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The Light Needs of Some Indoor Cacti and Succulents

Proper light is critical for indoor cacti and succulents. Depending on the species, too much isnít necessarily helpful. Letís look at the average light conditions found in most homes and apartments, and the kinds of cacti or succulents that would be suitable.

A spot indoors can have low, moderate, or high light levels. The distance from the closest window or windows, the direction of the exposure, the presence of skylights, and artificial lighting in the room are things to consider.


Low Light Levels

The lowest light levels are usually found in artificially lit rooms where no or few windows are present. If windows are present in such rooms, they usually face north.

Now, what cacti or succulents would be suitable for low light conditions? Basically, the snake plant or Sanseveria is really the best you will find. If you canít do anything to increase the amount of light in the room, then what you can do is grow a variety of snake plants.

The taller snake plants have sword-shaped leaves. In addition, there are some beautiful, low-growing ones with lovely, short, variegated foliage.


Moderate Light

This would essentially be comparable to partial shade outdoors. Usually, the windows would be facing either east or west. Moderate light levels are also what you get if youíre using some sort of sheer curtains that filter the sun before the light enters the room.

Though there arenít a lot of cacti and succulents that will grow in moderate light conditions, the jungle cactus do fairly well. These arenít used to full sun. So, they do fairly well in such rooms. Because the winter sun is much less intense here in western North Carolina I find that my Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and my jungle cactus do fine with a little morning sun without this being filtered by curtains.


Well Lit Conditions

We all pretty much know what this means, and those without such conditions would love this in our homes. This is direct, unfiltered sun from southern exposures. During the summer, the sun can get very intense. So, it is better to keep these plants several inches or even more from the window so they donít get burned. This exposure will also mean such rooms are slightly warmer than the rest of the house.

With the exception of the orchid cactus and other kinds from the jungles, most other cacti and succulents do very well with well lit conditions. This is especially true for ones like the jade plant, the crassulas, the sedums, and the wax plant.

In some cases, aloe can tolerate direct sun. However, it does depend upon the conditions under which the plant has been grown. I obtained an Aloe vera from our church yard sale last year. Gradually over the summer, I tried to slowly expose it to some direct sun. Yet, each time I did this the leaves became bleached and pale.


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