Is Your Succulent Turning Purple? Causes and How to Save It

There are various reasons why your succulent is turning purple, some of which aren’t critical for your succulent's health. Learn about the various causes of this coloration and what you can do to prevent it in the future.

The world is a beautiful place. Every living thing under the sun has certain emotions and feelings. The only difference is in how they express them. Succulents are no different; they, too, can express emotions through the colors of their leaves and stems. When you notice your succulent turning purple, you should know that it is saying something to you. But what could it be? We are here to help decode the message.

So, why is my succulent turning purple? Succulent leaves and stems may turn purple due to insufficient sunlight, poor soil drainage, exposure to extremely cold temperatures, underwatering, overwatering, and nutrient deficiency. The change of color may also occur due to natural stress response when the succulent is moved to a new environment.

This article discusses critical causes of succulent color change and provides solutions for each cause. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Why Do Succulents Change Colors?

Succulents generally change colors when they are undergoing some form of stress. During this time, they produce pigments such as anthocyanin, which turns them purple or blue, and carotenoids, which turn them yellow or red.

Anthocyanin plays a critical role in protecting the plant from temperature stresses and also protects it against overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Cactus on 3 different colors.
If it is not common for your succulent type to change colors, you must evaluate the environmental conditions around it and look for a cause.

Carotenoids, on the other hand, protect from drought and heat stress.

If you notice your succulent changing colors, you need to research more about it and see if it is common because some succulents tend to change colors naturally.

For instance, it is common for the leaves of the hens and chick plants to turn purple on the edges. Sometimes, it is not something you should get worried over.

But if it is not common for your succulent type to change colors, you must evaluate the environmental conditions around it and look for a cause. Be sure to act quickly before the problem worsens.

Why Is My Succulent Turning Purple?

Now that you know why succulents change colors, it is time to look at the leading causes of purple coloration in succulents. They include:

1. Too Much Heat or Light

While most succulents love direct or indirect sunlight exposure, they can also get burnt like any other plant. One of the main signs of sunburn in succulents is discoloration, corking, yellowing, or whitening. The succulent may turn purple if the sunburn is severe.

If you notice your succulent turning to purple and positioned in a spot that receives too much direct sunlight, move it elsewhere. Failure to act quickly will get your plant cells damaged and die.

A kalanchoe exposed to sunlight.
One of the main signs of sunburn in succulents is discoloration, corking, yellowing, or whitening.

You can tell that your succulent has suffered sunburn if it develops discoloration on the sun-facing side.

With time its leaves will start turning red, purple, or blue. Keep in mind that heat and light stress are serious issues that must be addressed promptly. Any further neglect may lead to the sudden death of the succulent.

Various succulent species have different lighting and temperature requirements. However, most of them prefer lots of bright, indirect light. Some even require partial shade to thrive.

Generally, six hours of light a day during the active growth season is good enough. If you live in an area that doesn’t receive too much sunlight, consider investing in a grow light for your succulents. This will help them get the adequate amount of sunlight that they need.

2. Poor Soil Drainage

If your succulent is turning purple, it may be because it doesn’t have enough drainage in its soil or potting mix. Succulents cannot survive when their roots are regularly exposed to too much water or when their soil retains lots of moisture.

For this reason, ensure that your pot has proper drainage holes and that the potting mix is highly porous. Consider adding some gravel for additional drainage.

A kid watering the plant carefully.
Succulents cannot survive when their roots are regularly exposed to too much water or when their soil retains lots of moisture.

It is also advisable to let your succulent dry out completely between watering and to water it deeply but infrequently.

3. Nutrient Deficiency

Succulents may also turn purple due to a lack of essential nutrients such as Nitrogen, phosphorus, and other micronutrients.

The most common signs of nutrient deficiency in succulents include yellowing or fading foliage, weakened growth, and color changes.

