If you’ve noticed your succulents changing color, don’t stress out. Sun stress is not a bad thing - and it’s something that’s actually encouraged in many types of succulents.
When you’re wondering whether your plants are getting the correct amount of light and remaining as healthy and colorful as can be, sun stressing is a concept with which you should familiarize yourself. All kinds of conditions can affect the color of a plant, including water and temperature, but the most influential factor in a plant’s color is how much sunlight a succulent receives.
Interested in learning how to sun stress succulents? You’ve come to the right place - here’s everything you need to know.
What is Succulent Sun Stress?
Essentially, the “sun stressed meaning '' is quite simple. It has to do with what happens to succulents when they are exposed to sunlight. That’s not to say that one size fits all when it comes to sun stress, however - the amount of light that might be perfect for one plant could be stress-inducing for another.
Sun stress is essentially just the process of exposing a succulent plant to light conditions outside of its ideal range for a set period of time.
There is a delicate balance to sun stressing your plants. While you can keep a succulent outside of its range for a short period of time, too much time spent out of this range can lead to long-lasting problems that can be hard to rectify. It could even kill your plant!
How much sun do succulents need? Well, it varies. Some plants do best in full sun while others like a bit of shade - of course, this also affects how much sunlight can lead to deliberate sun stress.
Types of Succulents That Benefit from Sun Stress
Almost all succulents benefit from sun stress, but there are some that are easier to work with than others.
For example, sedum are some of the easiest plants to work with in this kind of project. Sedum plants are sun-loving succulents normally found in shades of red, purple, or pink. They become more vibrantly colored when you expose them to even more sunlight. The same applies to most species of cactus, agave,and heuffelii.
On the flipside, there are some succulents that become more colorful when you expose them to periods of darkness. These varieties tend to be green, rather than colored like the sun-loving succulents listed above. That’s because they have more chlorophyll to help them absorb sunlight when it does happen to be available.
If you’d rather sun stress your succulents by bringing them indoors and giving them less, rather than more, light, you might want to choose succulents like jade plants, air plants, haworthia,and gasteria.
Quick Guide to Stress Coloring Succulents
To make your succulents more colorful, you’ll need to find the delicate balance between extreme light conditions and just enough stress to encourage your plants to become more colorful.
You can look at the sunlight requirements for your specific plant type to figure out this balance. Check the recommended light conditions for any cultivar you plan to grow, keeping in mind that sunlight requirements vary between plant types, species, and varieties.
Beyond checking the planting guidelines for the ideal amount of sunlight (both for regular growth and for inducing sun stress), the easiest way to figure things out is through a little bit of trial and error. Here’s how.
Start by positioning your succulent outside, where it will be in a bit of shade with dappled sunlight (“bright shade”) for the entire day. Keep the plant there for four to seven days. Then, move it to a partial sun location, where it will get four hours of sunlight in the morning and shade the rest of the day. Do this for an additional four to seven days.
Monitor your plant carefully throughout this time. Keep an eye on its color change and relocate the plants to more or less sun as needed. If the added sunlight with this method doesn’t give you the color you want, you can try stressing your plant in another way - like by leaving the plant in the cold or cutting back on water.
What to Do if You Overdid it with the Sun Exposure
Uh-oh - so you left your sun-loving sedum in the sun for just a bit too long - and now it is showing signs of sunburn.
Fortunately, succulents are hardy plants that can recover from light problems in almost all cases. As long as you don’t wait too long to treat the issue, you can usually help your plant recover by giving them one to two weeks to gently transition back into the right amount of light.
Note that we said gently - you don’t want to abruptly move a full-sun succulent out of direct sunlight into full shade (even if the plant is severely stressed and showing signs of sunburn). This can be too much of an abrupt, shocking change that can ultimately kill your plants.
Instead, if you realize you overdid it with the sun stressing of your succulents, take as much time to transition your plants out of the exposure as you did to transition them in. This will help them adapt gradually and rebuild their defenses. Of course, providing ideal watering and fertilizing during these times is also a good idea to help your plant bounce back without delay.
CTTO: Moody Blooms
Make Your Succulents More Colorful - With Just the Power of the Sun
Paying close attention to your succulent at all times is key in being successful with sunbathing. How much sun your plant needs will vary depending on whether it’s designed to handle low light or full sun - and this will also influence what levels of sunlight cause stress to appear and change its colors.
With a bit of practice, however, and diligence in growing the same kinds of succulents year after year, you’ll learn for yourself which levels of sunlight exposure work well to moderately stress your succulents and create beautiful flushes of color. Needless to say, you’ll be a color-producing master!
Are you interested in growing your very own Cacti and Succulents? We got our very own Cactus and Succulent grow kit for you that is available via our website or via Amazon.