- Succulents and cacti are often thought of as plants that require a lot of sunlight, but there are many varieties that can thrive in low-light conditions.
- Some popular low-light succulents to consider include snake plants, Haworthia, jade plants, and Christmas cactus plants.
- When growing succulents and cacti in low-light conditions, it’s important to avoid overwatering as the plants are susceptible to root rot.
- Indirect light, which is bright but not direct, is also a good option for many succulent varieties.
- It’s important to note that even low-light succulents still require some light to grow and should not be kept in complete darkness.
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Takeaways
- 2 17 Low Light Succulents and cacti To Grow Indoors
- 2.1 1. Aloe Vera (Medicinal Aloe, Barbados Aloe)
- 2.2 2. Aloe variegata (Partridge-Breasted Aloe, Gonialoe variegata)
- 2.3 3. Aloe aristata (Lace Aloe, Aristaloe aristata)
- 2.4 4. Haworthia margaritifera (Pearl Plant, Tulista pumila)
- 2.5 5. Haworthia attenuata (Haworthia fasciata, Zebra plant)
- 2.6 6. Gasteria bicolor var. liliputana
- 2.7 7. Gasteraloe “Green Ice” Hybrid
- 2.8 8. Gasteria batesiana ‘Variegata’ or Ox-tongue
- 2.9 9. Sedum morganianum (Donkey’s Tail)
- 2.10 10. Crassula ovata (Jade Plant and Other Crassula Varieties)
- 2.11 11. Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant)
- 2.12 12. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy)
- 2.13 13. Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
- 2.14 14. Schlumbergera truncata (Christmas Cactus)
- 2.15 15. Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri
- 2.16 16. Rhipsalis baccifera (Mistletoe Cactus)
- 2.17 17. Zamiocalcus zamiifolia (Zanzibar Gem or ZZ Plant)
- 3 What Does “low-light” Mean?
- 4 Succulents Adapting to Low-Light Conditions
- 5 FAQ
- 6 References
Succulents and cacti are popular due to their distinctive shapes, colors, and textures, as well as their ability to thrive in harsh environments with little water and sunlight.
Many types of succulents actually prefer bright, indirect light as opposed to full sun.
However, some species can survive and thrive in low-light environments, making them ideal for indoor gardens, offices, or rooms with limited sunlight exposure.
This article looks at a variety of low-light succulents and cacti to help plant enthusiasts find the perfect plant for their space and create a beautiful indoor oasis filled with greenery.
Here is the list of 17 easy-to-grow, low-light succulents that don’t need light to thrive.
17 Low Light Succulents and cacti To Grow Indoors
Low-light succulents come in all shapes and sizes, from common aloe plants to miniature succulent species, that grow no bigger than 5 cm.
Here is our list of 17 succulents that would be great succulents to grow in your low-light areas of the home or office.
1. Aloe Vera (Medicinal Aloe, Barbados Aloe)
Aloe vera is by far the most popular and well-known aloe. The gel inside the thick, fleshy green leaves is full of healing properties.
General Care for Aloe Vera
- Light – Bright, filtered light to thrive. If in a low-light area, a small indoor light will keep it looking fresh and fleshy.
- Water – Water once a week, let it dry out between waterings.
- Soil – Well-draining
- Feeding – Use a seaweed-based organic liquid fertilizer. Feed fortnightly during the summer months.
- Humidity/Temperature – Aloes prefer dry air so no extra humidity is needed. Cooler temperatures are preferred in winter with a minimum of 10°C (50°F)
- Decor tip – Display in a pot on sills. Plant in the mixed planter along with a trailing species and rosette species of succulent.
Related post: Various Types of Aloe Plants (Including Aloe Vera)
2. Aloe variegata (Partridge-Breasted Aloe, Gonialoe variegata)
This dwarf-sized aloe has coral, tubular flowers in late winter, and early spring. Its leaves are spiraled into three ranks.
It really does do well in low-lit areas and doesn’t need much attention.
