How to Stress Succulents

Succulents are a great addition to a plant enthusiast’s collection because they’re low maintenance. However, people often forget that you can stress them to get gorgeous colors aside from their usual luscious green hue.

Now, how to stress succulents? Well, the easiest method is to put your plant in direct sunlight for a few days. Doing so stimulates the production of pigments that protects it from environmental stressors. If there are more pigments, the succulent will become much more vibrant.

Stick around as we delve into the various methods of how you can stress your succulents!

Various Methods on How You Can Stress Succulents

You have a variety of methods when it comes to stressing succulents. All of them take little to no effort at all! You just have to be patient because the process takes time.

Colorful Succulent

With that said, below are the methods on how you can stress succulents:

1.   Water Stress

All plants need water because it’s essential for photosynthesis, which is the process that helps them grow. However, succulents are different because they have special tissues that can store water for a few days.

So, if you haven’t watered your succulent for a few weeks, immediately drench the dry soil and the plant deeply. This will cause water stress, which results in a change of color.

Your plant will become much more vibrant after. This is a result of chlorosis. It’s a phase where the succulent leaves aren’t getting enough chlorophyll. As such, the color changes, and instead of green, they turn yellow or red.

However, you should properly inspect your succulent before conducting water stress. You mustn’t let your plant wilt because the process won’t work.

If your succulent leaves have already sagged, water them first and let the soil dry again for a few weeks.

2.   Underexposure to Sun Stress

The sun is also an essential factor in the growth of plants, mainly because it supports the photosynthesis process. They need at least three to six hours of sunlight to thrive.

So, you can stress your succulent by moving it to an area that doesn’t receive much sunlight. Depriving the plant of a light source will alter its leaves’ colors. In a span of a week, you’ll start to see a significant difference.

This method also puts your plant in the process of chlorosis. As such, the leaves might develop a gorgeous red or yellow tinge.

Of course, keeping a close eye on your succulent is also crucial. Leaving it without sunlight for long periods will cause etiolation. It’s a phenomenon that makes the plant grow abnormally because it’s naturally trying to reach for a light source.

A sign that your succulent is experiencing etiolation is when the leaves are growing sideways. Sadly, your plant can’t go back to its normal shape when it happens.

Read more: Moss for Succulents: Which Moss Plant Should You Use?

3.   Overexposure to Sun Stress

Another way to stress your succulent is by overexposing it to sunlight. If you think it might harm your plant, don’t worry because it can survive on its own, even without the help of water.

When the succulent gets overexposed to sunlight, it produces anthocyanins. It’s a red, purple, or blue pigment that develops in your plant.

Furthermore, the pigment doesn’t only make your succulent leaves more vibrant, but it also protects your plant from abiotic and biotic stresses. So, anthocyanins help your plant survive when it receives too much sunlight and less water.

However, you should keep an eye out for sunburns. There are instances wherein your succulent will get scorch marks whenever the temperature is too high.

If you can see brown or black spots on a leaf, it’s starting to get burned. Thankfully, the plant can recover from it, but the sunburned leaves can’t.

4.   Cold Stress

Cold temp thermometer

Extreme weather conditions are a stressor for succulents. It affects their overall health whenever they don’t get the right temperature.

However, hardy succulents, such as Sempervivums, can thrive and withstand cold weather because their leaves are sturdier and can store more water. As such, during the winter season, you should expect the plant to undergo cold stress, making its leaves richer.

Unlike hard succulents, their leaves are more delicate, so they rot easily whenever they get exposed to low temperatures. With that said, you can stress these kinds of plants by placing them in below-freezing areas.

Again, you should be careful when stressing your soft succulents with cold temperatures because they’re prone to frost damage. If you see ice crystals forming within their tissue and there are pink and yellow spots, immediately put the plant in a warm area. Plus, you should cut the leaf that’s already rotting.

5.   Heat Stress

You can heat stress your succulents during the warmer season. Compared to stressing your plant by overexposing it to sunlight, you can only do this method whenever the temperature reaches at least 90°F.

It’s because the said temperature is too much for the plants. A study discovered that the growth rate of succulents is lower whenever they dwell in climates warmer than usual. It only means that they’re getting stressed.

Reiterating that succulents produce more anthocyanins to combat extreme sun exposure, you should anticipate that their leaves will turn yellow or red.

Remember that you shouldn’t leave your succulent basking in the sun for too long if you don’t want your plant to dry out completely.

Do Succulents Get Stressed Instantly?

Your succulent won’t get stressed instantly. As mentioned earlier, you need patience because it can take a few days or weeks to stress your plant successfully.

The waiting time depends on the method you’re using. For example, heat stress will take effect faster than underexposing your plant to sunlight. It’s because the succulent needs to adapt quickly to the climate while it can live for a couple of days without sunlight.

Don’t try to speed up the process by overwatering your succulent or other methods either. It’ll only cause more harm than good to your plant.

Users Also Read: How Cold Can Succulents Tolerate?

Tips Before Stressing Your Succulents

You shouldn’t put stress on your succulent out of impulse. Of course, you have to consider its current condition because otherwise, it can lead to your plant’s death.

As such, the following are the factors that you should look into before stressing your succulents:

1.   Check Your Succulent’s Health

Your succulent’s health should come first before anything else. If you’ve repotted the plant before deciding to stress it, you should wait a few weeks for it to recover and acclimate completely.

Whether you like it or not, the plant becomes sensitive when transferred to a different pot. During this time, it’s prone to transplant shock, which you should look out for. So, only stress your succulent if it’s currently thriving.

2.   Start Slow

If you’ve never tried stressing your succulents, you should use methods that take a long time to take effect.

You can start under or overexposing the plant to sunlight because these methods won’t wholly shock your succulent. It’ll give your succulent enough time to adjust to the new conditions that it’s experiencing.

3.   Keep a Close Eye on Your Succulent

It’s crucial to monitor your succulent. Doing so will help you determine whether you’ve successfully stressed your plant.

Additionally, by inspecting your succulent regularly, you’ll be able to check if the plant is already suffering.

4.   Know When to Stop

Large succulent

As they say, too much of anything is bad for you, and the same goes for your succulents.

Remember that overstressing your succulent can lead to its death. With that said, you should know when to stop. Take action immediately if your plant shows too much stress, such as wilting, drying, or rotting.

You’re stressing your plant because you want to make it more gorgeous than it already is, not to make it suffer.

Wrapping Up

There you have it, various methods on how to stress succulents!

For beginners, it’s best to under or overexpose your succulent because it’s the safest method out of all that we’ve mentioned. However, you can do all of the above if you’re a green thumb with lots of experience!

Stressing your succulent is a rewarding process because you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of your plant more!