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Sep 4, 2021 8:54 AM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Hi all,

I've got about 25 cacti/succulents, and live in the southwest with some really big windows, though most do not face south. There are about 10 cacti or so that are dispersed throughout the house in rooms that have better and worse sun. I've filled up my windowsills in the south facing bedrooms with plants, but am wondering if it might make sense to rotate some of the cacti/succulents around the house every few weeks or so to give them equal access to light.

There are potentially 2 strategies here - one would be to sway out plants on the windowsill, with each plant receiving direct sunlight daily for a few weeks, then going back on the "shelf" with indirect sun. The 2nd would be to not rotate in and out of direct sunlight to prevent burning, but to at least rotate plants in and out of room with better and worse indirect sunlight. This latter strategy might prevent burning, yet still get the plant a bit more light off and on.

My justification for at least the latter move is that many folks live in climates where it may be cloudy for a while, so plants should likely be able to live with better and worse sun off and on. However, I'm not sure if plants would be better to just adjust to a particular lighting condition, even if lower lights.

I've attached a few photos of the plants and some of the lighting they get. Thanks so much in advance.



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Sep 4, 2021 10:45 AM CST
Moderator
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
It seems that the photos did not make it through. Maybe try again?

It's really hard to sunburn indoor succulents, at least if they aren't coming out of deep shade. I wouldn't be at all concerned about that if you are rotating plants through the brightest area.

I'm curious to hear how your strategy works out. I think this idea of rotating plants through the sunny windowsill has some potential.

The best rotation would be the most even one, over time. I would think shorter intervals would make more sense, like weekly, or whatever you can tolerate dealing with.

There is not a huge difference between better and worse indirect sunlight, to the extent that both fall short. There's a decent number of succulents that don't need to see the sun every day, like the holiday cacti for example, but most succulents are kind of picky about this.

One thing you might want to consider as we head into late fall and winter... plants that aren't in the sun will tend to need less water, especially given short days and lower temps. So if you decide to separate some plants to live permanently in a darker area, they may need water half as often as the others, or something like that.
Last edited by Baja_Costero Sep 4, 2021 10:50 AM Icon for preview
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Sep 4, 2021 12:23 PM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Thanks @baja_costero - not sure what happened with the pictures. On my phone now, but I'll check when I get back in front of my computer.

Thanks for the advice and feedback. As I think more about your suggestions, I'm starting to think a 4 week on, 2 week off rotation might be easiest for me to manage as I schedule watering every 2 weeks. That doesn't seem too far off a reasonable natural weather pattern where things can be cloudy for a stretch at a time, and hopefully won't result in burning as they're indoors, based on your advice.
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Sep 4, 2021 12:59 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
That sounds reasonable to me. Smiling

To elaborate on sunburn ... I think any kind of light can stress out plants if it's strong enough, but certain wavelengths are more likely than others to do so. Those UV frequencies are mostly filtered out by regular window glass, making indoor sun fundamentally different (and actually less direct) than outdoor sun. The fastest way to sunburn your cacti is to move them from indoors to outside in full sun. That's because the UV goes up dramatically, even though the light may not seem terribly different to our eyes (which don't see UV). Given time and a gradual stepwise adjustment, the same plant can build up UV resistance and eventually tolerate lots of it just fine.

For what it's worth, human sunburn is caused by a similar part of the spectrum, and to the extent you probably wouldn't get sunburned if you sunbathed indoors, your plants won't get burned there, either.
Last edited by Baja_Costero Sep 4, 2021 1:01 PM Icon for preview
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Sep 6, 2021 9:52 AM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
That's really interesting @baja_costero - thanks for the elaboration, and makes me feel better about sitting by the window myself.

Not sure these pictures will upload, or if they do that's they'll help much, but may give some idea?

I'm hoping the sheer amount of sunlight we get out here in the southwest, though indirect, will in some small way offset not being outside, and for those weeks the plants aren't right in the window.

