Shedding (Sun)Light on Indoor Succulents

Shedding (Sun)Light on Indoor Succulents
Shedding (Sun)Light on Indoor Succulents

We’ve said it a hundred times before, and we’ll say it a hundred more: baby succulents need bright, indirect sunlight to thrive.

But what does that mean, exactly? And how the heck do you pick the best spot in your house for your succulents? What if they burn?! Or stretch?! OR DIE?!

If you’ve been panicking about making sure your succulents get the perfect amount of sunlight, you’re in the right place! Here’s the scoop:

Finding the sun


If you’re not sure what kind of light your space gets, remember that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This means if you were to stand with the east on your left and the west on your right, south would be in front of you, and north would be behind you.

Now figure out which direction your windows face. For example, if you have a bedroom window that you can watch the sunrise from, that window is east-facing. If your kitchen gets beams of bright light streaming in at the end of the day, that window is west-facing.

Now that you’re oriented in your space, let’s talk about direct vs. indirect sunlight.

Direct vs. indirect sunlight


Direct/Full sunlight 
is the type of light that casts very clearly defined, dark shadows, like in the picture above. If your succulents were to look out the window from their sill, they would be able to see the sun in the sky.

In other words, direct sunlight is when the path of light from the sun to the plant is a straight line.



Indirect/Filtered sunlight
 is the type of diffuse light that casts soft shadows, like in the photo above. It refers to any sunlight that reaches the plant but is not direct. Plants receive indirect sunlight on a north-facing windowsill, through a sheer curtain, a tinted window pane, or when they are set back from a window that gets direct sunlight.

Basically, whenever direct sunlight is impeded/filtered/reflected in some way, that light is said to be indirect.


Lighting Cheat Sheet by Direction:

East-facing windows get direct sunlight early in the morning / after sunrise and indirect sunlight the rest of the day.

West-facing windows get direct sunlight in the afternoon / before sunset and indirect sunlight in the morning / early afternoon.

South-facing windows get direct sunlight throughout the day and only get indirect sunlight at the very start and end of each day.

North-facing windows do not get any direct sunlight and get a full day of indirect sunlight.

Orienting your succulents

Find your sunniest window and put your succulents there. If it happens to be a south-facing window, avoid sunburn by situating your succulents a foot or two back from the window, or use a sheer curtain to filter the direct light.

As your succulents grow, you can slowly introduce them to direct sunlight over time (think about adding 1 hour of direct sunlight every couple days until they can withstand full direct sunlight).  This means that a south-facing windowsill is likely going to be too much for your lil ones at first, but will be a perfect spot for them later on.

Avoiding sunburn and stretching

Sunburn. Baby succulents crave bright, indirect light, and they’ll burn if given too much direct sunlight at once. Watch out for signs of burning; it will look like brown, dry patches where the sun hits your succulent.

Stretching. If your sunniest window is north-facing, you might notice your succulents stretching. This looks like a long stem with lots of space between each leaf, as if your succulent were reaching to find more light. If this happens, invest in a grow light to give ’em an extra boost.

Ultimately, your succulents will let you know how much light is too much, not enough, or just right! When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at hello@succulent.studio.

Happy sunning, succulent lovers!

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