When it blooms, it adds a lovely subtle ambiance to a room or desk.
General Care for Aloe variegata
- Light – Filtered light or low light with grow lamp is ideal.
- Water – Give plentiful water in the summer months, during the growth phase. Water less in winter.
- Soil – Well-drained
- Feeding – Feed every two weeks during the active growth phase. Use standard liquid fertilizer.
- Humidity/Temperature – This aloe tolerates dry air and needs no extra humidity. Lower winter temperatures are good but not less than 12°C (55°F)
- Decor tip – Plant in an attractive ceramic or clay pot and display on a ledge, sill, or mantle. Will brighten up any low-light area with its foliage and flowers. Perfect for the office or work desk.
3. Aloe aristata (Lace Aloe, Aristaloe aristata)
This small aloe is very attractive and produces dense rosettes, with raised, white-spotted markings.
General Care for Lace Aloe
- Light – Enjoys low light or filtered light, and keeps out of direct sunlight.
- Water – Water once a week, allow to dry out between waterings. Water less in winter.
- Soil – Well-drained
- Feeding – Every two weeks with standard liquid fertilizer, only during the active growth phase.
- Humidity/Temperature – Tolerates dry air well. Likes cool winter temps and can go as low as 7°C (45°F).
- Decor tip – Leave offshoots to mature on the plant so that a beautiful, spreading clump forms. Display on a desk or in the bare, low-light corner of a room.
4. Haworthia margaritifera (Pearl Plant, Tulista pumila)
One of the best-looking Haworthia succulents you can have, this plant is low-growing with liberal spottings of raised white bumps on its fleshy, dark green leaves, both on the inner and outer parts of the leaves.
Long flower stalk with greenish-white tubular flowers in midsummer.
General Care for Haworthia margaritifera
- Light – Low-light or filtered light
- Water – Moderate water in summer, Water sparingly in winter.
- Soil – If you grow this plant in a soil-based potting mix, feeding is unnecessary.
- Humidity/Temperature – Normal room temperature is good but provides a winter rest period at around 10°C (50°F). It likes high humidity so stand the pot on a tray of moist pebbles.
- Decor tip – Great in clay pots to cheer up dark corners and shelves. Or place it in an arrangement with an assortment of small, individual pots of varying shapes, heights, and colors.
5. Haworthia attenuata (Haworthia fasciata, Zebra plant)
The H. fasciata is the less common of the two. There is a slight difference between the two species, and it is easy to buy a plant that has been mislabeled. H. fasciata has a smoother inner leaf.
Both plants have white, bumpy tubercles that give the outer leaves stripes, hence the name Zebra plant.
This plant will form rosettes and clumps, which adds to its pot appeal.
General Care for Haworthia attenuata “Zebra plant”
- Light – Low-light or indirect, filtered light although they do grow well in sunny outdoor areas if they are watered well.
- Water – Don’t overwater and always give less water in the dormant growth phase which is during the winter months
- Soil – Use a soil-based potting mix if you prefer not to feed.
- Feeding – If the growing medium is not soil based, feed fortnightly with a standard liquid fertilizer. Only feed in an active growth period
- Humidity/Temperature – Likes humidity. Stand in a pebbled tray and keep the pebbles moist. Can take winter temperatures as low as10°C (50°F)
- Decor tip – Stand alone or group with other pots. Adds contrast to mixed arrangements.
Related post: Various Types of Haworthia Succulents
6. Gasteria bicolor var. liliputana
This adorable little gasteria succulent can be described as having “chubby” leaves.
Its dark green leaves are variegated with white raised bumps in the center of each leaf as well as white, bumpy, raised margins around the round-edged leaves.
It can fill a 4” pot to start with.
In fact, the leaves of this species won’t get much larger than 4” long and 2” wide.
It is extremely slow-growing, but when it eventually does starts producing pups.
It can be split and planted into individual growing pots or potted as a whole into a decorative ceramic or clay pot.
It will make a beautiful display with all the little offshoots adding to its charm.
