Growing Succulents Indoors: Sunlight, Lighting, And Other Things To Consider
Can succulents and cacti live indoors? How much sunlight do they need indoors?
Succulents and cacti need a certain amount of sunlight to thrive. Plants grow by absorbing light and transforming it into energy through the process of photosynthesis. Providing adequate light when growing succulents indoors can be particularly challenging and may require some experimentation on your part.
If these plants do not receive adequate light, they will not grow properly. Over time, succulents that don't get enough light become weak, distorted, and discolored. When they are not exposed to adequate light, they begin to stretch out to look for the sun.
So can succulents and cacti thrive indoors? Yes. We see proof of this in the many succulent species that have become highly adapted to living indoors and have become very popular houseplants. Any succulent species can be kept alive indoors, but this environment can limit how they normally grow and flourish.
Light and receiving proper lighting is one of the most important things to consider when growing your plants, especially indoors. When growing indoors, keep in mind the places and places available in your home where you can place your plants. Consider the type of plant you have, its origin, and light requirements to determine where best to place your plant.
Ideally, you should look for a location that provides your plants with sufficient light and constant light. Consider the amount and type of lighting the site receives throughout the day. Indoor lighting varies depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. Direct natural sunlight coming through a window is not as strong as direct sunlight from outside. And the intensity of light the plants will receive will decrease the further you move them from a window.
When we talk about different types of interior lighting, we often hear these terminologies:
Bright— when we mean bright light, it means there are no shades, blinds, or drapes between the plant and the window. On the other side of the window, there is nothing blocking the light coming through the window, such as a tree, bush, or sign. Bright light means the plant should be placed in a sunny location, possibly with south or west facing windows with direct, bright light throughout the day.
filtered out– filtered light or indirect light means bright light that is not direct sunlight, or partially filtered and slightly shaded. Plants that need filtered light need full sun exposure, preferably a few hours of sun in the morning or late afternoon.
Filtered sunlight generally means the plant needs a south or east facing window.
dark–or low light means no direct sun or other light. Light coming through the window is blocked by an outside tree, building, or other inside objects like curtains or furniture. Usually, plants that need shady areas also need a lot of moisture.
It can also be helpful to know which way the window is facing to determine how much light is coming through it. When we refer to the orientation of the windows in relation to their light intensity, we usually use the following terminologies:
north facing windows
These are the darkest areas that receive little light or are completely shaded from any direct light. These windows generally provide the dimmest light and are suitable for shade-loving plants that don't require a lot of light. North-facing windows may not be suitable for most plants in the winter months.
south facing windows
These windows typically provide the brightest, most intense light. These are for sun-loving plants that need bright, direct light throughout the day.
east facing windows
These windows get a lot of morning sun. These rays are not as intense and are beneficial to plants that need a lot of morning light but get burned by the bright afternoon light.
West facing windows
These windows provide plenty of afternoon and evening sun. These rays can be extreme in the heat of summer. Sun-loving plants can benefit from west-facing windows.
Can succulents grow in shade or low light?
Succulents need at least four to six hours of sunlight to grow properly. Due to the reduced light indoors, the plants mature much more slowly. Given their highly adaptable properties, succulents will survive for some time in shade or low light, but will not thrive. Over time, these plants will suffer, and when they are not given proper lighting, they may not recover. Plants that do not receive enough light begin to suffer and show signs. They will start to discolor and fade. They will become thin and elongated in appearance, and they will arch and extend towards the sun. The plants are literally spreading out and looking for more sun. Plants that don't get enough light also have stunted growth. You will find that your plants grow more slowly indoors, which can be a good way to control plant growth if that is your goal.
Do succulents need natural sunlight? Use of artificial light
We know that succulents need a certain amount of light to thrive, but do they need natural sunlight? Some of you growers live in a climate that requires you to bring your plants indoors for the winter to protect them from frost, and others simply don't have the outdoor space needed to grow your plants outdoors.
If your home's lighting situation isn't ideal, there are still ways to improve those conditions and help your plants get the best possible light for optimal growth. The main remedy is artificial lights. Artificial lights can be used as a supplement to natural sunlight or as the sole source of light for your plants.
As long as succulents get the right amount of light, they can survive using artificial lights because, unlike humans, all they need sunlight is the light itself. Artificial lights can mimic sunlight and provide your succulents with what they need. You must choose the most suitable artificial light for your needs.
What are grow lights? Grow lights are artificial lights designed to mimic the sun's rays to help stimulate plant growth through photosynthesis. Grow lights are used as supplemental light when there is not enough sunlight or as a main source of light for plants. Different grow lights are designed to mimic the spectrum of sunlight or to provide a specific color spectrum for a particular plant's needs.
