7 Best Succulents for Low Light Environments

So, maybe the architect who designed your house or apartment never took into consideration that one day, you might want a house plant. You have windows, but the light is never really enough to keep a sun-lover alive, with most plants screaming “Heck no, we won’t grow!”

Do you give up all together on the dream of being a plant parent?

Heck no! We won’t let it be so!

There are a variety of succulents that you can maintain in low light environments and thrive and that will brighten up your home or office, and have you feeling like a proud plant parent.

Here are 7 succulents that thrive in low light environments so that you too can get the opportunity to chant: “Heck yeah! We can grow!”

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Low light succulents @_abbiewilliams_

Sedum Morganianum—Burro’s Tail

Named after the Spanish word for donkey, Burro’s Tail is indigenous to Southern Mexico and Honduras. It also goes by Lamb’s Tail and Horse’s Tail. True to its name, this low light succulent does resemble a braided tail, as it cascades in an overlapping pattern from hanging pots or the edge of a balcony. You can get your burro’s tail own on Amazon! Check it out, here.

Burro’s tail have thick, fleshy leaves that look like long, fat grains of rice, in shades of dark green, green-grey and even blue-green. The leaves look like they have been dusted with a waxy, pale blue powder called epicuticular wax (say this 10 times fast), which helps the plant retain moisture and protect it from sun exposure. The plant’s luxurious stem is heavy because the leaves retain moisture and they can grow up to 24 inches long.

As pretty as the succulent looks, it can be extremely sensitive. This is not your regular touchy-feely plant.  The leaves can fall off very easily with the slightest brush, and sometimes even when you just give the plant an evil eye. This makes it an obvious and massive mistake to try and re-pot this succulent.

You will be left holding a bare stem, unfortunately.

Burro’s Tail however has minimal needs in terms of care. It only requires about 4 hours of light daily and it should not be direct sunlight, as this will make its leaves start to turn yellow. It should be watered only when the soil is completely dry. Too much water can cause the stem to rot or even kill your succulent. Think your succulent may be rotting? Check out our article “Why is My Succulent Rotting?” to find out what you can do to salvage it!

Let your Burro’s Tail brighten up your indoor space with its unique appearance, and remember to place it somewhere away from passing traffic, where you can look but not touch. Hanging planters like these will look marvelous and complement your burro’s tail quite well, without the worry of someone bumping into low light succulents!

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Flourishing burro’s tail @mountainorganicsbotanicals

Haworthia Cuspidata—Star Window Plant

The Haworthia cuspidata is a cross between Haworthia retusa and Haworthia cymbiformis and is prevalent to the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

This exceptional succulent has plump, boat shaped leaves that range in color from lime green to greenish-grey. The leaves form as a tightly-packed rosette and with the right amount of light bouncing off the succulent, the leaves tends to look translucent, almost see-through, giving the plant its other name, the Star Window plant.

Some species have a white or red tip running along the outside edge of the leaves which are filled with aloe. The Star Window plant only grows between 3 and 5 inches, making it a perfectly compact plant to fit in an old tea cup, like this one!

This succulent, likes areas away from direct sunlight and should not be allowed to sit in water for any amount of time. It does well in dry, well-draining soil, and because it grows in clusters, it can be propagated easily from offsets or leaf cuttings. Take a look at our guide on how to propagate succulents successfully, here.

The aloe found in the leaves of the Haworthia Cuspidata has been known to have some therapeutic effects on sunburns, cold sores, itching and inflammation. It is also famous for being a resilient plant and is therefore safe to have with curious pets. Try out the magic of aloe, here!

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Baby star window plant @live.love.plant.grow

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia—ZZ Plants

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia stems from Kenya in East Africa and has been spotted sprouting roots right down to Northern parts of South Africa. This tropical perennial was commercialized by the Dutch in 1996 and is known around the world as ZZ, Zanzibar Gem, Zuzu Plant, Emerald Palm and Eternity plant.

