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How to Stress Succulents – 5 Incredible Methods and Care Tips

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Succulents are species of plants with thick, fleshy leaves that can retain water to survive dry and hot climatic conditions. Succulents come in all shapes and sizes, and their otherworldly leaves are sure to adorn your plant’s collection.

Succulents mostly come in green, but the leaves often exhibit hues of various colors under different circumstances. We are here to share some awesome techniques on how to stress succulents to bring out the best colors.

You can alter and bring out the different shades in your succulents by putting them under stressful conditions. Some succulents naturally exhibit shades of red and purple; however, you can also bring out some beautiful colors by stressing them.

It often requires putting the succulent in a dark or cold place. Please keep reading to learn how to stress succulents safely and keep them healthy after stress.

How to Stress Succulents
So happy with the sun stress progress on this little guy! – via Reddit

What Does it Mean to Stress Your Succulents?

You may be fascinated to know that you can induce changes in the colors of your lovely succulents by changing their environmental conditions.

Stressing a succulent refers to the process of placing your succulent under extreme temperatures or light or an abrupt change in the environment that may stress them. This stress causes them to change their color.

While you try to stress your succulents, be very careful not to harm them. Taking proper measures and caring for them is crucial to attaining a good color without killing the plant.

You can stress succulents by placing them in direct sunlight, putting them in a dark room, increasing or decreasing the temperature, or providing infertile soil.

5 Methods on How to Stress Succulents

We have compiled a list of 5 amazing methods on how to stress succulents and bring out their beautiful shades.

1.      Stressing Through Sunlight

Sunlight is one of the most influencing factors in stressing your succulents. However, most succulents naturally prefer a good amount of sunlight, so this might be a little tricky. To stress your succulents with sunlight, you need to ensure the plant stays in direct sunlight for a prolonged period.

You can get innovative and find a spot that receives sunlight for long hours, e.g., a post, a window sill, fences, etc. This method will work based on your observations.

Observe the sunniest parts of your house and calculate the number of hours for which it receives the sunlight. Once you have found the right spot, you can observe how your plant reacts to it. Some plants may be happier in a sunny spot, while others prefer a little shade.

You can also switch their positions by placing the bigger plant in front and the smaller one behind it so it gets a little less stressed and doesn’t die.

One important point to remember here is that be wary of sunburns when you are stressing your plant. A little sunburn will be alright, and the plant will recover. However, severe sunburns can kill your plant.

How to Stress Succulents 2
The sun stress on my Jade is really neat! – via Reddit

2.      Decrease Watering

Another method to stress your succulents is by decreasing the amount of watering. The key is to let your plant get a little thirsty. When the succulent is not watered, it will draw water from the leaves. It will induce very bright colors in the leaves.

If you water too little, the leaves will shrink and fall out. It can eventually kill the plant. Water your plants just enough that they can survive in the sun. Succulents are quite hardy and can go on without water for a surprisingly long time.

On the contrary, overwatering a succulent is very harmful. It can cause rotting and kill the plant. Succulents are adapted to dry and hot climates such as deserts; their leaves store enough water to sustain them in the scorching heat. Therefore, they do not like their roots to sit and water and rot very easily.

3.      Lower the Temperature

Try lowering the surrounding temperature to witness completely fascinating colors. Most of the succulents can withstand colder temperatures very easily but keep a close eye while you stress them with cold. You do not want a freezing temperature; just cold enough to induce the color change.

Like many other plants in autumn, succulents change their colors in colder temperatures. This color can range from a dark maroon shade to a dark purple.

4.      Move to a Darker Place

You can also stress your succulents by moving them to a darker location. This method works when you let your plants sit in a warm sunny place for three to seven days and then move them indoors.

You can reduce the amount of sunlight they get, put them in partial shade, or block the sunlight completely for a while.

One takeaway from this method is that whatever method you opt for, do not go to the extreme. A sudden change in the environment can drastically stress the plant and kill it. Always introduce the plant to its new environment gradually.

Instead of moving your succulent from direct sunlight to a very dark room, please put them in a shady place to help with the transition. It will help control the stress on the succulent and prevent it from dying.

Full sun exposure will give you succulents with very bright and dark colors. At the same time, low exposure to light will result in much lighter and pastel tones that are just as beautiful.

5.      Stressing Through Grow Lights

Stressing your plants through the sun can be difficult since this is a factor you cannot control. It will require a lot of moving around and looking after your succulent.

To prevent this hassle, you can stress your succulents indoors with the help of LED grow lights. This method is much easier and preferable since you can conveniently control the quality, intensity, exposure, and timing of the light.

Place your plant about 10 to 15 inches away from an LED light of 24 Watts. Expose the plants to the light for 16 to 18 hours a day and observe how the plant reacts under different conditions.

An important thing to remember is always to consider the type of succulent before you try to change their environment. Some succulents respond well in low light while others wither away. Knowing the species and their specific requirements and living conditions is necessary to attain good results without killing the plant.

You can adjust the intensity and duration of light to achieve beautiful variations in colors. Light with high intensity will give you bright and vibrant color like red. At the same time, a medium to low-intensity light will result in green leaves with a hint of light pink on the edges.


Who says all of your succulents have to be the same boring green color? Knowing a few tips and tricks can help you add a pop of color to your succulents and add to their beauty.

Your succulents can induce color changes by simply altering their environmental conditions. Like many other plants, succulents contain anthocyanin chemical that gives plants a darker color in stressful conditions such as bright light.

We have compiled some amazing methods on how to stress succulents so you can induce gorgeous colors in them and make them look enchanting. Tell us which method worked the best for you in the comments below!