How to Stress Your Succulents And Maximize Growth

Succulents and cacti are some of the most popular plants on the market today, but sometimes they are a little finicky. Here are some tips to help stress your succulents and keep them healthy.

Succulents are popular plants for those looking to bring some life into their home or garden. These hardy plants thrive in harsh and unforgiving environments but can still benefit from a good dose of stress. Stressing your succulents adds some extra color and vibrancy to them. However, the stress must be applied properly since too much or too little of it can cause damage to your plants.

So, how do you stress your succulents? One of the most common ways to introduce stress into a succulent is through water deprivation. During this process, water is withheld from the plant for several weeks or months. Light deprivation is another common method of stressing succulents. This is done by reducing the amount of light your plant receives through natural or artificial means. Manipulating the temperature can also help to stress your succulents. Lower temperatures can induce stress, while higher temperatures can cause the plant to remain dormant.

This blog post outlines everything you need to know about stressing your succulents, including how to do it safely.

What Is Succulent Stress?

Before we dive into stressing your succulents, it’s essential to understand what this stress is and how it affects the plant.

Succulent stress occurs when environmental conditions are changed to induce changes within the plant. Stress can cause various changes, such as increased coloration, improved flowering, faster growth rates, and improved resistance against disease and pests.

Stressing your succulents can have many benefits, including increased coloration, improved flowering rates, faster growth rates, and better resistance against disease and pests.

Ice plant blooming.
Stress can cause various changes, such as increased coloration, improved flowering, faster growth rates, and improved resistance.

In addition to these physical changes, stressing your succulents can also be beneficial mentally, as the stress encourages the plant to be more resilient in the face of adversity.

However, stressing your succulents should only be done when it is necessary. If you are introducing a new succulent into your home or garden, it’s best to wait until they have acclimated to the new environment before attempting to stress them.

Remember that stressing your succulents when not ready can have adverse effects such as stunted growth, wilting, or even death. Be sure to consult a professional before attempting to induce stress in your plants.

That way, you can be sure that you are providing the best care for your succulents before and after inducing stress. You will also have an expert to advise in case anything goes wrong.

How to Stress Your Succulent Safely

Now that we understand what succulent stress is and why it’s beneficial, let’s discuss tips on how to do it safely.

1. Water Stress

One of the most common ways to introduce stress into a succulent is through water deprivation. During this process, water should be withheld from the plant for several weeks or months.

The plant will respond by producing more chlorophyll to absorb light energy for photosynthesis. This increased production of chlorophyll results in brighter colors and denser foliage, as well as multiple blooms on the same stem depending on the species of succulent being stressed.

Bear claw plant exposed to sunlight.
This increased production of chlorophyll results in brighter colors and denser foliage.

During this process, it is essential not to let the soil dry out completely, as this will lead to root damage and potentially kill off the plant altogether. You should check the soil regularly with your fingers or a moisture meter; if it feels dry, it’s time for some hydration!

2. Light Stress

Another form of stress that can be applied successfully is light deprivation (or sun scalding). During this method, the amount of direct sunlight exposure should be reduced significantly over several weeks or months, depending on how much direct sunlight it was previously exposed to.

By limiting direct sunlight exposure, the plant will start producing more anthocyanins (pigment molecules) which act as sunscreens and protect against UV radiation damage caused by excessive light exposure.

Plant on the shade.
Monitor the environment regularly is crucial to ensure that your succulent receives only a little light exposure.

The increased production of anthocyanins results in deeper reds and purples within certain species like echeveria, crassula, graptopetalum, etc. 

You can also light-stress your succulents using artificial methods such as black sheeting and dark-colored pots. However, monitoring the environment regularly is crucial to ensure that your succulent receives only a little light exposure.

If you decide to light stress your succulents using artificial lights, use a timer and keep track of how much the lights are on and off.

Generally, you should have the lights on for about 12-14 hrs a day and off for 10-12 hours during the night, although this may need to be adjusted depending on the species of succulent being stressed.