Outdoor sunlight conditions are ideally replicated indoors by powering lights with different color spectrums, temperatures, and lumen output or intensity. Choosing a grow light for your needs can be a daunting task. There are different types and varieties out there.
Here is a list ofgrow lightsyou can consider
When choosing an artificial light or crescent light, consider these factors:
You need to find out how bright the light is coming from the bulb. Plants need to receive a certain amount of light for photosynthesis to take place. For succulents, you need lights that put out at least 2,000 lumens per square foot.
The more watts the light consumes, the more it costs on the electricity bill. Look for energy efficient bulbs that will give you the brightness you need at a lower cost.
Sunlight naturally contains the entire spectrum of light. Like outdoor plants, indoor plants do well under full-spectrum lighting, which mimics natural sunlight and provides a balance of warm and cool light. The ideal color temperature for succulents is at least 5,000 Kelvin, which will give your succulents full-spectrum light that resembles sunlight.
Heat and Duration
It is important to know how much heat the light emits. Too much heat and your plant can burn, too little and your plant doesn't get enough. The heat of the light also determines how far or close you want to place your plant from the light and how many hours to leave your plant in the light.
LED versus fluorescent
Both produce full spectrum light. Fluorescent lighting offers a remedy for low light, but requires more energy use. LED lights use half the electricity and last longer than fluorescent lights.
When using a grow light, keep the following in mind:
It is important to figure out how to place your plants in the light. If you're using a simple grow light, placing your plant 3 to 6 inches from the bulb is usually a good place to start. Of course, you should consider the light and heat tolerance of the plant.
Your goal is to give your plants as much light as possible and reduce waste, without harming them at the same time. If your grow light has a hood, move your plants a few more inches away from the bulb, as hoods reflect light and heat and can burn your plants.
You can use a plugin timer to set your grow light. Turn the light on or set the time to turn on in the morning, around sunrise. Leave the light on for about 12 to 14 hours a day for plants that get low to medium sun exposure during the day.
For plants that get little or no natural light, turn on or leave the light on for 16 to 18 hours a day. If you have a lot of succulents and cacti, give them enough space for light to reach the lower branches of the plants.
Succulents kept indoors need to know when it is winter, so they can start their dormant phase, and when it is summer, where they need more light to grow. If you use grow lights year-round for your succulents, you'll need to increase the light and duration in the summer months and decrease the light and duration in the winter months.
When growing indoors under grow lights, you should still follow the same basic watering guidelines that you would for succulents grown outdoors. During the summer, you should water your succulents when the soil feels dry, at least an inch or two if you poke your finger into the soil. Water less during the winter months if you mimic winter conditions indoors.
Check that all plugs and cables work properly and that there are no loose wires. Keep water away from lights and electrical cords. To be safe, it may be necessary to turn off the lights before watering the plants. Keep pets and children away for safety reasons.
If you are not familiar with grow lights, keep a close eye on your succulents. Always monitor your succulents closely after changing lighting conditions to see how they react. Adjust the light and move the plants around as needed.
If you're thinking about buying a grow light, take a look at myresource pagefor recommendations.
The best succulents for low light
Most succulents prefer bright, indirect light. Some succulents can still thrive even if your indoor lighting condition is less than ideal. Below are some succulent species that can do well in low light conditions.
Native to South Africa, Haworthias are a large genus of dwarf succulents. Some haworthia species closely resemble aloe vera in appearance and can be mistaken for one. These plants form rosettes of different shapes and sizes, depending on the species.
Some form groups and others are solitary. Most have thick roots. Many species have thick, hard, fleshy leaves, usually dark green in color; and others have softer, fleshier leaves with translucent, glassy surfaces through which sunlight can penetrate for photosynthesis.
Most haworthia species will grow well in low light, but do best in bright, warm environments. When growing in low light, be very careful not to overwater the plant. Excessive watering in low light conditions can be detrimental to the plant.
Rhipsalis is a genus of cacti native to the tropical rainforests of South America, the Caribbean, and Central America. While most people think that cacti require bright sunlight and dry conditions, Rhipsalis species do not thrive in direct sunlight and very dry soil. These plants are commonly grown indoors.
They do best in morning sun and afternoon shade. In its native habitat, Rhipsalis receives much protection from the sun's rays with dense, drooping tree branches. They are also more used to higher humidity than most cacti. Rhipsalis is not drought resistant and requires regular watering.
However, overwatering should be avoided as it can cause root rot. One of the most popular species of Rhipsalis is theRhipsalis Baccifera or Mistletoe Cactus. These plants require shade to part shade and do well indoors.
