Red Succulent Plants – Information About Succulents That Are Red

Red Succulent Plants
red succulents
(Image credit: Jannick Tessier)

Red succulent plants are all the rage and most everyone’s favorite. You may have red succulents and not be aware because they are still green. Or perhaps you bought red succulents and now they’ve reverted to green. Most red succulent varieties begin with a green color and turn red from some type of stress.

Not the typical type of stress experienced by humans, plants experience stress that makes them more beautiful. These include water stress, sunlight stress, and cold stress. Let’s talk about how to safely stress your succulent and turn it red.

How to Turn a Succulent Red in the Cold

Many succulents, like Sedum Jelly Beans and Aeonium ‘Mardi Gras,’ can take cold temperatures down to 40 degrees F. (4 C.). Check for your succulent’s cold tolerance before exposing it to these temperatures. The secret to safely leaving them in temperatures this cold is keeping the soil dry. Wet soil and cold temperatures are often a recipe for disaster in succulent plants.

Let the plant acclimate to dropping temperatures, don’t just put it out in the cold. I keep mine under a covered carport and off the ground to avoid frost. A few days of experiencing cold temperatures will make Mardi Gras and Jelly Bean leaves turn red and hold tightly to the stem. This works for making many other succulents turn red, too, but not all.

How to Make Succulents Red with Water Stress and Sunlight

Was your succulent nicely red on the edges or on many leaves and a few weeks after you brought it home, it turned green? Likely you’ve been watering it regularly and possibly not providing enough sun. Limiting water and providing more sun are other ways to stress succulents to turn red. When you’re buying a new plant, if possible, find out how much sun it was getting and how much water. Try to duplicate these conditions to keep your plant that beautiful shade of red.

If the leaves are already green, decrease water and gradually add more sun to bring them back to the red hue. Transition slowly, beginning with bright light if you’re unsure of the plant’s previous conditions.

Care for Succulents That are Red

Make all these changes gradually, keeping an eye on each plant to make sure it is not getting too much sun, too much cold, or not enough water. If you observe regularly, you’ll be able to note both healthy and unhealthy changes before you do harm to the plant. Research your specimens so you’ll know what to expect.

Keep in mind not all succulents will turn red. Some will turn blue, yellow, white, pink, and deep burgundy, depending upon their internal coloration. Most succulents, however, can be stressed to intensify their color.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.