When I first started out with Succulents I was excited to find a species of plant that should withstand the harsh Australian sun.  Since then I have found that the truth may be a bit different.

I have found the following scenarios.

  • Agave Succulents will grow just as well in full shade as well as full sun
  • Some succulents like sun but only for part of the day – maybe a few hours in the morning
  • Some succulents grow best in dappled sunlight (ie under a tree getting some filtered sunlight)
  • Some go bananas in the sun and thrive (and don’t do so well in the shade)
  • Some succulents suffer when temperatures are 40C+ – understandably – who doesn’t?

When you buy a Succulent from a nursery or garden centre they are normally grown under some type of shade cloth.  So these are the growing conditions they are used to.  Now when I buy Succulents I am very reluctant to put them out in a full sun position straight away.  There is always the option to check out Google but even then I have found that there can be conflicting information for the same Succulent plant species.  Hence, I decided to adopt my own system.

I have planted Succulents straight from the nursery into full sun and they ‘have’ survived.  They have struggled a lot at first and, at times, I thought they would die, but then they have turned around and thrived ….eventually.  I think the best way, if you have the time and inclination, is to get them used to the full sun position in their pot.  Put the pot in a position which would get full sun for say half a day and then half day shade.  Increase the time in full sun until they are used to it.

Below are photos of succulents I bought at a Home Show Expo. I bought it during the Winter and kept it inside as a display piece.The bottom part of the plant grew inside in the Winter, its leaves are facing down and are pale and elongated. Once Spring came I put it outside it became a different plant. Facing up to the sun, the leaves are compact and full of colour.

Echeveria Succulent - Sun or Shade

The bottom grew inside in the shade, the top looks like different plant.  This grew in the sun.


The colour is totally different and the whole plant looks more like a Succulent.

The same happened with the Echeveria below in the same pot.

Echeveria - sun or shade

The top part of the plant is so much more beautiful.

Echeveria Succulent - Sun or shade

Even with a lot of water from the rain, the sun changed the plant entirely.

Even though I hadn’t intended this to happen it was a real eye opener for me with regard to sun and Echeveria/Graptoveria Succulents.  The pot is now getting full sun for most of the day, the other smaller plants in the bottom of the pot are also thriving.

Graptoveria Succulent

I pulled the long leaf off this plant and new plants began to grow all the way down the stem.

Graptoveria Succulent

It turned from brown to a beautiful purple. Identification of the shaded plant would be hard.

Can succulents survive a 40C heat wave? – see my post Can Succulents survive heatwaves?