Succulents are the most popular houseplants known to thrive best in full sun and it can be a challenge to grow them in low light. Not all succulents can survive in low light or shade, but some succulents can grow in low light or shade.
You can select succulents of your choice from this list of succulents that does well in low light and add them to your collection.
How Much Light Do Low Light Succulents Need?
- Most succulents need full sun and sometimes we cannot provide bright areas to these plants. In low light conditions, you have to choose succulents that can survive in such conditions.
- South-facing windows are best to keep succulents as they get the maximum light throughout the day. East facing windows get the bright light in the morning and those facing west get the sun in the afternoon and evening.
- North-facing windows get the least amount of sun rays through them. In the northern hemisphere, a south-facing window is the best choice to keep your succulent plants.
- But, all the low light succulents that are considered in this article can flourish even in a west- or east-facing window too. Some of them can survive even in a north-facing window, but it’s not suggested as they cannot grow properly here.
- No succulent will survive in total darkness. So, in case your apartment has only a north-facing window, or if there are no windows at all, use grow lights for your succulent plants, despite the fact that you are growing the varieties of low light succulents.
- Low light succulents do well when a grow light is located over them for 6 to 8 hours a day. You can use a timer to turn the lights on and off every day.
The Low Light Succulents To Grow As Houseplants
Succulents that can thrive in low light are:
Snake plant/ Dracaena trifasciata/Sansevieria trifasciata.
The snake plant also known as mother-in-law’s tongue is an African native that can grow well in low light.
There are many varieties of which some can grow to about 4 feet in height and some are compact that can grow just a few inches in height.
The leaves are green, long, flat, sword-like with variegations depending on the variety.
Although the snake plant grows best in bright light, it can also thrive in low light conditions, but the growth will be a little slow.
In summers, the plant can be kept outside.
Snake plants have low water needs and are very low maintenance plants.
Just like other succulents, overwatering should be avoided.
Lance aloe/ Aloe aristata.
Lance aloe is a low light succulent that can be grown easily. The mother plant regularly produces pups (offsets) which can be grown into new plants.
For smaller areas, it is a great succulent houseplant that can grow 8 inches tall with a width of about a foot.
The leaves are thick and fleshy and store water for a longer time period, requiring watering only a few times in a year. Use very well-drained potting soil for lance aloe, a specialized cacti mix is best to use. This succulent grows best in bright light, but it is also a low light succulent.
While watering, water only the soil, keeping the rosette of leaves dry.
Echeverias are very popular succulents having different varieties of leaf colors and shapes. Those with gray or blue leaves do better in low light conditions than those with green, purple, or pink leaves.
If echeverias do not get enough light, their center stalks enlarge, stretching toward the sun. Thus, place your plants such that they get sunlight at least 4 hours a day.
Keep turning the pot a quarter turn every few days to avoid your plant from stretching to one side.
Echeverias need the least attention and actually they perform better when ignored, at least for watering.
Panda plant/ Kalanchoe tomentosa
Panda plants are the easy to grow, low light succulents that have soft fuzzy leaves and can reach about 18 inches in height with a slightly limited spread. The stems are thick and get elongated in lower light than they do in high light. The leaves are gray-green with a brown tone along their tips.
Water only once the soil is dry and then rinse the soil, but avoid leaving water in the bottom tray. In winters, water less as it stores water in its leaves, so even if you don’t water for some time, the plant will be fine.
Ox tongue plant/ Gasteria prolifera
Ox tongue plants have a fascinating leaf pattern and variegation and are also very easy to grow.
This plant has broad, thick leaves growing in pairs. Use a coarse, well-draining potting soil for the ox tongue plant and for all other succulents. Ox tongues grow in light shade in their native African habitat so they adapt to grow in low light conditions easily. The patterns and markings on the leaves add a charm to this plant.
Always let the potting soil dry out completely in between waterings and in winters, they need much less water than summer months.
