Why do Succulents turn Red, Yellow or Brown? The Perfect Explanation

The color of the succulent changes because of different reasons, there is no one right answer.

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Jimena Bolívar

April 19, 2021


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Introduction

Having succulents turning red, yellow, or brown can make you afraid that there’s something wrong with your beloved succulents. But you’re about to find out that this isn’t always a bad sign. In fact, it could be a good one too.

Succulents turn red, yellow, or brown for different reasons, all of which are related to the environment they’re in. Each color has its own meaning, and some of them are even positive and mean your succulent is growing healthy.

red succulent

Brown Succulents

Brown leaves can signify many things; perhaps your succulent is underwatered, overwatered or it could even have faced sun damage. To figure out the exact reason, you have to keep an eye on the plant and look for other signs.

If your succulent is underwatered, it’ll feel dry and crispy to the touch. If that’s the case, water it until the water comes out of the pot’s drainage holes. Make this your watering routine. The aim is to water it until the soil is damp (not soggy) every time you feel that the topmot soil is too dry.

To know if it’s time to water your succulent, consider using the finger test. You will have to stick your finger 2 inches down the soil’s surface, and if it feels wet or colder than the surface, then it’s not time to water it yet.

You can use some other tools to know if your soil needs water, but the finger test is one of the most accurate ones and won’t cost you a penny.

Most succulent parents will make the mistake of overwatering or underwatering their babies at least once, so don’t feel guilty if it happens to you.

Overwatering is something that is unfortunately common. Those who raise other kinds of plants or those who have underwatered their succulent often make this mistake. Overwatered succulents will ask for help too. You just need to know how to read the plant.

Overwatered succulents will become mushy and soggy and turn yellow or transparent before turning brown. Overwatering succulents isn’t something you’d like to do since it can cause root rot, thereby increasing the chances of pests and plagues attacking your succulent.

You probably heard that succulents like a lot of sunlight and then placed yours at the sunniest spot you could find. The problem is that the plant probably wasn’t ready to get all that exposure and started to getting damaged.

The truth is that even though most succulents like exposure to the sun, they don’t like it directly for several hours. Indirect sunlight is the best way to go.

Sun damage can even happen to succulents that love sunlight. That is why you should never start exposing a succulent to so much light directly. It would help if you gradually exposed the plant to sunlight to get it used to it. Doing so ensures the succulent doesn’t get sunburned.

Not providing your succulent with enough sunlight may affect your succulents too, making it change its appearance, which is called etiolation. To avoid this problem, you need to place your succulent where it can get more sun, maybe just turning it to the window from time to time.

Sun damage begins as white patches, after turning into brown. If that's the case, you need to move your succulent to a place where there's less direct light.

Red and Yellow Succulents

When a succulent turns its colors to red and yellow is mainly because of the carotenoids. These substances are released when the succulents are under stress to protect themselves. Being stressed doesn’t mean that they’re distressed. A little stress can even contribute to its health.

Even though color changing can mean the environment is too hot or that the nutrition isn’t adequate, every succulent will respond differently. Unless the color changes drastically, you have nothing to worry about.

Yellow leaves can be a sign of overwatering. This can be easily solved if you unpot your succulent, put it in a quiet place to dry for a few days, and then repot it in new soil that is dry.

Some succulents won’t change the color even under a lot of stress, others will change colors, but the colors will generally mean different things. Each succulent is a single being, and you need to read the signs yours is sending to you.

But here’s a list of some succulents that will change colors to red or yellow when stressed:

  • Aeonium
  • Aloe
  • Crassula
  • Echeveria
  • Euphorbia
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sedum
  • Sempervivum

Even though carotenoids are meant to protect the plant, succulents are meant to thrive under extreme conditions, so don’t overreact to a mild color shift to yellow or red.

If this happens, first of all, your succulent is healthy enough to protect itself, which is awesome. But this also means it’s adapting to the environment, and you need to wait and let mother nature do its work.

If you believe your plant is too stressed, you can help it by shifting it to a more nurturing soil.

Conclusion

Every information you get about your succulent is important, but no information can replace the direct observation of how the succulent behaves in the unique environment it’s placed in.

Even in the same city, people who cultivate the same succulent can have them in a completely different environment, one could be outdoors and the other indoors in a pot with or without proper drainage.

red and yellow succulent

So no one is better than you to understand your succulents and know what they need more or less of.

Understand that being a parent of succulents also requires a lot of effort but it is highly rewarding. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll get addicted to increasing more and more your collection of baby succulents, which are so pretty and easy to take care of.

I recommend that you go ahead and read our awesome posts. I have one that is perfect for you if you want to know about succulents for beginners.

The Best 8 Succulents for Beginners. Easy Succulents for New Gardeners

Are you a beginner and confused about how to start in the world of succulents? Follow my lead as we explore the top 8 succulents for beginners.

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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