Updated date:

Do Cacti and Succulents Need Direct Sunlight?

Lyn is a horticulturist and YouTuber with over 35 years of experience growing succulents and cacti.

Find out which plant is best for you and your home.

Find out which plant is best for you and your home.

Do Succulents and Cacti Need Sun?

Do succulents and cacti need direct sunlight? The majority of cacti and succulents do need as much sunshine as you can give them, such as a south-facing position. But some of them don't need to have as much sunlight.

In This Article

  1. What Cactus Does Not Need Much Sunlight?
  2. What Cactus Needs Lots of Sun?
  3. What Succulent Doesn't Need Much Sun?
  4. How Can You Tell If Your Cactus or Succulent Needs More Sunlight?
  5. What Can You Do If Your Cactus or Succulent Isn't Getting Enough Sun?

What Cactus Does Not Need Much Sunlight?

In general, there's two different types of cacti: the rainforest epiphytes and the desert types.

Rainforest Epiphytes

The rainforest epiphytes cacti don't need as much sunlight. These include:

  • Christmas cactus
  • Thanksgiving cactus
  • Rhipsalis
  • Epiphyllums

They can have an indirect position, a west or east position, and even a north-facing position.

What Cactus Needs Lots of Sun?

The desert types of cacti (usually the very spiny ones) need to have as much sunshine as you can give them, such as a south-facing position.

What Succulent Doesn't Need Much Sun?

The majority of succulent also need direct sunshine. But there are some succulents that don't need as much, such as:

  • Sansevieria
  • Gasterias
  • Haworthias

They can take indirect light or a west- and east-facing position. Some of the aloes don't need as much, either.

Seen here are Dendrobium Orchids, Zygopetalum Orchids, Epiphyllums, and Hoya kerrii, and in the trays are rows of Epiphyllum seedlings.

Seen here are Dendrobium Orchids, Zygopetalum Orchids, Epiphyllums, and Hoya kerrii, and in the trays are rows of Epiphyllum seedlings.

How Can You Tell If Your Cactus or Succulent Needs More Sun?

What happens if you can't provide them with the sunshine that these plants need? Then they will:

  • Grow a little bit stretched and etiolated
  • Will not flower
  • Get quite sickly, over time

So, sunlight is very important for them.

What Can You Do If Your Cactus or Succulent Isn't Getting Enough Sun?

So what do you do if you're growing cacti and succulents and they need sunshine, but you don't live in a particularly sunny position or you're growing them inside, in the house, in a sunless window or north-facing window?

  • Install an LED Grow Light: You can install a plant LED grow light. These are fantastic because they'll mimic the sunshine by providing full spectrum light that these plants need.
  • Try a Different Plant: Or the other alternative, if you don't have as much sunshine to provide for them, is to grow the ones that don't need as much sunshine, such as the Sansevierias, Gasterias, Haworthias and some of the aloes. And when it comes to cacti, as I mentioned, the Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter cactus and some of the other ones like the Rhipsalis and Epiphyllums.

I hope you find that useful—thank you so much for reading. Have a fantastic plant-powered day.

Additional Resources

Related Articles