Why is my succulent turning purple: common reasons and saving hacks

Succulent plants can be quite unpredictable. Even if you think that everything goes right, these beautiful plants can surprise you with any sudden changes. Thus, lots of sudden questions can appear: why is my succulent turning purple? Is coloration really dangerous? What can I do to save my plants?

Don’t panic! Here we are to equip you with some hacks that will help your succulents to stay healthy.

why is my succulent turning purple
Image credit: canva.com

Why is my succulent turning purple and what can I do?

So, is it a real concern when your succulents turn purple? What are the certain causes and their solutions?

There are a few reasons that can make your succulents turn purple. Most succulents experience color changes during their life. However, these changes can depend on many factors that you should consider.

In normal conditions, green color is natural for most succulents. Thus, if you notice any color changes such as brown spots or purple patches on the plant’s leaves, there is always a reason that affects the succulent leaves.

Generally, any reason for color changes is related to a certain type of stress. Coloration is caused by producing pigments as a protective reaction to stress.

Since succulents are really sensitive to stressors, the color changes can be very sudden and impressive.

In other words, growing a succulent means dealing with a true drama queen! Despite succulents belonging to the low maintenance plants, there are still a lot of possible issues that are prone to happen.

So, let’s find out more about the causes that make your plants turn purple and the easiest solutions for each of them!

#1. Too much sun exposure

One of the most common causes of succulents turning purple is excess sunlight exposure. Getting a sunburn is not a rare case for even such sun-loving plants as succulents!

Although succulents mostly love warm and sunny weather, too much sun is not what they need. When staying in direct sunlight for a long time, there is a high risk of sun stress.

Generally, sun stress is the most common reason that makes succulents turn purple. Many succulent owners consider that maximum sunlight exposure is the best condition for these plants. In reality, too much direct sunlight can quickly make your plant scorch and die.

Keep in mind that excess direct light damages the plant’s cells which can’t revive anymore. Turning purple is just a part of this issue that can be much more dangerous than you can expect. If you don’t do anything, the leaves and stems start turning brown and scorched. Finally, staying in the direct sun can kill the whole plant.

What can I do? Examine your plant thoroughly. If there are any purple or brown spots from the sun-facing side, it is a sign of sunburn. If so, you are lucky that you notice signs of sunburn just in time: developing color changes can prevent you from killing the plant!

What succulents love the most is a lot of bright indirect light. In the hottest summer periods, a good idea is to provide partial shade to protect your succulent plants from scorching.

Take your succulent into another spot with less direct light. If you grow indoor succulents, provide partial shade to cover them from killing direct sunlight.

By the way, not enough light can also be a reason for your succulent turning purple. Lack of sunlight exposure is a stress factor that can make succulents change their color and even shape. This is a common problem for indoor succulents or winter growers.

What can I do? If your succulent color changes due to the lack of light, just provide more natural sunlight by moving your plant into a sunny place.

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#2. Cold temperatures

Cold temperature is the opposite reason for coloration. Most succulents can turn purple in late autumn and remain like that through the whole winter until the temperatures start rising.

What can I do? In winter, your succulent needs an appropriate growing temperature.

Provide enough warmth in your home to keep your plant healthy and happy.

Keep your succulents away from the windows where they can get cold. However, be careful so as not to kill your plant with a sudden change of temperature!

#3. Drastic temperature changes

The third reason can be related to the previous two as you can save your succulent in the wrong way.

Succulents like constancy, so any sudden temperature changes are very stressful for them. Thus, when your succulent suffer from heat or cold temperatures, never change the growing conditions too suddenly! For example, keeping your plant close to the radiators in winter can kill it, as well as staying under the air conditioner in extremely hot summer.

So, don’t be surprised if your plant starts turning purple after taking them suddenly into a place with the opposite temperature!

What can I do? Never expose your succulents to sudden changes in temperatures! Introduce them gradually to the new conditions, such as getting used to sun and warmth in cold seasons, or cooling them down in summer.

#4. Lack of water and nutrients

Is your succulent turning purple during a hot season? This issue is often related to drought issues, especially when your succulent plant turns pale purple.

Although succulents are much more drought-tolerant than many other plants, they still need enough water to thrive. When the soil dries too much, the succulent leaves become curled and shriveled, with a typical color change to pale purple.

This issue is especially common for Echeverias when underwatered succulents change their green color to silvery-purple.

What can I do? It is essential to catch these symptoms in time and replenish the plant’s watering needs. If your succulent suffers from under-watering, provide more moisture to revive it!

Even in winter when most plants get dormant you still have to provide them with a small amount of water. Having enough water is vital for any succulents to stay alive at any time of year.

Be sure to add an adequate amount of water so as not to lead your succulent to the opposite issue such as excess moisture and root rot.

Sometimes when you see your succulent turning purple or red, there is a sign of poor soil. This is one more serious reason that makes your succulents unhappy. Having enough nutrients and oxygen is essential for succulents, especially during the active growth season.

Thus, don’t skip regular fertilizing so as not to make your succulents starving!

