If you’re a succulent lover, you know that just about every succulent needs bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. But what happens if you don’t have access to that much sun?
Low light isn’t as bad for succulents as it seems. Some succulents prefer low or medium light conditions over bright light! So don’t worry if you need some leafy friends for your office space or shaded apartment: there are plenty of ways to keep your succulents happy and healthy without constant sun.
What is Low Light?
Before getting into low-light care, let’s first define what low light means for plants. Typically, light levels are measured by how much access your space has to sunlight. Bright light usually means your area is naturally well-lit, and plants grown in that space get at least six to eight hours of bright light. Medium lighting conditions have filtered sunlight. The sun may have to pass through a layer of curtains or several layers of dappled leaves to reach the ground. Many gardeners use the term “shaded” or “partial shade” to refer to medium light.
Under low light conditions, your plant has little to no access to sunlight during the day. An area considered “low-light” might feature small, high-up windows or no windows at all. Large spaces with few windows and lots of fluorescent lighting (like an office) also tend to be low-light spaces. Depending on your location, your light levels may also fluctuate with the seasons. In places with lots of rain and snow or only a few hours of daylight during the winter, a room that receives adequate sunlight may also become a low-light area.
Succulents that Like Low Light
Succulents are naturally hardy plants; most can tolerate medium to low light conditions under proper care. However, some succulents do much better in low light conditions than others. Here are some of our favorites:
Most varieties of Snake Plant prefer medium or shaded conditions, but the Black Gold Superba prefers low light above all else. Snake Plants are notoriously hard to kill and are usually at the top of the list for beginner or low-light houseplants. They are also excellent air purifiers and are relatively compact, reaching only about two to three feet tall at their largest.
The Christmas Cactus is another popular beginner succulent, primarily because it doesn’t have many preferences for its growing environment. Like the Snake Plant, Christmas Cacti enjoy a bit more shade than most succulents, and under the right conditions, they can live for over thirty years! This succulent is much more tolerant of lower temperatures and won’t shrivel at a slight draft.
Another beginner favorite, the Zebra Haworthia, is extremely sensitive to direct sunlight and prefers shade over sunburn. These Haworthias are also highly drought-tolerant, and their unique patterning makes them stand out above other starter succulents.
String of Hearts
The String of Hearts succulent is a trailing plant that comes in many varieties. Its proper name, the Ceropegia Woodii, features lots of genetic variations that keep this plant looking fresh and unique year-round. Like the Zebra Haworthia, Ceropegia Woodii plants are incredibly sensitive to direct sunlight and will lose their variegation or patterning if sunburnt.
The Hoya Kerrii, both in its single-leaf and trailing form, also prefers low light over the direct sun. These succulents are particularly sensitive to root rot and, in their tiny form, love to climb up and around trees. To ensure these lovely hearts stay happy, keep them in well-draining, porous soil.
Tips for Growing Succulents in Low Light
To help keep any succulent happy in a low-light environment, we’ve got some tips for you:
Generally, you’ll need to water less if your succulent receives less light. A good rule of thumb is to only water when your succulent’s soil is completely dry to the touch, and then build your watering schedule off of how frequently the soil dries. To help monitor moisture, use a moisture meter to ensure accurate readings.
Choose Succulents with Dark Foliage
Overall, plants with darker foliage tend to do better in low-light conditions. Darker leaves mean more chloroplasts in each leaf, and a higher number of chloroplasts means your plant will photosynthesize much more efficiently than other plants. For succulents, go with ones that are darker in color, and keep them near a window.
Turn Your Pot Frequently
To keep your succulent from growing leggy or towards the sunlight, turn your pot 90 degrees every so often to ensure each part of the plant gets plenty of sunlight. Regardless of light level, we recommend doing this for all potted succulents to ensure they don’t grow too heavy on one side and tip over.
Get Creative with Interior Design
Even a basement apartment gets some sun; if you’ve got the funds, it’s time to get creative! Using mirrors to bounce natural light across a room or hanging your succulents near a sunny window is a great way to get them a little more light in an otherwise dark area.
Get a UV Lamp
If you live somewhere that doesn’t get much sun, supplementing sunlight with a UV lamp may be your best bet to providing your succulents with ample light year-round. In some areas, where the sun only shines for a few hours during the winter, doctors often recommend UV lamps to help people get enough light– you can do the same for your succulents too!
See more about Demistify Natural Light for Succulents
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