Can Succulents Grow Outdoors?

by Succulent Market AdminAug 10, 2020

Person asking can succulents grow outside?

A common question we receive at Succulent Market is “can my succulents grow outside”? The answer is yes! But with all things succulents it is important to monitor three things when placing succulents outside 1. light 2. water 3. temperature. It is essential to monitor light, water, and temperature when placing succulents outside because not considering these conditions outside can cause your succulent to burn, rot, or freeze.  

1. Light

The first thing to consider when placing succulents outside is light. The amount of light your succulent requires depends upon its variety. As a general rule of thumb most Echeverias, Crassulas, and Aeoniums enjoy and can tolerate a lot of light. The reason for this is because sun-loving succulents are incredibly colorful and need a lot of sun to maintain their color. For this reason, Echeverias, Crassulas, and Aeoniums will do best when exposed to 50% shade a day. Despite this, these sun-loving succulents can also thrive in direct sunlight for the entire day if acclimated properly. When exposing your succulents to direct sunlight it is important to first acclimate your succulents to this type of light. This can be done with growers or shade cloth. Growers or shade cloth is a piece of material that covers succulents from the sun providing a shaded buffer that protects succulents from the direct rays of the sun. It is important when planting succulents in an area that will receive direct sunlight for the majority of the day, to acclimate them to this intense light with shade cloth. To do this first cover the succulents with shade cloth for half the day. Do this for a week, after this only cover your succulents with shade cloth for a quarter of the day. After only covering for a quarter of the day for a week fully expose your succulents to direct sunlight for the entire day. During this acclimation process, it is critical to ensure that your succulent does not burn. This is something that must be felt out. If the tips of your succulent start becoming withered or red, then it is burning. If this happens simply cover your succulent with shade cloth for a longer period of the day.

It is important to remember that not all succulents are sun-loving. There are varieties of succulents that cannot withstand direct sunlight. Some popular shade-loving succulent varieties include Haworthia, Peperomia, and Aloe. These succulents can also be placed outside, but they will need a lot of shade. Shade-loving succulent varieties tend to prefer close to 80% shade a day. For this reason, if you are going to place a shade loving succulent outside, do so in an area that will be shaded for the majority of the day. If a shade loving succulent is placed outside in direct sunlight for the majority of the day, then they will burn. You can notice if your succulent is burning if the tips of its leaves become red and grey. An exception to shade-loving succulents having to be in shade is Aloes. Aloes, like sun-loving succulents, can also be acclimated to direct sunlight.

2. Water

The second thing to study when contemplating placing succulents outside is water. When placing your succulent outside it is critical to consider whether your climate's rain pattern will foster healthy succulent growth. Many succulent varieties will not succeed in a climate that rains a lot. This is because succulents love dry climates. Succulent roots enjoy ample air and prefer to not be waterlogged. A climate that is always raining will likely cause succulents to rot, or inhibit the color and growth of the succulent. This is because succulents thrive off of stress. The color and strength of a succulent will be at its best when it goes through a period when it is starved of nutrients. This is referred to as a succulent’s dry period. For optimal growth, succulents must go through a time when it is starving for water, and if succulents are placed in a climate where it constantly rains, then that succulent will not be able to undergo a period of stress. This will inhibit the growth of the succulent and may even kill the succulent.

Similar to a climate that rains a lot, succulents will not thrive in an environment that is incredibly humid. The logic of why a succulent will not survive in a rainy environment, extend to a humid environment. Succulents need a dry climate and intense humidity cannot satisfy this requirement. Despite this, there are varieties of succulents that do better in humidity. One popular variety that can withstand humidity is Haworthias.

3. Temperature

The final thing to consider when planting succulents is temperature. Succulents will not thrive in any environment that drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike the two factors to consider above, the temperature is critical to consider as it is a death sentence for succulents when the temperature goes below freezing. The only varieties of succulents that can thrive in freezing temperatures are sempervivums, but almost all other succulents will not survive. So, if your climate regularly goes below freezing, then placing a succulent outside is probably not the best.