How Much Light Do Succulents Need?

Succulents are popular plants, especially because they are fairly low-maintenance. They don’t require a lot of water or attention, just a sunny window. While succulents generally need full sun, many cannot tolerate too much sun because it can cause them to get sunburned. How much light do succulents need? How can you tell if your succulents are getting too much or too little light?

What Is a Succulent?

Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves and/or stem in order to survive in arid climates or dry soil. From tropical rain forests to searing deserts and snow-capped mountains, succulents are found all over the world. Common succulent plants include cactus, echinoderms, aloe vera, hawthorn, lotus leaf, cactus, sedum, zz plant, snake plant, jade plant, and so on.

Read More: How To Plant Succulents?

Succulent Light Requirements

The amount of light that succulents require varies from species to species. Some succulents, such as succulents and snakes, thrive in low-light conditions, while others, such as cacti and some desert plants, require several hours of bright, direct sunlight each day. Determining the type of succulent is important to determine the amount of light it needs.

Direct Light

Direct light is when the sun’s rays hit the plants directly through the window. Succulents that need direct light should be located in front of a south or west-facing window, ideally getting about 6 to 7 hours of sunlight per day (though this may vary by cultivar). Succulents that require direct sunlight include desert cacti, echinacea, sempervivum, emerald, aloe, aeonium, senile, agave, sedum, lotus leaf, and more.

It’s worth noting that direct sunlight indoors is not as strong as direct sunlight outdoors because it’s still filtered through the windows. This only really matters if you plan to move indoor succulents outside for any period of time, as drastic changes in sun exposure can burn the plant’s leaves. Make sure to move the plant outside in direct sunlight, starting with mostly indirect light outside for a few weeks.

Indirect Light

Indirect light is when the sun’s rays are filtered in some way before reaching the leaves of a plant. The area is still bright, but the light is not direct. There are many different types of succulents that thrive in indirect light, including hawthorn, holiday cacti, snake plants, zz plants, heartstrings, Rhipsalis, gasteria, kalanchoe, peperomia, and more.

Low Light

Many different kinds of succulents can tolerate low light. “Tolerance” is an important distinction here. Most plants do best in bright indirect light when grown indoors, but there are some plants that survive or tolerate lower light conditions. You may notice that succulents grow slower in low light, or have a more slender appearance when grown in indirect light. Low light usually means that plants are placed at least a few feet away from windows and don’t receive any bright filtered light or direct sunlight on their leaves. Succulents that tolerate low light conditions include snake plants, zz plants, calancho, mistletoe cacti, heartstrings, holiday cacti, and fishbone cacti, among others.

How Much Light Do Succulents Need?

How Much Light Do Succulents Need?

This may vary between different succulent varieties, but in general, your succulents should get about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Most succulents do best in direct or mostly direct sunlight, but succulents previously kept in darker environments need to be moved into the sun slowly to avoid burns.

Shading is not an immediate death sentence for most succulents. In fact, many succulents can survive in shade or with only indirect light for long periods of time. However, without proper lighting, succulents can become diseased and unable to grow. Just because they survive a situation doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them.

How To Tell When A Succulent Is Not Getting The Right Amount Of Light

Knowing how much light a succulent need is not an exact science, as every location and situation is different. So the best thing you can do is follow the general guidelines, try a promising spot, keep an eye on the plant and let it tell you how it does it. A compact growth pattern, firm stems or leaves, and bright colors are all signs of good.

Browning and rough texture indicate tissue burns from too much light. If this happens, cut the damaged area off the plant and move it to a lower light location.

You’ll know if your plant isn’t getting enough light if it’s starting to thin out as it stretches out in search of more light. If you notice this, you should take stem or leaf cuttings and start a new plant that is placed in a sunny spot.

Signs Succulent is Getting Too Much Light

Every succulent is a little different, but there are some consistent patterns you can look for when determining if your succulents are getting too much or not enough light. The dark spots that appear on your succulent leaves are not typical for this breed and could be a sign of too much sun. Sunburn occurs when a fleshy substance not used in direct light is left for too long.

The problem could be one of two things. The succulent varieties are either ones that prefer indirect light, or the succulent varieties themselves grow without direct light and change abruptly. If this is an issue of variety, moving the succulent further from the window or placing a light curtain over the window will help. If the problem is with an individual succulent, move it back to shade or indirect light, then slowly move it to direct light to increase its resistance to burns.

Read More: Do Succulents Need A Lot Of Light?

Signs Succulent Isn’t Getting Enough Light

The main symptoms of insufficient light are succulent stunting and long legs. This looks a little different depending on the succulent variety but usually means your succulent isn’t growing the way it should. This usually means that the leaves are smaller and grow more up or sideways than normal. In rosette-like succulents, such as echinacea, this is easy to spot.

It may be harder to see in vertically-growing succulents (like bear or panda paw succulents), but can be seen if you look for smaller-than-average leaves or are significantly tilted toward the nearest light source. If your succulents aren’t getting enough light, move them slowly to a brighter spot to avoid burns. Start by putting it in indirect light for a few days, then gradually switch it to more direct light as needed.


It’s important to know the types of your meaty foods and specific care requirements, which is important for figuring out how much sunlight to give your meaty foods. However, by following this simple guide, you can safely handle the lighting needs of all succulents, regardless of their species. Start with 6 to 8 hours of bright light a day and listen to your plants. If you see burnt and dry leaves, it needs less light. If succulents are stunted or grown more laterally than normal, more light is needed. Keep these in mind and your succulents will thrive!

Read More: How Big Do Succulents Get?