The Secret to Colorful Succulents

Ever wondered why succulents of the same species can differ so much in color? Or maybe you once brought home a vibrant succulent only to have it become green soon after?

The secret ingredient is a little bit of stress. As they say, diamonds are built under pressure, and this insight will give you some tips on how to go about turning your plants into colorful gems.


Light exposure will yield the fastest results and give the plant red, pink, and purple shades. Of course, it’s important to be mindful and not overdo it, as excessive sunlight will cause burns and shriveled leaves. If you’re new to this practice, save your darlings and try experimenting with the least expensive or favored plants first. We recommend going for tough succulents like Sempervivum, Agave, Echeveria, Opuntia, Crassula, and Sedum.

If your succulents were grown indoors and aren’t used to direct sunlight, you’ll need to acclimate them. During summertime, move your green pets outside in the early morning and provide them with shade after 11 am. After 7 to 10 days of this, the succulents can be exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day. Since there is a fine line between beneficial and excessive sun stress, inspect the plants daily, and if you see any white or brown spots, reduce direct sun exposure. If they get sunburned, provide your succulents with diffused light and give them a drink if the soil is too dry. Prune the damaged leaves carefully if necessary.

If you live in a cold climate, you can achieve the same result with LED lamps or by placing the succulents on window sills with different orientations (this process will take more time). The main thing is to remember that mistakes and failures are normal, so don’t be afraid and experiment.


On average, succulents prefer a temperature of around 70°F (21°C). But not all can change color due to temperature stress, so choose plants like Aloe, Kalanchoe, Euphorbia, Senecio, Aeonium, and Echeveria. Place the chosen plant out in the cold, making sure the temperature stays below 70°F (21°C) but no lower than 40°F (5°C). This will cause stress, and your green pet will be blushing in pink and red hues quite soon. But do be mindful of frosts and never expose it to anything higher than 90°F (32°C).


Well-cared-for succulents will almost always be a boring shade of green. But hardship builds character, so let’s give you succulents a little less water to remove them from that cushy comfort zone. If your plant is healthy with its current watering schedule, consider delaying it back by a week to see what happens. This often promotes colorful tips and margins in some succulents. However, since they are some of the most drought-tolerant plants, you might need to wait awhile before they start stressing.

If done right, mild stress won’t harm or weaken the plants. Succulents aren’t as fragile as they seem, especially ones used to growing under extreme conditions in their natural habitat. As long as you don’t go overboard, some short-term stress will actually benefit your plants by making them resistant to diseases and temperature fluctuations. Beauty demands a bit of sacrifice, so don’t be afraid to give your plants some tough love.

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