What Is Indirect Sunlight For Succulents

Before reaching a plant, sunlight either reflects off another surface or passes through a barrier, such as a window shade or a tree’s leaves. Typically, indoor lighting only comes from indirect sources, such an east-facing window.

How can you provide indirect sunlight for succulents?

Your plants will receive enough of indirect light from windows that face north, but for some species, the amount of light may not be sufficient. Windows with a view to the west, east, or south will also receive indirect light for a portion of the day.

If you can’t put your succulents in a spot with adequate natural indirect light, you can also make your own. You can lessen the amount of light your plants receive by moving them a few feet away from the window or even by covering the window with a sheer curtain or shade.

Does direct or indirect sunlight favor succulents?

I’m regularly asked on Instagram for advice on how to grow succulents, so I thought it would be a good idea to provide those instructions here as well. I consider myself a succulent aficionado, but I am by no means an expert, so let me start there. (Always feel free to correct me!) Given that my plants are all quite robust and numerous, I’d love to share with you what has worked for me.

When cultivating succulents, I’ve discovered that there are three key things to take into account:


Succulents prefer soil that drains properly. For a while now, I’ve been purchasing a Palm & Cactus mix from Lowes, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve discovered that my soil dries out a little bit too rapidly during the hotter summer months. If your soil doesn’t seem to be holding onto water for long enough, you can add a little bit of ordinary potting soil to your cactus soil to improve water retention. Tea cups, Mason jars, and baby food jars are a few examples of containers I occasionally like to use for my plants because they don’t have drainage holes. To aid with drainage concerns in this situation, I will either add sand to the soil or stack stones on the bottom of the container.


The idea that succulents don’t require much water is a prevalent one. They may be able to go longer lengths of time without it, but they won’t “thrive” in a scenario similar to a drought. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way when I initially began my collection. My plants would become dry for weeks at a time, and they would not grow. They weren’t also perishng. On the other hand, my mother regularly watered her plants, and they were thriving! I started giving my plants more frequent waterings after deciding she was right. Now, I always recommend watering the soil when it is dry. For me, that is roughly once per week in the summer and a little less in the winter. I water the earth, not the plant, when I water. (I’ve heard that allowing water to collect on the leaves can lead to rot and leave ugly stains.) I soak it thoroughly until the water drains from the bottom of the saucepan. (I don’t soak plants that don’t have drainage holes. I tend to “sip” more.) I frequently witness people overwatering their succulents to death. By making sure the soil is completely dry in between waterings, you may prevent this.


Succulents thrive most in direct but bright sunshine. Different species can tolerate various levels of light, but I’ve noticed that the majority of my plants tend to suffer in prolonged exposure to direct sunshine. Keep your plants where they get a lot of shade but still get enough light to prevent burning and scorching. My healthiest plants can be found outside on window sills, where modest overhangs shield them from direct sunshine. As I previously mentioned, certain plants are more tolerant to direct sunlight than others. To find out what grows best where you live, you simply need to experiment with your plants. Your plants may grow lanky and extend toward the light if they don’t receive enough light. Your plants can be kept growing straight up by rotating the pot occasionally or slowly moving them to a brighter location if they are bending or extending out toward the light. You might want to multiply your lanky succulents. (For further information, see my post on propagating succulents.)

How much indirect sunlight are required by succulents?

It might be challenging for succulents to receive adequate sunlight inside. They typically require 6 hours each day of bright, indirect sunshine outside.

However, indoors, you should put your succulents close to a window that receives light throughout the day. Place your succulents close to the brightest window or area of your house or office if this is not an option.

Watch this video to learn more:

Indirect sunlight is it safe to grow succulents?

It can be difficult to give succulents enough light, especially if you live in a place with little natural light. The majority of succulents prefer direct but bright sunshine.

Some succulents can survive in the shadow thanks to their strong adaptability. There are succulents that can withstand low light if you’re growing them in less than optimum lighting conditions.

