Why Do Succulents Turn Purple?

Did you know that there are more than 70 colorful succulents?

The most common type that we know of and often see in movies, as well as gracing the tables in a small pot (the size of a hand), is a cactus. One of the best things about succulents is that they can grow outdoors and indoors.

Succulents have certain features that aid in their survival. It’s a misconception that they can survive in a dry and hot environment without withering.

Exposing your succulents to proper sunlight, less water, balanced soil, etc., is important.

If you are buying a plant for the first time, we recommend getting one that can easily grow indoors.

A few choices in this category include the Penda plant, Pencil Cactus, Jade Plant, Purple Crassula, and Christmas Cactus.

As mentioned above, some succulents come in purple color, which can make it difficult for you to find out if your plant’s health is deteriorating or not.

In this case, the purple shade will turn dark, which will be clearly noticeable. You can further confirm if the change occurred by closely inspecting the succulent.

Succulents Changing Colors

Succulents usually change color when they are under stress. They produce a pigment called anthocyanin that turns them into purple or blue.

Another pigment called carotenoids turns them into yellow or red. Lastly, chlorophyll is responsible for the green color.

Since our focus is on the color purple, the pigment responsible for the change in your succulent is anthocyanin.

However, it protects your succulent from overexposure to sunlight and temperature stress.

According to a study published in the Flower Research Journal, a succulent placed under direct sunlight changes its color in just 4 weeks because of an increase in anthocyanin.

While succulents in partially shaded areas grew as well, they were no match for the former plant.

If your succulent changes its color, you need to find out its type to know if this is common or not.

For example, the leaves of Hens and chicks turn purple from the tips in summer. This is nothing to be worried about.

However, if your Echeveria changes color, it is probably under stress.

In this case, you must ensure your succulent is not overwatered and exposed to direct sunlight. If the purple color starts to turn black, you need to take action immediately because this indicates rot.

Worry or Not to Worry

Succulents change their color from green to yellow, red, or purple. Sometimes, you will even see a hint of pink and blue in them.

When your plant is under too much stress, the content of chlorophyll lowers, giving more room for the pigment to spread. As a result, the green color fades away, and the leaves turn purple.

This color change is natural, and there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, some people love it because the bright color makes the plant look unique.

Succulents usually change color as they grow. Your plant will look different in summer and winter. The important thing to focus on is the process of photosynthesis.

As long as you have a watering schedule and your plant is getting the right amount of sunlight and shade, you don’t need to worry about the purple color.

The damage can be fixed immediately if the color is caused by stress, such as too much sunlight and lack of water.

You will need to pay extra attention to your succulence for the first four weeks, and your plant will look healthy again.

The internal damage is severe if the color changes from purple to black. Reviving a plant after an infestation can be difficult.

You can trim the plant and cut off the dead leaves if the rot hasn’t reached the roots.

Replanting the succulent usually works, but if the stem is compromised completely, you are better off disposing of it instead of wasting time trying to give it life.

Reasons Behind Succulents Turning Purple

Now that we know that the main reason behind a succulent turning purple is stress, let’s take a look at what causes it:

Underwatered or Overwatered

In summer, succulents need more water than in winter and fall. How much and many times you should water the succulent depends on its type of soil and environment.

Signs Your Plant Is Turning Purple Because of Overwatering

  • Brown tips
  • Yellowish leaves and stunted growth
  • Leaves feel mush, soft, and moist to touch
  • The pot has standing water
  • Leaves fall when they are touched

Solution

The first thing you need to do to nurse your succulents back to health is to stop watering them. As desert plants, succulents easily adapt to low levels of water.

If you can’t recall whether you have watered your succulent or not, wait for at least two days and then water it.

The rule of watering is that soil needs to be completely dry. Typically, succulents can survive for 8 to 10 days before they need watering again.

To find out if your succulent needs watering, do the finger test. Insert your finger up to the second knuckle into the soil and if it comes out dry, water your succulent.

Signs Your Plant Is Turning Purple Because of Underwatering

  • The soil is super dry
  • Leaves are crispy, curling, and discolored
  • Leaves and stems are shivering
  • The plant does not look vibrant anymore
  • The leaves are shedding too fast

Solution

If your succulent is placed indoors, it might not need much watering. However, at peak times in summer, water your plant after every five days.

The finger test will help you come up with a watering schedule, which will prevent overwatering.

Tips to Stop Your Succulents from Turning Purple

Provide Sufficient Sunlight

Succulents love indirect sunlight. They enjoy the warmth of the sun and the coolness in the shade.

If your succulent is changing color, it is getting too much sunlight.

Keep changing its position until you are sure the purple color is not a sign of stress.

Provide Appropriate Temperature

Succulents don’t like the cold. In winter, the plant dries out fast and cannot go through the photosynthesis process.

Succulents grow best at 25°C to 12°C. So, ensure your plant is safe indoors when the first cold breeze starts.

Have the Right Soil Mixture

Succulents have a different soil mixture than other plants. One that contains all the necessary nutrition for survival and growth is cactus mix soil with organic compounds, such as rocks, sand, etc.

You can buy the soil from a store or make your own by mixing equal amounts of soil with volcanic rocks, coarse sand, pumice, and pebbles.

Do not use your standard garden soil as it may cause your succulents to have stunted growth. Make sure the soil is mixed properly because if it is not, the roots won’t be able to breathe.

As a result, they will stop growing and change your succulent’s natural color to purple.

Water Carefully

As we said earlier, a succulent’s water needs depend on its size and species. You can decide how much water you should give your plant based on its height.

Your watering schedule should also focus on how to water the succulent. Target the stem base and soil.

Avoid watering the upper plant parts, including the leaves and flowers.

Water gets absorbed by the roots, whereas wet leaves can attract pests.

The Pot Should Have Good Drainage

If your succulent is placed indoors in a pot, ensure it has drainage holes underneath.

Choose terra cotta pots over plastic ones. The former aids in the absorption of water and prevents overwatering.

How to Prevent Stress in Succulents

The color purple is caused by stress, which can be good and bad. If your succulent is receiving the appropriate amount of sunlight and the tips of the leaves are turning purple, you don’t need to worry.

However, if the color is spreading and you see signs, such as the ones we have mentioned above, you need to take immediate action. Here’s what you should do:

  • Call a nursery and learn what you can about your succulent
  • Move your succulent to a shaded area
  • Do not water your succulent until the soil has completely dried out
  • If you see any signs of pests, such as openings in the stem and white fuzz at the base, use a mixture of Neem oil and water to clean your plant.

Final Thoughts

A quick search online will reveal that succulents changing their color to purple isn’t something to be concerned about.

However, if the color happens to be blue, red, or black, you need to act immediately.

Several things could be wrong with your cactus, such as overwatering, underwatering, pests, lack of appropriate fertilizer, too much direct sunlight, etc.

The best way to keep your succulent in its natural state is to expose it to equal amounts of sunlight and shade and give it the right amount of water.

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