Succulents and sunshine. Yes, your succulent needs water, light, and love. But how much does this very low maintenance plant need to survive? Many people choose these plants for their home since they don’t need much attention but are shocked to find them die in their care. Yes, succulents are great for those of us who don’t have that green thumb gene, but they still need the proper tools to survive. You can put them in a well-lit window for light, but what happens during the winter or if you live in a windowless apartment?
What is a Succulent Plant?
A succulent plant is one that can store water in its leaves and stems, such as various cacti. Most succulent plants are native to deserts, cliffs, cold mountains, and steamy jungles --environments that might not allow for the normal sunshine and rain, that a normal plant would need to grow. With its adaptive nature, succulents have survived by genetically developing the ability to store the water they need to survive, needing less watering. Great for us forgetful folks! They come in all types of sizes, shapes, and colors, and can range from spiney to beautifully flowered.
Succulents can tolerate droughts, even as long as several months. They best grown in bright light, but don’t necessarily need the hot sun. With their ease of growing, they are quite often chosen as indoor house plants. If you forget to water your plants for say, a few weeks? You’re in luck! But they still need light.
Do You Need Special Lighting for your Succulent Plant?
The answer is no! You don’t need special lighting for your plant. Adequate sunlight on a window sill ledge should suffice if available. However, for a plant to thrive and grow properly indoors special lighting is highly suggested. When a succulent plant isn’t given enough light, it begins to grow, reach, and stretch towards whatever light source it can find, often becoming distorted and discolored. They often lose their pretty decorative look. Although still alive, this is their way of showing that they’d like more light.
To keep your indoor succulents in great health with good coloring and shape, it’s good to have an indoor light source. But you’ll also need to know how and when to use your light.
How Much Light Does My Little Plant Need?
Just like many other plants, succulents have growth and dormant phases. Although winter is usually their dormant season, when kept indoors with artificial temperature and light, the plants won’t usually go through a real dormancy period and will usually try to take in as much light as they can.
Providing six hours of direct sunlight for succulents is mandatory for survival. So, when using artificial indoor lighting it’s recommended to provide at least 12-14 to replicate this. Plants also need darkness for their growth cycle, so try not to forget the light on too often!
What Type of Light Should I Provide?
Your options for lighting are pretty wide. However, here are the minimal basic requirements that are both effective and efficient:
- Choose fluorescent lighting with CLFs or T5/T8 bulbs. They are easy to find and do a great job as an artificial sun source. T5s are preferable, but T8s are more easily accessible.
- Use “daylight” spectrum with a color temp of 6500K. This is a bluish light but resembles the sun’s daylight color as closely as possible. But, if you’d like your plant to have baby plants and grow flowers, you need to add an additional 3000k light source.
- Keep your light source 6 to 12 inches away from your plants.
- The number of lights you will need will depend on the number of plants you have. For example, if you have plants that measure 1 foot across side by side, you will need a light source above them that measures a foot long.
Tips for Keeping Your Garden Alive and Well
Ok, it all sounds easy enough, right? Just in case, here are some more tidbits of information that can keep your indoor succulent garden thriving, even if you aren’t the green thumb type:
- Choose a soil that drains well and dries out between waterings. A sand mixture is great!
- Only water by misting every 10-14 days
- Remove any dry and dead leaves from the plant
- Repot your plant once a year to make from for growth
- Oh, and remember this! Succulents that are purple and orange in color prefer to live outdoors, succulents that are very green can live happily indoors.
- With these basic essentials, owning indoor succulent plants can be a success! Although getting enough light indoors can be the biggest challenge, especially if you lack natural light or window space, it’s not too hard to make the minor adjustments necessary to keep a healthy plant alive inside your home.
- If you would like the beauty and aesthetics that natural greenery can often add to a home, succulent plants are a great choice. They are easy to care for requiring very little watering and minimal lighting.
Written by Angela Christu. Lover of succulent plants due to her lack of a green thumb.