What qualifies as “indirect sunlight”?

The two types of light—direct sunlight and indirect sunlight—are the first topic we’ll cover in our indoor plant light guide. Both of these types of light are probably present in your home; the trick is to arrange your houseplants to take advantage of each type of light.

Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight is defined as light that travels in a direct line from the sun to the plant. For instance, the majority of window sills receive direct sunshine. You can also create direct light with LED grow lights if your home doesn’t get enough direct sunlight to support your plant collection.

Indirect Sunlight

When something blocks the sun’s path and diffuses or filters the light before it reaches your plants, this is known as indirect sunlight. Sheer curtains, furniture, a tree outside your window, or even a different indoor plant placed in front to shield the lower-light plant are some examples.

Is shade the same as infrared light?

Identifying direct and indirect sunlight outside is relatively simple. Simply compare the areas of your lawn that receive sunlight vs those that receive shade.

Because the sun’s rays are not shining directly on the plant, the majority of light inside is regarded as indirect light. However, there are various intensities of indirect light, from dim to intense.

What Is Direct Light for Plants?

The sun’s rays reach the plant directly when they are unimpeded. This only typically happens indoors when the plant is situated next to a glass door or on a ledge.

Indoor gardening is not possible for any plants that demand “full daylight” or extended periods of direct sunlight.

A single, black shadow will be cast in the direction that the light is coming from when the sun is directly on a plant.

Is Direct Light Bad for Plants?

Direct sunlight sometimes gets a bad rap in the world of houseplants, but it’s not necessarily the bad guy. The majority of houseplants can thrive without direct light and don’t even require it to grow.

Some plants, especially those that prefer the gentler morning sun, can endure very little direct light.

Crotons, snake plants, and succulents are a few species of houseplants that not only endure but also benefit from direct sunlight.

These are some of the plants you can put in areas of your home when direct sunlight cannot be avoided.

Is Morning Sun Direct Sunlight?

Direct sunlight is regarded as occurring in the morning. Even yet, it usually doesn’t feel as harsh as the midday sun.

For indoor plants that want more sunshine to blossom but are unable to withstand intense direct sunlight, this is a fantastic lighting solution.

What Is Indirect Light for Plants?

Ambient lighting is similar to indirect light. The plant is not in the dark, but neither are the rays directly contacting it.

Most rooms with windows have indirect lighting. To provide indirect illumination, a thin curtain can be draped over windows that get direct sunlight.

Low light and partial/full shade plants often thrive in these lighting conditions.

What Does Indirect Light Look Like?

Your plant’s leaves won’t be immediately exposed to the sun’s beams. Instead, general lighting is created in the space as a result of light reflecting off other things.

You might see several faint shadows projected in various directions rather than just one dark one.

What Counts as Bright Indirect Light?

Since brightness cannot be measured, it might be challenging for plant owners to figure out how much light is required to produce “bright, indirect light.”

First, the light must be indirect, which means that the plant must not be exposed to any direct sunlight. Bright refers to a higher level or intensity of ambient light.

The indirect light that is the brightest will typically be near a window or glass door. In comparison to low light, you will frequently notice darker shadows in bright light.

How To Measure Light Levels for Plants

There are a few techniques you may employ to more accurately describe the quantity of light in your home if you’re still unsure about the lighting levels in each room.

While some approaches are more scientific than others, they all ought to help you understand how your home is lit.

Shadow Test

Hold up your plant or your hand during the brightest part of the day (typically around noon) and look at the shadow that results:

One or two somewhat black shadows with slightly blurred edges appear in a bright light.

You can repeat the shadow test throughout the day based on how much light your plant requires (because the sun’s movement will result in varying light levels).

You can identify which plants will thrive in a particular environment if the bulk of the tests fall into a particular category of light.

When deciding a plant to house in that position, keep in mind whether you receive different categories throughout the day.