ZZ is a stunner, boasting naturally waxy, glossy green leaves, protruding from a stem that can reach up to 3 feet long. It can occasionally be seen spotting tiny flowers that grow at the base of the stem, but these are difficult to see as they are usually covered up by the leaves.

This no-fuss plant, which is also available on Amazon here, is a popular in-house feature because it grows well, albeit slowly, in areas with low to bright indirect light. Like most succulents, you have to be careful about how much water you give ZZ. The good thing is it has an in-built indicator. When you spot the leaves starting to drop, ZZ needs more water. If the leaves start to turn yellow, ZZ has had too much water. Get yourself a beautiful, indoor planter, here, for your ZZ plant!

There are rumors that this particular plant, if ingested, could be harmful to inquisitive children and pets. Whether or not this rumor is substantiated, it is advisable to keep it at a distance from wandering fingers and mouths.

That being said, did you know that the low light succulents ZZ is an air purifier? It cleans airborne toxins, like Toluene and Xylene, from indoor air and restores oxygen levels in the room. Spend one evening with this plant and you will increase your oxygen levels, lower your blood pressure and reduce stress, all in one!

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
ZZ plant goals @zzbotanicalandhome

Beaucarnea Recurvata—Ponytail Palm

This is the Ponytail Palm, but unlike the name, this is not a palm tree. Thanks to its ability to store water in its bulbous trunk, Ponytail Palm falls more towards succulents. The bulging stump gives root to a thinner stem that ends in long, slender, hair-like leaves that look like they have been tied in a ponytail. Yes, Ponytail Palm!

This Mexican beauty also goes by Elephant Foot and Bottle Plant while its scientific name is Beaucarnea recurvata. An enthusiastic sun lover, Ponytail Palm can grow up to 30 feet (9.14 meters) high if given the chance, and back home in Mexico, you could find some that are over 350 years old! However, this totally forgiving plant will let you control its growth movements by keeping it in low light environments.

Ponytail Palm, like any succulent, needs soil with good drainage and can last for up to 3 weeks without a drink. As tempting as it may seem to give Ponytail Pat a haircut, do not do that. The edges of the leaves will turn brown and start to dry up. For more insight on what the best potting soils are for your succulent babies, read on with this article!

Fun fact: The ASPCA approved Ponytail Palm to be non-toxic to cats, dogs, children, and horses! To ensure your pets’ safety, here’s 7 succulents that are poisonous for pets— keep your fur babies safe!

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Growing pony tail palm @allaboutthemroots

Gasterias—Little Warty

A distant relative of the haworthia’s and aloes, the Gasterias is a perennial succulent that is a local inhabitant of South Africa. This plant honestly has a very weird look, but then again, weird is underrated.

Gasterias has long fleshy leaves that are shaped like a tongue and have outgrowths that look like warts on the surface. This makes the leaves have a rough texture like sandpaper. This feature relates to its other names; Little Warty, Ox Tongue, Cow’s Tongue or Lawyer’s Tongue. Get your own, here!

Unlike the rosette arrangement of most aloe’s, the leaves of Gasterias grow opposite one another along a central axis and the stem tends to spiral as the plant develops, sometimes getting to 3 feet tall. Get yourself the perfect-sized pot for your Little Warty, here!

Little Warty usually blooms between spring and summer, with flowers appearing on branched inflorescences that grow pretty high above the foliage. The flowers are usually pinkish-reddish in color and have a sac-like shape that resembles a stomach – probably where the name Gasterias is derived from (Latin for stomach).

This unique looking succulent is a happy camper in cool rooms with limited sunlight and prefers well-draining, sandy soil.

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Perfect gasteria @smartplantapp

Schlumbergera—Holiday Cacti

Technically, this is not one plant, but 3 diverse species that are summed up under the name Schlumbergera. Don’t worry, allow us to explain.

