How Much Sun Does Cactus Need?

Cactus are some of the most versatile plants. They can survive in extreme heat, drought conditions, and even indoor environments. But when it comes to sunlight, cactus need a little bit more than just any old light source. In fact, you can kill your cactus if you don’t provide it with enough sun or water! That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how much sun cactus need.

How Much Sun Does Cactus Need?

The answer to this question depends on the variety of cactus in question. Some varieties of cacti are naturally sun-loving plants and can handle full exposure to the hot summer sun while others require more shade or light protection.

In general, however, most types of cacti do best when they receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Does Cactus Prefer Full Sun?

Cactus prefer full sun, but can tolerate some shade. In fact, they do best in warm areas with little precipitation. While they can handle part sun, they will thrive more in hot climates if planted in full sun. A cactus growing under full-spectrum lighting will produce vibrant flowers and lush foliage while requiring little water or fertilizer to remain healthy.

However, there are many other factors to consider when determining how much sunlight your plant needs in order to survive and thrive:

  • What time of day does it get the most direct sunlight? For example, if you live in a coastal area where temperatures rise above 90°F during the summer months between 11 am and 6 pm (the hottest part of the day), then this is what’s called “dry heat”. If you live inland from sea level (for example) where temperatures stay below 80°F at night during summer months between 5 pm and 8 am (the coolest part of the day), then this would also be considered “dry heat”.
  • How far away from natural shade does my house/building sit? If you’re close enough that your house casts an overhang onto plants near it…then yes! Your plant may not need as much direct light since some indirect light is already hitting it at all times thanks to being surrounded by buildings on all sides.

Can Cactus Grow in Shade?

Cacti can grow in shade, but they won’t thrive. Cactus need at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Shade means partial sun, such as a spot that’s shaded by trees or buildings during the morning and afternoon but gets some direct sunlight during the middle of the day. It’s important to remember that too much shade is not good for cactus either—they need at least four hours of direct sunlight each day for maximum growth and health.

Where Does Cactus Grow Best?

It’s important to understand where cactus is most likely to thrive. Cacti are native to arid climates, and although they can grow in many different areas, their preference for dry, sunny places makes them ideal for desert climates.

Cacti can also be found in tropical and subtropical climates since these areas have plenty of sunlight throughout the year. Cactus plants will even thrive in temperate climates if they are given enough sunlight and water.

Can Cactus Get Too Much Sun?

The main danger of sunburn is that the plant will lose its leaves and die. This isn’t a problem if you’re growing a cactus in your backyard or somewhere else where it’s not accessible to people, but if you’re trying to grow an indoor cactus, this could be problematic.

You’ll know that your sun-loving cactus has been cooked when the edges of the leaves turn brown or black (not good), they begin dropping off (also not good), and/or they start turning crispy-looking or wilting (definitely bad). Luckily, even if you do accidentally cook your little buddy, he can likely still recover from his sunburn with some TLC.

If you’ve already seen signs that your cactus might have received too much light exposure—such as yellowing leaves or wiltiness—you’ll need to take action immediately by reducing your plant’s exposure time with shade cloths or other methods until it recovers.

Signs Your Cactus Isn’t Getting Sunlight

If you notice that your cactus isn’t getting enough sunlight, there are a few signs you can look for.

  • The leaves on your cactus are small and round. If this is the case, then chances are it’s not receiving enough sunlight. Smaller leaves mean less energy being produced by the plant, which means conditions aren’t optimal for growth and expansion. If your cactus has small or rounded leaves, then you should try moving it to a brighter spot in the room!
  • Your cactus’ leaves have yellowed or become pale green in color (color depends on variety). This usually indicates that there isn’t enough light reaching them through their stems’ networks of branches and ribs; moving them closer to the windowsill may help remedy this issue!
  • Leaves are falling off frequently when they’re touched accidentally by fingers/hands/pets/etcetera? You may need to move your plant closer towards where lots of natural sunlight comes through so it can grow new ones faster than before.


As you can see, cacti need plenty of sunlight to thrive. If you’re interested in growing one of these beautiful plants, research the sun requirements for your particular species before bringing it home. Then, start off with plenty of good potting soil and make sure there are no obstacles blocking its path to the sun!

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