Should Succulents Be Inside or Outside?

Should succulents be inside or outside

One of the most common questions when you are starting in this world is if succulents are sun or shade, if you can have them indoors or outdoors.

Knowing the proper light conditions for your succulents is crucial as failure to provide them with the right amount of light can damage them or even cause their death.

There is no absolute answer to whether succulents should be inside or outside, as it depends on each species. While some thrive in full sun, others prefer semi-shaded areas. All succulents, however, require some level of sunlight.


All succulents need sunlight

The most important point to clarify is that all succulents need sunlight to grow and perform photosynthesis correctly.

Succulent receiving direct sun

With sunlight, succulents will have stronger stems and leaves and will develop in such a way that they can withstand sudden climatic changes. Something that is necessary especially in the transition from fall to winter or winter to spring.

Proper sunlight exposure will also prevent succulents from becoming stretched and losing their shape due to lack of light, this process is called etiolation. This is especially evident in succulents that have a flower or rosette shape such as echeverias, sempervivum, aeonium or similar.

Semi-shade and shade are not the same thing

When we speak of shade, we mean a place with very little or no light. Succulents in such conditions struggle to survive and can eventually die.

No succulent should be placed in complete shade or darkness.

Semi-shade refers to an area where sunlight is filtered, either through a poly-shade mesh, greenhouse fabric, or because the succulent only receives direct sun for certain hours of the day.

Therefore, when placing a succulent in semi-shade, it's important to ensure that it receives sunlight through one of these methods.

How to know if my succulent is a sun or semi-shade succulent?

One easy way to determine whether a succulent prefers full sun or semi-shade is by the color of its leaves.

Succulents that prefer more direct sun typically have black, blue-gray, orange, red, pink, or purple leaves. Those that prefer semi-shade usually have yellow or green leaves.

Note: Some succulents with green leaves can tolerate both sun and semi-shade. In these cases, the leaves may turn orange or red when exposed to more direct sun and retain their green color in semi-shade.

Differentiate succulents when buying at a nursery

When purchasing succulents at a nursery, and you are in an area where the plants receive direct sun most of the day, you may mistakenly assume that all of them can tolerate direct sunlight.

However, in nurseries plants are often placed closely together, which can lead to the plants in front shading those in the back.

In this case, the succulents in the back end up receiving filtered sun or semi-shade from those in the front.

So, while it may appear that all the plants in that area are well-suited for direct sunlight, the ones that receive the filtered sunlight will most probably have different light requirements and should be cared for accordingly.

Note: this logic applies only when the described conditions of direct sunlight and stacking are present and when the succulents receiving the filtered sun look healthy and strong. However, if they show signs of weakening — which is very unlikely because in the nurseries they are usually cared for by experts in the subject —, they may require direct sunlight and may not be thriving in the filtered sunlight.

A question that comes hand-in-hand with the sun or shade question is whether succulents are indoor or outdoor plants. The answers are connected.

Indoor succulents are semi-shade succulents, which can live and thrive without direct sun. Outdoor succulents are those that require direct sunlight to grow healthy and strong. Only some succulents are both indoors and outdoors.

Outdoor succulents

It is important to note that just because a succulent is suitable for outdoor cultivation, it does not necessarily mean that it can tolerate extended periods of direct sunlight. The tolerance for sunlight will vary depending on the species and variety of the succulent.

If you have your outdoor succulents in a garden or open place where they receive constant direct sunlight from sunrise to sunset, you will have to make sure that each succulent can tolerate direct sunlight all day.

Otherwise, you will have to put them under a roof or shade mesh so that they only get direct sunlight for a few hours.

Outdoor succulent planted in an open garden

Indoor succulents

As previously stated, just because some succulents can be grown indoors, it does not mean that they do not need light or that they can survive with minimum light.

You should place your indoor succulents in an area that receives at least 2-3 hours of direct or filtered sunlight daily. A common location for this would be near a window or on a balcony.

Indoor succulent near a lighted window

Do you prefer indoor or outdoor succulents?

Before choosing where to place it, it is very important to know whether our succulent is sun or shade and whether it is indoor or outdoor. This decision could prevent your succulent from growing healthy and strong or even cause its death.

If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with other succulent enthusiasts on your social networks. We will be thrilled if it reaches a wider audience and helps more people to make the right choice when placing their succulents.

All the best taking care of your plants!

Sources and cover image:

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Luis Camacho

I'm passionate about traveling, trekking and gardening. In this blog i want to share everything I learn throughout my journey and help you get the best of your plants.

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