Does A Succulent Need Direct Sunlight?

While some succulents love being under direct sun, others may develop brown spots or even die when being exposed to too much direct sunlight. Here are some tips on how to avoid sun damage and take proper care of succulents.
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Succulents come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes which means they come with varying needs and conditions to thrive. Some live better indoors, while others prefer cold mountain climates. While deciding on how best to take care of your succulents, it’s important to know the different types of succulents and their varying needs. 

Depending on their color, genus, and native climate, succulents need different amounts of sunlight. As a general rule, succulents enjoy 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. However, succulents, especially when newly planted, will develop brown spots or may die if they get too much direct sunlight. 

For all, you need to know about direct sunlight and your succulents, stick around and just keep reading. 

Succulents That Thrive Outside in Direct Sunlight

First and foremost, succulents need a lot of sunlight to survive. Some types like Cactaceae need as much as 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. That isn’t to say every succulent has the same needs. If you’re looking for outdoor type succulents that love direct sunlight, there are ways to spot them and give them the best care possible. 

Brightly colored succulents love being outside in the sun. While that doesn’t mean they can’t wilt or die if left unwatered too long or in the sun too long, there is a huge variety that thrives in sunny climates. In general, they need to be planted in partial sun. Only water them when the topsoil is completely dry. During the winter months, limit how much you water them.

Typically, brightly colored succulents enjoy growing outdoors in the sun.

Here is a condensed list of different types of sun-loving outdoor succulents:

  • Agavaceae or Agave Plants
  • Aloe Carmine
  • Blue Chalksticks 
  • Cactaceae/ Cactuses
  • Copper Pinwheel 
  • Coppertone Stonecrop 
  • Crassulaceae/ Stonecrop
  • Fred Ives
  • Golden Barrel Cactus 
  • Key Lime Pie/ Crinkle Leaf Plant
  • Lipstick Echeveria
  • Paddle Plant
  • Pink Ice Plant 
  • Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)
  • Silver Dollar Jade 
  • Sticks on Fire/ Euphorbia Tirucalli
  • Tree Anemone/ Aeonium Arboreum)

Though these succulent variants love the sun, they still require special attention to ensure they don’t get too much. 

Preventing Sun Damage from Too Much Direct Sun 

If you aren’t careful, even outdoor type succulents can suffer from a “sunburn.” Soft succulents especially can wither quickly if they don’t get a respite from too much sun. If left unattended too long in extreme heat, they will develop brown spots on their leaves. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to care for plants. 

Plant or Move Them in a Shaded Area

The best way to protect your succulents from too much sunlight is to move them to a shaded area. If you don’t have them planted in pots, you can put up shade cloths or make sure to plant them near larger plants or trees. 

Consider moving your succulents to a shaded area to protect them from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.

Water Them More

Though they don’t require a lot of water, succulents in hotter climates will need a little more to counteract high temperatures. Be diligent in checking the topsoil to make sure it doesn’t dry out completely for too long. Usually, this means watering them once a week. 

In Extreme Heat Waves Don’t Repot Your Plants

Because especially high temperatures stress your plants, you shouldn’t repot them. This will cause unnecessary stress for your plant, and it may lead to them dying. To ensure your potted plants are healthy enough to repot, soak the soil once it’s completely dry until water runs out the bottom. 

You should never repot your succulents when they are stressed by extreme heat waves.

Don’t Fertilize Heat Stressed Plants

When overstressed by extreme heat, your succulents shouldn’t be fertilized. It will burn them and stunt their growth. However, when they aren’t overheated, it is still a great idea to regularly fertilize them to promote healthy growth and help them propagate new plants. 

Put Off Growing More Until the Weather Cools

While overly stressed, cutting and propagating new succulents will cause existing plants more stress. It is better to wait until they are healthy and thriving to make more. 

If you are worried about outdoor succulent care, or you are more of an indoor plant lover, there are also a large variety of succulents that grow better indoors out of the direct sun. 

Succulents That Don’t Like Direct Sunlight

Some succulents prefer low light and don’t grow very quickly, which would be ideal for anyone looking for easy to care for indoor plants. These types of succulents like aloe vera or snake plants tend to be naturally green. 

Though they don’t need to be in direct sunlight, it is still crucial to put them by the brightest windows possible. If you have limited windowsill light, you can also get a grow light to help them maintain a healthy, pretty shape. 

Here is a condensed list of indoor-friendly succulents:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Bear Paws/ Cotyledon Tomentosa
  • Burro’s Tail/ Sedum Morganianum
  • Crassula Type
  • Cylindrical Snake Plant 
  • Echeverias Type
  • Gasteria Type
  • Haworthia Zebra Cactus
  • Hoya
  • Jade Plant
  • Kalanchoe Type
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Rebutia
  • Rhipsalis
  • Scarlet Ball Cactus (Paroda Haselbergii)
  • Schlumbergera
  • Snake Plant/ Sansevieria Trifasciata
  • String of Pearls/ Senecio Rowleyanus

Once you decide on the type of succulent you want, there are other basic care tips you can follow to ensure it grows healthy. Though they don’t need a lot of care or attention, a trait ideal for the busy or forgetful, it’s still important to keep some basic things in mind.

Other Ways to Care For Your Succulent

The basic needs for any succulent are water, sunlight, and proper planting. They can easily flourish with very minimal care or thought. However, there are simple ways to hurt or kill them by not paying attention or knowing how to adhere to their basic needs. Here are some small tips to help your succulents thrive. 

Rotate Potted Succulents 

Because succulents love sunlight, they naturally grow towards it. However, if you never rotate potted succulents, one side will get less sunlight, and the other will stretch out. If you rotate it, it won’t develop a growth imbalance. 

Water Less During the Fall and Winter 

While growing, succulents naturally need more water. However, during cold/ dormant months they need less water. Overwatering will kill your succulent, rotting the roots. A sure-fire way to know when to water them is to check the top soil 1.25 inches deep. Water them once this soil is completely dry. 

Water Succulents Correctly

Rather than opting for a spray bottle or mist watering your succulents, you should soak the soil. Using a spray bottle will cause the roots to be too small and for the leaves to mold. For potted plants, soak the soil until water runs out drainage holes at the bottom. Before watering again, make sure the soil dries out completely. 

Make Sure Succulents Have Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is crucial for healthy succulents. They don’t like to sit in water for very long. Firstly, you need gritty/ porous soil. Look for gritty mix soil or specially made soil for succulents. For Potted plants, you’ll need drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Without a drainage hole, water will accumulate and sit, causing the roots to rot. 

Pot your succulents in a container with drainage holes and use porous soil to avoid water accumulation.

Conclusion

Given the many indoor and outdoor succulent varieties you can choose from, caring for your succulents doesn’t need to be too complicated or stressful. As long as you give your succulents the right amount of sunshine and don’t overwater them, caring for them can be easy and rewarding. 

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