Edit: Apparently the photos aren't uploading - not sure why. It does have text that references lightbox, but still doesn't appear. Anyway, I'm not sure they were terribly important, but would be nice to figure out for next time.

Last edited by tccarnuel Sep 6, 2021 9:53 AM Icon for preview
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Sep 6, 2021 10:36 AM CST
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Raises cows Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Texas Plant Identifier
tccarnuel said:
I'm hoping the sheer amount of sunlight we get out here in the southwest, though indirect, will in some small way offset not being outside, and for those weeks the plants aren't right in the window.



It should. The sun gets vicious here, especially in July and August. A lot of 'full sun' plants benefit hugely from simply being moved into areas that have lots of bright outdoor light without much - and sometimes none - direct sun. Different summers are different for some reason, but I nearly always find myself relocating container plants to areas of less sun. Sometime in fall, they'll be moved back into it. Winter storage inside is another matter altogether. Under my indoor conditions, almost any growth at all is going show some etoliation. The outdoor light doesn't have correctly located windows for plants to do well.

When I used the quote option to reply, I can see two 'lightbox' brackets. it doesn't show in your post or in the completed post on mine, but I'm currently in preview before I send the post and they show plainly. I presume you are using the 'upload and image' box? Are they jpg files?
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Sep 6, 2021 2:10 PM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
needrain said:

It should. The sun gets vicious here, especially in July and August. A lot of 'full sun' plants benefit hugely from simply being moved into areas that have lots of bright outdoor light without much - and sometimes none - direct sun. Different summers are different for some reason, but I nearly always find myself relocating container plants to areas of less sun. Sometime in fall, they'll be moved back into it. Winter storage inside is another matter altogether. Under my indoor conditions, almost any growth at all is going show some etoliation. The outdoor light doesn't have correctly located windows for plants to do well.

When I used the quote option to reply, I can see two 'lightbox' brackets. it doesn't show in your post or in the completed post on mine, but I'm currently in preview before I send the post and they show plainly. I presume you are using the 'upload and image' box? Are they jpg files?


Thank you, and I'm hoping to avoid at least most etiolation, but have certainly seen it with a few plants not on the windows.

Strangely, perhaps, I'm mostly okay with no growth with most of my plants. I tend to like them where they are and don't need them to get huge, but I would like some of the columnar cacti to get huge - most of those are currently now in south facing windows, so I'm hoping that helps out. Where I'm at, we get way too much wind and monsoon rain to leave much of anything outside. I did try a few potted plants outside, and they got so water logged that they almost died. They seem to have recovered, but it was close.

Yes, jpegs, and yes - using the "upload an image" box. Curious as to why it's not uploading.
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Sep 6, 2021 2:29 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
I looked at the original text of that first post and there's stuff missing between the lightbox tags. The text between those tags (with the square brackets) looks like this when I upload an image:

2021-09-06/Baja_Costero/xxxxxx

You should be seeing something similar with your own username and a unique code (the six final letters) if you successfully added an image. I have no idea how you got the lightbox tags without the sandwich meat between them, but that's what's going on here, best I can tell. Smiling
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Sep 6, 2021 3:31 PM CST
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Raises cows Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Texas Plant Identifier
Baja_Costero said:I looked at the original text of that first post and there's stuff missing between the lightbox tags. The text between those tags (with the square brackets) looks like this when I upload an image:

2021-09-06/Baja_Costero/xxxxxx

You should be seeing something similar with your own username and a unique code (the six final letters) if you successfully added an image. I have no idea how you got the lightbox tags without the sandwich meat between them, but that's what's going on here, best I can tell. Smiling


Maybe check with Dave or Jon?
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Sep 7, 2021 11:11 PM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Thanks all - could be that I'm newer and don't have permissions to post photos yet?
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Sep 8, 2021 9:03 AM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
So, I've continued thinking about this, and this question comes to mind: Do plants with less light get used to having less light? That could be an argument against rotation - if a plant adjusts to its environment and doesn't expect as much light, would it be better to just leave it be, rather than "tease" it with light from time to time and not allow it to adjust?
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Sep 8, 2021 9:36 AM CST
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Raises cows Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Texas Plant Identifier
tccarnuel said:So, I've continued thinking about this, and this question comes to mind: Do plants with less light get used to having less light? That could be an argument against rotation - if a plant adjusts to its environment and doesn't expect as much light, would it be better to just leave it be, rather than "tease" it with light from time to time and not allow it to adjust?

