Succulents and Sunlight: how much light do succulents need?


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Succulents are a popular species of plant that chosen by many to decorate their apartments and homes because they don’t require that much care.

But, they do require specific amounts of light in order to survive and thrive.

how much light do succulents need you might ask? In short, most succulents like at-least  6 hours or bright filtered light or bright indirect light each day. 

In this post, read about how much sunlight succulents realistically need, and what to do if they aren’t getting enough or are getting too much.

Different Issues with Sunlight and Succulents

  • too little light
  • too much light
  • Not the right amount of direct light
  • Not the right amount of indirect light

How Much Light do succulents need? 

In general, succulents need a lot of light, at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. But more specifically, it all depends on where you want to grow them, the climate you live in, and what kinds of succulents you are growing. 

.....But ideal conditions are a bit more complicated.

But before we get into the light requirements, let’s talk about what a succulent plant actually is; they are plants that hold water in climates that get little amounts of rain.

The plants have unique and sometimes strange features, with thick fleshy parts that help retain the water.

They are found in desert regions, off the sides of cliffs, and places that are rocky in terrain. Many of the plants are found in Africa, but some are also found in South America and the European Alps.

Due to their ability to retain water, they can survive with little water(sometimes for months), and grow in warm, bright areas.

How to Tell if Succulents are getting the right amount of light

If succulents are getting the right amount of light, their colors will be vibrant and they will grow happily. If they aren’t getting enough light, they will probably start to stretch out to try and “find” a light source. This is different than regular growth in that the plant will look weak and leggy. This might look like the plant is growing really tall, but it isn’t strong enough to hold itself up.

If they are getting too much sun, their colors will start to look more washed out or faded, rather than vibrant and bright.

How much indirect sunlight should succulents receive? 

Just because succulents like to grow in warm and bright regions, doesn’t mean that they prefer direct sunlight.

While they can survive with direct sunlight, it makes them more susceptible to burning.

It is in fact best if succulents have indirect sunlight, regardless of whether you have them planted inside or outside.

What is indirect sunlight you ask? Well, it is sunlight that doesn’t shine directly on a plant.

For example, for outside plants, sun that shines through clouds or tree leaves onto plants is indirect sunlight. This is compared to sun that isn’t blocked by anything.

For indoor plants, indirect sunlight is when plants get their sun from at least three feet away from a bright window. If you put your plant directly in front of a window, it receives direct sunlight.

Can succulents survive in direct sunlight?

succulents do best in bright indirect sunlight Depending on types of succulents and from where they originate from. I've found that some succulent species like Sedums, Sempervivum are better at handling full sun which help to give them their distinct coloring that makes them excellent groundcovers. 

However, if you wish to plant your succulents in a place with direct sunlight, you need to consider a couple things.

First, you should slowly transition the plant. If you take a plant that was raised in indirect sunlight and immediately place it in direct sun, it is more likely to burn. 

Put your plant in direct sun for a couple hours to start and slowly increase the time so that it is prepared to acclimate.

Also, in the summertime, sunlight can be extreme and harsh. Consider filtering the light onto your plants during these months to prevent burning.

Can succulents get enough light indoors? 

Growing succulents indoors can sometimes be tricky. It is often hard for them to receive the right amount of sunlight.

Basically, succulent need as much light as possible, so try to find the brightest place. Placing your indoor succulents near South-facing windows may provide enough light they need. But Unless you’re lucky enough to have a solarium attached to your home it’s really good idea to use grow light especially during winter months or if you're trying to encourage plants to bloom.

providing sufficient light to The best option would be somewhere near a south or west facing window.

Putting succulents directly in the window might cause them to burn, because they are up against hot glass.

The best succulents for growing indoors: Jade plants, aloe vera, pencil cactus, haworthias, elephant’s food. Those that have more color in their leaves, don’t do as well indoors.

How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need Outdoors?