General Care for Gasteria bicolor
- Light – Low-light or filtered light.
- Water – Let the pot dry out between waterings
- Soil – Well drained. Grows in rock crevices in its natural habitat
- Feeding – Will benefit from regular feeding during the growth phase.
- Humidity/Temperature – Can take moderate frost.
- Decor Tip – Looks great in rockeries. Plant into a shell or piece of driftwood.
Related post: Other Types of Gasteria Succulents
7. Gasteraloe “Green Ice” Hybrid
This is one of many gasteria x aloe hybrids and as such it also tolerates low light well. The requirements are the same as for the G. bicolor.
I have added this to the list because it is one of a growing number of varieties that are becoming available online, making it easier for want-to-be collectors to start their collection wherever they are.
I have found it difficult to get rarer species at local garden shops.
The only caution I would offer is that when you buy these plants online make sure they will arrive within a week to ten days.
If it takes longer than that, the health of the plant (which will probably arrive bare-rooted) will be in jeopardy.
General Care for Gasteraloe “Green Ice”
- Light – Prefers low-light or indirect filtered light. If it appears to start losing its variegated effect then move it to a better-lit area. This applies to all variegated plants.
- Water – Water sparingly but do give it a good soak through. Water even less in winter.
- Soil – Well-drained sand or loam. You can add 1 part leaf mold to 1 part sand and 1 part loam.
- Feeding – Not needed if using a mix like the one I mention here.
- Humidity/Temperature – There is no need to provide extra humidity. It can take cooler temperatures in winter, just like the G. bicolor and the G. batesiana.
- Decor – Makes a good desk plant. Will add appeal to dark shelves in north-facing rooms or out on a patio or balcony. As long as it does not get direct sunlight this species will grow and flower in filtered light too.
8. Gasteria batesiana ‘Variegata’ or Ox-tongue
G. batesiana is a larger species than G. bicolor or G. bicolor var. liliputana.
The leaves of G. bicolor are smooth and the leaves appear opposite each other, as opposed to forming a rosette.
The G. batesiana has rough, triangular, lanceolate leaves. Hence its common name, ox-tongue.
General Care for Gasteria batesiana ‘Variegata’
- Light – In the wild it thrives in shady spots, growing on steep cliffs or between rocks. Indoors, low light is ideal.
- Water – Water moderately in summer months and much less in winter, during the dormant growth phase.
- Soil – Sand or loam with added leaf mold is ideal
- Feeding – Only feed if you see the leaves turning a brown color, from the outer edge. Use standard liquid nitrogen-based fertilizer.
- Humidity – It may want some extra humidity in the summer months. Use a mist spray or stand on a pebbled tray during hot months.
- Decor tip – In a pot on a north-facing wall or room. Looks great displayed alongside other smaller succulents. Makes a striking appearance when potted in a white pot and placed in a spot with white or gray walls.
9. Sedum morganianum (Donkey’s Tail)
This striking trailing succulent produces trailing stems that grow up to 3 ft (1m) long.
They can take low light in outdoor growing when planted in window boxes on north-facing walls.
General Care for Sedum morganianum
- Light – From direct sunlight to bright filtered light or dappled shade.
- Water – Water moderately in summer and sparingly in winter.
- Soil – Plant into pots using cacti succulent soil mix.
- Feeding – If using a ready-made mix specifically for succulents, you won’t need to feed for the first year.
- Humidity/Temperature – Most Sedum species enjoy a light humidity over dry air and can take temperatures as low as 10°C (50°F) during their winter rest period.
- Decor tip – Plant in hanging baskets or window boxes. Old guttering makes the perfect container for these trailing succulents
Related post: Consider Other Types of Sedum Succulents
10. Crassula ovata (Jade Plant and Other Crassula Varieties)
This Crassula species has a compact form with firm, ovate-shaped leaves, which are shiny and green.
Hence the common name ‘Jade Plant.’
Outdoors in perfect conditions, a single plant can reach up to 2m in height.
