Why Are My Succulent Leaves Turning Red?

Succulents are known for their thick stems and capability to withstand harsh conditions. The plant is beautiful, making a good home decoration, and it’s a functional plant that can stay green for a long time. 

However, the succulent plant has its fair of problems; one of the problems is succulent leaves turning red. However, they change into different colors from green to yellow, red, or orange. Some colors, such as yellow, indicate that your plant is affected and is likely dying. However, the red and orange changes indicate your plant has stress, which might be good or bad. 

For instance, some succulents turn red when exposed to the sun, which improves their aesthetic appearance, however, on the other hand, they can turn red because of problems in the plant. So, to answer your question on why succulent leaves are turning red, read through the article to understand whether it is good or bad stress affecting the plant. 

Succulent Leaves Turning Red

Why are succulent leaves turning red?

There are a lot of things that go into a plant when it starts to change colors. A plant has a green color because of chlorophyll and photosynthesis. Succulent leaves are red when they turn red. The plant produces carotenoids that turn the leaves red to protect them from sudden temperature changes.

Mostly the change is because the plant is adapting to changes in the environment, however, in some cases, it’s brought about because of the owner’s neglect. When adapting to environmental changes, we call that “good stress” because the plant has no damage and the color brings out its beauty, however, when you neglect the plant, the changes happen due to “bad stress” caused by pest infestation and diseases. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which type of stress your plant is undergoing. But as you stay with your plant for some time, you can notice when the changes happen, and you’ll adapt as it grows. 

Good stress occurs when the plant is exposed to full sun, high temperatures, and dry conditions. For the plant to cope with these changes, it needs to protect itself from burning; thus, it produces the red pigment, which turns the plant red. If it does this, you don’t need to act; just let it adapt. 

Succulent Leaves Turning Red

Bad stress occurs when you’re overwatering, underwater, or using poorly draining soil. It can turn the succulent leaves red or yellow, and you will notice the leaves are mushy and soft. 

Other succulents such as Echeveria ‘black prince’ and Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ turn from dark purple to black under good stress. However, under bad stress, the succulent leaves at the bottom turn black as leaves fall off. The plant turns black at the bottom because the roots and the stems are rotting from the ground. If this happens, start fixing the problem immediately. 

So, let’s dive into the causes of these changes;

Temperature changes

Succulents are naturally made for areas with high temperatures, such as drought, however, if you have your succulent indoors, and you decide to move it outdoor, that can give it stress because of the change. 

The carotenoids can protect the plant from the sun and high temperatures. Once the plant is outdoor, it will use more water stored in the stems because of heat, which can cause it to wilt and die. As a result, the succulent leaves turn red. 

Even though this is good stress on the plant, don’t forget to care for it and water it frequently to ensure it has enough water. Even during the color change, the drought conditions still suck off the water, making it thin and less elastic. 

Poor soil quality

Soil quality is important to growing a healthy succulent plant. Good quality soil should be well-draining, have enough nutrients, and have the required soil acidity. 

When one of these contents is missing from the soil, the plant won’t be able to make enough food to sustain the plant, and as a result, it turns red due to stress. The stress is caused by the plant not being able to support itself. Eventually, the plant becomes weak and dies. 


Always ensure you are using high-quality and well-draining soil. You can purchase potting soil through a local dealer. This way, you have soil with all requirements delivered to your doorstep. Also, to make sure your pot drains off extra water, have drainage holes and pebbles or stones at the bottom of the pot. 

Cold temperatures

Since succulents are used to high temperatures, cold temperatures will have an effect on which makes the leaves turn red. When the temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you will notice succulent leaves turning red. 

High salt levels

Salt is found in fertilizers or, in other cases, the plant is exposed to salt in the environment. When the salt is in small amounts, it will not affect the plant, but in large amounts, the salt starts to prevent the succulent leaves from absorbing water, thus causing them to turn red. 


If you identify the salt concentration in your plant, try to water the water to dissolve the extra salt. If you use a fertilizer with high salt concentrations, change the potting soil as you wash the soil off the roots. 

After changing the potting soil, leave the plant for a few weeks to see if there are any changes. 


Over-fertilization is the application of too much fertilizer. It leads to the succulent turning red due to lack of water, which can lead to death. Exposing excess fertilizer to the plant can cause the stems to break down, resulting in the succulents lacking enough water to sustain their cells.  

When applying fertilizer to a succulent, apply a minimal amount of it. The plant can grow without fertilizer, so if you decide to apply, use a minimal amount. 

What should I do when my succulents turn red?

When you notice the succulents are red, you should know the actions to take. Here are the steps to help you improve the conditions of the plant to stop it from dying. 

Remove the succulent flowers and buds.

If your plant produces flowers and buds, try to remove them. When you remove them, the plant starts to take care of itself. Succulents produce flowers and buds that should be trimmed periodically, however, if you don’t remove them, they start using the plant’s energy which causes the plant stress.  

Succulent Leaves Turning Red

Water the plant while leaving the soil to dry 

The plant turning red can be because of overwatering. When watering the plant, it always leaves some time for the soil to dry before you water it again. 

Move succulent plants indoors during the cold season

Succulents don’t develop well during the cold season. A drop in temperature will make the succulent leaves turn red. When this happens, bring the plant inside and place it in an area with warm temperatures. 

Change the soil

The quality of soil can cause the leaves to turn red. Thus, changing the soil and repotting can help your plant become healthy and remain green. When repotting, make sure you have drainage holes to remove excess water. 


A succulent plant in your garden is easy. The red color is not a problem in most cases. But it’s a great way to beautify your indoor plant. 

If it’s a problem, the lower leaves will turn red before the upper leaves. Once you have identified the problem causing your plant to turn red, you already know why your succulent leaves are turning red.

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