More than once we were amazed by the photos of succulents we found online - they were so colorful and sometimes even unreal! And more than once we heard the question: don't I have the same succulents but why are they always green?

A colorful succulent

War of Pigments

There are three main pigments in succulent plants: chlorophyll, anthocyanin and carotenoid. They absorb light of different wavelengths, thus show different colors. The chlorophyll accounts for the green color, while the other pigments are the sources of the colorful look. Now, the essential reason for the different colors of the same succulent species is ready to come out: the balance of the pigments.

colorful leaves

In this blog we will introduce three key factors to help the succulents become colorful, which we more often call "stress the succulents". In specific, to reduce the ratio of chlorophyll in the plants.

Sufficient Sunlight

The main reason that the outdoor succulents are always more colorful is that they can receive sufficient sunlight. The sunlight, particularly the UV light it contains is an effective stressor that can enhance the production of anthocyanin which helps defend the damage caused by the sunlight. This can explain why the indoor succulents are less colorful even they can also receive sunlight - glass can block most of the UV light.

a succulent under natural sunlight

Low Temperature/Large Temperature Difference

Under ideal conditions, chlorophyll is a fast-generating pigment. When it dominates the plants will demonstrate green color. Low temperature and large temperature difference will accelerate the breakdown of chlorophyll and inhibit its regeneration, thus help the succulents show their colors other than green. A proper low temperature is slightly below 10°C and the temperature difference should be at least 10°C.

Low Water Content

It may sounds a little dangerous since we don't want to starve our succulents. Luckily, succulents are pretty tolerant to dry environment. Without sufficient water in the soil, the generation of chlorophyll will be further inhibited.

a purple succulent plant, Graptopetalum pentandrum "superbum"

Safety first

Obviously, the coloring process can be stressful for the succulents. Only patient and cautious treatment can keep them healthy. Never allow extreme conditions to damage them - if the sunlight is too intense, set a shade for them; if it is too cold during the night, take them indoor. The beauty that cannot last is precious but also heartbreaking.


Customer satisfaction is always our ultimate goal. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you have. Happy sowing!

Photo credits: 
Illustration photo created by alexphotos -


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