Should You Put Your Sempervivum In Full Sun?

Sempervivum does need full sun to grow well. Full afternoon summer sun is best, but Sempervivum will tolerate light shade. If your Sempervivum are not growing well or are losing their color, a lack of sunlight may be the reason.

Sempervivum, commonly referred to as the hen-and-chicks plant, is a relatively hardy succulent native to the rocky habitats in mountainous regions. These succulents are easy to care for, and their lovely rosettes will always stand out in your garden. These succulents are most valued for their beautiful rosettes, flowers, and spirally-patterned leaves. Each rosette is a young plant that is monocarpic.

So, does sempervivum need full sun? Generally, sempervivum needs full sun to thrive, but it can also grow in partial shade. The need for lighting mostly depends on the variety and species of the plant and many other factors. But one thing you must remember is that sempervivum cannot grow in full shade. Failure to provide the succulent with enough sunlight exposure will result in a weakened, elongated, and faded plant.

Do you have a sempervivum plant in your home and wondering whether or not to expose it to full sun? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

General Sempervivum Light Requirements

Typically, the hen-and-chicks plant prefers a spot in full sun but will also appreciate some afternoon shade if it is planted in a region that experiences too much sunlight.

These plants are not ideal candidates for indoor plants because of the amount of sunlight they require to thrive. When they fail to receive plenty of bright, direct sunlight, they will start stretching towards the closest light source and eventually die.

Sempervivum exposed to sunlight.
Your best bet would be to provide it with as much light as possible.

Studies have shown that sempervivum can tolerate partial sun, but tolerating doesn’t mean that these are the best growing conditions for the plant. Some species tend to do better in partial shade, while others will only survive when grown in full sun.

It is almost impossible to find a sempervivum species growing normally in shadow areas. So, if you have this plant in your home, your best bet would be to provide it with as much light as possible.

Sempervivum and Full Sun

As mentioned above, all sempervivum species can tolerate full sun, but not all of them can thrive in partial shade.

Most light is needed by sempervivum species with relatively broad, juicy leaves. Most of these species will have leaves with a diameter that exceeds four inches. The sunlight stimulates various chemical processes, leading to a healthy and happy plant full of vibrant colors.

When the plant fails to receive enough light, the rosettes will start to elongate, and the leaves will draw upwards.

The color of the stems and leaves becomes less bright while the center of the plant develops a green tint. All these are signs that your sempervivum is not receiving the required amount of sunlight.

A sempervivum exposed to morning sunlight.
A sempervivum that receives plenty of sunlight will generally have bright colors, larger leaves, and healthy rosettes.

Gardening experts say that this succulent requires at least 12 hours of direct sunlight to thrive and be happy. If you live in an area that doesn’t receive plenty of sunlight, consider using artificial grow lights.

Leave the lights turned on for at least 16 hours a day to ensure your plants absorb as much light as possible. A sempervivum that receives plenty of sunlight will generally have bright colors, larger leaves, and healthy rosettes that are flatter and lusher.

Sempervivum and Partial Sun

The Sempervivum Arachnoideum, a common sempervivum species, does great when grown in partial sun. This species needs approximately four hours of direct sunlight to survive and thrive.

If the species is exposed to full sun for prolonged periods, its tips will start to burn, and the rosettes will shrink in size.

However, it boils down to the variety; typically, large sempervivum varieties do better when grown in full sunlight and can only burn when underwatered.

However, most dwarf varieties, such as the Iwris species, tend to be vulnerable to full sun. Therefore, it is critical to understand the type of species you have before you decide on the amount of sunlight exposure to provide.

Smpervivum exposed to partial sun.
It is critical to understand the type of species you have before you decide on the amount of sunlight exposure to provide.

Sometimes, you can be having one of the dwarf varieties that won’t thrive even if you transplant it to several other pots. In such a case, the only problem could be that you are exposing your sempervivum to too much light.

The best way to test this out is by exposing your sempervivum to varying amounts of sunlight and recording the results.