As a pot plant, it will take a long time to get too big for a pot. Although eventually, it will need to be transplanted out in a bright sunny spot.
It produces masses of tiny pink flowers that grow in clusters, at times covering the whole bush.
It will not flower prolifically, if at all when grown indoors in low light. It will, however, make a very striking foliage plant for a time.
General Care for Jade Plant
- Light – Prefers bright, unfiltered light but grows well in lower-lit areas for a season or two.
- Water – Water moderately in summer and sparingly in winter. (Complete guide about watering jade plant)
- Soil – It is not fussy with soil as long as it drains well.
- Feeding – Feed with standard liquid fertilizer mixed to half the specifications, once a month during the active phase.
- Humidity/Temperatures C.ovata is drought resistant and as such can take dry air. In winter temperatures can go as low as 10°C
- Decor Tip – Pot as part of a mixed planter or plant into a terracotta pot.
Related post: Various Types of Jade Plants for the Garden
11. Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant)
Kalanchoe tomentosa plant has velvet-to-the-touch leaves.
They are gray-blue in color with deep brown, almost reddish, markings on the margins of the top part of the leaves.
It is easy to care for and takes on compact growth habits when given adequate light and water.
General Care for Kalanchoe tomentosa
- Light – prefers bright filtered light but can take low light for short periods (up to 3 months at a time).
- Water – Water sparingly in winter and allow to dry out between waterings.
- Soil – well drained
- Feeding – once a month
- Humidity/Temperature – Likes dry air, keep at normal room temperature. Can go as low as 10°C in rest periods
- Decor tip – the unusual, texture and color of leaves makes this a perfect foliage plant for individual pots. Add a top dressing of bright white pebbles to accentuate the plant’s foliage.
Related post: Discover the World of Kalanchoe Plants
12. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy)
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, known as the Flaming Katy, blooms flowers and is grown for its vibrant, colored, long-lasting flowers.
Once it has finished flowering, cut back and plant outdoors or move to a bright indoor area.
General Care for Kalanchoe blossfeldiana
- Light – Only place in low light when in full bloom. It prefers full sun or bright filtered light.
- Water – Water well in summer and during flowering. After flowering water sparingly.
- Soil – Well-drained
- Feeding – Only needed once a year to boost buds. Use a general 3:1:5 or 3:2:3 fertilizer.
- Humidity/Temperatures – Normal room temperature and dry air.
- Decor Tip – Liked for its bright, cluster of tiny, prolific, long-lasting flowers.
13. Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
Sansevieria trifasciata is the star of the low-light succulent show.
The narrow pointed upright leaves and clumped growing formations make striking feature displays in low-light areas.
Not only can the snake plant tolerate very low light conditions, but it also acts as an air purifier.
Depending on the size of the pot, each individual leaf can reach a height of up to 1m.
Related post: Different Kinds of Snake Plants for Your Indoor Garden
General Care for Sansevieria trifasciata
- Light – Versatile plant that tolerates low light right through to filtered light and even direct sunlight.
- Water – Moderate water during active growth, less in colder seasons.
- Soil – Well-drained
- Feeding – Standard fertilizer, preferably liquid or slow-release pellets. Feed once a month during spring and summer.
- Humidity/Temperature – Can take minimum temperatures of 12°C (55°F)
- Decor Tip – Plant into a 30cm planter or larger. Ideal in dark corners or office environments.
14. Schlumbergera truncata (Christmas Cactus)
Also known as the Christmas cactus or Holiday cactus, this plant has segmented stems with notched prickly edges. Bright, rose-pink flowers appear in late autumn or early winter.
General Care for Schlumbergera truncata
- Light – Grow in medium to low light most of the year and move to filtered light during winter. Don’t change the light level when in bud or bloom to avoid buds or flowers from falling off.
- Soil – Rich, porous soil.
- Water – Water plentifully most of the year. Allow a break from watering once the flowering stage is over.
- Feeding– Once a month from spring to autumn. Use liquid fertilizer. Never apply fertilizer to dry soil as roots may burn.
