I sure didn’t know you could grow succulents in the shade. Seems you learn something new every day. Or at least I do.

Since I’m not going to have much sunlight in my new yard, I’ve been researching what will grow in shaded areas.

1. Burro’s Tail

In 10 succulents that will grow in the shade, this is Burro's Tail

Burro’s Tail (also called Donkey’s Tail) is a succulent that has rows of fleshy leaves that trail down the plant. They look great in hanging pots.

Burro’s Tail does best in part shade where it gets morning sun. But it will also grow in full bright shade.

How To Grow This Plant:

Use specially formulated soil for cactus and succulents. It requires water when the top layer of soil is dry.

2. Ponytail Palm

My ponytail palm plant in my office

Ponytail Palm is not actually a palm, but a succulent. The water is stored in its trunk.

How To Grow This Plant:

It will grow in a full-shade location that is warm and receives bright indirect sun in a hot climate.

You won’t need to water your plant more than once every two weeks (at most) during the growing season. Make sure that you are letting the soil thoroughly dry between waterings.

Ponytail Palms are susceptible to root rot, so it’s very important that you do not water the plant if there’s any moisture in the soil.

3. Jade Plant

In 10 succulents that will grow in the shade, this is the Jade plant

The Jade Plant is a shade-tolerant succulent. It will grow in full sun, partial shade, and full shade. It will not grow as much in full shade.

How To Grow This Plant:

Plant in well-draining soil. Jade prefers to grow in dry conditions.

Jade in the garden will benefit from deep watering weekly or biweekly. This plant is succulent, but the foliage can become wrinkled and shriveled when stressed from too little water.

4. Woodland Stonecrop

Woodland Stonecrop will grow in the shade

This succulent needs little attention and will grow in almost any condition.

How To Grow This Plant:

Do not overwater this plant. If it’s grown in your garden, there is no need to fertilize it. It is also hardy in cold climates.

5. Christmas Cactus

In 10 succulents that will grow in the shade, this is the Christmas cactus

Christmas Cactus will bloom in part-shade. It has tubular flowers in various colors and blooms around Christmastime.

How To Grow This Plant:

Water when soil is dry to the touch. It will bloom best in bright indirect light.

6. Spider Agave

Spider agave plant

The Spider Agave (Agave bracteosa) is one of the best shade-tolerant agaves. It will grow in bright shade. This plant is perfect for small planting spaces or patio containers.

How To Grow This Plant:

This plant grows well in bright shade to full sun. Use well-drained soil and don’t overwater.

7. ZZ Plant

In 10 succulents that will grow in the shade, this is the ZZ plant

The ZZ Plant is native to the east and west forests in Africa. It grows from underground tubers. This tropical plant thrives in partial to full shade, grows slowly, and requires little water.

This is a herbaceous perennial. This means that they are planted in the ground, then die back to the soil level and reappear in the spring. They will not survive through colder months in many areas.

How To Grow This Plant:

The ZZ plant will thrive under fluorescent lights, making them a popular plant choice for office buildings.

To prevent scorched leaves, avoid placing ZZ plants in direct sunlight. Use a loose potting mix with good drainage. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

7. Aloe

The aloe vera plant

Aloe plants prefer full sun to part sun, but they will tolerate bright shade. They don’t mind living in deep shade in hot climates.

How To Grow This Plant:

Water when the soil is dry.

While it will grow in full sun, light or dappled shade will help prevent the thick leaves from turning red or brown.

8. Fox Tail Agave

In 10 succulents that will grow in the shade, this is the fox tail agave

The Fox Tail Agave is known for its shade tolerance. This plant can grow about 5 feet tall. It is pretty even when not blooming because of its rosette-shaped leaves.

How To Grow This Plant:

The Fox Tail Agave will grow easily in slightly acidic, sandy or well-drained soils in full sun. But it will tolerate part shade.

Keep in a frost-free area in winter and put it out on the patio or balcony in summer.

9. String Of Pearls

The string of pearls hanging plant

The String Of Pearls plant grows well when hanging in a planter in bright shade.

