Why Is My Succulent Turning Red?

Succulents are the most widely used indoor plants. They offer you an appearance and look, as also they offer a decent aesthetics. But, you might have found the succulent leaves turning red, and wondering what makes the succulent turn red. Let us find the answers to the question on why is your succulent turning red.

Your succulent turns red or even orange due to the changes in the environment. They can turn red when the plant is under stress. This stress can be due to multiple reasons such as exposure to a huge sunlight, exposure to extreme temperatures, and when it is watered very sparingly. 

Succulents are loved for their beautiful appearance and also for the least care they demand, but sometimes the leaves of your succulent change into red, purple, orange, blue or even black which means that your plant is slightly strained. You need not to worry as why is my succulent turning red? When succulents are exposed to climatic stressors such as blistering sunlight and high temperature, they give rise to anthocyanin and carotenoid pigments.

These pigments save the succulents from getting injured by the sun’s harmful UV rays by changing their colours. Blue or purple colour of the succulents is because of anthocyanin, whereas carotenoid transforms the plant into red, yellow or orange.

Why Is My Succulent Turning Red?

Some succulents start turning red when they are subjected to the hot sun, intense heat, water deprivation, insufficient nutrition, and poor soil. They endure the extreme heat by generating carotenoids, a red pigment on its leaves to save themselves from sunburn and this color change is a modifying response to the environmental alterations.

At times, we keep a succulent outdoors after keeping it inside home for months, then the plant gets accustomed to the new place and change in color shows that the succulent is making essential transformations.

However, in some cases, it is also possible that the succulents change their colors due to neglect such as the plant is under-watered, nutrition deficient or the soil is not fertile. Then the plants exhibit some signs to draw your attention.

You might have noticed that many succulents change their colors during the change in seasons like summers and winters and this is how plants adapt to their environments.

As of now, we already know that colour change is a stress response that can bother us sometimes, but slight stress can be normal for your succulents as the leaves become beautifully colored. Still, make sure that the succulents don’t become too stressed to be unhealthy. 

 On finding any sunburn-like white or brown marks of discoloration on your succulent’s leaves, move them into the shade immediately. 

 Succulents can change into any other colors such as blue, purple, yellow, and orange. 

Reasons for Change in Colour

The main reason why is my succulent turning red? is the pigment named carotenoid which is your succulents’ support system to protect it from climatic changes such as excess cold or heat and low moisture.

Carotenoids and anthocyanin are the pigments that are also found in some fruits, especially with high amounts of antioxidants.

It is important to note that not every succulent changes its colors when stressed. 

 Succulents, in particular the Miniature Pine Tree and Elephant Bush remain green even in extreme changes in their environments. As the temperature changes, these plants show a little change to a different shade of green and can change to a considerably different color like yellow or brown when deficient in their requirements. 

Is stress good or bad for succulents? 

Stress allows a succulent to unleash its real capabilities eventually and is not bad for plants. A plant is thriving under stress, even when there is no change in its shape and colour. 

When a succulent is unable to handle stress, its overall appearance and colour can change remarkably. It looks unhealthy and distorted.

For example, a succulent which has red tips on its leaves. Red tips  appear when a plant is subjected to full sun or in hot weather.

These red tips mean that your plant has started to adjust accordingly and despite a change in color, your plant is healthy and able to face a stressor either heat or sunlight.

However, if you find red spots on a succulent that is not recognised for its red leaves, your plant may be having some problem. The emergence of red spots, along with bite marks shows that insects have invaded your plant. Except for these red spots, you will see a few clear changes like blemishes. Then the plant is really facing health issues.

Some other succulents develop different colors like yellow or dark purple almost looking black. These color changes show the plant’s response to good stress.

In some cases, the yellow tone indicates over-watering. The appearance of black spots are signs of rot. In both cases, you have to immediately address these problems.

Exposing your succulents to good stress is not important and some succulent lovers keep their plants indoors, away from any stress.

However, stress becomes necessary if you want to see the effect of a different milieu on your plant.

A few things that can be done to stress your plant to get a reddish colour out of it.

Expose your plant to more sunlight 

 Many succulents become more greenish if they are kept indoors for an extended time period, particularly in insufficient natural light. So if you want your succulent to change from green to red, it is important to expose your plant to more sunlight. Some succulents will get a reddish tinge when kept in direct sunlight for six hours.

Exposure of the succulent to extreme temperature 

 Generally, succulents flourish in a 60 to 80°F temperature range, but it can vary for different species like some can endure temperatures lesser than 40°F or higher than 90°F.

Delicate succulents that basically thrive in deserts develop deeper colors in high temperatures. Resilient succulents, however, originate from alpine climates and low to freezing temperatures can induce a sharp change in their colors.

However, extreme temperatures can harm your succulents.  

The right soil mix is important. 

Using the right type of potting mix can help you change your succulent’s color.

Your succulent’s soil should contain at least 50% inorganic content because soil rich in organic matter will not drain well. Adding pumice and perlite to the potting mix will lead to improved drainage, protection from root rot, and better root health.

 Watered scarcely

We can water our succulents like any other plant, however, to make your succulents turn red, avoid watering them. If you water your succulent every one or two weeks, avoid watering for a longer period.

In due course of time, your succulent will turn into red while the leaves start storing more water.

Select the right pot

The pot should have many drainage holes and its size should be according to the plant. Choosing a very small pot will not let the roots spread and if the pot is too big for your plant, then it will grow slowly. The reason is that its roots grow fast and the plant lags behind. Also, larger pots absorb and retain more moisture. This increases the chances of your plant to rot.