- Humidity/Temperatures– Normal room temperature and high humidity.
- Decor Tip– Plant into hanging baskets to show off the attractive flowers.
15. Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri
The Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri look just like holiday cactus plants, but there are only two species in this genus.
Today, most plants available commercially are hybrids of R. gaertneri and R. rosea.
They produce showy flowers that grow from the stems’ tips, making them ideal for indoor hanging baskets.
General Care for Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri x rosea
- Light – Prefers low light as this mimics the natural habitat.
- Soil – Being epiphytic means no soil is needed.Plant in a hanging basket with sphagnum peat moss and well-draining soil.
- Water – Keep moist all the time but only if the soil drains well.
- Feeding – Once a month during the growing season. Use a general 3:2:3 fertilizer.
- Humidity/Temperature – Likes high humidity. Use mist spray between waterings to achieve this.
- Decor Tip – Great for hanging baskets or in a pot on a pedestal, where the foliage can hang down and show off flowers.
16. Rhipsalis baccifera (Mistletoe Cactus)
This amazing cactus is an epiphyte with cylindrical stems that get to lengths of up to 3m (10ft).
It has freely produced flowers that sometimes cluster together at one areole
It grows high up in forest trees to absorb moisture and nutrients from its immediate surroundings.
It loves humidity and deep shade, making it the ideal hanging basket plant for a bathroom.
General Care for Rhipsalis baccifera
- Light – Morning sun with deep afternoon shade is good.
- Soil – To make your own mix add 2 parts peat moss to 1 part bark (or vermiculite) and 1 part coarse sand. A well-draining slightly acidic soil is preferred.
- Water – Although a well-draining soil should prevent this from happening.
- Feeding – Cut back to once a month when buds appear. Don’t feed in the rest period, after blooms have stopped flowering.
- Decor Tip – Brighten up dark corners by placing them on a pedestal where they can show off their long stems.
17. Zamiocalcus zamiifolia (Zanzibar Gem or ZZ Plant)
The ZZ plant is a rhizomatous perennial. It gets up to 60cm tall.
It is a plant that will thrive in low light but must not be left without water for extended periods.
It is a tough plant, but it will not flourish if you don’t care for it properly.
The leaves are shiny and leathery when it is healthy, and the stem will be slightly swollen at the base.
Unlike succulents that store water in the stems and leaves, the ZZ plant is a succulent that stores water in its rhizome.
Leaf drop plant disease will occur if left without water for too long. The glossy, pinnate leaves are a feature, and it does not recover well once leaves have dropped.
When given enough food and water, it gets to be a real feature plant and becomes multi-stemmed.
It is a plant that can travel well, so ordering online is not risky at all.
General Care for ZZ Plant
- Light – This plant does well in a wide range of light conditions but try to avoid direct sunlight.
- Soil – Well-draining soil.
- Water – Water regularly. It prefers to be in moist soil even though it is tough enough to withstand neglect, within reason.
- Feeding – Feed with a liquid, seaweed-based fertilizer or a nitrogen-based one with a ratio of 3:2:1. Feed once a month during the growth phase.
- Humidity/Temperature – This beauty can take a range of weather conditions, but avoid direct sunlight.
What Does “low-light” Mean?
When planting succulents, “low light” typically means that the plants are set at least a few feet back from a window and do not receive any bright filtered light or direct sun rays on their leaves.
Low-light succulents are varieties that can tolerate or even thrive in such conditions.
In fact, generally speaking, most succulents need six to 10 hours of light.
It’s important to note that while succulents can tolerate indirect light, they still need some direct sunlight exposure to thrive and should not be kept in complete darkness.
Indirect light refers to a form of light exposure that is bright but not direct when growing succulents. This suggests that the sunlight was filtered or dispersed in some way before reaching the leaves of the plant. A north-facing window, a south-facing window, or a west-facing window with sheer curtains or blinds can all allow indirect light to enter.
Low-light conditions when growing succulents refer to an environment in which the plants receive very little direct sunlight or brilliantly filtered light.
