Succulents are low maintenance plants that don’t require special attention or care: they are able to beautifully thrive in many environmental and growing conditions. However, they require a lot of sunlight to grow and stay healthy. The good news is that there are several succulents that can tolerate low light and are suitable for those rooms in your home, or in your office space, where lighting conditions are less than ideal. Read more about the best succulents and cacti for your office in this interesting article!
But, remember: ‘low light’ doesn’t mean ‘no light’. All plants need light in order to perform photosynthesis, a process by which plants transform light energy into chemical energy. For a plant, low light simply means not being directly exposed to sunlight. Natural sunlight is always the best choice for your plants but you can also supplement the amount of light by using grow lights.
Let’s now dive in and find out the best low light succulents that can still thrive even in the shade!
1. Aloe Vera
First on the list of best low light succulents is Aloe Vera, a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant that can grow up to 40 inches tall. It has thick, fleshy, green to bluish-grey leaves. Smaller aloe species, dwarf species, and hybrids do well in a low light environment and make very good indoor house plants in pots and containers.
These plants are a great choice for beginners because they are easy to care for, and are easily propagated by leaves. Although aloe vera is well known for its many pharmacologically active ingredients beneficial to humans, bear in mind that it is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses when ingested.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Aloe vera thrives well in partial light to bright indirect light. If you can, place the plant on the south or west-facing window.
- Water: Water infrequently, keep the soil slightly dry. You’ll know when it’s time for watering when soil is completely dry to the touch. I always recommend the ‘soak and dry‘ method: water the soil until it is completely soaked letting the water stream through the drainage holes of the pot. Wait until the soil is fully dried out before watering again (this may depend on your location and type of container). Avoid overwatering because it quickly leads to root rot and the plant will end up suffering from pests and diseases.
- Soil: If you keep your Aloe in pots or containers, gritty, well-draining potting soil is recommended to avoid root rot.
Moving on on the list of low light succulents we find Aeonium, a genus including about 35 succulent plant species in the Crassulaceae family native to the Canary Island and very popular in the Mediterranean area. They are colorful, gorgeous, rosette-shaped succulents with beautiful spoon-shaped foliage in a wide range of textures and sizes reaching from 5-inch to 5-6 feet.
Most aeoniums are monocarpic plants: after blooming, the rosettes will die. However, if the plant has produced side shoots, these will live on, otherwise, the entire plant will die.
Aeoniums do best in warm, dry climates and will not survive freezing temperatures. If you grow them in pots or containers, make sure to bring them inside when the temperatures are expected to drop significantly. Aeoniums are commonly used as ornamental plants but are perfect for rock gardens too.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Aeoniums thrive in partially shady areas to full sun, however, if you keep them under intense sun exposure, they can experience black spots due to sunburn. It’s always a good idea to protect them during the hottest summer hours with an umbrella o shade cloth.
- Water: Most Aeoniums go dormant in summer and stay that way until the weather cools off in the fall. During dormancy, they don’t require watering often, just enough to keep them alive in extreme heat and dry conditions. If your Aeonium is outdoors and gets some rainwater, you don’t need to water it at all. However, when your plants are actively growing during the winter months, they need water from time to time and I find the ‘soak and dry’ the best watering method mentioned right above in the Aloe Vera section.
- Soil: As with other succulents, Aeoniums prefer a sandy or regular well-draining potting soil. If you grow them in containers, make sure to choose pots with drainage holes to prevent root rot.
Next on our list of the best low light succulents is Gasteria, a genus native to South-Africa, which is named for its stomach-shaped (‘gaster’ in Latin) flowers. Most are stemless and have relatively straight fleshy leaves with blossoms in a curly shape. Most gasteria species have become well adapted to growing indoors, tolerating low light conditions.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Most Gasteria thrive in bright but indirect light and need to be protected from hot afternoon sunlight to avoid sunburn.
- Water: Like most succulents, Gasteria don’t need to be watered frequently. For indoor potted ones, I suggest using the ‘soak and dry’ method (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: If you keep your Gasteria in pots or containers, gritty, well-draining potting soil is recommended to avoid root rot.
