The most common reason your succulent is turning pink is that it is undergoing a certain level of stress. The stress that causes this change in color can be due to something as simple as neglecting to water the plant for a few days, or the plant getting a little more sunlight than it is used to.
Of course, there are stressors that can be harmful to your plant in the long run, especially if you do not resolve the problem in time.
In this article, we will discuss the various reasons your succulent is turning pink and how you can remedy it. So, if you are experiencing this problem and you wish to learn more, just keep reading.
Why is my succulent turning pink?
If your succulent turns pink, you might become quite worried, fearing that the plant may be dying.
Succulents turn pink as a response to stressors in their environment. Being some of the most hardy and resilient houseplants, it generally takes quite a lot to stress them enough to cause color changes in their foliage.
What you need to remember is that succulents adapt to their environments, and when there are sudden changes to any aspects of these environments or to their care, they will react, because they do not take well to sudden change.
The most common stressors that cause succulents to turn pink are too much sunlight, not enough sunlight, improper watering, root rot, changes in temperature, and nutrient deficiency.
Too much sunlight
One of the most common reasons your succulent may turn pink is that it is suddenly getting more light than it is used to, resulting in sunburn.
This sunburn will manifest as a pink color in the foliage. This often happens to succulents that have been indoors for months and are suddenly transferred to the outdoor garden. The intense light on the succulent’s leaves can come as quite a shock to the plant.
Another way your succulent can get sunburned is if it is placed too close to a glass window and the glass magnifies the sun’s rays before they hit the plant’s foliage. This is common for plants placed in south-facing windows.
To fix this discoloration due to too much sunlight, transfer your plant to a different spot where it can only get indirect light for six hours a day, such as a patio or one foot away from a west-facing window.
If you are planning on transferring an indoor plant to your outdoor garden, gradually acclimatize the plant by steadily increasing the number of hours the plant stays under the sun every day. Continue the acclimatization until the plant has fully adapted to its new surroundings.
If you allow your succulent time to get used to more and more light over a few days, it will not get sun damaged and you should be able to retain its green color.
Not enough light
Another common cause of a succulent turning pink is when it does not get as much light as it needs every day.
Certain succulents, such as some cacti, produce anthocyanins when they are stressed from inadequate light. Anthocyanin is a purple pigment which, when mixed with the green chlorophyll pigment, will result in the pinkish color that you see on the plant’s leaves.
Remember that succulents need sunlight to thrive and to function normally. Without it, they cannot perform photosynthesis and thus cannot produce their own food.
It is quite simple to fix the discoloration of a succulent that is not getting enough light. You just need to relocate it to a spot where it can get the bright, indirect light that it needs every day.
Another reason your succulent is turning pink is because it is receiving too much water.
This may be because you are giving it more water than it needs each time you water it, or because you are watering it more frequently than you need to. Either way, this leads to overwatering which will then lead to root rot.
Root rot is a condition resulting from the plant’s roots constantly standing in waterlogged soil, until they drown and die. The dead roots will begin to rot and become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens such as fungi and bacteria. These pathogens will cause the rot to become more aggressive, until eventually the entire plant is affected and succumbs.
Signs that your plant is overwatered include the leaves turning yellow, pink, red and brown, and becoming soft and mushy to the touch.
Overwatering can also be due to the incorrect potting mix. Succulents like a potting mix that is porous and airy, to allow water and air to flow through it with ease. Also, if the pot you use has no drainage holes at the bottom, this can also cause excess water to stagnate and may lead to root rot.
If you suspect that your succulent is turning pink due to overwatering, you must immediately stop watering your plant.
Remove the plant from its pot and wash off as much of the old soil as you can from the roots. Do this gently so you do not damage the fragile roots. Inspect all of the roots and, if there are any sections that have turned brown or black, prune them off using sterile scissors.
Then, lay the plant down on a dry paper towel and allow it to air-dry for several hours.
Prepare a new pot that has drainage holes at the bottom and fill it two-thirds with fresh potting mix that is specifically designed for succulents.
Place the plant in the middle of the soil and fill the pot the rest of the way with more potting mix. Tap the soil gently around the plant’s roots.
Do not water the soil; it will be slightly moist already. Wait at least a week before watering the newly-potted plant.
To avoid overwatering, check the top two inches of soil with your finger before you water your plant. If the soil is dry, water it, but if the soil is still damp, wait one or two days before checking again.
Underwatering may not be as destructive as overwatering, but it can definitely be a cause of your succulent turning pink.
When a succulent is not getting the water it needs, its foliage will turn pink, then purple, before finally turning brown. The leaves will dry out and become wrinkled and crispy.
Fortunately, it is much easier to fix an underwatered succulent than an overwatered one.
You will need to drench and dry the succulent to get it back to normal. When the soil in the plant’s pot is bone dry, water it five times with an amount of water equivalent to the volume of the plant’s pot.
After the soil has been drenched, do not water it again until the top two inches feel dry to the touch.
Regular watering of a succulent entails only watering it when the soil is dry. This will help you avoid both overwatering and underwatering your plant.
Changes in temperature
Another reason your succulent is turning pink may be that you are exposing it to a temperature significantly higher than it is used to.
This can be due to the plant getting direct, unfiltered sunlight, or being placed close to a radiator, or being in a spot where the heater hits it directly with warm air.
This heat stress will cause the plant to release anthocyanin which, as described above, is a purplish pigment that looks pink when mixed with the plant’s chlorophyll.
Too much heat can cause tissue damage to your succulent, and this damaged tissue will result in faulty photosynthesis and lead to further discoloration.
In the same way, placing the plant where it gets hit by cold air, such as near an air conditioner or near a door or window that lets in cold drafts, will also lead to temperature stress and cause pink discoloration.
To fix any discoloration caused by temperature changes, simply transfer your plant to where it will not be exposed to too much heat or cold.
The best place to keep an indoor succulent is a room with a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Succulents can also turn pink when they are lacking certain nutrients that they need to function properly, such as phosphorus, nitrogen or magnesium.
For example, succulents need phosphorus to produce sugars and nucleic acids, which they use to supply themselves with energy.
Aside from turning pink, wilting and yellowing are also signs that indicate a nutrient deficiency.
If you take too long to repot your succulent, this can also lead to nutrient deficiency because at some point, the plant’s soil will become depleted of nutrients and minerals.
Your succulent is turning pink because there is an environmental stressor causing the plant to react, and the discoloration is its distress call.
The most common causes of a succulent turning pink are too much sunlight, not enough sunlight, improper watering, root rot, changes in temperature, and nutrient deficiency.
Even though succulents are considered to be some of the most hardy and resilient plants in the world, they still have their limits. When those limits are reached, they will respond accordingly and you will need to address the problem if you want to keep your plant healthy and happy.
Image: istockphoto.com / Natalia Spiridonova