This can happen in areas of a room far from windows or in rooms with little natural light. While most succulents require strong, direct sunlight to thrive, several kinds can withstand low-light settings.
Be careful though, low-light conditions can increase the risk of overwatering because the plant does not need as much water when in low-light conditions. You should definitely monitor your plant’s soil moisture to avoid root rot issues.
When it comes to succulents, filtered light refers to light that has been partially blocked or dispersed. This signifies that before reaching the plant’s leaves, sunlight was filtered through a material such as a sheer curtain, blinds, or a tree canopy.
Filtered light emits a reasonable amount of light that is less powerful than direct sunlight, making it an excellent choice for succulents that cannot survive full sun exposure.
Succulents Adapting to Low-Light Conditions
Photosynthesis in low light for succulents and cacti makes them unique plants because they have adapted well to low-light conditions.
Most plants rely on photosynthesis to produce their food, and bright sunlight is usually essential for this process. However, low-light succulents and cacti can efficiently adapt their photosynthetic processes to function well in indirect light or partial shade.
Their leaves and stems contain cells called chloroplasts, which hold the necessary pigment, chlorophyll, for capturing sunlight.
These plants increase the chlorophyll content and the size of their chloroplasts in low-light environments, optimizing their ability to absorb light and maintain robust levels of photosynthesis.
Creating the Ideal Low-Light Environment
To create a suitable low-light environment for these plants indoors, consider the following factors:
- Position them in a room where they receive bright, indirect light or partial shade.
- Ensure the low-light succulents and cacti are at a reasonable distance from windows, avoiding hotspots that harm them.
- Place plants on shelves, tables, or window sills that provide adequate light access.
- Use artificial lighting like LED grow lights or fluorescent tubes if necessary, mimicking natural lighting conditions.
- Rotate plants regularly to ensure equal light exposure, promoting even growth and development.
Indoor Garden Setup
When setting up an indoor garden for low-light succulents and cacti that do not require full sun, consider the amount of indirect light the area receives. Plant these houseplants in well-draining soil and choose containers with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
Sunny Window Alternatives
Although many succulents and cacti thrive in sunny windows, low-light varieties prefer an area with indirect or diffused light. Choose rooms with bright natural light, but avoid placing these plants in direct sunlight.
Areas to consider:
- East-facing windows: Provide morning sun and indirect light throughout the day.
- North-facing windows offer consistent indirect light throughout the day.
Natural light sources
Some low-light succulents and cacti can adapt to lower light conditions and survive in areas with limited natural light. Here are some possible natural light sources for these plants:
- Skylights: Install a skylight to increase the amount of ambient light available for your plants.
- Light shelves: These features reflect light onto the ceiling, increasing the indirect light that reaches your plants.
Remember to provide adequate care for your low-light succulents and cacti by watering them appropriately and monitoring their growth and overall health. By selecting the right location, you can create a thriving indoor garden for these unique plants.
Can low-light succulents and cacti still grow without any sunlight exposure?
While most indoor succulents and cacti can tolerate low light conditions to a certain extent, it is still necessary to provide some form of light for growth and overall health. Artificial light sources, such as fluorescent or LED, can be used to supplement natural light in areas with limited sunlight access.
What are some popular low-light succulents and cacti to grow indoors?
Some popular low-light succulents and cacti include: Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum), Parodia haselbergii (Scarlet Ball Cactus), Jade Plant (Crassula ovata), Bear Paws (Cotyledon tomentosa), and various Kalanchoe succulent species. These plants can thrive indoors without full sunlight exposure, making them ideal for rooms with less natural light.
How do I care for low-light succulents and cacti?
To care for low-light succulents and cacti, follow these tips: provide indirect sunlight or artificial lighting where possible, rotate the plant occasionally for even growth, maintain appropriate humidity levels for each specific plant type, water sparingly, ensure the soil dries out between watering sessions. Finally, use well-draining soil and re-pot as necessary to avoid root rot or overcrowding.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.