The most popular kinds of houseplants are succulents, and those without a bright, sunny environment to show them off may find them challenging to grow. Succulents need as much sunlight as possible. There’s still hope if your house lacks a north-facing window which provides abundant sunlight – by selecting one of the following succulents, you’ll be able to continue growing these beloved houseplants without difficulty.
How much light do low light succulents need?
South-facing windows receive the most light throughout the day in the northern hemisphere, east-facing windows are brightest in the morning, and west-facing windows receive the most light in the afternoon and evening. North-facing windows receive the least amount of sunlight. The best place to grow sun-loving succulent plants in northern hemisphere is near a south-facing window.
Many of the succulents in this article will thrive in a west or east facing window in addition to the low light conditions discussed in this article. Some will even thrive in a dim, north facing window, but those are not recommended since they will probably not thrive.
There are no succulents that can thrive in complete darkness, so if you live in a basement apartment with no windows, have only a north-facing window, or don’t have any windows at all, think about purchasing a small tabletop grow light for your succulent plants. When you place a small grow light over low light succulents for six to eight hours a day, you’ll be surprised at how well they grow. A good timer keeps you from having to turn the lights on and off every day.
Let me introduce you to some of the best low light succulents for spaces without much light now that you know how much sun they require.
The best low light succulents to grow as houseplants
Three groups of low light succulents comprise my top 12 favorites:
- Varieties to display on a tabletop, desk, bookshelf, or bedside table
- Low light succulents that grow beautifully in hanging baskets
- Succulent plants for low light that produce beautiful flowers.
I hope you’ll find some new plant babies for your collection.
Low light succulents for the tabletop
Known as mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant, this African native is tougher than many of its low light counterparts. Even if you regularly kill houseplants, give snake plant another try. Numerous varieties grow to different heights. Some reach up to four feet in height, while others are shorter, reaching only a few inches in height.
Long, flat, sword-like leaves can have a variety of variations in markings and colors depending on their variety. This plant doesn’t need much water, and it barely requires any maintenance.
In bright light, snake plants grow best. However, low light conditions are also fine, though they will not grow as quickly as they do in bright sunlight. Let the plant bloom outdoors during summer on a patio or deck if you can. Overwatering is the kiss of death for snake plants.
A miniature succulent, it reaches just 8 inches high and spreads about a foot wide. The thick, fleshy leaves store a lot of water, so that only few waterings are required. Select a well-drained potting mix for lance aloe.
Although this succulent prefers bright light, it’s also succesful in low light areas if you only have those conditions. When you do water, be sure to water the soil only. When you keep the leaves dry, the rosette will grow back stronger.
A classic all-around plant, echeverias are available in an astounding variety of leaf shapes and colors. I personally prefer the gray/blue leaved varieties for low light conditions, though green, pink, and purple leaved varieties can also grow well. If they don’t get enough light, echeverias will grow longer and stretch out for the sun. For that reason, you should aim for a location that gets at least four hours of daylight each day.
Occasionally turn the pot by a quarter turn to prevent the plant from stretching too far to one side. The Echeveria does not require much care from its grower. I have some growing in my office in the winter (they’re on the patio in the summer), and I only water them twice a week while growing them. I believe they do better when ignored, at least in terms of remembering to water.
Intensely colorful and covered in soft fuzz, the leaves of this low light succulent make touching an irresistible experience for both kids and adults. Panda plant grows about 18 inches tall with a narrow spread.
The stems are thick, and are more prone to elongating under low light conditions than they are under high lighting conditions. I cut my branches half a few times a year to keep the growth habit bushier. The leaves are gray-green with brown accents.
Ox tongue plant
Unlike many other succulents, Ox tongues do not require indoor lighting and will prosper in low- to medium-light conditions. It grows in shady conditions in its native habitat, so they will be tolerant of low light levels in a home environment.
You should always let the pot soil dry completely in between waterings, and they require even less water in the winter than during the summer months. Oftentimes, the leaves are marked with patterns, adding another level of appeal. These low light succulents come in many unique varieties, and one of the most exciting is the yellow variegation or streaking found on the leaves.
The zebra haworthia is an ideal succulent for beginners. The spike-tipped leaves come in green, white, and yellow and they look a bit like miniature aloe. The offsets readily produced by the plants can be divided and potted up to live on their own.
The zebra plant-like plants can become very slow-growing if left in low-light settings. With that in mind, turn the pot a quarter turn every few days to maintain an even growth pattern. Only water them once or twice a month.
Succulent mistletoe cactus has feathery, fleshy leaves that cascade from the center of the plant. Though succulent, it is also native to the South American rainforest, where it grows in trees as an epiphyte. Unlike true cacti, these low light succulents do not need full sunlight, nor do they need excessively dry conditions, so morning or evening sun is ideal for them.
This can be grown as a houseplant in several species. Unlike the other succulents on this list, this one needs to be watered regularly. However, it is important not to overwater it as well. If the soil feels damp, hold off watering for a few days.
Low light succulents for hanging planters
String of hearts
A difficult houseplant to grow, this little vine bears narrow, the same sort of leaves as its common name, with bulbils along the stems, giving it the appearance of beads on a string. It may even produce tiny brown or pink flowers on occasion.
Depending on the amount of sunlight, the vines can reach up to 3 feet in length. These low-light succulents should be watered sparingly, allowing the soil to completely dry between waterings. The blooming process occurs only in strong sunlight.
String of pearls
String of pearls, along with its cousin String of bananas and String of Tears, are good hanging succulents for low light conditions. The leaves look like little bubbles and cluster on very slender hanging stems that cascade down the side of hanging planters.
They can also be grown in a colorful pot and placed on a bookshelf or plant stand where they can trail down to the ground. Since they are succulents, they need very little water, and although they do best in high light levels, they also make intriguing low light houseplants.
This bright and colorful low light succulent is quite easy to grow and propagate – every fallen leaf quickly form roots and grows into a whole new plant. They like ample light, but will also tolerate lower light levels. Water in summer instead of winter when overwatering causes the plant to rot.
The plants have dense, water-filled leaves that are a beautiful dusty green. The stems trail beautifully over pots or hanging planters. Burro’s tails are fragile, so they often lose leaves and stems the moment they get wet. If you do happen to find some broken pieces, just catch them, stick them in soil and you will have more plant babies in no time.
Flowering low light succulents
While wax plants don’t bloom frequently, when they do the results are stunning. This semi-succulent plant grows long vines with medium green leaves. The waxy flowers are star-shaped and appear along the stems. The vines can be trained to grow up and over a window or trail through the air. Hoyas are epiphytic, which means their roots attach to tree branches rather than grow in soil and they grow on vines that sprout out of the trunks of those trees.
Low light succulents like the Hoya aren’t difficult to maintain, but don’t overwater them or they may rot. Use potting soil with pine bark, perlite, and peat to best mimic their epiphytic habit.
These plants thrive in low light conditions. Native to the tropical forest of South America, Schlumbergera has leafless stems with flattened segments. The Thanksgiving cactus has a blunt tip with jagged edges. It blooms around the time of the US Thanksgiving holiday.
Its hybrid, S. x buckleyi, is called the Christmas cactus because it blooms about a month later. Both varieties are lovely low light succulents that require regular watering. However, unlike other succulents, their roots should never be sitting in soggy soil.