Too heavy soil doesn’t let your succulents get enough oxygen to live, and that is one more reason that makes them turn purple. The roots start getting circled and excessively packed when their growing conditions are too poor.

What can I do? Poor soil can kill your succulent, so you can’t ignore or postpone taking the proper measures.

The optimal way is to feed your succulent once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted with water to its half-strength. However, poor soil quality can’t be enhanced even with the help of fertilizers.

The best variant is to repot your plant into a new container filled with high-quality soil. Be sure to provide enough free space for roots, as your succulent must fit snugly into the new pot.

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#5. Overwatering and root rot

Is your succulent turning purple or even dark purple to black? If so, such color changes are a real concern. Too dark coloration is mostly a sign of root rot caused by excess moisture.

Too much water is the most common reason that kills succulents. The key point to keep in mind is that succulents don’t need too much moisture to thrive. However, many succulent owners start watering their plants more during hot seasons – and that often becomes a big mistake.

When overwatered, the succulents can turn purple or yellowish, so their leaves look unhealthy. Stunted growth is one more definite sign of the excess moisture in the soil.

What can I do? To avoid this dangerous condition, the best idea is to adjust your plant’s watering habits.

Keep in mind that the upper part of the soil dries up much faster than the lower one. Even if it seems to you that your potting soil is already dry, there can be still enough moisture in the lower parts.

It takes much more time for them to dry than for the upper soil layers.

So, wait a bit more before the new watering session. If you are not sure about the soil dryness, water it in a day or two later. Adjust your watering schedule to the succulent’s needs: in general, they need about 5-8 days to dry completely.

Keep in mind that poor drainage always leads to excess water accumulating in the pot. As a result, the overwatered soil becomes very hospitable for many fungal infections.

Add some more drainage holes to your pot’s bottom to prevent standing water.

#6. Root diseases

Succulents are notoriously prone to root rot and other issues. If the potting soil is not appropriate, or there are not enough drainage holes, the excess water starts affecting the root system. Besides, harmful bacteria or pests can seriously harm your succulents and cause root rot as well.

As you already know, any root issues can be the answer to why your plant is turning purple.

What can I do? Check your plants regularly by taking them out of the pot (or else you have no other way to examine the root system!). However, take your succulents out of the pots only when you need to check them for root diseases.

Watch out for mealybugs, fungus gnats, and other root pests. If there are any signs of their presence, such as white clumps on the roots or some black patches on the roots, start treating them immediately! The earlier you start the treatment, the more chances you have to prevent the root rot.

To save your plant, take a new pot filled with fresh soil for repotting. Make sure there are no pests or their eggs remain on the roots before potting the plant again!

However, never repot your succulent plants with no need to do it! Frequent changes are very stressful for plants, so don’t change their pot when there is no need to replace your succulent. Repot your succulent only in case of any real issues.

Image credit: canva.com


What to do if succulent is turning purple?

Several reasons can make your plant turn purple. Each of them requires its own solution:

#1: In case of a sunburn, avoid placing your plant in direct sunlight or protecting it from the heat.

#2: Provide the pot with enough drainage holes to avoid over-watering and root rot.

#3: Give your succulent enough nutrients and water to avoid drought and starvation.

#4: Avoid any sudden temp changes during the whole growing season.

#5: Keep your succulents warm enough during the cold seasons.

What does it mean when a plant turns purple?

If you notice purple spots on your plant’s leaves, or they start turning purple, it is most probably the result of phosphorus deficiency.

When having a nutrient deficiency, plants are prone to producing pigments in response to these stressful factors. The exact pigment that makes a plant turn purple is called anthocyanine.

If you can see that your plant turns purple, provide it with enough nutrients to replenish the missed ones. However, be careful as the excess components can have some opposite effects that are harmful to your houseplants.

What does it mean when your succulent turns blue?

Any color changes in your succulents tell you about the reaction to many types of stress. So, if you see that your succulent turns blue, it means the protective reaction to the external stressors.

These are most probably drastic temperature changes, such as extreme heat conditions changing to cold, or the opposite changes. Too much sunlight can also make your succulent blue.

To prevent these changes, introduce your succulent gradually to the new temperature conditions. Don’t let them stay for too long in the direct sunlight. Instead, provide partial shade that lessens the stress factor significantly.

Why are the leaves on my houseplants turning purple?

The purple coloration on many houseplants is mostly a sign of phosphorus deficiency. If there is a lack of phosphorus in the soil, or the plant can’t get enough of it, that can lead to the purple coloration in the plant leaves.

Make sure that your houseplants get enough nutrients and grow in the high-quality soil. To fix this problem, repot the affected houseplants, or fertilize them properly and regularly. To know the exact issue, take a soil test and find out which nutrients are missing.

Final thoughts

As you already know, any color changes in succulents can be explained and fixed when you do it just in time. We hope that our guide will be useful for many caring succulent owners!

Vanessa Sharon

I am the founder of the Deep Nature Gardens website! I, along with the experts, want to provide you with our avid readers, with accurate and compelling knowledge about gardens, plants and design techniques.