While succulents can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, you shouldn’t try to grow them outside in regions that go above 95 degrees Fahrenheit or below freezing.

If you decide to grow them outdoors, your succulents should receive at least six hours of bright Filtered sunlight (light shading overhead) each day to Help Them Thrive – most will get “leggy” and weak if they don’t get this much light.

This is because the plant will try to grow long to get to a light source. Succulents that are not green might also start to lose their color and turn green if they don’t receive enough sun.

If they get more than six hours, they might start to grow more colorful and have more blooms. But remember, it is important that the light they get is indirect.

Can Succulents Get Too Much Sun?

Most succulents need at least 3 hours of direct sun each day, If they receive 6 or more hours of direct sunlight, they will burn if they are not sun-loving species like Aloe, Sempervivum which thrive in sunny locations. Unfortunately, it only takes a couple hours for them to burn, so make sure that you think about which type of succulents you have and where you are planting them.

If you are worried that your succulents are burning, look for scars and keep an eye out for washed-out color. Your succulents should be vibrant in color if they are receiving the right amount of sun.

Finally, if you grow succulents outdoors and don’t want to bring them inside for the winter time, it is important that you live in a place that doesn’t get too cold.

Remember that they originated from desert climates, so they are not adapted to freezing temperatures. However, sedum and sempervivum succulents are ones that can withstand freezing.

The best succulents for growing outdoors: 

  • Sedum
  • Houseleeks
  • Kalanchoe
  • Echevaria
  • Aeoniums

Choosing plants that have more color are going to do better outdoors.

Is Sunlight Mandatory for Succulents? 

The most variety of succulents appreciate a lot of direct or indirect sunlight. but it doesn't mean sunlight is necessary for growing succulents. As far as the plants are concerned, light is light, and whether it comes from the sun, fluorescent lights or from LED’s, is irrelevant. As long as it is sufficiently bright enough to replicate the sun’s wavelengths to give your succulents the light they need.

Like mentioned before, succulents don’t necessarily need direct sunlight, and in fact, some even prefer to grow in “bright shade”. The ZZ plant and the snake plant are both species that are able to grow happily in the shade.

If bright shade isn’t an option, artificial light is the next best thing. This is light that you create instead of getting light from the sun.

Can you grow succulents with artificial light?

Unlike humans, plants don’t need vitamin D from sun, but just the light itself. This light is necessary for the photosynthesis process, where the plants turn this light into energy they need to live.

So, theoretically, as long as you provide your plants with the right amount of light, they will be able to survive. 

However, succulents are not that easy to grow under artificial light because of where they have originated (dry, sunny, hot climates).

First and foremost, buy a light that is specific for plant growth. This is going to give you the most success in the long run.

Regular inside lights don’t produce all of the wavelengths required by happy succulents and plants.

How Long Should You Leave Grow Lights On?

The amount of light decreases with distance from the target, so be sure position the light close to your plants.

Wondering how long to leave the light shining on your plants? Specifically for succulents, they need light that will emit at least 2000 lumens for each square foot of light. To put this in perspective, the sun emits 10,000 lumens at noon. So, that means that if you leave a light shining for 14 hours or more, this would be approximately the same as regular light exposure in the summertime.

The best succulents for growing under artificial light:

  • jade plants
  • kalanchoes
  • sedum
  • sempervivium
  • adromischus

The worst succulents for growing under artificial light:

  • Cacti
  • aeonium
  • echeveria
  • split rock
  • lithops

Other Tips for Giving your Succulents a Healthy amount of light

  • Moring light is typically less harsh than afternoon sunlight, so it might be a good idea to put succulents in an east-facing area.
  • Remember that you might have to move your succulents if they are not happy. If you see any signs of burning or stretching, just try out a different spot.
  • Consider how much light and what kind of light you are going to be able to give your succulents and shop based on that, not based on how cool the plants look. But, don’t be afraid to experiment!

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