Zebra Plant/ Haworthia Attenuata
Zebra haworthia or Zebra plant can endure high light, low light, and everything else with ease. The slim, pointed leaves are green with white ribs and they resemble a small aloe. The small offsets are produced by the plants that can be potted to grow new plants. Zebra plants grow slowly and in low light areas, they tilt toward the sun. Keep rotating the pot a quarter turn every few days so that it grows straight.
Watering needs of this plant are very low, so water only once a month.
Mistletoe cactus/ Rhipsalis spp.
Mistletoe cacti are very unique with slender, finger-like stems.
The fleshy, needless, thin, finger-like leaves of mistletoe cactus move down from the center of the plant. They grow up as epiphytic cacti in their native place, South American rainforests. They dislike full sun and dry conditions. These low light succulents thrive best in the morning or evening sun. Various species of Mistletoe can be grown as houseplants.
They should be watered regularly unlike the other succulents. However, avoid over-watering them.
String of hearts/ Ceropegia woodii.
String of hearts is a very unusual succulent that can be grown in pots and hanging planters.
They have tiny, variegated, heart-shaped leaves on string-like stems that move down in delicate trails. Sometimes they are also known as the rosary vine, the stems have little bulbils along their length, looking like beads on a string. It can be easily grown as a houseplant and may even bloom with tiny brown or pink trumpet-like flowers. The vines can be 3 feet in length. They can thrive best in both high and low light conditions, although they bloom only in sufficient sunlight.
Water these low light succulents rarely, letting the soil to completely dry between waterings.
String of pearls, string of tears and string of bananas are the best low light succulents to be grown in hanging baskets.
Senecio/Curio rowleyanus(String of Pearls)
String of pearls is a hanging succulent that can grow well in low light conditions. String of pearls, String of bananas (Senecio radicans) and String of tears (Senecio citriformis) appear like little green bubbles, the leaves grow on slim, hanging stems that cascade down from the hanging baskets. Grow them in colorful pots and hang them such that they can trail down to the ground.
These low light succulents are easy to grow and propagate. Each fallen leaf easily develops roots, growing into a whole new plant.
They will thrive best in high light levels, they can also grow as low light houseplants.
String of pearls should be given just enough water once every two weeks to avoid overwatering. Make sure to check if the soil is half an inch (1.2cm) dry before watering again.
String of bananas is a drought-tolerant succulent with low water needs. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
String of tears should be watered like any trailing succulent. Wait till the soil is completely dry and then water thoroughly. Let the water run through the soil and out of the drainage holes of the pot.
Sedum morganianum/ The donkey tail / Burro’s tail
Sedum morganianum has water-filled, dusty green leaves occuring densely along the stems that trail over the sides of pots and hanging baskets.
Burro’s tails are very fragile, so with just a touch of your hand, the leaves and stems always fall off the plant. You can pick up the fallen pieces, put them into soil to grow more plants.
Minimum watering is required for Sedum morganianum.
Avoid over-watering as it can result in rotting.
Wax plant/ Hoya spp.
Although wax plants aren’t regular bloomers, clusters of waxy, star-shaped flowers appear on the stems that release a fragrance that fills the surrounding area when in bloom.
These semi-succulent plants have long vines with medium green leaves. Hoyas are great trailing plants and the vines can be grown up and over the windows.
In their native places, these epiphytic plants grow with roots hanging to tree branches rather than growing in soil and vines grow through the tree branches.
Hoyas are the low light succulents with various species and cultivars that are easy to care for.
Avoid over-watering the soil otherwise the plant could rot. A potting soil that contains pine bark, perlite and peat is best for Hoyas.
Schlumbergera truncata and S. x buckleyi (Holiday cacti)
These well known holiday plants are great succulents to be grown in lower light conditions. Schlumbergera has leafless stems with flattened segments and is native to the South American tropical forest.
- truncata ( Thanksgiving cactus) has segments with blunt tips and serrated margins. It is an epiphyte in its native habitat that blooms once a year.
- x bukleyi (Christmas cactus) has elliptical segments with zigzag edges. S. x buckleyi is one of the hybrids known as the Christmas cactus because it blooms during the Christmas season.
Both of these holiday cacti are low light succulents with beautiful blooms.
