Succulent Tips: Do Succulents Need Sunlight?

Succulent Sunlight Preferences

It’s no secret that succulents love the sun.

Not everyone has access to abundant sunlight, though. And winter rolls around every year like clockwork. Are succulents still a good idea even if you can’t give them full sunlight all the time?

Don’t worry – we’re gonna tell you exactly what kind of light your succulents needs and where you can get it.

Is Sunlight Mandatory for Succulents?

The short answer is no, sunlight isn’t a requirement for growing succulents.

Any plant can use any light (in the visible spectrum) for photosynthesis. Sure, the amount of “power” they get can vary hugely depending on the qualities of the light, but they’re always getting something from the light.

Even succulents and cacti, as special as they are, don’t absolutely require fancy-schmancy sunlight. They will continue to grow under your office fluorescents, the LED desk clip light, or even a regular old lamp. Or even a grow light like this.

That being said… succulents would definitely prefer sunlight.

That’s largely true for all plants – after all, they evolved for millions of years with just the light of the sun. They’re pretty well-adapted at this point.

Echeveria succulent plant
Echeveria @kazu228728

Why is Sunlight Beneficial?

The vast majority of succulents prefer to be in full, direct sun. There are two big reasons that sunlight is better for succulents.

The first is that it’s the easiest way to reveal their “true colors”, also known as “sun blush”. Those are terms that describe the gorgeous colors that succulents are known for; the luscious tones of lavender, turquoise, tangerine, and opalescent rainbow are the result of the plant being “sun stressed”.

“Sun stress” is a response to lots of intense, direct light. Plants have different responses to intense light. Some, like grasses, curl up to minimize the amount of surface area exposed. Succulents, on the other hand, change colors. Color changing in this case helps to reflect some of the light, preventing heat damage and reducing the amount of energy they uptake.

Those Pinterest-worthy color schemes are just a happy side-effect.

Succulents can and do survive just fine even without that amount of light. The catch is that they tend to just stay a (somewhat boring) shade of green.

The second reason that sunlight is helpful might be a little unexpected since it has nothing to do with the actual light. Sunlight is useful because it brings with it heat… and that heat will help dry out your soil.

We’ve talked about watering best practices and the importance of dry soil before. Sunlight helps dry out your soil even if the plant is behind a window or in an environment that is otherwise cool. The light from the sun is very high in energy, which speeds up evaporation even if you don’t notice the temperature rising.

Sunlight Alternatives

Don’t be concerned if you don’t have access to an abundance of sunlight. Succulents are not off the table yet. You just need to grab some grow lights.

There are two main types of grow lights: LEDs and fluorescent bulbs. The old-style incandescent bulbs should be given a pass – they make more heat than light.

While both LED and fluorescent will provide plenty of energy to keep your succulents happy, we recommend using fluorescents (especially the tube-light configurations). LED only emits light at specific wavelengths, which is very efficient in terms of electricity, but won’t get you the colors you want.

Fluorescent lights, on the other hand, come in full spectrum varieties. Those usually have a “color temperature” of about 6500K, meaning that it emits a light very similar to that of the sun. Some even have a bit of UV light, and while that won’t contribute to growth, it’s great for stressing the plant a little to get those beautiful colors.

Grow lights come in a bunch of styles to fit your needs. There are CFL bulbs that screw into a regular bulb socket (a great trick is to replace your desk lamp with one of these – now it’s a grow light)! LEDs often come in adhesive strips so you can put them under shelves, for example. There are tube lights which have varying lengths and can be suspended above your plants. Particularly versatile is the simple goose-necked clip on light that can go anywhere you have plants!


Succulent plants colorful

Where do you get the Best Sunlight?

If you’re committed to growing your succulents au natural, you’ll need to know the optimal places to set your plant.

If you’re trying to get your plant as much light as possible, that’s easy – set them outside in a place that’s slightly elevated and has nothing around it to cast shade.

Not everyone has the luxury of open spaces in their apartment or wooded properties, however. Furthermore, putting succulents outside year-round isn’t viable for most of us. When temperatures begin to drop below the 50° F succulents start to suffer.

Windowsills are the natural next step. Of course, you only get light from one direction in this scenario. That could cause your succulent to grow in the direction of the light – to fix this, rotate them regularly or add supplemental light from the other direction.

What are the best windows for plants? I’m glad you asked. If you live in the northern hemisphere (that’s us in the USA), a south-facing window will get more light than any other direction (assuming there are no external circumstances like another house or a tree casting shade).

A good south-facing window is almost as good as being outside in direct sunlight because it will get light all day. The next best window is east-facing. That’s because morning light tends to be more intense than afternoon light, and so it’s better for succulents. You would lastly prioritize westward windows over northward ones, but it’s unlikely that those two will be quite enough light.

Windowsills tend to fill up pretty quickly, unfortunately. It’s like home-builders don’t know that their primary purpose is to hold lots of plants? It took me a while to discover this, but it turns out that there exist windowsill shelves. They easily attach to your window and can double or triple the amount of sill real estate. It’s a game-changer.

You can also buy some planter stands that elevate the planter so that your succulents receive better light with a stable base. Something like this will work depending on how tall your windowsill is.

Succulent plant burros tail

Sunlight Precautions

It’s worth remembering that it is possible to give your plants too much sun. A few kinds of succulents only want partial sun, or even like shade. Be sure to check the care requirements on your specific fat plant before making big changes.

It’s also not advised to move a sun directly into very bright, intense light without acclimatizing it first. If it’s been in a low-light situation for a while and then is moved into the open sun, it’ll cause shock and even sunburn. In extreme cases, the succulent can die.

