Succulents are well known for loving the sun. But what if your garden is mostly shadows or all the bright windowsills are taken? Luckily, you have options. There are many shade succulents that tolerate or even thrive in the garden, some of which even produce flowers!
Now, when we say shade, we mean shadows with partial sun. There has to be some amount of light. Unfortunately, you can’t stick these succulents in a closet and expect them to live. However, with the right balance, you’ll be surprised by how well they do.
Just because your succulent is growing in the shade doesn’t mean its other needs have changed. Most varieties still need minimal water and well-draining soil. Because there’s less evaporation in the shade, your plant may go longer between waterings than usual.
Now that you’re ready to fill those dark spaces with green, here are 20 tips and ideas for shade-loving succulents.
Scientific Name: Crassula ovata
Jade Plant is one of the many drought-tolerant succulents that prefer shade. Its leaves appear healthier in the shade and turn a lovely dark green. Your Jade Plant should still get some filtered light, but not direct sun.
If your Jade Plant starts to etiolate from lack of light, prune it back. This will encourage the plant to grow out instead of up.
Fox Tail Agave
Scientific Name: Agave attenuata
Fox Tail Agave is one of the best succulents for shady spots. These plants are fairly tolerant of over or underwatering (a rare trait in a succulent!). The sturdy leaves aren’t afraid to take up space and the inflorescences can reach 10 feet tall. Because of this, Fox Tail Agave will easily fill the large shady spots in your yard.
Scientific Name: Portulacaria afra
Not only are these plants a popular Elephant snack, they grow well in the shade! This succulent can grow tall or be kept small for indoor gardening. Its many leaves give it a fun appearance that will liven up your garden.
For Elephant’s Food, you’ll need a spot with bright shade. Even though it’s shadowy, the location has to be warm for this plant to thrive.
Scientific Name: Sedum morganianum
Native to southern Mexico and Honduras, Burro’s Tail is a sedum that does best with filtered sun. Its usual light requirement is only four hours of sun a day, so being in the shade doesn’t take away much. Ideally, it should receive the most light in the morning. The rest of the day can be shaded.
The tricky thing about Burro’s Tail are the leaves and stems. These finicky fellows fall off easily, making it difficult to move the plant around. We recommend you choose one spot for your Burro’s Tail and leave it there, making it a permanent fixture of your landscape.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia tithymaloides
Don’t let the strange name fool you, this succulent is a delight. With alternating leaves and colorful bracts, Devil’s Backbone is one of the more exciting shady succulents. It usually prefers indirect sunlight but is fine with shady areas as well.
Be cautious with this plant! Devil’s Backbone contains a white sap that may be toxic.
String of Pearls
Scientific Name: Senecio rowleyanus
They may sound elegant and dainty, but String of Pearls are tough succulents when it comes to light. They grow well in partial shade with few, if any, side effects. If you see any leggy growth on this plant, it’s most likely from overfertilizing and not etiolation.
These plants are versatile. They can grow indoors, outdoors, in arrangements, or solitary. However, be aware that the little ‘pearls’ are toxic to children and pets. Our recommendation? Hang it in the corner of your bedroom for a simple and fresh look.
Scientific Name: Hoya carnosa
Native to eastern Asia and Australia, this climbing succulent is best known for its clusters of waxy flowers. What you probably wouldn’t guess though is that it’s a very laid back plant. A wax plant will prefer filtered sun to full sun, making it an excellent addition to your garden. This paired with its need for little water and average house temperature makes it one of the easiest garden succulents to grow.
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera
Christmas cactus isn’t that fond of light to begin with, so it makes a great shade succulent plant. Unlike others, this plant will bloom in the low light. This is a huge advantage, given that it’s bright flowers are so beautiful.
This plant is fairly easy to care for and propagate. It may be exactly what you need for that dark corner.
Scientific Name: Hatiora gaertneri
Similar to the Christmas Cactus, this is a lovely succulent with casual light needs. Easter cactus is an epiphyte, so it naturally grows on the surface of tree trunks. Because of this, it’s used to shade and filtered light. While we don’t recommend you stick it on a tree, it will thrive in partial shade. The flowers are also quite beautiful.