4. Hawortia (Zebra Plant)
Haworthias are small and popular succulent native to South Africa and can be considered low light succulents. With multitudes of species, they show numerous different appearances and unusual forms, ranging from narrow pointy leaves with black-and-white horizontal zebra stripes, to clear or reticulated translucent leaves. They are the perfect plant for beginners because don’t require special care and can be easily propagated by offsets.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: While many succulents like full sun, Haworthias are more adapted to semi-shade conditions and thrive in partial shade, both indoors and outdoors. Direct sunlight damages the plant and will make the leaves of all Haworthias turn a deep unappealing reddish color. If the damage isn’t too bad this color will fade over time once you move the plant to a shadier spot.
- Water: I recommend the ‘soak and dry’ watering method that allows the soil to dry out entirely between waterings. Always avoid overwatering because it quickly leads to root rot and the plant will end up suffering from pests and diseases, and eventually die.
- Soil: Like most all succulent plants, Haworthias do not like their roots to remain wet for prolonged periods, so their soil mix should be well-drained. You can buy a gritty, well-draining cactus mix and fill up a deep pot or you can mix your own with perlite, aquarium gravel, or pumice.
5. Kalanchoe Tomentosa (Panda Plant)
Kalanchoe Tomentosa (Panda Plant) belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is native to Madagascar. The fuzzy leaves are of a sage green color with brown spots on the tips. It is considered an excellent plant for beginners because is relatively easy to care for and does not require much attention to thrive, making it a popular office plant. It can withstand a variety of lighting conditions, from partial shade to full sun.
But remember, all parts of Kalanchoe Tomentosa a.k.a. ‘Panda Plant’ are toxic when ingested, so make sure to keep your furry friend away from this plant.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Kalanchoe Tomentosa loves bright indirect sun for 4-5 hours per day but, actually, thrives just fine in partial shade, given its tendency to dry out if exposed to excessive sunlight.
- Water: When it comes to watering, Kalanchoe Tomentosa is pretty much like most other succulent plants and I find the ‘soak and dry‘ method to be the best choice (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: Since Kalanchoe Tomentosa is prone to root rot, I highly recommend using a well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix.
6. Sansevieria Trifasciata (Snake Plant)
Next on the list of the best low light succulents is Sansevieria Trifasciata, commonly known as Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, a plant native to tropical West Africa. It is an evergreen perennial plant member of the Asparagaceae family and features stiff green pointy leaves that range from six inches to eight feet tall, depending on the variety.
Sansevierias are popular & easy-care houseplants, perfect for beginners due to their ability to thrive even when neglected. Sanseveria with its modern, edgy look and can also help purify the air in your home by removing formaldehyde and benzene toxins.
Quick Care Tips:
- Light: Sanseveria can thrive in moderate to bright indirect light. However, they will do fine in low light areas and can also withstand full sun.
- Water: this plant doesn’t like to be watered frequently. To properly water, follow the above described ‘soak and dry‘ method (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: As for the majority of succulents, well-draining potting soil is the best choice that provides good air-flow for stronger and healthier root growth.
7. Sedum Morganianum (Burro’s Tail)
Burro’s tail is definitely on the list of the best low light succulents for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is simply beautiful: just look at the texture of its long, hanging stems featuring oval leaves in pale green shades or pastel colors!
A member of the hardy, easy-to-grow Sedum family, burro’s tail (which also goes by the moniker donkey’s tail) will be happy in bright, indirect light but can tolerate a fair amount of shade. This plant requires well-drained soil and doesn’t like to be watered too much tor too often.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Sedum prefers indirect sun (at least 6 hours a day), but will tolerate a fair amount of shade.
- Water: Sedums are very drought tolerant succulents: too much water can cause stems and roots to rot and die. Always remember that are sensitive to overwatering and need ‘watering with care’. If you grow your sedum in a pot, I suggest you use the ‘soak and dry‘ method and water it only when the soil is fully dried out (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: Although this plant thrives in poor sandy-soil, if you grow it in pots or containers, make sure to use well-draining soil: too much moisture will quickly kill your Sedum.
8. Euphorbia Milii (Crown of Thorns)
Euphorbia Milii, also known as ‘Crown Of Thorns’, is a popular ornamental succulent native to Madagascar very appreciated for its colorful flowers in red, pink, or white tones. It can grow up to 1-2 feet tall and is covered in sharp thorns about ½ inch long.
