Sedum (Stonecrop): How Much Sun Does It Need?

The Sedums, commonly called stonecrop, are an easy-to-grow group of succulents. They offer something for everyone, from ground covers to tall border plants. And yet even among the Sedums the requirements for sunlight can vary greatly. Some sedums will burn if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods, whereas others do not develop their characteristic bodies and colors without strong suns

Sedum, also known as the stonecrop, is a relatively easy-to-grow group of succulents that look great in the summer and autumn. The Genus features approximately 600 different species that look alike. These succulents are known as “stonecrops” because people who have it usually joke that only stones can survive with less care and live longer than sedum. However, you still need to ensure the growing conditions are suitable for your plant to thrive. One of the easiest ways to ensure your sedum thrives is by providing it with the right amount of sunlight. The light shouldn’t be too much or too less.

So, does sedum need direct sunlight? The simple answer is “no.”  While these succulents prefer full sun, they can still survive in partially shaded areas. The plant will generally develop the best colors if it receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. The vigorous low-growing species can still survive with less than six hours of sunlight, but you have to ensure the amount of time the succulent is exposed to sunlight doesn’t drop to below four hours. If you live in an area that doesn’t receive plenty of sunlight, be sure to use artificial lights to fulfill the plant’s light requirements.

This article discusses everything you need to know about sedum plant light requirements. Does it need full sunlight to thrive? How long should be exposed to artificial lights? Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What Are the Best Growing Conditions for Sedum?

Like most succulents, stonecrops prefer full sun to thrive. While these succulents are primarily associated with backyard gardens in relatively hot and dry regions such as the western parts of the United States, sedum can actually thrive in a wide range of soil types and climates.

Good drainage is an essential requirement for the plant to thrive. In fact, this is one of the most popular hardy plants you will come across. The plant is also common on Colorado’s steep, south-facing hillside, where it is blasted by full sun for most parts of the year.

A pink sedum.
The plant spreads pretty quickly, preventing invasive weeds from taking over your garden.

Stonecrops can survive with minimal watering and don’t need to be fed regularly. In fact, you should only consider feeding your plant during the active growth season. The plant spreads pretty quickly, preventing invasive weeds from taking over your garden.

If you want to learn more about sedum plant care and how to grow one at home, ensure you read our ultimate guide on how to care for sedum plants here.

Sedum Plant Light Requirements

Like other succulents, sedum will only thrive when grown in a location where it can receive at least six hours of full sun every day. If you use artificial lights to grow these plants, you should leave them turned on for at least 12 hours a day. In some cases, you may have the lights on for up to 16 hours a day before you turn them off and give the plant eight hours of rest.

While most sedum species love full exposure to sunlight, some species can tolerate partial shade. No species can survive in total shade. If you are growing sedum in an area that experiences relatively long, cold winters, make sure you take your plants out during spring and summer to improve their overwintering capability.

A sedum plant in a pot.
Most sedum species love full exposure to sunlight.

If you are growing these plants indoors, be sure to find a good spot on an east-facing or south-facing windowsill. This way, they can enjoy plenty of direct sunlight. Since the succulent is one of the most undemanding plants, a regular potting mix will do well as long as you don’t leave it to become too dry.

During the dry season, the plant will shade most of its leaves. Don’t worry because this indicates that your plant is receiving the right amount of sunlight required.

The flowers have needle-like structures that come in a wide range of colors, including green, blue, purple, and grey. Butterflies and bees love the leaves too much. Since sedum is a perennial plant, the leaves reappear after the dry season.

Can Sedum Survive in Shade?

The answer to this question is both “yes” and “no.” While most sedum species require exposure to full sunlight to thrive, some low-creeping species will survive partial shade as long as the potting mix is kept relatively moist.

However, no sedum species can survive under the full shade because these plants use sunlight to manufacture food through photosynthesis. When growing sedum under partial shade, you need to ensure all the other growing conditions are spot on.

Plant in a shade.
No sedum species can survive under the full shade.

