Is Stress Good Or Bad for Succulents? Handling Succulent Sun Stress In Style

succulent sun stress featured image

Stress can cause plants, including succulents, to change color to bright reds, purples, pinks, and yellows. This phenomenon, known as sun stress, is due to activating a pigment called anthocyanin, which protects plants from UV damage under extreme conditions (we will learn more about this later in the article). Plants adapted to extreme sunlight are more susceptible to sun stress. However, is stress a good thing for succulents? We will show you today how to handle succulent sun stress nicely.

An Introduction to “Heat Stress”

Why should we know about “heat stress”? Isn’t this post about sun stress succulent? “Sun stress” is usually mistaken for “heat stress.”

Richard from Succulent City

When temperatures rise, plants face the challenge of coping with the heat, called “heat stress.” On the other hand, sun stress is when succulents get more sun than usual, they change color to react to more sunlight. Succulents adapt to heat by storing water in their fleshy leaves because heat stress in plants leads to different problems, such as wilting (water loss). The situation can deteriorate without the proper care, causing the plant leaves to turn yellow/ brown before dying.

During hot/ sunny weather, special attention is required for newly planted succulents. Frequent watering, especially for new and potted plants, is crucial. Mulching can aid in moisture retention and cooling plants, while shade covers offer additional protection. Moving potted plants to shaded areas during peak heat is also beneficial. 

Is Sun Stress A Good Thing For Succulents?

Heat stress can cause damage to your plant, but sun stress … may not ???? Sun stress can indeed be beneficial for succulents in certain aspects. It’s important to note that the term “stress” in this context doesn’t necessarily mean harm. Sun stress causes succulents to produce pigments that can change the color of their leaves to vibrant hues of red, purple, pink, and yellow. This process is a natural response to intense light, and it helps protect the plants from harmful UV rays. The resulting color change is often attractive and can make the plants more visually appealing.

sun stress doesn't necessarily mean 'harm' to your succulents
Sun stress doesn’t necessarily mean ‘harm’ to your succulents.

Succulents are hardy plants that are well-adapted to handle the stress in their natural environments, which often include high sunlight and drought conditions. The stress response, including color changes, is part of their survival strategy. 

Ensure you provide the right balance of conditions, as too much sun stress can create heat stress. The evaporation of water can lead to dehydration, which later leads to other common problems when caring for succulents.

How to Handle Succulent Sun Stress Intentionally

Now, you must be craving to activate your succulent’s beautiful natural color without killing it. First, we learn about the mechanism that creates the magic. When succulents are exposed to extreme sunlight or temperatures, they produce anthocyanins – natural antioxidants that protect the plant from harmful UV rays and severe temperatures. Interestingly, anthocyanins are more stable at colder temperatures. That’s why succulents tend to be greener in the summer and more colorful in the fall, winter, and spring. 

Note: If you’ve recently repotted a succulent, it may take one to two weeks to fully recover and get used to its new environment. Healthy succulents have robust roots that don’t require much water and can withstand intense sunlight.

handling sun stress intentionally

The amount of time needed to sun-stress a succulent into changing colors varies greatly depending on the type of succulent, its current health status, the intensity of the light, and other environmental factors. It’s essential to approach this process gradually to avoid harming the plant. Let’s dive into what you should do to handle succulent sun stress properly:

  • Gradually move your indoor succulents into the morning sun with proper air circulation. Starting at 4-6 hours per day. A location like a window sill is recommended, as it helps when monitoring your plant.
  • Monitor the plant closely for signs of sunburn, such as black or brown spots on the leaves. If you place it near the window sill, as I said, consider having blinds installed to change the amount of sunlight you want flexibly without having to move your plants.
  • Depending on the succulent type and environmental factors, the color change process can take several weeks to a few months.
  • Ensure the plant receives adequate care, including proper watering and protection from extreme temperatures.

Tips on Caring for Succulents Undergoing The Sun Stress Progress

If you want your succulents to have vibrant colors, they need prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Growing them in the shade won’t produce intense coloration. However, you can use alternative artificial lighting to meet their light requirements. Consider moving the succulent to a shaded area or indoors during the hottest part of the day. 

Succulents must be watered more often when exposed to more sun, but be careful not to overwater. It’s best to water them in the morning so the roots have enough time to absorb moisture before it gets too hot.

care tips for sun-stressed succulents

In winter, succulents don’t grow much, so it’s essential to check that the soil is dry before watering them. However, when February comes around, they start growing again, so you should increase the water you give them. Sun-stressed plants may benefit from a succulent fertilizer to support healthy growth and color change. 

Rotate the succulent periodically to ensure all sides receive equal sunlight, promoting even color change.

Final Words

The sun-stressing process requires patience. The goal is to stress the plant enough to induce color change but not so much that it becomes unhealthy or damaged. Always prioritize the health of the plant over achieving a specific color. 

Is this guide helpful for you? Sun stress is one among various succulent caring tips & guides on You can browse the category here or check out these suggestions for your next read:

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posted in