Light Meter

Buy a light meter or download an app to your smartphone to geek out on the estimated amount of light a location is receiving.

By using a light meter, you can count foot-candles (an outdated measure of illuminationone unit equals the illumination of one candle at a 1-foot distance).

The unit of measurement for your light meter can also be lux, or one-tenth of a foot-candle.

Even when you are using a light meter app indoors, make sure to turn the app’s outdoor measurement setting and point the camera at the light source (window).

You will expose the sensor and point it in the direction of the light source for a real light meter. You may calculate the light level there based on the reading:

  • Low, indirect light is between 25 and 100 foot candles (ftc).
  • Medium, indirect light, 100-500 ftc
  • High, indirect light, 500–1000 ftc.
  • Direct sunshine, 1000+ ftc

I would suggest this rapid-response type with a lighted LCD and spinning sensor so you only need to point in the direction you wish to measure for the most accurate readings.

Plant Growth/Appearance

Trial and error must be used to determine this light measurement. Place a plant where you think it will receive bright, indirect light if it is advised for that location.

Depending on the plant’s rate of growth, it may take weeks or months before any negative consequences of improper lighting become apparent.

Here are some indicators that the plant needs more light:

  • growing quickly in the direction of the light.
  • scant or leggy growth
  • no fresh growth
  • tiny leaves
  • The soil is not drying up.
  • losing diversity
  • dark green foliage

Here are some indicators that the plant needs less light:

  • Crispy, dry leaves
  • patches of sunburn.
  • brown borders
  • foliage with a light color.

Many of these symptoms might also be brought on by pests, illness, or an unbalanced water supply. When experimenting with light settings, be sure all other facets of plant care are handled properly.

Which Direction Gets the Most Light?

The most light will enter a window facing south if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. This is due to the sun’s constant proximity to the equator.

Throughout the day, the sun also swings from east to west, so such areas will mostly receive morning or afternoon sun.

Indirect Light vs. Shade

Despite the fact that the phrases are frequently used differently, shade and indirect light refer to the same phenomenon.

In the outdoors, shade refers to a region where the sun doesn’t beam directly. This is typically close to a structure or shade-producing trees.

When sunlight does not directly touch a plant indoors, the lighting is referred to as indirect light.

Technically, due to the roof above and the surrounding walls, every indoor space is regarded as shaded (with the exception of areas where direct sunlight enters through a window).

Some plants may be grown either indoors or outside, so if you want to try growing them as houseplants, check for outdoor plants designated as “shade.”

What Is Partial Sunlight?

Three to six hours a day of direct sunshine is considered partial sunlight. In open spaces, this is simpler to accomplish.

However, it can also be done indoors in windows with a west, south, or east orientation.

The lighting here might not be ideal for them, though. The plant might not flower or develop to its full potential as a result.

Is Light Through a Window Considered Direct Sunlight?

It is technically not 100% direct sunlight when it shines through a window since some of it is refracted and veiled.

True direct sunlight, when the sun shines directly on the plant without any obstructions, can only be obtained outdoors.

However, direct sunlight is referred to when referring to indoor plants because it comes through a window.

This is so because this type of indoor light is the most direct and bright one available.

Direct sunlight from the outside or via a window may be too strong for houseplants because they do best in filtered or indirect lighting situations.

If sunlight enters a window directly, a thin curtain can reduce the brightness of the light, making it indirect.

North-Facing Windows

North-facing windows rarely receive direct sunshine in the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, they usually make a bright, indirect lighting atmosphere that lasts the entire day.

South-Facing Windows

South-facing windows will benefit sun-loving plants the most because they normally receive the most direct sunlight throughout the day (in the Northern Hemisphere).

East-Facing Windows

East-facing windows will receive direct sunlight in the morning, when the light is generally less harsh on sensitive plants and less intense.

For indoor plants that need plenty of sunlight to blossom but can’t stand too much harsh, direct light, this is an excellent place.