Keep in mind that Euphorbia Milii is a toxic plant: it’s best to keep it away from your pets, although usually, animals tend to stay away from this toxic plant thanks to their instinct, and the accidents are quite rare. Even humans need to take precautions when handling this plant: the white sap in the stem or leaves can cause skin irritation and rashes.
Euphorbia milii is a very unpretentious and easy-care plant, perfect for beginners. But remember: this succulent is a sun lover, so if you choose to keep it in low-light, make sure to provide an adequate amount of daily sunlight.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Crown of Thorns loves to receive 4-5 hours of direct sunlight per day and the best place is for it is a very sunny window, allowing the plant to grow its multitude of colorful flowers. That being said, Crown of Thorns, thanks to its ability to well adapt to the surrounding environment, can also thrive in partial sun.
- Water: Crown of Thorns has normal watering needs as the majority of succulents, and that means it doesn’t need to be watered frequently. For indoor potted ones, I suggest using the ‘soak and dry’ method (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: Euphorbia Milii prefers well-draining soil and benefit from being fertilized during the spring and summer months when is actively growing. During this time, I like to use an organic liquid fertilizer at half strength every couple of weeks.
9. Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant)
Crassula Ovata (a.k.a. Jade Plant) is one of the most popular indoor ornamental plants all over the world, and this is why is on the list of best low light succulents. This plant, native to South Africa and Mozambique, has thick, woody stems and plump, glossy oval leaves, giving it a miniature tree-like appearance. Jade plants can be easily spotted in offices and rooms as this plant is regarded as the symbol of luck.
Crassula Ovata is a great office succulent, not only because it brings good fortune, but also because it thrives well in low light conditions and stays small and compact.
Warning to all pets owners: Crassula Ovata is toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets. The safest thing you can do is to keep your pets away from the leaves, flowers, stems, and roots of the plant. Read more about toxic succulents in this informative article!
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Crassula Ovata likes to receive 5-6 hours of daily sunlight, but easily adapts to several different lightening conditions, even thriving well in partial shade or low-light rooms.
- Water: Crassula Ovata has normal watering needs as the majority of succulents, and that means it doesn’t need to be watered frequently. I find the ‘soak and dry’ method to be the best and safest watering method (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: Crassula Ovata needs soil that is very well-draining and doesn’t like to sit in wet soil for too long. If the soil stays constantly wet, the plant becomes susceptible to fungus, diseases, and root rot. I recommend using a well-draining cactus or succulent mix. You can use cactus or sandy soil and add gravel ( I like to use perlite) at a 1:1 ratio to improve the level of drainage.
10. Ponytail Palm Tree (Beaucarnera Recurvata)
Despite its common name, Ponytail Palm, a species of plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosí in eastern Mexico, is neither a palm nor a tree. This evergreen plant is drought-tolerant, slow-growing, and requires very little care, making it a great choice for very busy or often traveling people. Ponytail Palm has become a very popular houseplant being also a pet-friendly, non-toxic plant. It features a water-storing trunk and lush, long curly leaves that grow from the top like a ponytail.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Ponytail Palm Tree thrives in a spot that regularly receives bright light. Although the full sun is best, this forgiving plant can tolerate lower indoor light, and will just grow more slowly.
- Water: Choose a pot with bottom holes, so that excess water can drain off. Always be sure to assess the watering needs of your plant by touching the soil with your finger. When it feels completely dry, then it’s time for a drink. Follow the ‘soak and dry’ method described above to avoid root rot due to overwatering. Water sparingly in the winter months.
- Soil: Use fast-draining soil, such as a cactus and succulent potting mix. If you have potting soil, sand, and perlite already on hand, you can make your own mixture by simply mixing 1 part potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part sand.
11.Tillandsia (Air Plants)
Tillandsia (a.k.a. Air Plants), can be found in jungles, rain forests, or deserts, and the reason why they nicknamed “Air Plants” is that they get the majority of their nutrients from the air around them. There are hundreds of species and varieties of air plants. They usually have strap-shaped or slender triangle-shaped leaves. This pretty little plant has become quite popular over the last few years, given its easy care and low-maintenance. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for it at all: it’s important to provide your Tillandsia with the light, water, and air circulation it needs to thrive beautifully!