It’s easy to prevent, though. Just introduce it to sun gradually over a week or two. That might mean putting it in a place that gets shade during part of the day, or moving it in and outside once per day.

No, that’s not a chore! That’s another excuse to play with plants!

Now that we’ve enlightened you about the amount of light a succulent plant really needs, your succulent will grow healthy! Be sure to read our articles below if you need more tips and tricks on how to take care of your succulent plants. With over thousands of shares on some articles, we’ve helped so many people, you can be one of them.

Did this article about how much light succulents need help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth or even The Best Soil Recommendations for Your Succulent today!

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it

You love succulents. Of course, that’s why you bought them. Also, you are happy since you can plant them anywhere, from paving stones, flowerbeds, containers, and nooks. But after a while, you begin noticing some changes. The succulents are not as green and healthy as before. Instead, they look stretched, thin, pale, leggy, and weak.

The result is, they stop being attractive. Then you become stressed, you even develop panic attacks, since you are attached to them. But don’t worry as this problem is common. The best part is, you can rectify this mistake and get your succulents, healthy and fleshy as before. This article covers the reasons why succulents grow tall and how you can solve this issue, Read on to get the insights.

The following are some of the reasons your succulents are way out of line!

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Attractive Succulents @aubreys_plants

Succulent’s Nature

It’s hard to fight nature. Succulents come in different sizes and shapes. Mostly Indoors, succulents grow horizontally, and at a slower rate. Most will grow naturally, but there are exceptions. Instead, they would grow at a faster pace. These kinds of succulents need some cutting to ensure that they fit in the space which you have provided.

You can always buy another type of succulent if you are not satisfied with the ones you have.

The Lack of Sunlight

Yes, your succulents don’t get enough sunlight or grow under, hence they cannot perform photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants make their food. They use light energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. They later convert this into plant energy which they use in their growth, flowering, reproduction, and development of new roots and leaves.

When they lack sunlight, they wouldn’t be able to photosynthesize, thus resulting in smaller and lighter succulents than the average size.

Signs that Your Succulents Don’t Have Enough Sunlight

When you notice that your succulent is growing toward a particular direction, then it’s seeking the light. This process is known as etiolation. Just like animals, plants also move. Not literally, like walking, or crawling, or even flying. But they move. Though not evident, this gesture signifies a plant is seeking comfort. In this case, succulents craving for sunlight. 

Also, you will notice that the succulent starts leaving spaces between the leaves. Unfortunately, plants that don’t receive sunlight are prone to wither and die quickly.

The discoloring of leaves- instead of their usual green color, they start turning pale.


Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Care About Your Succulents @succulentsssss

How to Control Your Succulents from Growing Tall

Grow Your Succulents Where they Can Access Sunlight

Succulents look better when they get adequate sunlight. When you’ve noticed the plants start growing towards a specific direction, then move them to that side so that they receive the light they need. You can relocate the plant near the window, that’s prone to the most sunlight.

Alternatively, you can take them outside for a few hours each day. This ensures that the plants get enough sunlight, or use can use a grow light and let it act as a supplement. We prefer the light below for our succulents.

Our Pick
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Time to Propagate

Propagating your succulent for the first time can be scary. At first, you will think you are hurting the plant, but in the real sense, you are helping it. Don’t feel guilty. You are only offering the plant new beginnings. Soon, it will have thick stems, dense leaves, and intense color.


For the plant to remain in perfect shape and size, the first step is pruning. This will ensure it‘s desirable and attractive. You need a sharp pair of scissors before cutting the flowers, stems, and foliage when they elongate. The best part is, you can grow the cuttings, meaning, more healthy succulent for you. 

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Trimming Your Succulents @eemmalynn

We prefer shears like below for a variety of our pruning needs including getting propagation materials.

Our Pick
VIVOSUN 6.5 Inch Hand Pruning Shears

These quality snips come with stainless steel precision-sharpened blades and are ready to tackle all of your deadheading, trimming, and shaping needs.

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Plant the Cuttings

First, you need to dry the cuttings for a few days, before embarking on planting them. This gives the succulents enough time to lose moisture and develop pink roots. Then, remove the layer of the topsoil in the container you planted the succulent before. Also, you will want to buy a formulated soil mix meant for succulents and cactus. Get a loose mix, to ensure that water drains out so you never have to worry about your plant rotting.

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Although not necessary, you can use coir, as it’s environmentally friendly, with a neutral PH. Actually, it increases the rate at which succulents hold nutrients and also improves aeration. You can use small amounts of compost since they enhance soil nutrients resulting in strong, healthy roots and stronger plants.


Arrange the cuttings before planting. Place the bigger cuttings at the edge of the pot. Leave for at least three days, before you start watering. Later water once a week and you can adjust according to your conditions. You can apply fertilizer if you want

Cuttings start to produce roots in a couple of days or a period of 2 to 3 weeks. You don’t want all your efforts to be futile after the planting process. The least, you can do is ensure the plant gets adequate light. When the new shoots start sprouting, place them in a place where they get enough indirect sunlight than before. Or, you can use the grow light, to assist you in the process.

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Tools for Care @succulentcarekit

You might also like to take a look at “How To Prune Succulents” for a full guide on trimming your succulents at home.

Fixing, those long and elongated succulents is possible. As much as the process can be robust, the results are incredible. Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below your techniques to control the growth of your succulent. We’d love to add new techniques to our arsenal!



If you liked this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read. 

Happy Planting! ?