These plants should be regularly watered, but avoid over-watering as their roots should not sit in the soaked soil.
Jade Plant/ Crassula ovata
It thrives best in full to partial sunlight, but also grows in a shady area.
Well-draining, succulent soil is best to grow this plant.
Jade plants are the succulents that don’t thrive well when sitting in moist soil regularly, so the top 1 to 2 inches of soil should be dry before watering again. Indoors water the Jade plant only once every 2 to 3 weeks.
Bear Paws /Cotyledon tomentosa
Bear paws as the name suggests look like little bear’s paws. It also blooms with orange-red, bell-shaped flowers during the growing season. Grow it in pots, in which it can reach up to one foot tall.
Although they grow well in partial sun or in bright indirect sunlight, they can be grown in low light conditions.
The well-drained granular mix is an ideal mix for cotyledon.
In summers, give them regular, thorough watering or in the absence of rainfall. For smaller paws, give ¼ cup of water and for larger paws, one to 1 ½ cups of water at least once a week to keep them healthy.
Fox Tail Agave/ Agave attenuata
This agave is also named as Lion’s Tail or Swan’s Neck due to its unusual blooms or inflorescences.
Grow it in a warm, well-lit area, avoiding dark shade, but they can live in low light conditions also.
Water adequately when the topsoil is dry.
This plant can do well in low watering as well as in overwatering.
Woodland Stonecrop/ Sedum ternatum
This is one of the most low light tolerant sedums that is drought-tolerant as well. Once they are grown fully, stonecrops can thrive without fertilizer in dusty, rocky soil.
While it can be easily grown in the shade, it won’t bother full sunlight.
Water regularly during the growth period but avoid over-watering by waiting till the growing medium is dry.
Ensure that your pot has many drainage holes to avoid over-watering.
With these attractive, low-light succulents, you can brighten even the darkest corner of the room.
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia/ Zanzibar Gem
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is also popular as Zanzibar Gem or simply as ZZ Plant.
It is a rhizomatous perennial plant that can do well in low-light conditions. The plant is quite rough, but it needs proper care to flourish.
Healthy plants have glossy leaves and the base of the stems can be somewhat swollen with stored water.
Keep the soil moist for better growth. Remember not to water it regularly as these succulents store water in their rhizomes
Asplenium fern / Bird’s Nest Fern
Asplenium fern is also known as Bird’s Nest Fern because it grows in a tight cluster on the trunks of trees or sometimes on buildings.
Although a fern, this is an epiphytic succulent that will grow in moist, yet well-draining, potting soil.
It grows well in low light conditions.
Water every 1-2 weeks, letting the soil dry out half way down between waterings. In bright light, water more frequently as compared to those in lower light. Do not water into the center of your fern, but water on all sides of it.
Can I Grow Succulents In Shade
One of the most difficult conditions for gardeners is to grow succulents in shade. Succulents are great plants to be grown under trees as although they are known as sun lovers, they can also be grown well in the shade. And, once they set up, succulents in the garden areas will not need watering.
Tips To Grow Low Light Succulents In Shade
Succulents have a wide variety of plants, varying from epiphytes to drought-resistant cactus-like plants to humidity loving tropical plants, the shade-loving succulents also need different care which varies from plant to plant.
- Research the plants you want to grow to find which ones can grow in your specific conditions.
- All succulents do well with some bright light for some part of each day.
- In very restricted light conditions, your succulent can be weak, leggy and will not bloom.
- Six hours of filtered sunlight every day or artificial light is recommended for any succulent.
- As succulents store water in their stem and leaves, most do well with infrequent watering.
- Like other plants, athorough occasional watering is recommended to the small amounts of water given regularly.
- Always use pots with many drainage holes.
- All succulents need a fast-draining potting mix to avoid the roots and stem from standing in water. This is to prevent root and stem rot.
- Choose a planting medium considered for orchids while planting an epiphytic succulent. Select a cactus mix for all others.
With careful examination of your place and a mindful choice of plants, you can have an exuberant and vibrant shady area or a succulent low-light garden.