Succulent Lighting 101: What’s the Best Lighting for Succulents?

Did you just bring a new plant home but aren’t quite sure where to put it? Worried you’re a terrible plant parent because your succulent’s leaves are stretching out like crazy? Don’t worry; we’ve all been there before, and we’re here to help.

In this blog we're going to show you the “Lazy Way” to find the right lighting for your succulents: where to place them, warning signs that they might be getting too much or too little light, how grow lights can help, and extra tips to help you observe and make adjustments. Things may never be “perfect”, but so it goes! We’ll figure it out together.


Consider your Environment

First things first, we encourage you to consider your environment. Many people encounter challenges in plant care when they inadvertently set themselves up for failure right at the start!

Take a look around your home – do you have lots of sunny spots by large windows, or are you living in a more cozy cave-like space? Understanding your environment's light levels is key to choosing the right plants. You wouldn’t want to buy a plant that needs high levels of sunlight if you live in an apartment with less than stellar lighting. But if your space is on the darker side, fear not! There are plenty of low-light tolerant succulents out there just waiting to brighten up your home, like snake plants or zebra plants.

Choosing the Ideal Spot for Your Succulents

Now with your succulent in hand, step one is to find light! Start by finding a spot by a window that gets lots of bright indirect light. Typically with indoor plants, the more the merrier! And if you’re putting your plant outside, like on a porch or balcony, then you’ll want a spot that gets some shade during the day with about 6-8 hours of sun.

While in your home you’ll ideally want a spot with as much light as possible, more importantly we recommend finding a window that you frequently view. Out of sight is out of mind, and you want you to be able to enjoy your plants! You’ll be able to better observe our plant and move it if it’s getting too much or too little light, helping find that sweet spot where your succulent can thrive! “Bright light and in sight” is the Lazy way.

Plants sitting on a sunny window sill

If able, you also want a few feet of space by that window to be able to move your plant around. If it's getting too much light scoot it farther away from the window. You might have to do this in the summer when there is a lot more direct sunlight. Too little light? Then scoot it a little bit closer! Think of your plants like Goldilocks trying to find the bed that is juuuust right. The key is to try different things, observe, and adjust. Eventually your plant will find its happy place.

Deciphering 'Bright Indirect' Light for Succulents

We see the term “bright indirect light” a lot in succulent care but what does this mean exactly? Well we want to make sure the plant receives plenty of light, but it's not directly exposed to harsh, intense sunlight. The sunlight should be filtered or diffused through something like a sheer curtain or be positioned away from direct exposure to the sun's rays.

Etiolation: Why are My Succulents Stretching Out?

If your succulent looks like it's s t r e t c h i n g out towards the sun and has very elongated, flimsy growth with large spaces between the leaves, then it's probably a sign that the plant is not getting enough light. This is called etiolation and unfortunately may cause your succulent to become discolored and droopy. Healthy succulent growth looks very compact, so if you see signs of etiolation then move your plant to a spot with more light. And hey, if natural light just isn't cutting it, don't be afraid to introduce some artificial help with grow lights.

etiolated succulent
etiolated cactus showing a "bottleneck"

adobe stock

If you don’t like the look of your succulents all stretched out, then feel free to prune back the stringy growth. The main plant will heal and continue to grow new leaves. You can even replant the parts you cut off to propagate new plants! Just make sure to use clean tools and let things dry a few days before planting.

Identifying and Remedying Sunburn in Succulents

Ah, sunburn - not just a problem for us humans, but for our succulents too! If you notice your succulent's leaves are turning brown and crispy then it’s a sure sign that it's getting too much direct sunlight. No need to worry though, if you see signs like this on your succulents then go ahead and move your plant to an area with less direct sunlight or place some sort of filter between it and the sun.

sunburned succulent
sunburned cactus

Adobe stock

Recovery might take some time, but just be patient and continue to monitor your succulent. New growth should emerge over time, indicating that your plant is on the road to recovery. You can also carefully trim off any badly damaged leaves using sterilized scissors or pruning shears. Remember, it's all part of the learning process – every snip is a step towards growth.

Light Stress vs Sunburn

One thing we want to mention is that there is such a thing called “light stress” in succulents and is not a sign of burn or damage to the plant. This is a natural process succulents go through when exposed to more light, and is expressed in a change of color. The ruby necklace is a great example of this, as its leaves turn from bright green to purple with more light, but we promise it is doing just fine.

Ruby Necklace succulent

All in all, you’re trying to find that sweet spot that lets you have that nice compact growth with healthy color. Not sunburnt but not washed out.

Harnessing the Power of Grow Lights for Succulents

Earlier we mentioned grow lights to help succulents receive a little more light in your home. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from a friend, and in a succulent’s case their new best friend might just be a grow light!

Grow lights pointed at succulents

Look for grow lights that have varying intensity and place them around 6 to 12 inches away from your plants so they don’t get light burns. Observe how your plants are doing after a bit, and switch up the amount of hours of light your plants are getting, or the  intensity of light as you need!

Extra Tips for Optimizing Succulent Lighting

Before we go we'd like to leave you with a few extra lighting tips:

  • Rotate! If your succulent is by a window and tends to lean more towards one side you can simply rotate it every now and then so that it more evenly absorbs light.
  • Go slow: If you’re moving your succulent from lower light to more full sun, it helps to gradually introduce it to more light over time instead of all at once.
  • Pay attention to seasons- North facing windows are good for Spring and Summer, but you get less light in Fall and Winter so you’ll want West and South facing windows that have more intense light when they can get it.
  • Last but not least, be patient and embrace failure. If things don't go perfectly the first time around, that's okay! Through failure we learn and become better plant parents in the long run.


We hope that this blog helps you wherever you are in your plant journey! By using the Lazy Method of understanding your environment, you’ll set up your plants for success at the beginning so you can stress way less later. Take your time and you’ll find what makes you and your plants happy!

Key Takeaways

  • Consider your environment and the plants that will best fit your space
  • You want bright light and in sight!
  • Bright indirect = lots of light, no direct rays
  • Sunburn looks like brown crispy spots. Move away from light.
  • Light stress is normal and can look really cool!
  • Stretching out, or etiolation, means you need more light.
  • Grow lights can be a great help