Do Succulents Need Direct Sunlight?

Do Succulents Need Direct Sunlight

Succulents are one of the most natural plants to grow as indoor plants. They do not require as much pampering and tending to as other plants do.

With the right temperature, exposure to sunlight, humidity, and water, your succulents will grow well. 

However, when you take succulents from their natural habitat, you will need to make the new environment ideal for them. Therefore you need to care for your succulents actively.

Although they are relatively easy to plant, you may find it difficult to know their sunlight needs. Some plants enjoy direct sunlight. They blossom and grow healthy when they are kept directly under the sun. However, some plants get scorched when exposed to direct sunlight.

Succulents require bright but indirect sunlight. Their fleshy leaves can turn pale and dry under direct sunlight. Another side effect is discoloration.

Except you are trying to change the color of your plants from their lovely green to color to a pale yellow or brown color, it is not advisable to keep your succulents under direct sunlight.

If you have ever visited a garden of succulents in a dry and hot region, you will notice that most of the plants are colored because they have been burnt by direct sunlight exposure, and they are undergoing so much stress.

If you are wondering how to grow succulents without them getting sunburned, this article is for you. There are specific precautionary measures you must take depending on whether you will be growing your succulents indoors or outdoors. I have outlined some tips for growing indoor and outdoor succulents below. Read on to find out.   

Indoor Succulents Direct Sunlight

If you are planting your succulents indoors, it becomes a lot more tricky because sunlight exposure is minimal when succulents are planted indoors.

Why succulents do not need much exposure to sunlight, they still need bright and indirect sunlight. Therefore, you need to find a space where they can get the right sunlight exposure for them to thrive.

The best place to keep your succulents when growing them indoors is close to a window. Keep them close to the brightest windows in your home. You can also opt for succulents that perform well indoors.

Some beginner-friendly succulents like the aloe vera, jade plant, elephant food, and pencil cactus are good options if you want to grow succulents indoors. 

Outdoor Succulents Direct Sunlight

If you believe most succulents are desert growers that can withstand the harsh sun in a desert, I am sorry to disappoint you, but they are not.

Succulents suffer sunburn and heat waves when left under harsh direct sun. Although they can be found in hot regions, they usually are in low-lying areas and shaded by taller trees.

Sometimes they are found in crevices and valleys that are hidden away from the sun. This is still indirect sunlight and not harmful to them. Succulents need 4 to 6 hours of direct exposure to sunlight daily as they love being in sunny locations.

If you keep your succulents in a shaded environment throughout the day, you will find out that they will start going towards the sunlight after some time. This harms your plant structure and hinders growth.

Also, another symptom that your succulent is not receiving enough sunlight is that the leaves will become pale green and not the vibrant green color that you desire. 

On the other hand, succulents shy away from direct sunlight or full sunlight. Intense sunlight can damage succulent leaves. The plants will turn red or yellowish. This can become a permanent discoloration if not detected on time.

While some succulents may survive the harsh sunlight exposure, they will be permanently disfigured, and not all of them end up looking beautiful in their new colors. Some other succulents fry to death or become crispy if not moved out of the sun on time. 

The solution is to act as soon as you detect any changes to your plants. You can move your plants to a shaded area that still gives your plants access to the sun so that you can control their exposure to sunlight if you plant succulents outdoors.

This way, you can change their location when the sun gets too hot and move them under the shade to protect them from direct sunlight for a while. Alternatively, if your succulents are grounders or if you plant them in a large bed that is difficult to move about, you can construct a shelter for them so that they can receive the right amount of sunlight and avoid being scorched.

You can slowly condition your plants to get used to the sunlight as they grow instead of exposing them directly to the sun. You can move them from the shade to an open area in the early hours of the morning and return them to the shade when the sun becomes unbearable for them.

When your plants become used to the sunlight, you can take them away from the shade or keep them under the sun for long hours. A sudden increase in sun exposure can damage the plants. This is why it is better to slowly condition them to get used to the sun exposure before they can be planted under the sun.

Also, you can go for sun-loving succulent species if you want to plant your succulents outdoors. This sun-loving species are less susceptible to sunburn and can tolerate direct exposure to the sun.

Although you shouldn’t expose them directly under the sun, if you do not have an option, they are very forgiving and will not burn or damage as quickly as shade-loving species.

These sun-loving species include colored plants like plants that are red, blue or succulents covered with spines. The coloration and spines are protective mechanisms by plants to resist sunburn and sun damage. Do not keep baby succulents or seedlings under the sun as they may not survive the heatwave.

How To Treat Your Sunburned Succulent

If you discover that your succulents do not like direct sunlight and your plants are suffering from sunburns already, you can treat them until the sunburn heals.

The first step is to move the sunburned succulents away from the sun to shade for 3 to 7 days. Ensure that your succulent get minimal exposure to sunlight on these days. If the sunburn, which is usually characterized by white patches on the leaves, heals, the leaves go back to their natural green color.

However, if the sunburn is severe and has left brown spots on the leaves, taking them away from the sun may not cure the sunburn. You will have to cut the damaged leaves off. You should cut the leaves from their stalk to completely get rid of them. 

After seven days of minimal sunlight exposure, you can begin to take the succulents out under the sun. Start with the bright morning sun and return them to shade at noon. After about two weeks, you can take them out in the afternoon, also for a maximum of 5 hours daily. You can increase this to 6 hours when you are sure that your succulent has fully recovered from the sunburn.