A combination of partial shade and extremely low temperatures or overwatering is a surefire way of killing the succulent. Even though the plant is generally undemanding and low-maintenance, you cannot afford to over-neglect it for too long.

What Are the Signs of Too Little Sunlight?

So, how can you know that your sedum is receiving too little sunlight? The first and most prominent sign is the flopping over of the plant’s stem.

When sedum isn’t receiving enough sunlight, it grows leggy, and its leaves become soft because it is trying to reach out to the available sunlight. This will cause the plant to overstretch and become weak.

A closeup image of sedum.
This will cause the plant to overstretch and become weak.

When flowering starts and weak stems now have extra weight to support, the plant can no longer stay erect, and it will most likely flop. So, if you notice signs of weak stems in your sedum, the cause could be a lack of enough sunlight.

Fortunately, the remedy is quite simple. Simply transfer your plant to a spot that receives plenty of sunlight, and it will start to grow strong again. However, full recovery may take some time.

What Are the Signs of Too Much Sunlight?

Since they are sun-loving plants, it doesn’t mean that sedum can’t receive too much sunlight. Typically, when the succulent is exposed to too much sunlight, it will start to show stress that can trigger a wide range of symptoms.

Your plant will start shedding leaves to avoid losing too much water through transpiration. This is its most common defense mechanism when exposed to excessive light.

Sedum in a clay pot.
Your plant’s leaves will start to show signs of sunburn damage by getting scarred.

If the leaves don’t fall, most of them will start turning yellow or showing brown patches that are more noticeable on the outside edges of the leaf. The smooth feel of the leaf may also turn into a rough texture.

If you notice these signs and do nothing about it, your plant’s leaves will start to show signs of sunburn damage by getting scarred. Remember that the scarring is permanent, and the only way to get rid of it is by pruning the affected sections.

Therefore, be sure to move your plant to a partial shed as soon as you start to notice signs of excessive exposure to sunlight. When you move your plants from indoors to outdoors, introduce them to full sunlight gradually.

You can start by exposing them to the morning sunlight for a couple of hours, then gradually increase the number of hours until you reach a point where you can throw them in full sun, and they won’t find it hard to survive.

Will Sedum Survive Winter?

Being a sun-loving succulent, you may be wondering if sedum can really survive winter. Well, the truth is that sedum can survive winter if you take care of it the right way.

The succulent is extremely tolerant of cold environments, but you need to ensure you are doing a few things right. First, if you plan to leave your sedum outdoors during winter, ensure you use resin containers.

The reason why we recommend resin is that ceramic containers may break when freezing temperatures hit. You can even protect your plant further by burying the container in the ground.

Another thing you need to be careful with during winter is watering. Keep in mind that you are dealing with a succulent, and these plants generally don’t like too much water.

During winter, sedum enters a period of dormancy and stops growing. Therefore, you need to stop or moderate watering. However, in dry winter, you still need to water your plant sufficiently to keep it alive.

Check the soil regularly to determine if you need to water your plant. Typically, potted sedums need more watering during winter than those grown in-ground.

You should also consider bringing outdoor sedum indoors during winter. This will keep the succulent safe from the freezing temperatures that may destroy it.

However, before you bring your sedum indoors, ensure you prune it to get rid of the elongated stems. If you have a relatively smaller sedum, you can bring it inside without pruning it.

Once they are indoors, provide them with appropriate source light. The best option is to use artificial grow lights that you can purchase online.

Grow lights will play a critical role in keeping your plants healthy throughout the cold season. Be sure to keep the lights on for at least 12 hours a day.

Final Thoughts

Sedum is a tough plant that can survive in many different conditions. Be sure you’re giving it the right amount of light and water, but don’t worry if it’s not getting enough sun–just try to provide some shade for your sedum during the hottest parts of the day.

Make sure they have good drainage, too! If they aren’t thriving, consider moving them outdoors for part of the year, where more sunlight will be available.

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