String of Bananas
Scientific Name: Senecio rowleyanus
String of Bananas actually requires partial shade, not just tolerates. It thrives with partial sun and sparse watering when planted outdoors. However, when taken inside, this succulent needs a bit more light than usual.
No matter how much you love bananas, please don’t ingest this plant.
Scientific Name: Sedum ternatum
Native to the eastern United States, this succulent is called Stonecrop because of its rock-like needs: practically nothing. Woodland Stonecrop will usually grow in anything from bright light to full shade. It thrives on sparse watering and practically plants itself.
Scientific Name: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana
If you’re looking for some bushy foliage, Flaming Katy could be the plant for you. This popular succulent is usually grown indoors since it needs warm temperatures. Flaming Katy will tolerate the shade well, but its flowers won’t. If this is going to be your shade succulent, be sure you’re choosing it for reasons other than the blooms.
Scientific Name: Kalanchoe tomentosa
Adorable and fuzzy, Panda Plant is a popular succulent. Although full shade isn’t its friend, it grows well with just partial light. Ideally, Panda Plant’s location should be a few feet away from a south-facing window.
Scientific Name: Aristaloe aristata
This shade succulent is small and hardy. It grows well in shady areas both indoors and out. Even in the shade, Lace Aloe has been known to survive winter in some zones. Its minimum temperature is 0° F – way lower than your typical succulent.
Appearance-wise, Lace Aloe is intricately dotted with white and has sharp, fine points. It’s also fast-growing, which is fairly uncommon in succulents.
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’
Scientific Name: Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’
A member of the Crassulaceae family, this succulent got its name from The Lord of the Rings. It even has a relative called ‘Hobbit’! Fandoms aside though, Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ is an excellent plant for partially shaded spots. However, it has typical succulent needs when it comes to watering and soil.
When kept in the shade, ‘Gollum’ may lose its red tips. Etiolation is also a possibility if the shade is too dark.
Scientific Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Yes, this is a succulent! Snake plant’s water-storing yellow striped leaves thrive in dry soil and indirect light. It’s notorious for living well in the shade. However, Sansevieria color may fade and its growth may be stunted by the lack of light, so if you want to place it in a window facing south, it will thrive.
Snake plant is a great option for beginners. It’s extremely low-maintenance, detoxifies the air, and has a unique look. I’ve grown my fair share of these plants and can’t recommend them enough.
Scientific Name: Aeonium haworthii ‘Kiwi’
Partial sunlight is just fine for this cutesy succulent. Aeonium Kiwi grows well in west-facing windows, terrariums, and outdoor containers. However, this succulent is monocarpic, meaning it dies after flowering.
Like most compact succulents, Aeonium Kiwi grows slowly. The shade may slow its growth even more. Aeonium Kiwi is also likely to lose its rainbow color without bright sunlight.
String of Hearts
Scientific Name: Ceropegia woodii
native to South Africa, his succulent has quite a forgiving heart. It’s very tolerant of shade and low water, although you’ll get the best results with bright shadows. Although it’s in the cool shade, String of Hearts requires a warm temperature above 60° F.
The downside to growing this plant in the shade is its color. Without much light, the usually dark and drastic leaves will fade to pale, light green. See if you can get your hands on the variegated cultivar – it’s a real looker!
Scientific Name: Beaucarnea recurvata
Ponytail Palm is quite the deceiver. Not only are they imitation palms, they also enjoy shade despite their desert origins. As long as they’re given heat, Ponytail Palm grows well in partial shade, albeit slowly.
It doesn’t need much maintenance, but Ponytail Palm is a commitment when grown indoors. The elongated stems can reach 15 feet without pruning – quite tall. This succulent can take the place of a piece of furniture in your living room.
Scientific Name: Haworthia attenuata
The striking designs on this species are quick to get attention. Even in a dark spot, this succulent will stand out. Not only does Zebra Plant handle the shade well, it can tolerate varying degrees of light. This makes it ideal for spots that receive alternating sun and shade.
Zebra Plant is a slow grower, especially in the shadows. If growing indoors, you can place your Zebra Plant in the sun outside from time to time. This will encourage it to grow more, but isn’t required.
There are many more succulent plants that do well in shade: haworthia, agaves, aloes, and even some cacti, so stay tuned for more indoor, shade, and cold loving succulents in a future post!