Light requirements for cacti and succulents


Lophophora williamsii (8)The Desert cacti and most succulents love to receive as much sunshine as possible, and an ideal location for them would be a south facing position, where they can receive the most sunshine.

If growing your cacti and succulents on a windowsill, remember to turn your plants around every couple of weeks to avoid them growing towards the window and ending up resembling a leaning tower of Pisa haha!.

If a south facing position cannot be provided then a west or east facing window is the next best position.

Desert cacti

Desert cacti and blackbird in my greenhouse

North facing windows should always be avoided for growing cacti and succulents as they need sunshine to form their spines and flowers, and without the sunshine these plants can grow etiolated ( stretched out spindly pale green growth ).

This is not only harmful to the plant but will also look unsightly so If you have only a north facing window, then in order for your cacti and succulents to be grown successfully then you would need to place them outside during the Spring and Summer months, where they will be able to get plenty of sunshine during their main growing period, and then overwintering them on your north facing window or location would not be a problem.

If circumstances prevent you from placing them outside or in a sunny direction, you can provide additional lighting by using special grow lux grow lamps from specialized garden centres our purchased via gardening stores online.

These grow lamps can provide the special lux that these plants require for their photosynthesis but the cost of running them financially may outweigh the desire to purchase them, but in reality if those cacti and succulents that require the stronger light source don’t get it, it may be best for you to acquire those plants that can tolerate less light below. .


Epiphytic cacti

Epiphytic cacti

Epiphytic cacti (rainforest cacti) prefer to be kept in a much shadier spot than the Desert types. Although these plants will live in a very sunny facing position, they will tend to go yellow or take on a red colouring if grown in a very sunny south facing position, and may look washed out.

These plants grow much more lush and green when grown in a more shadier spot such as an east or west facing position, where they can receive early morning or late afternoon sunshine.

In their natural habitat which is the tropical rainforests, these plants grow naturally in the shade of large trees alongside Orchids and hang from these trees for support.


If you are wanting to grow the Epiphytic cacti and all you have is a south facing window, then try to provide some shade cloth over the window.or position them in such a way that they are growing in the shade of other taller plants, therefore blocking out some of the strong midday sunshine.

Some growers do have good success with growing Epiphytic cacti in north facing windows, however in my experience I have found that they never flower for me if I keep them in a north position, but remember this is only my experience, if you have had success growing these plants in a north facing position then please continue to do so.