What Succulents Don’t Like Sun

Succulents are popular plants among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. They are known for their ability to store water in their leaves, making them drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plants. However, many people assume that because of their natural ability to store water, succulents can handle intense sunlight and heat. As it turns out, that is not always the case. In this article, we will discuss what succulents don’t like about sun exposure and how to care for them appropriately.

Understanding Succulents

Succulents are fascinating plants that have gained popularity in recent years due to their unique and attractive appearance, low maintenance requirements, and ability to survive in drought-prone areas. Succulents are a type of plant that stores water in their leaves, stems, and roots, allowing them to thrive in arid environments. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and are commonly used in ornamental arrangements, indoor and outdoor gardens, and as gifts.

The Importance of Sunlight for Succulents

Sunlight is a crucial factor for the growth and development of most plants, including succulents. Adequate sunlight ensures that plants can photosynthesize, which is the process of using sunlight to produce energy, food, and oxygen. Sunlight also helps plants to maintain their shape, color, and overall health. However, too much sunlight can be harmful to succulents.

Key takeaway: While sunlight is important for succulent growth, too much sunlight can be damaging to these plants, causing sunburn and other issues. Factors like species, age, size, location, and time of year can all affect a succulent’s tolerance for sunlight. Providing shade and proper watering, using well-draining soil, and fertilizing carefully can all help protect succulents from sun damage.

Too Much Sunlight Can Damage Succulents

While succulents are known for their ability to tolerate dry conditions, they are not immune to the damaging effects of excessive sunlight. When succulents are exposed to too much sunlight, they can suffer from sunburn, which can cause their leaves to turn brown, black, or white. Sunburned succulents may also develop scars, blisters, or lesions on their leaves and stems, which can attract pests and diseases.

Factors that Affect Succulent’s Sunlight Tolerance

The amount of sunlight that succulents can tolerate depends on several factors, including the species, the age, the size, the location, and the time of the year. Some succulents, such as cacti, can tolerate full sun exposure, while others, such as Haworthia and Gasteria, prefer partial shade. Young and small succulents are more vulnerable to sun damage than mature and large ones. Succulents grown in hot and dry climates may also require more shade than those grown in cooler and wetter regions.

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Different species of succulents have different sunlight requirements. Some succulents, such as Agave and Aloe, thrive in full sun exposure and can withstand high temperatures and intense light. Other succulents, such as Echeveria and Sedum, prefer partial shade and can suffer from sunburn if exposed to direct sunlight for too long.



The size of succulents also affects their sunlight tolerance. Large succulents have more leaves and stems that can provide shade to each other, reducing the amount of direct sunlight they receive. Large succulents also have deeper roots that can absorb water from deeper soil layers, allowing them to survive longer periods of drought. Small succulents, on the other hand, have fewer leaves and stems that cannot provide sufficient shade, making them more prone to sun damage.


The location where succulents are grown also affects their sunlight tolerance. Succulents grown in hot and dry climates may require more shade than those grown in cooler and wetter regions. Succulents grown in deserts or near reflective surfaces, such as concrete or glass, may also receive more indirect sunlight, which can still cause sun damage.

Time of the Year

The time of the year also plays a role in the sunlight tolerance of succulents. During the summer months, when the sun is strongest, succulents may require more shade than during the winter months when the sun is weaker. Succulents may also require more shade during the afternoon when the sun is at its peak and less shade during the morning and evening when the sun is lower on the horizon.

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Signs of Sun Damage in Succulents

It is essential to recognize the signs of sun damage in succulents to prevent further damage and promote recovery. Some common signs of sun damage in succulents include:

  • Brown, black, or white spots on leaves
  • Scars, blisters, or lesions on leaves and stems
  • Leaf drop or wilting
  • Stunted growth or deformed leaves
  • Pests or diseases attracted to damaged areas

How to Protect Succulents from Sun Damage

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect succulents from sun damage and ensure their health and beauty. Some effective methods include:

Provide Shade

One of the simplest ways to protect succulents from sun damage is to provide them with shade. This can be done by placing them in a location that receives partial shade or by using shade cloths or umbrellas to filter out some of the direct sunlight. It is essential to avoid placing succulents under trees or bushes, as this can block out too much sunlight and reduce their growth and health.

Water Properly

Proper watering is crucial for the health and survival of succulents. Succulents should be watered deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause dehydration and stress, making succulents more vulnerable to sun damage.

Use Potting Mix

Using the right potting mix can also help protect succulents from sun damage. Succulents require well-draining soil that can hold moisture but not become waterlogged. A mix of sand, perlite, and peat moss is an ideal potting mix for succulents as it provides adequate drainage and moisture retention.

Fertilize Carefully

Fertilizing succulents can promote growth and health, but it can also cause sun damage if not done correctly. Succulents should be fertilized sparingly, using a balanced fertilizer with low nitrogen content. Fertilizer should be applied during the growing season, and it is essential to avoid fertilizing during periods of drought or extreme heat.

FAQs for What Succulents Don’t Like Sun

What are succulents?

Succulents are a type of plant that store water in their leaves, stems or roots. They are commonly found in arid and dry areas, and they come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. They are popular among garden enthusiasts because they are low maintenance and can thrive in different environments.

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Do succulents need sunlight?

Yes, succulents need sunlight, but not all of them need direct or intense sunlight. Some succulents thrive in partial or filtered sunlight, while others prefer shady areas. It is essential to know the specific requirements of each type of succulent to prevent overexposure or underexposure to sunlight.

Which succulents don’t like sun?

Some succulents that don’t like sun or prefer shade include Aloe vera, Haworthia, Gasteria, Sansevieria, and Schlumbergera. These types of succulents thrive in bright, indirect light, and they can become sunburned if exposed to intense sunlight. To keep them healthy, you can place them near a window with sheer curtains or in a partially shaded area.

What happens to succulents that get too much sun?

Succulents that get too much sun can suffer from sunburn, dehydration, and damage to their leaves. They may also start to discolor or wilt. If you notice any of these signs, you should move your succulent to a shadier area or provide some protection from the sun, such as with a sheer cloth or an umbrella.

How often should I water my succulents?

The watering frequency of succulents varies depending on the type, the season, and the growing conditions. Most succulents thrive in well-draining soil and don’t need frequent watering. It is better to water them when the soil is completely dry, and avoid overwatering. In general, once a week is a good starting point, but you should adjust it based on your observation and the specific needs of your succulent.

Can succulents grow indoors?

Yes, many succulents can grow indoors, especially those that don’t like direct sunlight. Indoor succulents require bright light, good air circulation, and suitable growing conditions. You can also keep them in containers or pots with proper drainage and use a well-draining soil mixture. However, some succulents, such as cacti, prefer to be outside and may not grow well indoors.

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