Does Crassula Ovata Need Direct Sunlight

Contrary to popular belief, Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant) does not need sunlight to survive. It thrives in indirect sunlight, and is very particular about its soil and water levels.

Crassula Ovata is known by various names: the jade plant, lucky plant, friendship, and money plant. Most people believe it brings good luck and good fortune to those who possess it. This plant is immeasurably popular as an indoor plant, but in some growing areas, this plant can even be used as a lovely landscape plant.

Crassula Ovata plants are renowned for their thick, fleshy, glossy, and smooth leaves that grow in opposite pairs. A critical aspect of the care and maintenance of jade plants is the amount of sun they get. It is best to replicate the warm and dry conditions indoors that jade plants originate from as close as possible for your plant to thrive. 

They need full sunlight to keep growing happily. Your jade plant will have beautiful red margins if it receives sufficient sunshine.

If the plants lack full sun, they can become retarded and leggy. In addition, the plant will struggle to produce food for the entire system. Consequently, the plant will not show any signs of growing. It won’t survive too long.

While mature plants can withstand direct sunlight, young plants must be kept in bright and indirect sunlight. Jade plants may tolerate reduced light levels. Variegated varieties of jade plants can grow very successfully in much less light, particularly if your room has a bright indirect light. Jade plants can be good indoors as well as outside.

Indoor Light Requirements

If kept inside, make sure the jade plant gets the appropriate sunlight. Indoor or shaded jade plants retain dark green, emerald, or dark green coloration. You will know how they develop if they do not receive sufficient sunlight.

They will begin to stretch towards the sun and become long and leggy, a process known as etiolation when they do not receive enough sunlight. Leggy Jade plants may be susceptible to damage if they fall or fail to support their branches. If stretching occurs, you should move your jade plant to a brighter location or consider using growth lights to provide adequate light.

Jade plant near the Window.
Make sure the jade plant gets the appropriate sunlight.

Kitchens and offices with south-facing windows are usually good places with just enough light, like the west-facing windows. You can also place your plants in an area that receives indirect light throughout the day or direct sunshine for six hours daily.

In general, jade plants, like most succulent plants, require at least 5-6 hours a day of sunlight to thrive properly. Therefore, give established jade plants a minimum of four hours of daily daylight. If you have a new plant, find a place where the sunshine is bright but indirect.

Place the jade plants in a sunny area, like a bright ledge of a south-facing window. While some houseplants find leaves burned in direct sunlight, jade plants can tolerate natural light.

However, if they are kept near the window that receives intense sun, especially in the afternoon, the leaves may have sunburns (brown spots) until they are acclimated to harsh sunlight.

To prevent this, gradually increase the amount of bright sunlight it receives. Jade plants may survive if you grow them where they only get a small amount of bright light, but they will not bloom. In addition, like most other tropical plants, jade plants hate the cold, so keep them clear of windows and doors. Finally, give your jade plant a quarter turn each week or thus expose all sides in sunlight for equal growth.

A Jade plant in the table.
Jade plants may survive if you grow them where they only get a small amount of bright light.

Prickly plants with few leaves require more sunlight. If your space is not receiving a large amount of natural light, place your jade plant under a growing light instead. It will overcome the deficiency of sunlight. Use the growth lights occasionally if you do not have a south-facing window; even if you have other windows with sunlight exposure, it will benefit the growth.

Recommended Indoor Spots

Finding the right place in your home for your jade plant may be a daunting task, from low-light areas to bright spots. Below we share some recommendations for positioning your Jade plant in your home.

Patio or Balcony Area

You may place your jade plant on a terrace or balcony adjacent to the room as it will receive sufficient sunlight throughout the day. It’s not a typical indoor setting, but it will be perfect for the plant.

Near a Window

You can also put your jade plant close to the window; this is the perfect spot, especially if you want to grow this plant in your living room or bedroom. Try placing it near a sunny window to get enough natural light throughout the day.

Crassula Ovata near the window.
Try placing it near a sunny window.

Partial Sunlight

If you don’t have a place to keep your Jade plant near a window, put it where it can get at least a couple of hours of indirect sunlight in the day. The plant should do well in a room well illuminated by natural light. It may not exhibit robust growth, but it will continue to grow steadily.

Shaded Place

The jade plant is capable of surviving in the shade. However, in poor light conditions, you may not see the optimum growth rate for the plant. If you are not getting enough sunlight in your home, you should find a room that usually seems well lit during the day. While it may not deliver the best results in terms of growth, it is expected to grow at a slow pace.

Outdoor Sunlight Requirements

Give your jade plant some time to get used to being outside for a few days before moving it to a more sunny area, as the sunlight is more intense. Jade plants prefer much sunlight, but direct sunlight, particularly the fierce afternoon sun, can burn the plant’s leaves. You will notice sunburned patches on the leaves (brown patches) when this occurs. To avoid this happening, you can move the plant to a place where it receives a lot of bright morning sun versus afternoon sun.

They can be placed outdoors in courtyards, but they need to be brought indoors in the fall and winter to avoid freezing. They are capable of withstanding cold temperatures just above the freezing point. A great outdoor location is direct sunlight in the morning with protection from the harsh afternoon sun.

Jade plant outdoors.
Jade plants prefer much sunlight, but direct sunlight, particularly the fierce afternoon sun.

The morning sun is less intense than the afternoon sun and is popular with most succulent plants. If you cannot move the plant and receive full afternoon sun, try to provide some shade until it gets accustomed to the intense sun. You can try to place it next to a larger plant to offer a bit of shade. A tree or furniture like a table or chair beside the plant may also provide shade.

Slowly increase sunlight to avoid sun damage. Once acclimatized to the full sun, it should be able to endure the intense heat of the afternoon. But even an acclimated mature jade plant can still suffer sunburn during a heatwave or when the temperature becomes intensely warm during the summer.

Jade plants exposed to the afternoon sun will have a reddish tinge on their leaves, particularly their edges. It is usually harmless to the plant when this happens, and the plant usually recovers smoothly. Sunburned leaves eventually fall off when new leaves sprout. However, too much sunlight may burn immature young plants.

Getting Your Jade Plant to Adapt to Outdoor Sun

Although jade plants are usually tough, a sudden increase in lighting can burn their leaves and produce unpleasant brown spots. Even though it does not affect the health of a mature specimen, it may jeopardize the growth of a young plant. 

Therefore, whether growing your jade plant outdoors or indoors, a plant accustomed to attenuating lighting conditions should be moved gradually to a brighter place to allow the plant to adapt to the light changes. Jade plants used to full sun for part of the day can endure higher daytime temperatures.

How Can You Tell That Your Jade Plant Is Not Getting Enough Sunlight?

If your jade plant does not receive enough sunshine, it will cease to grow and begin to drop its leaves. Therefore, keep your plant in a brighter or sunnier area. Furthermore, if your plant loses leaves in winter, it is likely not getting enough light.

Jade plant near the window.
Put your plant within a few centimeters of the window so that it gets enough light.

Put your plant within a few centimeters of the window so that it gets enough light. However, you should know that winter air currents can harm your jade plant. Therefore, if your window is windy or cold, use an artificial light source to shed more light on your plant.

Bottom Line

The jade plant thrives with a lot of light. So while the plants require bright light, they should not be exposed to too much direct sun. If you can supply a few hours of sun a day, you’re going to have a happy plant.

Most Crassula Ovata plants need shadow in the warmest part of the summer but need bright light to achieve their most vibrant color. Therefore, having an adequate amount of sunlight can assist your jade plant thrive.

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