Cool, dry weather is what gives cacti their purple hue. The plant’s response to environmental stress is to turn purple. When under duress, some types of succulents, agave, and aloe also turn scarlet, burgundy, or purple.
How come my cactus is becoming purple?
Stress is sometimes indicated by cacti and succulents turning purple or brown. This may be brought on by extremely high temperatures, excessive sun exposure, inadequate watering, excessive repotting (which, as Kakteen said, may indicate discomfort or issues with the root structure), or a combination of these factors.
Even in their natural habitat, several species (such as Aloes, Haworthia, and Gasteria) exhibit this phenomenon; photographs of wild plants occasionally show them to be substantially different from those of cultivated plants.
Many of my cacti and succulents experience this, especially during the winter months when they are kept completely dry with at least a few hours of direct sunlight exposure. This is especially true of my aloes, ferocactus pilosus, gymnocalycium marsoneri (which is turning almost entirely purple-brown), chamaecereus, and cleistocactus winteri (which is turning yellow), among other species. Even in the middle of summer, the edges of my Echeveria rubromarginata’s leaves become purple.
I played around with an aloe last year and after leaving it in the sun all day without any water (as ondy did with his stenocereus), it turned entirely brown after two to three weeks. It turned emerald green in less than a month after I gave it shade and started giving it regular water. After that, I shifted once again, and my chameleonic behavior persisted.
Nothing goes wrong if you don’t push it over its breaking point. The plant simply needs something, and this is just a signal. They occasionally appear even better.
How can a purple cactus be fixed?
When the majority of the leaves on your cactus are visibly purple, there is cause for concern due to the color change.
Additionally, wilting, stunted growth, or wet foliage are warning indicators of a problem. To ascertain whether your plant is in any immediate danger, it’s critical to identify the reason for the color change.
When cacti are under duress, their colors shift. Betalain, a purple pigment found in cacti, is one that they create more of when stressed.
Too Much Sunlight
Cacti have adapted to thrive in direct sunshine, but the one you have at home may be struggling.
Cacti found in stores have often been produced in greenhouses with shade. They are therefore not accustomed to such intense sunshine.
Bright light is necessary for cacti, but indirect, diffused light is preferable. An abrupt exposure to harsh light can scorch a cactus’s skin, turning it purplish-red in hue.
Your cactus is probably sunburned if it is fresh or if you recently moved it to a sunnier location.
How to Treat Sun Scorched Cactus
Fortunately, treating a sunburn is not too difficult. Your cactus should be moved to a location that receives less direct sunlight.
Cacti still require a ton of sunlight, so don’t move it to your basement just yet!
Direct sunlight is light that shines directly on a plant, such as via a south-facing window.
The indirect sunlight from the other windows in your home will be more evenly distributed and kinder to the plant.
To avoid sun burning, move your plant to a window facing any other way.
Make a DIY sun filter if all of your windows are on the south side. To provide your cactus with some much-needed shade, simply place a paper towel over it.
Purple leaves may indicate stress brought on by high temperatures. When cacti’s roots get too hot, they sometimes turn reddish-purple.
Additionally, cacti can become purple under extreme cold. The plant can no longer contain fluids if it has frost damage because its cells burst.
How to Fix Temperature Stress
Since the ideal temperature is somewhere in the middle, it’s crucial to keep your plant away from environments with significant temperature fluctuations.
Keep your cactus away from drafty areas like open doors and windows to avoid it from getting too cold. Avoid areas with excessive heat and dryness as well, such as around fireplaces and heating vents.
Keep your cactus in a cold planter because its roots are particularly susceptible to overheating. Avoid using black plastic planters and get ones made of clay instead.
Purple leaves may also indicate root rot, which is brought on by over watering and inadequate drainage.
Your plant’s roots will dry out and become unable to absorb any more water or nutrients like magnesium if the soil is left wet for an extended period of time. Your cactus might consequently turn purple.
How to Fix Root Rot
With sterile scissors, begin cutting off the injured roots and leaves while removing as much of the moist dirt as you can.
Place the plant in a clean pot filled with new potting soil. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings and wait a few days before watering the cactus after transplanting it.
Overwatering is frequently the cause of root rot. I have a piece on how to keep your overwatered cactus alive. You will also learn the proper way to hydrate them.
Your cactus may be turning purple because it lacks the nutrients it needs to survive, which is one potential explanation. Your plant may be suffering from a magnesium deficit if it is withering and turning purple.
Magnesium deficits are more likely to occur in Christmas cacti. Nevertheless, all varieties of cacti are vulnerable.
How to Treat Nutritional Issues
Fertilizer is the remedy for a magnesium deficit in your cactus. You can apply an Epsom salt treatment yourself or purchase a fertilizer that has been supplemented with magnesium.
In a spray bottle, combine the following items to create a magnesium treatment:
- Epsom salts, eight tablespoons
- A total of 2.5 gallons of water
- A couple of drops of dishwashing liquid
Spray the cactus’s leaves with water using a spray bottle, being sure to reach the undersides as well. Use the spray mixture consistently every two weeks until the color of your cactus returns to normal.
Another possible explanation for your cactus’ color change is congested roots. A plant’s roots may get excessively crowded, or “rootbound,” if they are planted in a container that is too tiny.
Plants that are root-bound are unable to adequately absorb soil nutrients and water. The leaves may turn purple as a stress response in response to nutrient insufficiency.
How to Fix Overcrowded Roots
Your cactus’s root system may enlarge over time and may eventually become too large to fit inside the pot it was originally in.