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It is important to note that plants grown in containers require regular fertilization to stay healthy. However, be sure to follow the instructions provided by the fertilizer manufacturer. Too much fertilizer can damage your succulent.

4. Your Succulent Is Naturally Changing Its Color

Although most succulents are green, some have hints of red or purple that they develop as they grow.

For instance, it is common for succulents such as Kalanchoe, Crassula, and Sedum species to turn purple or reddish as they grow.

This usually happens when the succulent is exposed to direct sunlight and is most likely not a cause for concern. Therefore, look at clear photos of your succulent online to see if the color change is normal.

5. Underwatering

Most succulents turn purple or red when they dry out from underwatering. Their leaves and stems become stressed due to lack of water, causing them to change color.

If you notice your succulent turning purple and it has been some time since you last watered it, this is most likely the cause. Be sure to water it right away to help bring it back to its normal vibrant color.

A woman sparying water at the cactus in a pot.
Although you shouldn’t water your succulents regularly in winter, some watering is still required.

Other signs of an underwatered succulent include shriveling, dry soil, and curling leaves. Your succulent leaves may lose their plumpness if the issue is addressed sluggishly.

Although you shouldn’t water your succulents regularly in winter, some watering is still required. This is especially true if you keep your succulent indoors where the temperature is relatively warm.

Water your succulents at least once a month to keep them hydrated. Don’t let the soil dry up since it may cause damage to your plant’s roots.

Start watering your succulents regularly from early spring to late autumn. Your watering schedule should be determined by the amount of light and heat your succulents receive.

6. Overwatering

Another common reason why succulents turn purple is that they are overwatered. As previously mentioned, this can happen if the pot doesn’t have enough drainage holes or retains moisture for too long.

If your succulent is turning purple due to overwatering, you will notice other symptoms, such as rotting roots, soft and mushy stems, discoloration, and wilting leaves.

To avoid overwatering your succulent, it is essential to check the soil’s moisture content before watering. Use your finger or a small tool to test the soil’s dryness near the root area. If it feels moist, don’t water it and wait till next time.

If you are sure your succulent is overwatered, try to remove it from the pot and gently remove as much soil as possible. Then, lay it on a paper towel or newspaper before replanting it in a fresh potting mix.

7. Sudden Changes in Temperature or Lighting

Avoid suddenly changing your succulents’ environment, as this could damage or even kill them. In fact, most succulent species don’t like sudden changes in temperature and light.

If they experience a sudden change in temperature or lighting, they may start changing their color. If you notice your succulent turning purple, it might be because of a change in its environment.

It is important to keep the temperature and lighting conditions consistent to avoid sudden changes. This will also help ensure that your succulent doesn’t experience any traumatic events which can cause them to turn purple or even die.

A houseplant in the windowsill.
Most succulent species don’t like sudden changes in temperature and light.

If you want to change your succulents’ environment, do it gradually. Start by increasing the temperature or light exposure in small increments until your succulent gets used to it.

This will ensure that it doesn’t experience too much stress, which can lead to color changes.

8. Issues with the Root System and Root Rot

If your succulent is turning purple or black, it may be caused by a problem with the root system. This can be anything from root rot to nutrient deficiency.

Root rot is often caused by overwatering or poor drainage. It is a significant problem that should not be ignored since it can cause permanent damage to your succulent’s roots. If left untreated, your succulent may die.

If you suspect root rot, inspect your succulent’s roots and check if they are soft and mushy or have a black or brown color. If that is the case, take immediate action to save your plant.

You can remove the damaged parts of the root system and repot it in fresh soil. Make sure to provide proper drainage and water your succulent sparingly.


If your succulent is turning purple, it could be due to too much heat or light, poor drainage, nutrient deficiency, natural color change, underwatering, overwatering, sudden changes in temperature or lighting, or issues with the root system. Root rot is a common issue that can cause succulents to turn purple.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why your succulent is turning purple and given you some tips on fixing the problem. Keep enjoying your succulent plants!

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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