  1. The Schlumbergera truncates is called the Thanksgiving cactus and has pointed leaf margins.
  2. The Schlumbergera bridgesii is known as the Christmas cactus has smaller, smooth, segmented edges.
  3. The Schlumbergera gaertneri is identified as the Easter cactus and has bristles at the end of each leaf.

These names are as a result of the holiday closest to the dates when their flowers bloom and the main difference being the shape of the leaves. Isn’t that pretty cool, so thoughtful if you ask me!

This spineless cactus has leaf-like pods that look like they have been stapled together, while the stems act as photosynthesis organs for the plant.

Large, bright and colourful flowers pop up from areoles on the tips of the stems and range in color to include yellow, orange, white, pink, red, scarlet, salmon and magenta. Depending on the species you choose, you could get upward facing flowers or downward facing flowers. Let your vivacious cacti steal the show, and plant them in these minimalistic pots!

Dawning from the coastal mountains of South Eastern Brazil, the Holiday Cacti do well in cool and shaded areas with high humidity levels. Thinking of brightening up your home before the holidays, this is a sure way to go.

Speaking of cacti, we’ve gotten the question “are cactus thorns poisonous?” quite a lot. To answer your curious question, we answered your question in this article!

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Happy holiday cactus @gowetyourplants

Haworthia Margaritifera—Pearly Dots

Known as a close cousin to the aloe plant, these small, rare beauties are a sight to behold.

Growing in tightly packed, stem-less rosettes, the Haworthia Margaritifera has chunky, blue-green leaves that are covered all over in small white bumps, giving the succulent a distinct appearance that you cannot miss. These bumps led to nick names such as Pearly Dots, Pearl Plant and Cushion Aloe.

This succulent tends to bloom early in the summer and produces tiny, brownish-white flowers. They can grow to be about 4 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Pearly Dots is not a picky plant and it prefers medium to indirect light with minimal watering. It should never sit in water, and like most succulents, it does well in either sandy soil or a cactus mix.

This South African native looks stunning in unusual containers, maybe one like this, and can be gifted to anyone starting out as a green thumb.

ALSO READ:

Best Succulents for Low Light Environments
Magnificent pearly dots @flowers.cactus

Are you excited to complete your home and office with these new succulents?!

Before you do… We wanted to share that we’ve teamed up with Amazon. And to celebrate, they’re offering a FREE 30-day trial of their Amazon Prime Membership! That means free 2-day shipping on THOUSANDS of items— perfect time to stock up on all your new succulent gear! Click this link to find out more and sign up today.

And don’t forget, we’re on Pinterest! For gorgeous and inspiring succulent videos, like propagation guides and jaw-dropping gardens, check it out here!

Enjoyed learning about the 7 Best Succulents for Low Light Environments? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Thanks for reading, happy planting my friends!

Kalanchoe Tomentosa— the Panda Plant or Pussy Ears

Unique, attractive and low maintenance—that’s just the most fitting description for succulents. When you thought you had landed on the most astounding succulent, nature surprises you with even more than that. Exploring succulents never ends.

Whether you recently joined the succulents and cacti club or you’re an old hand trying to enrich your collection, the Panda plant might just be your best fit. The unique foliage makes this succulent a popular decorative ornamental in living rooms, offices and landscapes.

Quite forgiving and an easy-care succulent, the panda plant will not die if you forget to water it once in a while. Plus, the succulent does well indoors and can blend well with other succulents.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Kalanchoe Tomentosa- Panda Plant @succulustbalcony

The Panda Plant

The panda plant is a slow growing perennial succulent with unusual foliage. The succulent has a robust, branched stem, with its base turning woody as the plant gets older. Reaching to a height of only up to 45cm, Kalanchoe Tomentosa’s branching stems gives it an upright, shrub-like appearance.

The panda plant is widely recognized for its furry leaves which are fleshy, oval and grey green in color. The leaves lack a stalk and are covered by white or silvery fine hairs (trichomes) making them have a velvety touch. (Talk about soft). 

