulent soil mix by combining potting soil and perlite in equal parts. If you want even more effective drainage, you can add an equal amount of sand to make a 1:1:1 mixture. The perlite and sand make the soil more airy and porous, and will help prevent the plant from becoming overwatered.
Your watering method
The best way to figure out a plant’s preferred watering schedule is to always pay attention to how often and how much you water your plant. It is also better to use a watering can with a long, thin spout to water your succulents, rather than misting them with a spray bottle. Succulents do not absorb water through their leaves or bodies, so misting those parts is useless.
Water a succulent by soaking the soil around its base until you can see the excess water flowing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. All of the soil needs to be soaked to make sure all of the plant’s roots get drenched and rehydrated. If you are using a pot with no drainage holes, you can pour out the excess water on top or use paper towels to absorb the excess water.
You will only really need to rewater your succulents when the top of the soil looks and feels dry.
The kind of container you use
As mentioned above, you will have an easier time growing succulents with a container or pot that has drainage holes at the bottom. These holes allow excess water to drain out and avoid overwatering your plant. Your plant is less likely to get root rot and will have better aeration. Use clay or terracotta pots because these are more porous than plastic and steel pots.
Which succulents that do well in the shade?
Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’
This succulent is one of the most popular indoor plants because of its leaves that look like peas, which is why it is also called String of Pearls. They are not fans of sunlight and appreciate being in the shade. They are fine with being in minimal light, as long as they are not overwatered. Their thin stems make them susceptible to root rot.
Schlumbergera ‘Christmas Cactus’
These plants are native to Brazil and have a look that is quite different from most other succulents. In the wild, they grow on other trees and enjoy the partial shade provided by the rainforest canopies. They make great indoor plants because they do not mind having no direct sunlight.
Sansevieria ‘Snake Plant’
Snake plants are a popular choice of indoor plants because of their air purifying properties. They can remove benzene toxins and formaldehyde from the air. This works well for both owner and plant, as the plants do not mind low light conditions.
A popular Haworthia is the zebra plant. They can tolerate poor lighting but will thrive if given bright, filtered light. This plant has green, pointy leaves with white stripes or spots.
These are probably the most popular succulents in the world. They are low maintenance plants that you can leave indoors for long periods of time. They are great plants for beginners and are tolerant of different growing conditions.
Yes, certain succulents can grow even in the shade, but most of them still need a certain amount of light every day. If you want to grow plants that do well in the shade, do your research and purchase only those ones. However, if you want to grow succulents in your home but fear there may not be access to enough sunlight, you can always buy a grow lamp to help out.
Make sure you do not overwater the plants you keep in the shade; they are more susceptible to overwatering since they do not have the heat from sunlight to dry them out.
Image: istockphoto.com / Liudmila Chernetska