Why Are Succulent Leaves Turning Red? (5 Reasons & Easy Fixes)

One of the most common reasons for succulent leaves turning red is stress. Succulents adapt to harsh environments and can become stressed when their growing conditions change, or they are exposed to extreme temperatures, drought, or overwatering.

When a succulent is stressed, it produces anthocyanins, pigments that give the leaves a reddish hue.

Succulent leaves turning red
Succulent leaves turning red

Overwatering is a common cause of stress in succulents, as it can lead to root rot and a lack of oxygen in the soil. When roots are damaged, the plant may struggle to absorb nutrients and water, which can lead to leaf discoloration.

Similarly, exposure to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight can cause stress in succulents, leading to red leaves.

It is important to note that while some succulents naturally have red or purple leaves, sudden and widespread reddening can be a sign of stress or disease. ‘

If you notice your succulent’s leaves turning red, it is important to examine its growing conditions and adjust as necessary to prevent further damage. This may include adjusting the watering frequency, moving the plant to a more suitable location, or repotting with fresh soil.

Succulent leaves turning red: Identifying the Cause

Succulent leaves turning red can indicate various issues ranging from environmental stress, improper watering, nutrient deficiency, pest or disease infestation, or natural pigmentation. Identifying the underlying cause of the red leaves is crucial in restoring the plant’s health and preventing further damage.

Succulent leaves turning red: Identifying the Cause
Succulent leaves turning red: Identifying the Cause

Identifying the Cause of Succulent Leaves Turning Red:

Symptoms of Overexposure to Sunlight

Succulents exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods may develop red or brown leaves and signs of sunburn. The leaves may also appear bleached, withered, or wrinkled. Moving the plant to a more shaded location or providing a screen can help reduce the impact of the sun.

Symptoms of Underwatering

Succulents not receiving enough water may develop red leaves as a sign of stress. The leaves may also appear dry, shriveled, and brittle. To rectify this issue, increasing the watering frequency or soaking the soil until the water runs out of the drainage holes is recommended.

Symptoms of Overwatering

Overwatering can lead to root rot, causing the plant to struggle to absorb nutrients and water, leading to leaf discoloration, including red or purple. Leaves may appear mushy or wilted, and the soil may feel excessively wet or have an unpleasant odor. Repot the plant in fresh soil to prevent further damage and reduce watering frequency.

Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency

Succulents require nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to grow and remain healthy. A lack of these nutrients can cause the leaves to turn red and yellow or develop brown spots. To rectify the issue, the plant is fertilized with a balanced fertilizer, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Symptoms of Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases can cause leaf discoloration and damage to succulents. Symptoms of pest infestation may include small holes, webbing, or white spots on the leaves. Fungal or bacterial infections may also cause red spots, blisters, or a powdery coating on the leaves.

Remove affected leaves and use appropriate treatments such as insecticides or fungicides to manage pests and diseases.

What to do if the succulent Leaves turns red? Treatment Details

What to do if the succulent turns red
What to do if the succulent turns red?

Overexposure to Sunlight

If your succulent is experiencing sunburn or reddening due to overexposure to sunlight, move the plant to a more shaded location or provide a screen to reduce the amount of direct sunlight. It’s essential to monitor the plant’s response to the reduced light and adjust as needed.


If your succulent is showing signs of stress from underwatering, increase the watering frequency or soak the soil until the water runs out of the drainage holes. Ensure the soil has proper drainage to avoid waterlogging. A soil moisture meter can also help to determine the appropriate watering schedule.


If your succulent is experiencing root rot due to overwatering, remove the plant from the soil, gently rinse the roots, and allow them to dry. Trim any rotting or damaged roots, and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil. Reduce the watering frequency and ensure the soil is well-drained.

Nutrient Deficiency

If your succulent shows signs of nutrient deficiency, apply a balanced fertilizer, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, incorporate organic matter such as compost or worm castings into the soil to improve nutrient availability. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause leaf burn or other issues.

Pests and Diseases

If your succulent is showing signs of pest infestation or disease, remove any affected leaves and treat the plant with an appropriate insecticide or fungicide. Isolate the plant from other plants to prevent the spread of the infestation. Monitor the plant for any further signs of damage and take appropriate action if necessary.


Prevention is the best approach to avoid succulent leaves turning red. Ensure the plant is in a suitable location with appropriate lighting, water it according to its needs, and avoid over-fertilizing. Inspect the plant regularly for signs of pests or disease, and take appropriate action promptly.

Prevention strategies

Succulents are a popular choice for indoor and outdoor plants due to their low maintenance and unique appearance. However, some succulents may turn red, which can signify stress or damage. Here are some tips to prevent your succulents from turning red:

  • Provide Adequate Light: Succulents need plenty of sunlight to thrive. Insufficient light can lead to the plant becoming stressed, resulting in a red hue. Place your succulent in an area where it can receive bright, indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day.
  • Avoid Overwatering: Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes made with succulents. Succulents store water in their leaves and stems, and too much water can lead to root rot and stress. Water your succulent only when the soil is completely dry, and ensure proper drainage to prevent standing water.
  • Maintain Proper Soil: Succulents require well-draining soil to prevent moisture from building up around their roots. A mixture of potting soil, sand, and perlite is an ideal option. Avoid using regular garden soil, which can retain too much water.
  • Keep Temperature and Humidity in Check: Succulents prefer warm and dry environments, with a temperature range of 60-80°F (15-27°C) and low humidity. Avoid placing your succulent near drafts or areas with high humidity, such as a bathroom.
  • Protect from Direct Sunlight: While succulents need sunlight, direct sunlight for prolonged periods can cause them to turn red. Consider moving your succulent to a shaded area during the hottest parts of the day.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What does an overwatered succulent look like?

Overwatered succulents may have yellowing leaves that feel soft and mushy. The leaves may also appear translucent or translucent with black spots. The soil may have a foul odor, and the roots may rot.

Q: What do dehydrated succulents look like?

Dehydrated succulents may have leaves that appear shriveled or wrinkled. The leaves may feel dry and brittle, and the soil may be completely dry. The plant may also appear stunted and not grow as it should.

Q: Do succulents need direct sunlight?

Succulents need plenty of sunlight to thrive, but direct sunlight for prolonged periods can cause them to turn red or brown. It’s best to provide your succulent with bright, indirect sunlight for at least six hours daily. If your succulent is placed in direct sunlight, make sure it’s acclimated to the light gradually to prevent sunburn.


In conclusion, succulent leaves turning red can signify stress or damage caused by various factors. By providing adequate light, avoiding overwatering, maintaining proper soil, keeping temperature and humidity in check, and protecting from direct sunlight, you can prevent your succulent from turning red and promote its overall health.

Remember to pay attention to your succulent’s needs and make adjustments as necessary to help it thrive. With proper care, your succulent can maintain its natural beauty for years.

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