Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Question about sunlight and lots of new cuttings.

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(Zone 7a)
notquitesure
Feb 21, 2018 2:57 PM CST
I'm building two indoor/outdoor planters and planning on getting a lot of 40-60 succulent cuttings (no cactuses). Plenty of research later, I'm left with one question.

My apartment is SSE facing with room inside and outside the front window for my planters. On my porch, I get maybe 8 hours of sunlight. Direct light except for a tree blocking a little in the morning.

Do you have any thoughts about propagating the cuttings indoors vs outdoors? Is there too much light either way? I'd love to keep them outside and just bring them inside over winter, but I'm worried about scorching them even if I keep them inside year round! Please help me, I'm so excited and nervous.

Edit: I am in Southeast Tennessee. Technically 7a, but very close to the 7a/7b line.

I've plugged my apartment into SunCalc.net based on today's date if you'd like a better idea of my sun situation.
Thumb of 2018-02-21/notquitesure/f01db7

[Last edited by notquitesure - Feb 21, 2018 3:41 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Feb 21, 2018 3:11 PM CST

Moderator

It would help a lot if you could tell us your general location and climate zone.

Welcome!
(Zone 7a)
notquitesure
Feb 21, 2018 3:42 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:It would help a lot if you could tell us your general location and climate zone.

Welcome!


Hello! And thanks for the welcome. I edited my original post. I am in Southeast Tennessee. Technically 7a, but very close to the 7a/7b line
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
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Baja_Costero
Feb 21, 2018 4:14 PM CST

Moderator

There is basically no way you can provide most properly rooted succulents too much light indoors, given good air flow and moderate temperatures. And your SSE window sounds pretty ideal if you can perch the plants on a windowsill close by. Ideally they should be able to "see" the sun for hours a day. I have most of my indoor succulents on a table right next to a window that faces SSW, and I would recommend the brightest possible spot you have indoors.

When you're dealing with cuttings that don't have roots to replenish the water they lose, you might provide more protection (especially outdoors, but that's another story). That is something you can play by ear, and the easiest way to dial down the sun indoors (if you choose to do so) is to just pull the plants a bit further away from the window.

Try to make any changes gradually so nobody gets too shocked by sudden sharp increases in light. This is especially true when moving indoor plants outside. The thing to remember is that regular window glass blocks most of the harmful UV rays in sunlight, so indoor sun is way kinder to your plants than outdoor sun. You might think that just moving your plants forward a foot (from just inside the SSE window to just outside it) would be a tiny change, but actually it's pretty huge and best avoided.

When you move plants outside, start them out in bright shade (lots of reflected light) or filtered light, then maybe a little morning sun, and so on, over the course of weeks. Otherwise you run the risk of shocking your plants into oblivion (been there done that Smiling ). If you want to start cuttings outside (which I do routinely), do it in bright shade or filtered light, then once you see growth on top you can start dialing up the sun.

Your decision about when to move plants outside probably would have to do with nighttime temperature, mostly. When it's cold outside, they are going to suffer, and when it's near freezing they might up and die. All that depends very much on the plant, of course. But when in doubt, here are some numbers from my own experience. I leave most of my plants outside year round because we live in a very mild climate (zone 11), but our temperature minimum is about 45°F and it always warms up into the 60s (or more) during the day. You can consider that a safe starting range for your succulents, barring more specific information about them. And always remember that rootless plants (your cuttings when they start out) are always a bit more sensitive than fully rooted plants to any kind of environmental stress.

Does that make sense? Hopefully that gives you some perspective.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Feb 21, 2018 4:22 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
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Baja_Costero
Feb 22, 2018 2:52 PM CST

Moderator

For some more perspective, here are my indoor succulents by the balcony facing SSW and a few outdoor plants just a few feet away. To illustrate the differences in exposure, and who I choose for which location.

The ones on the inside are either youngsters or lower light succulents (the 4 along the left). Those flowering/fruiting plants outside are what I would consider truly hard core sun-lovers, maximum tolerance, and they get an entire day of sun for most of the year.

Thumb of 2018-02-22/Baja_Costero/48f9b9 Thumb of 2018-02-22/Baja_Costero/54f1c3

A bit of dirt on the window from this morning's shower. I put those plants right outside the window when they flower because the hummingbirds visit all the time. Thumbs up

Thumb of 2018-02-22/Baja_Costero/4cadc6
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Feb 22, 2018 3:15 PM CST
Lucky you! What a wonderful water view! Lots of nice plants, too, Baja.
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
Image
Baja_Costero
Feb 22, 2018 7:26 PM CST

Moderator

The proximity of the ocean is the main reason our climate is so mild. The ocean cools us in the summer and warms us in the winter. Annual min/max: 45°F/90°F. We are so lucky. I think having the ocean nearby also makes a huge difference with respect to sun tolerance, for what it's worth. Especially during the brighter months of the year (late spring/early summer) when we always seem to get a lot of fog. Smiling
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Feb 22, 2018 7:26 PM (+)]
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(Zone 7a)
notquitesure
Feb 23, 2018 2:44 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:The proximity of the ocean is the main reason our climate is so mild. The ocean cools us in the summer and warms us in the winter. Annual min/max: 45°F/90°F. We are so lucky. I think having the ocean nearby also makes a huge difference with respect to sun tolerance, for what it's worth. Especially during the brighter months of the year (late spring/early summer) when we always seem to get a lot of fog. Smiling


Thank you so much for your thoughtful and thorough replies! It's comforting to know it's unlikely to overexpose my plants from inside a window. I'm thinking I'll start my cuttings behind a curtain in the window, remove the curtain when they root, then gradually get them used to more sun. After taking a closer look, my apartment is actually facing SW! And while I'm sure the sun is stronger where you live, your annual temperatures are very close to mine (excluding winter).

Your succulents are beautiful and it is very helpful to see how you have them placed for their sunlight needs.

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