3. Temperature Stress

The final form of stress that can be applied to succulents is manipulating the temperature. Generally speaking, lower temperatures will cause more stress, while higher temperatures may induce dormancy in some species.

It’s essential to monitor your succulent carefully during this process, as extreme shifts can cause damage or even death to the plant. If possible, keep your succulent between 10-21 degrees Celsius and avoid any sudden or drastic changes in temperature.

These temperature changes must be done slowly over time rather than abruptly changes (which could result in shock/damage).

For example, if you normally keep your succulents indoors where temperatures range between 65°F-80°F (18°C-27°C), then gradually reduce temperatures down 10°F-15°F (5°C-8°C) during winter months when days are shorter and nights temperatures drop lower than usual.

The gradual temperature change will help strengthen cell walls while also stimulating new growth resulting in larger leaves with brighter colors depending on species type.

By manipulating temperature levels gradually and carefully, you can stress your succulents without causing damage or harm to them.

4. Prune Your Succulent Regularly

Pruning is an essential part of keeping your succulent healthy and happy. Pruning helps the plant focus its energy on growing new stems and leaves instead of devoting all its energy towards producing flowers (which are beautiful but require much energy).

To properly prune your succulent, use scissors or shears to cut off any dead leaves or stems from the base of the plant. Avoid pruning too much at once; one or two snips every few weeks should suffice.

A blue pruner.
It can help reduce the stress on the plant by allowing it to focus its energy resources where they are most needed.

Pruning is particularly important when your succulent is under stress as it can help reduce the stress on the plant by allowing it to focus its energy resources where they are most needed.

When Is the Best Time to Stress Your Succulents?

The best time to stress your succulents is during late summer or early autumn when temperatures are cooler and days are shorter.

This will give your plants enough time to recover from their stressful environment before the winter season, where dormancy is more common amongst succulent species.

You must monitor your plant closely to ensure it is not overstressed and adjust the stress levels accordingly.

Avoid stressing your succulents during spring and summer since they may need more time to recuperate before the cold winter months arrive.

It is also important to note that some species of succulents are more tolerant of stress than others, so it’s essential to research before stressing any plants.

Can I Stress My Succulent If It Is Not in a Healthy State?

Stressing your succulent is not recommended if it is not in a healthy state.

If your plant has recently been exposed to extreme cold or heat, has dry spots or patches of discoloration, or appears weak and undernourished, it may not handle additional stress well.

It is recommended to wait until your plant is healthier before attempting additional stress-inducing techniques, such as light or temperature manipulation.

Which Succulents Produce the Best Results When Stressed?

Fortunately, almost all succulents respond well to stress. However, some species tend to produce better results when stressed than others.

Some popular succulents that respond well to stress include Echeveria, Haworthia, Graptopetalum, Crassula ovata (jade plant), and Sempervivum. These species all have thick, waxy leaves and are particularly tolerant of extreme temperatures.

Jade plant on a shaded room.
Some species tend to produce better results when stressed than others.

Take the time to study your succulent species and learn how to stress it properly. This will ensure the best possible outcome for your plant and help keep it healthy for many years.

Should I Stress My Succulents If I Live in a Hot Climate?

If you live in a hot climate, it is unnecessary to stress your succulents.

In fact, it can be beneficial to increase water and fertilizer levels for plants growing in hot climates as the plant will need extra resources to survive the heat.

It is recommended to avoid stressing your succulents if temperatures consistently exceed 80°F (27°C) as the plant may already be under stress, and any additional stress could prove too much for it to handle.


Stressing your succulent with proper care, including light deprivation, moisture manipulation, and temperature control, can produce excellent results in terms of color intensity and even larger leaves.

However, as with any stress, it’s essential to monitor your succulent carefully and ensure you aren’t over-stressing the plant.

Regular pruning is also essential for keeping your succulent healthy and happy, so remember to give it a trim every few weeks or so.

With the proper care and attention, you can take advantage of stress-inducing techniques to make your succulent look better and healthier. Good luck!

Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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