If you expose your sempervivum to full sunlight for a given period and then it starts to turn its color to pale green with more closed rosettes, then it could be one of the dwarf varieties that don’t need full sun to thrive.

If you cannot transplant your hen-and-chicks plant that requires partial sun to a more suitable location, you should consider watering them more and creating a partial shade around them.

 Sempervivum and Full Shade

It is almost impossible for sempervivum to thrive under full shade. Keep in mind that all plants require access to sunlight because it plays a critical role in photosynthesis.

A sempervivum grown in full shade will generally be weak and pale. As a result, it will try to stretch towards the direction of light. If it doesn’t manage to reach the light, it will eventually die. It is almost impossible to come across sempervivum grown in full shade.

So, when you notice that your sempervivum is turning green and it is generally weak, check to see if it is receiving plenty of light. If it is growing in the shade, consider replanting it in a spot where it can receive direct sunlight.

Sempervivum expossed to little light.
These succulents may survive, but they won’t show their true characteristics.

In partial shade, these succulents may survive, but they won’t show their true characteristics. Since the plant is struggling to survive, it will channel all of its nutrients towards staying alive instead of showcasing its beauty.

Sempervivum and Sunburn

Unfortunately, your hen-and-chicks plant is susceptible to sunburn when exposed to too much sunlight or when there is a sudden temperature change.

When you bring a sempervivum plant that has been growing in partial shade in a greenhouse outside and plant it in full sun, sunburn is inevitable. Soon, you will start to notice visible spots on the leaves and other damage to the plant.

Sunburn can also happen if you transplant your sempervivum from the indoor environment into the outdoor garden. When exposed to sudden changes in light, your plant will start to turn yellow slowly and become smaller in size.

Sometimes, you may fail to notice any visible damage to the leaves but don’t ignore the yellowing of some parts of the succulent.

The best way to acclimatize a sempervivum to avoid sunburn is by planting it in partial shade for two to four weeks and gradually moving it towards the full sun. Ensure your plant is well-rooted to avoid other issues.

Your plant also requires proper watering to keep it hydrated. However, you need to be careful not to overwater your sempervivum because the results can be catastrophic. The only thing you need to do is keep the soil around the roots moist but not soggy.

If your hen-and-chicks plant suffers sunburn, don’t worry too much. Simply move it to partial shade, water it accordingly, and it will soon recover from the damage.

What Are the Other Sunburn Risk Factors?

Sempervivum is also vulnerable to sunburn when the soil moisture content is low, air temperature is high, and when the plant is still relatively young with an unestablished root system.

When transplanting sempervivum, you need to be very careful because it takes time before the root system develops fully.

Without sufficient time to develop the root system and acclimatize to the outdoor light conditions, the rosettes won’t be able to moderate the water content of their leaves to protect themselves from the scorching sunlight.

Can You Prevent Sunburn?

The simple answer is yes. The best way to prevent sunburn on your hen-and-chicks plant is to understand its light requirements. If you have one of the large variety species, there is no problem exposing it to full sun.

However, if you have one of the dwarf species, you need to be careful with how you handle it to prevent sunburn.

Sempervivum in a rocky garden.
The best way to prevent sunburn on your hen-and-chicks plant is to understand its light requirements.

Gradually move your sempervivum to shade when you notice any signs of sunburn and water deeply in the morning or evening. Avoid watering your sempervivum in the afternoon to minimize the risk of sunburn.

If you have a dwarf species growing in your outdoor garden, feel free to use trees, netting, or other landscaping elements to filter light out and provide your plant with the much-needed shade when temperatures hit the roof.

You can also consider planting them in a spot that receives plenty of morning sun, but is shaded in the afternoon.


Sempervivum is a hardy succulent that can tolerate a wide variety of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade. In fact, sempervivum will thrive in locations where many other plants would not.

However, there are some general light requirements for sempervivum that you should be aware of before planting them in your garden. 

As long as you follow the precautions and do everything perfectly, this succulent will flourish and bring colorful addition to your landscape.

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