How To Grow This Plant:

Use cactus mix when planting it in containers. It has low watering needs.

10. Zebra Cactus

In 10 succulents that will grow in the shade, this is the zebra cactus in a container

The Zebra Plant has attractive and fat foliage with horizontal stripes. It is a low-maintenance plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors even in shade.

How To Grow This Plant:

The Zebra Cactus has shallow roots. This plant grows slowly and doesn’t need repotting for a long time.

In summation, if, like me, you have more shade than sun, you can still have a succulent garden.

However, you need to know which plants will grow in your particular region if left outside during the winter months.


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  1. Hi there
    You are aware, I’m sure, that most of these are house plants?
    I just don’t want anyone to try these outside, and waste their money.

  2. Oxalis is a good choice as mentioned above. I have some with pink flowers that bloom when it is cool and some with purple or white flowers that bloom when it is warmer. When I planted, I put both together so for much of the year, at least 1 is above ground & blooming. Some types of the purple can be planted in sun too. They are in the ground and in pots.

    My sister has been in her new house for about 5 years and keeps dreaming about a shade garden once her trees get big enough. There’s a lot of choice for shade.

    I love Christmas Cactus and have several in windows around the house. They propagate easily. The big one goes outside on the patio in the shade.

    I think I will try the String of Pearls again. It is such a pretty plant.

  3. Interesting…have never heard of some of them…wonder how easy it will be to find them locally to buy?

  4. My Mum always grew String of Pearls, Christmas Cactus, Aloe Vera and Jade Plant. Both my parents had green thumbs. Mum for house plants. Dad for the outdoor garden.
    I like Bari’s idea for a low deck. That would look lovely and solve lots of issues.

  5. Caladium (aka elephant ears) grows well in shade and comes in several colors, has heart shape leaves. I can’t grow my garden is in full sun.

  6. Watch out with ZZ plant, it can be quite toxic. Wouldn’t want the kitties to take a bite of it. Look for a succulent called “Ghost Plant”. It is cold hardy, and even survived being outside during our week long Snowpocalypse we had in Texas last year. Again this year, it survived being under ice for a couple of days, no problem at all. Very tough, morning sun is all it needs and looks beautiful in a container. I have a container placed on it’s side with the bottom buried (as if it had fallen over) and it is full of Ghost plant that cascades out of it like a waterfall.

    I’ve never been successful here with String of Pearls; it’s quite persnickety. Other plants I have in dry shade, both in ground and containers, are:
    Hydrangeas, Oxalis, Indigofera, Leopard plant, philodendron, Maple trees, Mahonias, Phillipine Violet, ground cover violets, Ajuga, Autumn Fern, River fern, Holly fern, and Aralia.

  7. There are some very cool succulents in the ones you wrote about – really like that “string of pearls.” I have some kind of yucca that was in the garden here when I bought the house in 2014. It grows very well and survives the cold and snowy Wisconsin winters, keeping its color. It grows in the shade, but needs some sunshine in order to set flower stalks. Mine blooms every few years, not yearly, probably because it doesn’t get sufficient sunshine. The flower stalks are about 2 feet tall and very beautiful white, lasting for weeks. I started out with one plant in the backyard garden in July 2014 when I moved in and today I have 4 to 5 plants all clumped together but moving toward the shade underneath a vast arborvitae that is as big as a maple tree. The area is very dry because the arborvitae sucks up a lot of the water, so I supplement water with a dousing from a hose in that garden bed once or twice a week during high summer if it doesn’t rain. Because of the extreme cold and snow we get, I usually do some pruning as the growing season starts in April to remove raggedy or leaves that got bent and broken during winter, or where the rabbits chewed during the winter (they only try eating the yucca if they’re getting desperate for food). The plant is very hardy and is one of the standouts in my gardens. I don’t know what species it is, but there are some that tolerate mostly shade and they like drier conditions.

  8. Thinking about your outdoor space – could you have a low deck built spanning both surfaces to bring them level?

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