Succulent Care Guide: High vs Low Light Succulents

potted succulents

Succulents are the Camels of the Plant World

Our succulent expert and dear friend Sara says succulents are the camels of the plant world–draught tolerant, wind tolerant, the toughest plants you'll find. Tough as nails on the outside, hearts of gold on the inside. Though these plants are as resilient as camels, proper treatment is still necessary.

I remember before meeting Sara I'd buy a cactus at some random store, plant it in soil (a big no no, read our planting guide here), place it in the middle of the room with minimal light (How could you, Ashley?), and water it whenever it looked sad (that is wrong too, check out our basic care tips here). So if you are treating your succulents like this, don't worry. I was once where you are. Just having a love of the plant and a motivation to learn is all it takes.

Why are my Succulents Dying?

Beyond the basics, one thing I've learned from Sara over the years is that not all succulents are the same. Have you ever felt you have better luck with certain succulents in your home? Some varieties thrived while others died a slow, slow death? Well, it may be because your home is better suited for either high or low light succulents. Yes, succulents have different light preferences! Who knew?

High Light Succulents

High light succulents tend to be more colorful than low light succulents. These are the beauties with traces of purples, reds, and pinks. Most succulents are high light succulents, which means they want at least six hours of sunlight per day. South facing windows are best for these plants, but they can also handle the heat of a West facing window if it's not too shady during the day. They also like direct sunlight and can live outside when temperatures are above 40 degrees. Remember to ease them out into the direct sunlight though if they've been indoors for a long period of time. Even though they love sun, succulents can still get sunburned just like us. Just imagine lying out on a beach with no sunscreen and naked on a hot day after being indoors all winter long. Yikes! Keep this sunburned image in mind when moving your succulents outdoors.

If you keep a high light succulent in a window that doesn't get at least six hours of good sunlight, it will begin to stretch, looking for light. Sometimes people mistake stretching for growing. Don't let this fool you. If your succulent elongates quickly and its leaves became spaced farther apart than before, it is probably asking for more light.

We love using vintage, new, and hand-crafted planters (like the hand-thrown black clay vessel by local artist, Foxy Pots). // These are all available and waiting to be planted at our shop.

We love using vintage, new, and hand-crafted planters (like the hand-thrown black clay vessel by local artist, Foxy Pots). // These are all available and waiting to be planted at our shop.

high light colorful succulents
colorful high light succulents
blue high light succulent
red high light succulent
potted high light succulents

Low Light Succulents

Low light succulents tend to be a darker green color compared to the high light succulents. They also tend to look more aloe-like as opposed to flower-like. Though not sporting vibrant reds and purples, these succulents have beautiful textures and shapes.

Low light succulents are happy with indirect morning sun to afternoon sun. This means that if you don't have a super sunny South facing window, a lower light succulent can still be happy in your home. Though low light succulents don't require the six hours of sunlight like their high light counterparts, they still need light! Place these guys near an East facing window where they can soak up at least three to four hours of sunlight per day. Again, if your plant grows quickly and starts to lean, help a succulent out and give it more light! 

Succulents are like goldfish and only grow as large as their containers; however, you may need to do a little maintenance after a year or two. Learn how here.

Succulents are like goldfish and only grow as large as their containers; however, you may need to do a little maintenance after a year or two. Learn how here.

low light succulent
low light succulent
haworthia succulent
potted low light succulents
low light succulents
low light succulents

The Right Succulent for Your Home's Light

So next time you're looking to adopt a succulent, try to select one that will be happy in your home with the light you have available. It will be much better for you (no stressing that you're killing it) and your plant (no stressing about being killed). If you shop for succulents at Retro Den (like everyone in the world should), then just ask one of us Ashleys about the high vs low light succulents, and we'll happily point them out to you. Because that's the type of people we are.

Note: If you feel you don't have enough light in your home even for the low light succulents, take a look at our easy-to-care-for plant guide for some other lower light plant alternatives. 

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