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Why Do Succulents Turn Purple?

A purple hue is one of the changes you’re likely to encounter in your succulent. So what’s up with that? Let’s find out!

Succulents turn purple due to stress. Yes, plants also get stressed just like us. Of course, the stressors are different and can range from too much sunlight to cold temperatures or even overwatering. Basically, any sudden and/or potentially harmful change in the plant’s surroundings can cause succulents to turn purple.

Whether or not turning purple is harmful will depend on a particular stressor. So you must know how to tell what’s up once the color change sets in. That way, you can make the necessary changes in your care routine to keep your plant beaming.

Why Is My Plant Turning Purple?

Pinpointing a particular reason for your succulent turning purple lies in evaluating how you take care of it. How often are you watering it? Are using the appropriate potting mix? Do you fertilize it?

Take a look at what you could be doing wrong.

Overwatering

Lots of new succulent owners tend to go a bit overboard with the watering. In fact, it’s not just the new owners. Almost every succulent plant owner has had to deal with the effects of overwatering.

Not a surprise, really. Growing succulents, just like pretty much everything, has a learning curve. And part of that lies in knowing the right amount of water to keep your plant thriving.

As you’re probably aware, succulents are endemic to arid and semi-arid areas where water is a scarce commodity. That means they’ve adapted to this kind of environment so they can comfortably make do with little water.

Any attempt to give more than they need could lead to reactions on your plant’s part – like turning purple. Of course, cutting back on the watering will be in your plant’s best interest.

What’s your watering schedule like?

Generally, allowing 1-2 weeks before watering again works out fine for most succulents. This is enough time for the potting mix and roots to dry out completely.

Be sure to always check the soil mix to know exactly when to water your succulent.

Underwatering

Unlike overwatering, underwatering isn’t very common but it’s still a problem nevertheless. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to underwater a succulent since they can survive well with little water.

Also, underwatering doesn’t cause dreaded succulent problems like rot so it’s probably a bit tolerable. But definitely, prolonged periods without enough water will lead to some reaction on your plant’s part.

So you might want to check on the last time you watered your plant if by chance it’s turning purple. Your baby could use a drink.

The purple coloration due to underwatering is usually accompanied by:

  • Dull growth
  • Shriveled stems and leaves
  • Shedding.

That’s a bad place for your plant to be at.

Also, instead of just looking at your frequency of watering, consider how you do it. You have to go all in every time you water.

Make sure you drench the pot until water flows out through the drainage holes at the bottom. That’s how you know your plant has had enough.

Too Much Sunlight

Most succulents appreciate a good deal of light. That’s how they put on some bright and glossy surfaces. For most succulents, a six-hour exposure every day is enough to do wonders but a few can tolerate more than this.

Sometimes the rays can be overwhelming at which point the plant becomes stressed. This can be in the case where your succulent isn’t the type that can handle long hours of sunlight exposure. The stress can also be due to a sudden influx of light to a plant that had otherwise been in a dim environment.

Unless the plant is receiving direct sunlight, you usually don’t have to worry about it. If anything, the color change does improve the general appearance which is a good thing.

Just be sure the light source isn’t coming from a single direction to prevent stretching. This can be best achieved if you rotate the pot often.

Cold Temperature

Some succulents put on darker colors like purple when exposed to plummeting temperatures – that’s if they can handle a bit of gloomy weather.

Most succulents can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F. You can intentionally use this to bring out more purple. But you have to watch not go lower than that.

Freezing temperatures are an absolute no-no for a majority of succulents. So watch for the winter temperatures before they wreck your succulents.

You can either cover them with a piece of cloth or bring them inside to also protect them from frost.

Wong Container

Ideal containers should be made of terracotta and ceramic since these materials are well-aerated which is essential for the potting mix to dry out faster.

Drainage holes at the bottom are also great additions to an ideal pot. Also, take into account the size – shouldn’t be too big or too small. A general consensus is that there should be between one and two inches between the plant and pot.

Wrong Potting Mix

A wrong potting mix in this case refers to a planting mix that doesn’t drain fast enough. The general houseplant mix is wrong in the context of succulents.

Using a wrong potting mix is pretty much the same as overwatering since they both keep your succulent’s roots wet for longer than it’s necessary.

Careful – this could lead to bigger problems like root rot; a death sentence to any succulent. You have to always ensure you’re using a cactus/succulent mix that is fast-draining.

Root Rot

This is by far the worst-case scenario since your succulent is practically dead.

Usually, it’s caused by some of the above problems like:

  • A poorly draining potting mix
  • A wrong container
  • And Overwatering

All these force your succulent to spend an uncomfortable amount of time in wet soil which isn’t ideal.

A succulent battling root rot usually starts turning purple from the lower leaves. And by the time you catch up on it, it’s already late.

The best you can do is salvage the top leaves for propagation – if they haven’t been hit with the rot just yet.

That’s why you really need to pay attention to the kind of potting mix you use, the container/pot, and the frequency of watering.

Natural Leaf Pigment

Sometimes a succulent turning purple is just the plant putting out its intended color as it grows older. In this case, you don’t have to do anything other than enjoying the beauty – as long as you’re up to date on what you’re supposed to do to keep the plant full of life.

Before you kick back, just be sure to ascertain that indeed your succulent is the purple type.

Some common examples include:

  • Santa Rita prickly pear
  • Purple beauty
  • Living stones (Lithops)
  • Royal flush
  • Purple pearl
  • Trailing jade

Final Thoughts

So, that’s what’s up. Succulents turn purple because they get stressed just like people. And just like people again, there is really no single source of this stress.

It could be sunlight, cold temperatures, underwatering/overwatering, the wrong potting mix, or even root rot. Or in some cases, the plant could be naturally purple so it changes to purple as it grows older.

Be sure to figure out as soon as possible which of the above is the cause. Evaluate your care routine to determine whether you’re doing all that is required correctly. That could be the only difference between your plant dying and surviving.