Succulents are capable of flourishing, where other plants cannot, and can surprise you by converting a possibly bad situation to their favour.

To expose your succulents to stress to transform it into something exceptional and see how magnificent this red is in real life.

Succulent Leaves Falling Off

The most common reason for succulent leaves falling off is watering. Excess water can make the leaves puffy, soft, and mushy and they will fall off in the end. 

Stop watering until the top inch of the soil is dry. The potting mix should be thoroughly draining and if the soil retains moisture, re-pot the plant into well-draining soil.

While repotting, allow the plant to dry for a few days to recuperate before transplantation and watering again. The pot must have drainage holes.

Leaves can also fall off due to extreme heat. Succulents respond to intense heat and droughts by dropping their leaves to preserve energy and to keep up their water supply. 

Move the plant to shade away from the scorching heat of sun or drought. Increase watering as per need.

Why Is My Green Succulent Turning Purple?

When the green succulents start turning purple, we may ponder why is my green succulent turning purple? 

It can be natural for a succulent to turn purple, but succulents turn purple due to stress, sudden temperature changes, exposure to intense heat or light, lack of nutrition, and water.

 A pigment called anthocyanin is responsible for the purple color of your succulent. This pigment shields the succulents from over-photosynthesis and burning when they are in sunlight. In some species, whole leaves may become purple, but in some only tips or inner corners change. On decreasing sunlight exposure, red or purple color vanishes slowly.

For example, succulents of Crassula, Sedum, and a few Kalanchoe species turn purple due to :

Excess heat or light

While succulents thrive in good sunlight, it can make them purple. Excess sun and heat can be harmful for the plant and can even cause the death of the plant.

Abrupt temperature or lighting changes 

 Succulents dislike sudden changes in temperature or light and they may start changing their color to purple.

To avoid this, slowly introduce your succulents to increased sunlight after winters. Cover your succulents with a shade cloth after winter when the weather gets warmer. After a few weeks, remove the shade as your succulents are acclimatized.

You can do this in winters as well because most succulents cannot resist freezing temperatures under  40 °F (4 Celsius). If the temperature drops lower than 40°F, keep your succulents indoors. Discolored stripes on succulent means damage due to cold.

Water deficiency

Succulents can turn purple when they are water deficient. Underwatered succulents may start changing color slightly and you will notice purple, red, or even bluish color.

In winters, water your succulents at least once a month when kept indoors. Or the soil will dry up and damage roots and the entire plant. Water your succulents regularly from early spring to late autumn.

 Poor soil

With time, the soil is deprived of nutrients and in this soil, your succulents can start changing color and turn purple. Also, your plants might outgrow their pots, so repotting your succulents becomes important if the roots are circled and packed.

 Repot young succulents into a bigger pot every year and when the succulents become mature, repot them every 3-4 years in general.

If soil is extremely deprived of nutrients, succulents can even turn yellow.

Fertilizing your succulent

 Fertilize your succulents with a succulent fertilizer during the growth season i.e. from mid March to mid October. Don’t fertilize your succulents in winters, in a dormant state. Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in ratio 2-8-8 are sufficient as fertilizers.

Succulent turning dark purple or even black means it’s suffering from root rot. As you notice any soft black leaves and black roots, it’s better to prune them immediately with sanitized scissors or shears. After pruning, repot your plant into a clean pot with fresh soil.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Why Is My Succulent Turning Brown

Sunburn is the most common reason for brown or dark spots on the leaves of your succulents. This happens when the plant is exposed to full sun without acclimatizing the plant. Even plants acclimated to the scorching sun may have brown leaves amid intense heat waves or drought.

Place the plant in a more shady location during a heatwave. Acclimatize the plant by slowly  expanding the amount and intensity of sun the plant gets, before moving it outdoors or to a sunny area, to avoid sun damage. 

Is your succulent stem turning purple?

Succulents contain a pigment called Anthocyanin and when this pigment is in excess, it is visible as purple or black spots on the plant. This indicates that something is limiting the growth of the plant. Your succulent can have purple stems if:

  • watering is now done adequately.
  • the plant is getting less or excess light
  • the soil is excessively dense
  • the temperature is not appropriate

 These are the reasons that prevent your plant from getting the important nutrients it needs to thrive, thereby restricting its growth. 

Avoid your succulent stems from turning purple by:

Watering your plants suitably in about 10-14 days.

When your plants are underwatered, they become wrinkly and soft, along with purple stems. 

Always give the succulents at least 6 hours of sun in a day.

Keep them in a bright place where they get sun and in winters, keep them indoors.

The soil should not be too dense. If it’s dense, change the soil by mixing two parts sand, two parts gardening soil, and one part pumice.

The Closing Thoughts

There can be several reasons that can make the succulent turn red. In most of the situations, the primary reasons that can make the succulents turn red can include the stress that the plant is put to. Overexposure to sun, water or extreme temperatures can make the succulent to turn red or even orange.

The tips outlined in the above discussion should ideally be helpful in helping you fix the issues with respect to the succulents turning red.


Why are my succulents turning red?

Your succulent turns red due to the stress that it is put to. When the succulent to put to environmental pressure, it will develop the anthocyanin and carotenoid pigments. These pigments cause the succulent to turn red.

Are succulents supposed to be red?

Succulents are generally green in color. Some varieties of succulents tend to turn red, pink, or purple when subjected to stress. However, it should be noticed that some succulents may show the signs of other colors like red. These succulents would include some aloes, aeoniums, crassulas, echeverias, sedums, kalanchoes, sempervivums, and euphorbias.



Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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