Grow Light Basics: Artificial Lighting for Succulents & Cacti

For succulents, light is far more important on a daily basis than water. We recently introduced a series of Grow Light products to help make sure your succulents and terrariums are healthy and happy. Read on and watch our Youtube video below for more info about using artificial lighting for succulents and cacti.

Why Light?

Getting enough sunlight helps our plants to stay short, plump, and colorful. So it’s very important to give them plenty of light in addition to watering when the soil dries out. Some of us don’t live in locations with lots of natural daylight or our homes and offices don’t have a lot of natural light. In these cases, our succulents start to grow tall and flimsy, their color fades, and sometimes they die a soggy death. Grow Lights, or artificial horticultural lighting, can be a lifesaver to your plants when real sunlight isn’t available.

Echeveria Lola succulents stretching for more light

Photosynthesis: Health, Color, & Juiciness.

Succulents need a minimum of 4 hours and optimally 6 hours of indirect, filtered sunlight per day to help with their normal photosynthesis process. Ample light helps enhance the color of succulents and cacti. It helps them stay short and plump, with more tightly bunched leaves. When your succulents and cacti don’t get enough light, they tend to grow tall and flimsy as the leaves search for more light. Although it’s not directly harmful to the plants, it can look less appealing and lead to some other problems. This stretching process is called etiolation and it’s usually the reason people think they need to water their succulents more, which is the biggest reason succulents die – boo… :(

Tips for Lighting Indoor Succulents

Whether it’s the region in which you live or how your space is organized, it’s fairly common to not have enough daylight for your succulents to thrive indoors. During the winter, even in Southern California, succulents growing indoors may need more light in order to stay short and cute. The new Grow Light products that we have on our store can really help to supplement the natural daylight that your plants need.

Light Spectrum Diagram comparing CFL and Full-Spectrum CFLGrow lights use special full-spectrum horticultural light bulbs that emit more of the colors contained in the spectrum of natural sunlight. Most regular light bulbs only focus on a very small yellow-orange part of the color spectrum because that’s all our eyes require to see better in the dark. Full spectrum light bulbs may seem to be cooler in color if you have them on at night next to your other light bulbs and this is because the yellow-orange light from normal light bulbs is amplified to very high levels, relatively. The Grow Lights we have on our store are all full-spectrum fluorescents, which stay cooler, cost a lot less to use (only about $0.15 per month), and last for thousands of hours.

We regularly rotate our plants, placing them closer to the windows for a week or two, then into other parts of our studio that may not get as much light. We also rotate the direction in which the plants are facing. The direction of your plants’ growth follows the light source, so if your window is to the right of the plant, it will eventually tilt toward the right to get as much sunlight as possible. This is why we recommend Grow Light kits like the Dayspot that allow you to position your lighting directly above the plants.

One drawback with using full-spectrum fluorescent light bulbs is that the useful part of the light dies off over a relatively short distance, compared to other types of bulbs. This means that the light is still visible from far away, but the “full-spectrum” light that helps with photosynthesis fades off after 1-2 feet. You can see in our diagram above that fluorescent lights emit a lot less light (and use a lot less energy) than regular bulbs. Because of this, we always recommend positioning Grow Lights no more than 12 inches from your plants. We’ve found the “sweet spot” to be around 8 inches away from our succulents. With the kits that we offer, the farther you place the light from your plants, the larger the lighting area will be. This is cool, but you won’t be able to light a whole kitchen table with a single light like the Dayspot.

Jumpstart Grow Light kit with succulent bonsaiPropagating succulents from cuttings and seeds can be much easier with artificial lighting as well. A lighting system like the Jumpstart kit that we offer is perfect for propagation because you can raise or lower the light to cover as much area as you need. When you lay out your cuttings to dry and root, you can give them the perfect amount of artificial daylight each day to help them grow juicy. Without Grow Lights, doing this at home might require you to have some sort of outdoor space where you can filter the sunlight so that the cuttings don’t burn or dry out.

Our last note is about safety. If you use artificial lighting for your succulents, please keep the lights and cables away from water, as you would with any electrical appliance. This is very important because you may forget to unplug a light before watering your plants. Also, if you have little kiddies or pets running around, please be careful with the electrical cables that extend from your lights – we wouldn’t want anyone to yank on the cable and… you know…

See all our Grow Light products >

Other helpful articles on

How to Care for Your Succulent Terrarium
How to Assemble a Terrarium Kit
Pests in Your Succulents? Here’s What You Need to Know
3 DIY Tips for Watering Succulents & Terrariums
The Basics of Succulent Bonsai
How to Care for Air Plants


We really hope all our customers and non-customers find this info helpful. We want you to have the juiciest succulent terrarium possible and want to offer you as many ways as possible to make it happen. Please share this using one of the share buttons below and leave us a comment if you have any other questions. Thank you!


14 thoughts on “Grow Light Basics: Artificial Lighting for Succulents & Cacti

  1. mike says:

    Hi I was wondering how much area the day spot light covers in comparison to the 2 ft and 4 ft jumpstart kits for preventing succulents to stretch. Thanks!

    • Bao says:

      Hey Mike, The Dayspot (when placed about 10-12″ from the plants) have about a 18″ diameter where the light is strongest. The Jumpstart kits cover an area about 12-18″ across by 2 or 4 feet. We’ve been getting very nicely colored succulents when we’ve placed certain plants closer to the light (like 6-8″ from the light).

  2. cora lee wallin says:

    Hello there, I have 2 racks of succulents and other house plants.. The racks are 2ft x 6ft and 2ft x 4ft .. which light would be the best for the long haul? the better and cheeper rout for this old woman lol. TIA

    • Bao says:

      Hi Cora Lee,
      Sorry for the slow response as we’ve been on a company-wide vacation all last week. We’ll send you an email to find out more about your plants because they all may not need the same amount of light an we want to give you more specific recommendations. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Meghan says:

    Hi! My plants tend to get indirect sunlight pretty regularly, but what effect does a regular tubelight have on them? Can it replace sunlight if they don’t get enough hours?

  4. Marie says:

    hi, i just bought 4 little cacti and i was wondering how much is too much artificial light? how long can i leave it on? and what happens if it has too much light

  5. Christopher says:

    How will this system work for growing cacti like San Pedro/Peyote? Live in Norway so not a lot of sun for poof the year. Thanks


    • Bao says:

      Hi Margaret,
      We do not sell larger setups like the multi-tiered ones. We mainly offer smaller, portable lighting kits at the moment. Thanks.

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