I don't think so. That's sort of the equivalent of never having enough food to eat. You may be slender, but not in a good way. You might not die really fast, but your long-term health is likely to be compromised. In regards to direct sun, it can also be the equivalent of over-indulging in something that is ordinarily good for you.
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Sep 9, 2021 2:46 PM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
needrain said:
I don't think so. That's sort of the equivalent of never having enough food to eat. You may be slender, but not in a good way. You might not die really fast, but your long-term health is likely to be compromised. In regards to direct sun, it can also be the equivalent of over-indulging in something that is ordinarily good for you.


Thanks for this. Looks like rotation is the way to go.
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Sep 9, 2021 6:55 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
To take the conversation to its natural extension (and not necessarily the way you need to go) ...

There are people who view light deprivation as a tool, or maybe just something to handle, in the sense of winter dormancy. I have no personal experience with this, but various folks on the forum have to overwinter their plants indoors and don't have a bright, warm location. So they find the brightest one available, maybe by a window in a basement or attached garage where the temps are cooler but not actually cold, and reduce the watering nearly completely for months. Most succulents or cacti will respond to this by slowing their own growth and going to sleep. You can call it induced dormancy, or various other names, but the principle is to coordinate darkness, coolness, and relative dryness and then reverse them in a coordinated fashion come late winter or spring.

So darkness is not necessarily going to kill your plants if you can convince them to go to sleep for a while, but this is not a trivial thing to accomplish, and I have much respect for the climate-limited people here who have come up with tricks to make it work.
Last edited by Baja_Costero Sep 9, 2021 6:57 PM Icon for preview
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Sep 11, 2021 10:00 AM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Baja_Costero said:To take the conversation to its natural extension (and not necessarily the way you need to go) ...

There are people who view light deprivation as a tool, or maybe just something to handle, in the sense of winter dormancy. I have no personal experience with this, but various folks on the forum have to overwinter their plants indoors and don't have a bright, warm location. So they find the brightest one available, maybe by a window in a basement or attached garage where the temps are cooler but not actually cold, and reduce the watering nearly completely for months. Most succulents or cacti will respond to this by slowing their own growth and going to sleep. You can call it induced dormancy, or various other names, but the principle is to coordinate darkness, coolness, and relative dryness and then reverse them in a coordinated fashion come late winter or spring.

So darkness is not necessarily going to kill your plants if you can convince them to go to sleep for a while, but this is not a trivial thing to accomplish, and I have much respect for the climate-limited people here who have come up with tricks to make it work.


That's interesting for sure. Hopefully I won't need to go to that extension, as you mentioned, but helpful to know that path exists!
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Sep 11, 2021 10:08 AM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Looks like I figured out a workaround to my uploading problem. Here's a shot of the cacti getting some light.


Thumb of 2021-09-11/tccarnuel/6b1df9
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Sep 11, 2021 1:15 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers
Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 1
They look good to me! Smiling
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Sep 11, 2021 5:03 PM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Baja_Costero said:They look good to me! Smiling


Thanks! Let's hope they stay that way...
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Sep 12, 2021 12:51 AM CST
Name: TJOE
Indonesia
Adeniums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Keeper of Koi Fruit Growers Container Gardener Composter
Cactus and Succulents Bee Lover Beekeeper Enjoys or suffers hot summers
I like that monstrose cactus on the right Thumbs up
If they look healthy, do nothing
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Sep 13, 2021 8:46 AM CST
Central New Mexico Foothills
Kaktus said:I like that monstrose cactus on the right Thumbs up


Thanks - didn't know what it was until now, so I appreciate it.
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