Can Succulents Tolerate Shade?

Succulents are a type of plant that is typically known for its ability to thrive in dry, arid environments. With their fleshy, water-storing leaves and stems, they’re often thought of as a low-maintenance plant that can handle a variety of conditions. However, there’s often some confusion as to whether or not succulents can tolerate shade. In this article, we’ll explore that question and provide some insights into how to care for these unique plants under different lighting conditions.

Understanding Succulents

Succulents are a type of plant that are adapted to survive in arid and semi-arid environments. They store water in their leaves, stems, and roots, allowing them to survive long periods of drought. Succulents come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny rosettes to large trees.

The Importance of Sunlight

One of the key factors that determine the health and growth of succulents is sunlight. Most succulents thrive in bright, direct sunlight, and need at least six hours of sun exposure per day. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis, the process by which plants produce energy from sunlight.

Succulents can tolerate shade, with some species preferring it over direct sunlight. Light shade, partial shade, and deep shade are different types of shade that can impact a succulent’s growth. Choosing shade-tolerant succulents and providing proper care, including proper watering, soil, fertilizer, and pest/disease control, can help them thrive.

The Role of Shade

While sunlight is important for succulents, some species can tolerate shade. In fact, some succulents prefer shade over direct sunlight. Shade can protect succulents from excessive heat and UV radiation, which can damage their leaves and stems.

Types of Shade

Not all shade is created equal. There are different types of shade, which can vary in intensity and duration. Some types of shade are more suitable for succulents than others.

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Light Shade

Light shade refers to areas that receive filtered sunlight, such as under a tree canopy or near a window with a sheer curtain. Light shade can be beneficial for succulents that are sensitive to direct sunlight or that are grown indoors.

Partial Shade

Partial shade refers to areas that receive some direct sunlight, but are shaded for part of the day. This can include areas that receive morning or afternoon sun, or that are shaded by a nearby building or structure. Succulents that are grown in partial shade may grow more slowly than those grown in full sun, but can still thrive if given proper care.

Deep Shade

Deep shade refers to areas that receive little or no direct sunlight, such as under a dense canopy of trees or in a north-facing window. Succulents that are grown in deep shade may become stretched or leggy, as they try to reach for sunlight. However, some succulents can still survive in deep shade if they are given adequate water and nutrients.

Choosing the Right Succulent for Shade

While some succulents can tolerate shade, not all species are suitable for growing in low-light conditions. When choosing a succulent for shade, it is important to consider its natural habitat and light requirements.

Shade-Tolerant Succulents

Some succulents that are known to tolerate shade include:

  • Haworthia
  • Gasteria
  • Sansevieria
  • Rhipsalis
  • Epiphyllum
  • Schlumbergera
  • Peperomia

Sun-Loving Succulents

Some succulents that require full sun include:

  • Echeveria
  • Sedum
  • Crassula
  • Aloe
  • Agave
  • Sempervivum

Caring for Succulents in Shade

Succulents that are grown in shade require different care than those grown in full sun. Here are some tips for caring for succulents in shade:

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Succulents that are grown in shade require less water than those grown in full sun. This is because they are not exposed to as much heat and evaporation. However, it is still important to water succulents in shade regularly, to prevent them from drying out.


Succulents that are grown in shade require well-draining soil, to prevent water from collecting around their roots. Use a soil mix that is specifically designed for succulents, or add perlite or sand to regular potting soil to improve drainage.


Succulents that are grown in shade require less fertilizer than those grown in full sun. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer once a month during the growing season, to provide your succulents with the nutrients they need.

Pests and Diseases

Succulents that are grown in shade may be more susceptible to pests and diseases, as they are not exposed to as much sunlight and air circulation. Keep an eye out for signs of pests or diseases, such as mealybugs, spider mites, or fungal infections, and treat them promptly.

FAQs – Can Succulents Tolerate Shade

Can succulents survive in low light conditions?

Succulents are generally known for their ability to thrive in bright and sunny conditions, but some varieties can tolerate and even prefer some shade. However, it’s important to note that no succulent can survive in complete darkness. Their ability to photosynthesize and produce energy through sunlight is what keeps them alive, so some level of light is essential. If your succulent is not getting enough light, it may start to grow tall and leggy or lose its vibrant colors.

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Which succulent varieties are best for shade?

Succulents that can tolerate some shade include Haworthia, Gasteria, Sansevieria, and some varieties of Echeveria. These plants are used to growing in the shade of larger plants or rocks in their natural habitat, so they don’t require as much direct sunlight as other succulents. It’s still important to make sure they receive some indirect light throughout the day to keep them healthy.

How can I provide enough light for my succulent in a shaded area?

If your succulent is in a shaded area, you can provide additional light using artificial light sources such as grow lights or fluorescent bulbs. These can be set up near your plant to supplement the natural light it’s receiving. Additionally, you can move your plant to a slightly brighter area if possible, such as near a window with indirect sunlight.

How often should I water my succulent in a shaded area?

Succulents in shaded areas generally require less water than those in bright, sunny areas. This is because they’re not using as much energy to photosynthesize and grow. As a general rule, you should water your succulent when the top inch of soil is completely dry. You can test this by sticking your finger in the soil or by using a moisture meter.

Can succulents be permanently kept in shade?

While some succulents can tolerate more shade than others, no succulent can survive permanently in complete darkness. Over time, a succulent kept in constant shade will become weaker and less healthy, eventually leading to its demise. If you’re unable to provide your succulent with enough light, it’s best to consider a different plant that can thrive in low light conditions.

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