The tips and edges of its leaves are tinged with a dark chocolate color which gives it an attractive appearance. The leaves grow in loose rosettes borne on a woody hairy stem. (By the way, our team snacks on these Hershey’s dark chocolates almost daily, we might be addicted).

Kalanchoe Tomentosa will readily bloom in its natural habitat. The flowers are tubular and bell-shaped, usually produced at the tips of the leaves. Blooming is mainly in summer or winter with the plant producing yellow-green flowers and dark brown petal tips. However, the panda plant will rarely bloom indoors.

If you’re dying to see blooms show up on your Tomentosa, you can get it outside during summer or spring to increase its chances.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Potted Panda @pottingdaddy

Scientific Classification

The botanical name for the Panda plant is Kalanchoe tomentosa. The word tomentosa means “covered with fine hairs.” It belongs to the Crassulaceae family which includes more than a hundred species including the humble jade plant and the burro’s tail.

The genus Kalanchoe is made up of about 125 species of flowering succulents. The name Kalanchoe originates from the Chinese name “Kalan Chauhuy” which is translated to “that which falls and grows.”

Also known as the chocolate soldier, Kalanchoe tomentosa has a bunch of other names. The most popular ones include; Panda bear plant, plush plant, white lady, panda plant, donkey ears and cat or pussy ears.

Origin

Although native to Madagascar, Kalanchoe tomentosa is widely grown as a houseplant in many parts of the world. Its original habitat is granite rocks. Typical of other succulents, it stores water in its thick, fleshy leaves as it has been adapted to xerophytic conditions.

ALSO READ:

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Flourishing Panda Plant @succulentsbysophie

How to Take Care of Kalanchoe Tomentosa Succulents

When it comes to growing or caring for a panda plant, nothing could be easier. The plant is already adapted to surviving in desert conditions and it will thrive on neglect. However, as with any other succulent, specific environmental conditions will favor its growth.

Keep your Panda plant in the following ideal conditions for optimum growth.

What is the ideal temperature for a panda plant?

The panda plant can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. Mostly, it will do well in warm temperatures of between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, though slightly lower or higher temperatures wouldn’t harm it.

You can take your panda plant outdoors during spring and summer but be sure to bring it back during freeze cold and frosty nights. Cold temperatures will quickly damage your plant and it might even die. Conversely, exposing the plant to direct sunlight for very long hours during summer may lead to sunburn.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Striking Panda Plant @nature.reflections

How much light does the Kalanchoe Tomentosa plant need?

This Kalanchoe will produce healthy and rich leaves if exposed to bright sunlight. You can throw in a few hours of shade just for the balance. If growing the panda plant indoors, set it on a sunny window in the morning and late afternoon. Avoid setting it on the hot midday sun as this will damage its tender leaves.

Be careful when growing it indoors. Poorly lit spaces may lead to succulent etiolation making your panda plant to be stretched, curved and scrawny. If necessary, get a grow light to ensure enough light on your plants.

Soil & fertilizing requirements for Kalanchoe Tomentosa succulents

Most succulents hate sitting on damp soil for extended periods of time. Kalanchoe tomentosa is no exception. It will easily rot from the roots if the soil remains wet for a long time. To prevent this tragedy, use soil that has good drainage capabilities. Nothing beats a cactus commercial potting mix. It is specially formulated to mimic the desert soil so that it can provide the proper Ph for your plant while keeping it healthy. You can get commercial cacti potting mix online for a few bucks.

Here’s some organic soil that we’ve found highly rated on Amazon.

For you DIY geeks, you can make your own cacti mix by mixing garden soil with equal amounts of pumice or perlite. Make sure its grainy and doesn’t stick as that would be disastrous to your panda plant.

This desert succulent doesn’t necessarily need a fertilizer for it to show robust growth. Feeding it once or twice a year is enough. Only feed it during the growing season (Spring and summer). Use a diluted liquid fertilizer that’s specific to succulents. 

