I picked up one of my first succulents at a local farmer’s market in late summer. It was completely green and had multiple flower-like leaf patterns on a single stalk. It was gorgeous!
When I brought that succulent home, I had no idea how to care for it. So I did the best I could. In time, I realized that it needed a lot more sunlight than I could provide, so I placed the surviving cuttings under a grow light. Within weeks, the tips of those cuttings turned a lovely shade of red! To say I was surprised would be an understatement.
For me, it was easy to determine why my succulent’s tips were turning red. But there are a few reasons why this phenomenon happens on occasion. Sun stress, water stress, and other types of stress can cause succulents to change color. It’s important to understand how to care for your succulent if the tips are turning red or soft so that you know whether it’s a normal stressing signal or a sign of certain death.
Echeveria With Red Tips
There are many types of succulents that naturally have red tips. Your plant may be completely healthy and just showing off its true colors. For the rest of us, red tips on a succulent may indicate that the plant is stressed in some way. To differentiate, consider some of these succulents with natural red tips.
Echeveria ‘Blue Curls’
The echeveria ‘blue curls’ has gorgeous blue-green leaves with curly red margins. The overall color of the plant will depend on how much sunlight it’s getting – in brighter light, the blue tones and red tips will be more pronounced.
Echeveria Subsessilis ‘Morning Beauty’
The echeveria subsessilis ‘morning beauty’ is a beautiful rosette-shaped succulent has bluish-green leaves with red tips. The edges of the leaves curl inward, which gives the plant a delicate, almost dainty appearance.
This hybrid echeveria has stunning, dusty purple leaves with red tips. The edges of the leaves are slightly scalloped and have a beautiful rosy hue.
Echeveria Pulidonis ‘Pulido’s Echeveria’
Echeveria ‘Perle Von Nurnberg’
The echeveria ‘perle von nurnberg’ has smooth, plump leaves that are purple with a pinkish hue. The tips of the leaves curl inward and turn a deep red when they get enough sunlight.
Types of Stress That Can Cause Succulent Tips to Turn Red or Soft
Some stressing in a succulent is perfectly normal. These plants are designed to ward off the dangers of the desert, after all. So a little bit of stress can actually be good for them! Here are some types of stress that can cause succulent tips to turn red or soft.
1. Water Stress
Too little or too much water can cause stress to your succulent. If the leaves start to wrinkle, it’s an indication that the plant is not getting enough water. On the other hand, if the leaves are soft and mushy, it’s an indication that the plant is getting too much water. If you see either of these signs, adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
2. Sun Stress
Too much sun can also cause stress to your succulent. If the leaves start to fade in color or get sunburned, it’s an indication that the plant is getting too much direct sunlight. This is perfectly normal and not something to worry about unless it is happening in a short amount of time. For example, if you move a succulent from inside to out in the hot summer sun, it can quickly turn from normal sun stress to sunburn. If this is happening, move your succulent to a shadier spot and spend the next two weeks acclimating it to the sun little by little.
3. Cold Temperature Stress
If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your succulent is likely to experience stress. The leaves may start to turn red or brown, and the plant may stop growing. If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s important to bring your succulent indoors or move it to a greenhouse during the winter months.
4. Fertilizer Burn
If you see brown or red tips on your succulent, it could be a sign of fertilizer burn. While fertilizing your succulent can be a good thing, it’s possible to go overboard. If you think your succulent has fertilizer burn, stop fertilizing and replace the over-fertilized potting soil with fresh, well-draining soil.
Pests can also cause stress to your succulent. If you see any insects on your plant, such as aphids, scale, or mealybugs, get rid of them immediately. These pests can suck the nutrients out of your plant, causing it to stress and turn red.
Certain diseases can also cause stress to your succulent. For example, root rot is a common disease that can cause the leaves of your plant to turn red or brown. If you think your succulent has root rot, it’s important to remove it from the potting soil and allow the roots to dry out completely before repotting it.
How to Prevent Stress in Your Succulent
The best way to prevent stress in your succulent is to provide it with the appropriate amount of water, sun, and fertilizer. Water your succulent when the potting soil is dry to the touch and make sure it’s not getting too much or too little sun. If you’re not sure how much sun your succulent needs, try placing it in a spot where it gets 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day. Fertilize your succulent once a month during the growing season, using a succulent fertilizer or a general-purpose fertilizer diluted to half strength.
In addition to providing the appropriate care, it’s also important to inspect your plant regularly for pests and diseases. If you see any insects on your plant, remove them immediately. If you think your succulent has root rot, remove it from the potting soil and allow the roots to dry out completely.
Many Succulents Just Have Red Tips
If you notice that the tips of your succulents are turning red or soft, it’s important to take a closer look at the plant to determine the cause. These resilient little plants offer great warning signs that can help beginner succulent owners take the necessary steps to combat stress. But in some cases, it’s possible that your succulent is turning red simply because it’s reacting to its normal environment.
Water stress, sun stress, and other types of stress like cold and pests can all lead to changes in coloration. Once you’ve determined the cause of the stress, you can take steps to correct it and prevent further damage (if even needed). By following these simple tips, you can keep your succulents healthy and happy for years to come!