Succulent plants are the "chameleon" in the plant world. People love their captivating and changing colors. Enjoying the color change of succulents must be the most exciting pleasure in succulent gardening. However, witnessing some succulents lose their color as the seasons go on would be frustrating for most succulent lovers, especially for those succulent newbies.
Have you wondered why succulents lose color and turn green? Can we do anything to prevent fading or prolong the thriving period? Let's uncover the reasons behind color loss and discover how to revive your succulents' luster and allure.
Time for succulents to go dormant/turn green!
When we find our succulents turn green. First, we need to check if it is time for them to turn green! This usually happens when succulent plants go dormant and exhibit slow or even halted growth. Unless you cheat them by changing the sunlight, temperature, and other growing conditions, they will naturally turn green or pale in the dormant period.
Most succulent plants enter a dormant period during winter; they usually grow active in spring, summer, and fall. This includes succulent types such as Echeveria, cold hardy Sedum, Sempervivum (also known as "Hens and Chicks"), Rhipsalis, Opuntia, Agave, Titanopsis, Euphorbia, and many others. Winter dormancy growers include Aeonium, Aloe, Cotyledon, Pachyveria, Pachyphytum, Haworthia, Sedeveria, some soft Sedum, Senecio, Graptopetalum, Graptoveria, and more.
Getting too much or too little sunlight
When succulents are deprived of adequate sunlight, their foliage may appear pale or washed out. The lack of light hampers their ability to produce and express pigments, resulting in less vibrant coloration. Therefore you would find most succulents fade in winter or when they grow in other low-light locations. If you are passionate about the color of succulents, you can apply a grow light to succulents. You need to pay attention to the distance between the grow light and the succulents and do more research or tests about how long to get the light on per day. If you are curious about how to apply artificial grow light to live succulents, click here to get the complete guide.
As succulent plants originate from hot, dry areas, do succulents like the hot sun? The answer is no. With the development of the biological world, succulents have long been unable to adapt to today's sunlight conditions. Therefore, in the hot summer, we need to provide shade to prevent the succulents from getting sunburned or color fading.
However, some succulent varieties, such as Haworthia or Sansevieria, are shade-tolerant and can maintain coloration even in areas with limited direct sunlight. Sun-loving succulents like Sedum' Autumn Joy' or Echeveria' Dusty Rose' thrives in full sun as long as they won't get too much water simultaneously.
Lack of Proper Temperature Stress
Most succulent types lose color for lack of temperature stress, which generally happens in hot summer. Moderate temperature differences stimulate succulent pigment synthesis, promoting color formation and enhancement. Under suitable temperature fluctuations, succulents may exhibit more vibrant and diverse colors.
However, the cells on succulent plants are hard to "breathe" in hot summer and will grow slowly or inactive; even some succulents will die from extreme heat and high temperatures. These are all due to temperature changes, combined with the high humidity in rainy cities in summer, creating an extreme growth environment for succulents. Excessive or sudden temperature fluctuations can stress and discomfort succulent plants, leading to color fading or damage.
18℉-45℉ is usually regarded as the most moderate temperature stress for most succulents. That makes sense why succulents prefer spring and fall to thrive in colors.
Succulents get too much water or too little water
Overwatering can lead to root rot, inhibiting the succulent's ability to absorb nutrients properly. This can result in nutrient deficiencies, affecting pigment production and causing color loss. Additionally, overwatered succulents may exhibit pale or faded leaves. Click here to learn how to save overwatered succulents.
Underwatering can cause succulent dehydration, leading to wilting and loss of color vibrancy. Succulents that lack sufficient water may display wilted or dry leaves, resulting in a dull and lackluster appearance.
Applying rain cover for outdoor growing succulents is crucial, especially in rainy seasons. Besides the necessary rain cover, planting succulents in planter pots with drainage holes does matter to avoid succulents sitting in water for a long time. Compared with small and young succulents, those big size and mature succulent plants require more perlite and gritty rocks in the potting soil, which many growers usually ignore.
Different succulent varieties have varying water requirements. Researching and understanding the specific watering needs of your succulents is crucial to provide them with appropriate care.
What we can do to prevent succulents turn green?
When you truly understand why succulents turn colored, you will know how to fix the growing conditions as seasons and locations change. For those low-light locations, applying the professional artificial grow light on the succulents or placing the succulents near the bright light window will significantly help. Improving the drainage system and providing the necessary rain cover for rainy days will help your succulent out. As for the temperature stress, it is more difficult for us to control. However, by adjusting the growing location from outdoor to indoor or half-indoor and setting the fans near succulents to improve air circulation, we still can reduce the harm the extreme temperature cause to succulents.
Anthocyanins and photosynthetic are the primary pigments that affect succulent coloration. There are many artificial methods to push succulents to get colored in the market. They would like to use the medicine to change the chlorophyll content of succulent leaves and turn them white or pink. However, though it really works but we do not recommend it. Because the irreversible damage to plants is definitely more frustrating, and we will lose the experience and joy of observing succulent plants' changes in the natural environment differ.
Sunlight and temperature stress are the main factors affecting succulent plants' color change. Other growing conditions include the amount of water, the types of succulents, nutrients live succulents get, etc. By protecting succulents from extreme conditions, they can thrive for more extended periods and provide you with more vibrant enjoyment.
To make it easier for us to maintain succulents, we can also choose some varieties that are easy to color or other evergreen succulents, such as Sedum Rubrotinctum 'Roseum', Graptopetalum' Purple Delight', x Sedeveria Letizia, Aloe vera plants, Haworthia, Snake plants, etc. As a succulent enthusiast, it's important to appreciate their color changes with a simple perspective. Observing their transition from dull green to vibrant color can bring a sense of satisfaction. You need to tell yourself that even if the colors fade, with proper care, they are likely to return.