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Can Cactus Grow in Shade? (Growing Tips)

The Cactus is a leafless perennial plant. It’s so low maintenance and that’s why it’s ranked one of the most commonly encountered plant types in a household. 

To be honest, plants never actually get the daily sun exposure they need, but do well in growing and blooming. Most of our households are shady due to the buildings and there’s nothing much we can do about it. 

When you think about succulent plants, especially cactus, you associate them with hot temperature degrees. Can’t blame you because their native environment is a desert-like place.

They also have strict watering and compost schedule, so basically they are sassy and sensitive almost against everything that is excessive.

I’ve been growing cactus for two years now and the plant is doing very well with much less light which is 1-3 hours of afternoon light. Of course, they will thrive in sunlight and maybe that has to do with the breed or the size.

Now let’s find out what’s the matter with cacti staying in shady locations, and find out whether every type can handle shade.

Can Cactus Grow in Shade?  

Depending on the type, some cacti need more sunlight exposure (10 -14 hours of light a day) and other types are pretty tolerant to shade.

I strongly recommend potting the cactus indoors where it can get at least 4 hours of sunlight. At this point, it doesn’t matter if it’s direct or indirect light, a couple of hours won’t hurt. However, excessive direct sunlight will turn the cacti yellow. 

Some cacti types do well in shady locations even though they are desert plants. 

How Much Sunlight Exposure Needs for Indoor Cactus to Thrive?

Growing cactus indoors is way easier because you get to choose the location somewhere where it gets exposed to light at least 4 hours per day. They need sunlight in the growing period mostly which is from March to September and once they are established, they will survive with less light.

Locate your cactus in near the window facing either the south or east side. If the cactus is newly transplanted, you should wait for 2-3 weeks, so it can adapt to the new environment and then put the plant in direct sunlight.

Cactus Types that Can Grow in Shade

1. Mistletoe Cactus, Rhipsalis Baccifera

Mistletoe cactus as you can see looks different than those desert-like cacti types. It can handle very well low lighting and asks only for humidity and watering. 

It can be a great choice for less lighting kitchen or bathroom settings.

2. Echeveria lindsayana

The red tips and pale green appearance cooperates with low lighting or partial shade conditions. Echeveria asks for sun, but lindsayana types a little bit differently. 

You need to be careful with watering as it stays in shade, do not water until it’s completely dry. It’s a super sensitive cactus in that matter.

3. Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera

It’s quite common for Christmas cacti to grow in rocks, trees, and mountains in humid and less lighting conditions. That makes this cactus another good candidate to keep in shady rooms. 

4. Wax plant, Hoya Bella

This cactus is a bushy type and it’s amazing to grow in baskets or pots on the balcony. It requires the bare minimum to maintain and the temperature should be 50°F to thrive. Keep away this plant from direct sunlight.

5. ZZ plant, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

The native environment of the ZZ plant is the forests of Africa, so it can handle perfectly fine a bit of shade or even full shade. Plus, you can save space because the ZZ plant grows 5 feet maximum.

6. Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Sanseveria Trifasciata

Another shady succulent. This time shady has 2 meanings, the first one is that it goes along with shade and the second meaning is that the plant is also known as a snake plant.

Even if you abandon the poor plant, it’s highly tolerant.

7. Panda Plant, Kalanchoe Tomentosa

Cute as a panda, this succulent plant can tolerate partial shade because of the hairy leaves. The best location to thrive should be either west or east-facing windows.

How to Tell if Cactus Needs More Light?

1. Etiolation- is occurred when plants grow in partial or complete lack of sunlight. As a result, you get weak stems and smaller leaves than usual.

2. Root Rot- is indirectly associated with sunlight because you water as usual the cactus plant and keep in mind that water evaporates faster in sun than in shade. So basically overwatering is causing the plant root to rot and not getting enough sunlight indirectly impacts it.

3. Yellow Leaves- The soil sits too long in the water and creates a color differentiation in leaves by turning them yellow or even brown.

4. Fade Color- I’m sure you have noticed the cactus turn pale when you compare it to the vibrant color as it used to be, this has to do with sunlight exposure.

Is it All Right to Grow Cactus in the House?

Yes, it’s cool to grow cactus indoors and the location should be near the window facing east or west direction, so it can get enough sunlight (3 hours at least).

Even though I love every type of cactus, I wouldn’t recommend you to place it in the bedroom, living room, or in the entrance because the arrows shoot energy into the environment.

Rumor has it that cacti carry bad energy vibes in the sharp thorns. Plus, it can bring stress and anxiety to the house. However, I must mention these are only superstitions, there’s no proof.

A Brief Recap

As we have reached the end of the article, cactus grows in desert-like places, however, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some types can go along really well with partial shade or even full shade.

It would be nice to give at least 3-4 hours of sunlight. If less light keeps alive the cactus, then you do you, but don’t forget to check the visual signs that the cactus tells you “I don’t get enough sun exposure”.

Further Reading

Here are another beautiful breed of flower African violet, find out why leaves are turning yellow. and what causes areca palm leaves to get brown. 

Alternatively, you can fix the pumpkins’ yellow leaves to get good harvesting and prepare for Halloween. 


Natalia Michalska

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