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Panda Plant Soaking up the Sunlight @damngreenhouse

Watering The Panda Plant— Kalanchoe Tomentosa

The panda plant has numerous adaptations to enable it to survive on little water. Its leaves are endowed with a covering of white hairs which prevents air from directly moving across the surface of the leaf. Consequently, this reduces the loss of water vapor that’s usually caused by transpiration.

The trichomes are also closely stacked together and therefore shield the leaf from harsh environmental conditions. Additionally, the white or silver color of the leaves reflect light preventing overheating.

With such adaptations in regard to water storage, the last thing this succulent would need is overwatering. Flood it thoroughly and only do so again when the soil is completely dry. Do no leave any excess water in the soil, let everything drain down or pour out the excess water.

Water the panda plant from the bottom. The wooly, velvety leaves will begin to rot if they get in contact with any water. In case this happens, quickly wipe off as much water as you can from the leaves. Remember to be gentle as the leaves can break off from the stem if a lot of force is used.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Miniature Panda Baby @garden.gurrl

What are common problems for panda plants?

Yellow mushy leaves

Yellow leaves on your panda plant is indicative that you’ve been overwatering this plant. Leaves will be mushy as an early rotting sign due to excess moisture. This can be averted if caught early.

Cut back on watering and let the soil dry out completely. If unsure, give the soil up to 2 days for it to dry. With Kalanchoe tomentosa, it’s better to underwater than to drown them. You can pluck out the mushy leaves to prevent the spread of the rot.

Panda plant pests

Mealybugs usually have a whale of a time camouflaging in Kalanchoe tomentosa’s white leaves. They produce some white powdery substance that can easily be confused with the normal color of the leaf. Careful inspect your plant from time to time for white little bugs. You can use 70% isopropyl alcohol or neem oil to ward them off.

Poison concerns

If ingested, the panda plant is mildly toxic in all its parts to humans and pets. Keep it away from curious toddlers and small pets who may want to taste its leaves.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Outdoor Panda Plant @plantsbylauryn

How to Propagate the Panda Plant Succulent

When it comes to succulents, getting more plants is never a concern. Propagation always completes the equation. In Kalanchoe tomentosa, this is done by leaf cuttings. The best time to do it is during spring or summer when conditions favor growth.

Simply pluck a few leaves from your plants. Just pick enough as plucking many leaves will weaken the plant while just one may fail to produce roots. Allow the leaves to callous for a few days to prevent rot of the fresh wound when planted.

Get commercial cacti mix and place the calloused leaves on it. Slightly dampen the soil and water it once it is completely dry. Place the propagates in a spot where they’ll receive lots of indirect sunlight.

It might take up to five weeks for the roots to develop and new buds to appear. Once new growth has set in, move the plants in their own pots having well-draining soil. Be careful with watering as it might be tempting to overwater them at this point. You’ll never go wrong with waiting for the soil to dry out in between watering.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
House plant Panda @plantladycr

Repotting Panda Plants

The panda plant is a fairly slow growing succulent which doesn’t need repotting that often. You can repot it once in every two years to a size larger than its pot.

Once it reaches 45cm long, it stops growing which means less repotting. Even when fully mature, Kalanchoe tomentosa doesn’t require a big pot unless a lot of branching has taken place making it top-heavy.

Where can I buy panda plants?

Oh yeah, we saw this coming. Who wouldn’t want to grab a Kalanchoe tomentosa given all its amazing features? Locally, you can buy one in plant nurseries, conservatories or garden centers near you. Hunting during spring or summer may largely increase your chances.

If that doesn’t prove successful, try online stores such as SucculentBox, Etsy, Amazon or Mountain crest gardens.

Kalanchoe Tomentosa the panda plant
Pretty Pandas @nadinetravica

Do you understand why Panda Plants get their nicknames from now, quite neat right? Do you have a panda plant? Let us know and what you do to keep this succulenti healthy and vibrant!

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complementary guide. 

Thanks for reading our article on panda plants! Happy planting! 🌿

>