This genus is named after the flower it produces, which resembles the shape of a stomach. "Gaster" in Latin means stomach. Native to South Africa, they grow in low shade conditions with a lot of rain.
These have adapted well to growing indoors, tolerating low light conditions. They also do well in warm, bright, but indirect light. They have long, thick, ridged leaves and curved, stomach-shaped flowers. They require sandy, well-drained soil.
Schlumbergera belongs to a small genus of cacti. Native to the rainforests of Brazil, they require low humidity and cannot tolerate intense heat and frost. Schlumbergera species are different from other cacti in their appearance and habits.
They are epiphytes, which means they grow on trees in moist, humid regions, or on rocky soil as lithophytes. Schlumbergera stems form unions that can be flat, leaf-shaped, or bottle-shaped. The stems are green all year.
One of the most common varieties is the Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus, which have become very popular indoor plants for their beautiful and showy flowers. This tropical cactus does not do well in full sun and afternoon sun.
My cousin's beautiful Schlumbergera or Christmas cactus in bloom
Advantages of growing your succulents indoors
Some of us may have no choice but to grow our succulents indoors, others still prefer to grow them indoors even if they have other options. There are advantages to growing succulents indoors:
- control growth
If you have limited space or just want a small plant, growing your succulents indoors can help control growth by slowing down the growth of the plant. Usually, due to lighting and other factors, plants grown indoors grow more slowly than those grown outdoors. Keeping your plants indoors in small pots or containers can also be a cost-effective way to save space and help control growth, limiting your need for occasional repotting.
- protected from the cold
Some succulents are not frost hardy and will not tolerate even light frost. These succulents will not survive outdoors once the temperature begins to drop below freezing during the winter months. Cold hardy plants should be protected from frost. Keeping them inside saves you the hassle of moving them inside for the winter.
- they are more visible
One of the reasons I like to keep some of my plants indoors is simply because I enjoy observing them up close. Having things you love around you not only makes the place look better, it also affects your overall mood and happiness. Succulents are beautiful ornamental plants that can liven up a room or add to your home decor.
- Protected from animals and animals.
Other than pests invading your plants, you don't have to worry about insects chewing on the leaves of your plants or, in some cases, deer eating your plants. You hear stories of landscapes of people ruined by squirrels or other furry creatures digging up plants and causing damage. Rodents find cacti and succulents very tasty. Keeping them inside protects them from being trampled on, damaged, or eaten.
- Pest/insect control
Succulents that are kept indoors are more protected from pests or insects because they are protected from nature. Houseplants can also suffer from a pest infestation, but they are better protected from the outside elements that naturally harbor these pests or insects. Pests can be introduced to the houseplant by an infected plant or soil medium. Generally, healthy plants kept indoors are less susceptible to common plant-invading pests or insects.
Having your beloved plants infested with pests can be daunting and overwhelming, especially if you're the kind of person who doesn't like bugs to begin with. I will discuss in more detail later how to deal with pests.
Aphids (green flies)
These are small insects with fat, teardrop-shaped bodies. They come in a variety of colors, with green being the most common. They are often numerous and can be found sucking on leaves or flowers at the end of the stems. They also expel a lot of white sugar or molasses while feeding. This sugary substance can stimulate the growth of black sooty mold. This can be removed with a water spray.
These are the most common pests on succulents and cacti. They are small elliptical insects, usually white in color. They get their name from a white waxy or chalky material they produce. Like aphids and whiteflies, these insects secrete honeydew, or a sugary substance that can promote mold growth. They can spread from one plant to another.
There are over a thousand species of scales, which vary in shape, size, and color. There are two groups of scales that commonly attack your plants: mealybugs and mealybugs. These insects like to eat the sap of succulents, damaging the plants and making them susceptible to disease.
Mites are very small and often go unnoticed for a long time. The most common variety is red. Spider mites love to suck the sweet sap from succulents. An infested plant initially becomes lighter in color and may eventually turn almost white or silver as the mites destroy the plant. Pay close attention to neighboring plants to catch infestations early.
These are commonly found with leafy succulents. They are small white flying insects that reproduce very quickly and can be difficult to control. You may see whiteflies flying under the leaves when an infested plant is shaken. Like aphids, these insects produce honeydew throughout the plant, which promotes the growth of sooty mold.
Fungus gnats are perhaps one of the most common houseplant pests. While fungus gnats aren't as damaging to your plants as other pests, they can still be difficult to treat and get rid of. If you overwater your succulents, or if the soil is constantly wet, mosquitoes will be attracted to them and start breeding.
To read more about treating common succulent pests, click"Common Pests on Succulents".
If you're wondering where you can buy succulents online, check out myResources pageto get some ideas.
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Photo byDmitri BayeraboutUnsplash