Quick Care Tips
- Light: As a general rule, keep your Tillandsia out of direct sunlight. In order to thrive, air plants need bright and indirect light. Rooms with southern or eastern-facing windows are best.
- Water: Weekly soakings will keep your Tillandsia happy; more often in a hot, dry environment, less often in a cool, humid one.
- Soil: Tillandsia prefers well-draining soil.
Lithops (a.k.a ‘Living Stones‘), a genus of succulents native to southern Africa, have a unique appearance of small colorful pebbles. These slow-growing plants are quite a popular novelty because are easy to grow indoors and look gorgeous in small pots and containers. They don’t have a stem and are made of thick leaves that grow in pairs.
Lithops bloom in the late autumn or early winter when a single flower will be pushed up from the fissure between the pair of leaves. After the plant flowers, it goes into a period of dormancy during which at least one new body develops. Lithops are very fascinating succulents, non-toxic to humans or pets.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Lithops do well when exposed to 4-5 hours of direct sunlight per day and partial shade in the afternoon, both indoors and outdoors. However, if you keep them under intense sun exposure, I suggest you protect them with an umbrella or shade cloth to avoid unattractive black spots due to sunburn.
- Water: Watering lithops can be tricky. They have a yearly cycle of growth and you need to water according to the time of year. These little succulents need very little water and do not need to be watered in their dormant season, which is fall to spring. Water from late spring into summer by using the ‘Soak and Dry‘ method (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: Lithops thrive in compacted, sandy soil. If you grow yours in pots, make sure to use a well-draining grit-rich cactus blend of potting mix. If you don’t have a cactus mix, you can easily make your own by mixing 50% potting soil or compost with 50% grit material (perlite, pumice, lava rock, or coarse sand).
13. Schlumbergera (Christmas Cactus)
Schlumbergera, a small genus of cacti, is native to the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil and definitely a very popular and easy-to-care-for succulent.
Among the most common varieties, we find Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus blooming from late November to late January (hence their name). Flowers in red, white, orange, yellow, pink, or purple appear at the tips of these branches and measure up to 3 inches long with several tiers of petals. These plants easily do well in indirect sunlight or low light, therefore they are a great choice as houseplants or office plants.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Although is a tropical plant, Schlumbergera will not tolerate direct sunlight and, actually, prefers a bright to lightly sunny location. An east-facing window with moderate indirect light is a perfect location for your cactus.
- Water: Generally, Schlumbergera requires less water during fall and winter and more in spring and summer during their active growth.
- Soil: Use quality soil rich in humus and other nutrients.
14. Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy)
Last but not least on the list of the best low-light succulents is Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana, also known as Flaming Katy and Widow’s Thrill. This popular succulent is grown predominantly for its colorful flowers and is often given as a houseplant or a present. Its leaves are thick and waxy like a jade plant but have a sculpted edge. The flowers bloom in various colors, from orangy-reds to pinks, lilac, yellows, and whites. Flaming Katy gets about 12 inches (30 cm) high and just a little smaller in width.
If you have pets or small children, you should be very careful when you bring a Flaming Katy in the house. The plant contains cardiac toxins (bufadienolides) and therefore is toxic for cats and dogs, and if ingested can cause gastrointestinal irritation or upset.
Quick Care Tips
- Light: Flaming Katy can tolerate various lighting conditions and can thrive even in a dark room. That being said, a windowsill benefitting from several hours of light each day would be ideal, especially to encourage flowering over and over again.
- Water: Although Flaming Katy resembles a normal house plant, keep in mind that is a succulent plant and is able to store water in its stem and leaves. Flaming Katy has normal watering needs as the majority of succulents, and that means it doesn’t need to be watered frequently. For indoor potted ones, I suggest using the ‘Soak and Dry’ method. (Read more about it by scrolling up this article in the Aloe Vera section).
- Soil: This plant does not like to sit in soggy soil and prefers to keep its roots in well-draining potting soil.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article on the Top 14 Low Light Succulents and found it comprehensive and enlightening! If you like, feel free to leave a comment or share your knowledge on this topic in the section below.
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