It’s time to repot your cactus to a larger container if you see that some of the roots are attempting to escape through the drainage hole. Normally, every 3 to 4 years, think about repotting your cactus.
Your cactus needs to be relocated to a larger location if its roots have grown crowded. Cacti should often be repotted once the roots are visible through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
This normally takes two to three years for cactus kinds with a quicker growth rate. Repotting slower-growing cactus should only be done every three to four years.
Researching the perfect settings for your cactus is vital because not all cactus species have the same requirements.
For instance, some cacti, including Christmas cacti, thrive when their roots are packed.
So, until it has lived in the same pot for at least a few years, a Christmas cactus shouldn’t be repotted.
The steps to repot your cactus are as follows:
- Before repotting your cactus, first, make sure that you’re wearing thick gloves to protect your skin from the plant’s sharp spines.
- Look for pests and disease symptoms in the plant and the soil.
- Choose a new container that is one size bigger than the old one.
- To aid with drainage, add gravel to the bottom of the pot and sprinkle a thin coating of it on the soil’s surface.
What does a cactus that is overwatered look like?
The obvious indicators of an overwatered cactus caused by a fungus in the soil include black or brown blotches and mushy stems. It’s time to carefully chop them off with a knife if you experience any of these bodily symptoms. Use a sterilized knife while handling a rotting plant to prevent the spread of the infection.
You will have to exert more effort if the damage is severe. Essentially, what you’ll be doing is multiplying the portions of your plant that are still alive. Wear nitrile gloves to protect your hands from the cactus’ spines while you chop off the rotting sections, and exercise extreme caution when handling the plant. After cutting out the damaged areas, let your cuttings air dry for a few days, or around a week.
How can I tell if my cactus is in trouble?
When a cactus looks shriveled and husk-like, it is dead. Additionally, dead cacti can become unstable in their soil and topple over. They could start to smell rancid and becoming mushy, both of which are indicators that they are rotting. Cacti that are dead lose their spines and frequently appear brown.
What is causing my plant to go purple?
The most likely cause of a plant’s purple leaves rather than its usual green color is a phosphorus deficit, as you may have noticed. Phosphorus (P) is a mineral that all plants require to produce energy, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids.
Compared to older plants, young plants are more likely to show symptoms of phosphorus deficiency. Some plants may become deficient in phosphorus if the soil is chilly early in the growing season.
Too little phosphorus may cause the underside of marigold and tomato plant leaves to turn purple, while other plants will become stunted or will take on a dull, dark green hue.
Why is my succulent becoming a deep purple color?
There could be a few causes for your succulent plant to start turning purple. The reasons why your succulent may be turning purple or red, turning purple and dying, what it signifies when succulents turn purple, and what to do in this case are all listed in this page.
Purple or other color changes in succulents can occur naturally or as a result of stress. Stress can cause your succulents to turn purple or red, and the causes can include abrupt temperature changes, excessive heat or light, as well as a lack of food and water.
Anthocyanin and carotenoids, two pigments, are what give succulents their purple or red color. During periods of intense sunlight, this pigment primarily prevents succulents from overphotosynthesizing and burning.
To reveal their full potential colors, some succulent growers purposefully expose their plants to more sun. Blushing or red/purple colouring disappears after sunshine exposure is reduced once more.
Why is my purple and limp Christmas cactus limp?
The foliage of the Christmas Cactus can also be impacted by too much or too little water. A delicate balance must be maintained when watering Christmas cactus. Only water this plant if the top third of the soil feels dry to the touch, which should happen every two to three weeks because this plant often becomes waterlogged.
The cause of purple and/or withered foliage is less often underwatering. If the soil is bone dry, irrigate sparingly over a few days until it is evenly but very slightly damp.
Even though Christmas Cactus enjoys a little snug fit in pots, if the fit is too tight, they risk becoming root-bound. When the roots become root-bound, they are unable to adequately absorb nutrients, which prevents the foliage from receiving the food it need to keep its distinctive glossy green shine.
How frequently do cacti need to be watered?
The most frequent reason for cacti failure is improper watering, whether it is done too much or too little. Cacti have evolved to store water for extended periods of time and can maintain moisture through droughts because they are endemic to arid regions and dry temperatures. They have a limited capacity, which is why over-watering can result in a variety of issues.
When it comes to regularity, watering your cacti will largely depend on the season but also on the variety. Checking the soil is the easiest technique to determine whether your cactus needs water: It’s time for a drink if the top inch is dry. That entails applying the “soak and dry procedure” on cactus.
What is the soak and dry method?
The soak and dry technique is thoroughly wetting the soil until part of it begins to flow out the drainage hole, then waiting until the mixture is nearly dry before wetting it once more. This method caters to their nature of storing water, and if done well will help them survive a period of under-watering should you need to travel or leave home (or if you just get busy and watering falls to the wayside, as happens to all of us now and again).
Watering during the growing season versus the inactive season
Like with many houseplants, the season affects how frequently you need water. It becomes more crucial that you get in the habit of examining the soil to determine whether your cacti are thirsty. A healthy cactus needs watering every one to two weeks during the growing season, according to general wisdom. The frequency changes to once every three to four weeks during the off-season.
Even then, it’s crucial to examine the soil. The same way that not all interior spaces and not all cacti are alike. The only way to be certain that your cactus require watering is to carefully examine the soil to determine how dry it is because there are so many different factors.
Can cactus receive too much sunlight?
Sun exposure is crucial for your summer months (read the material on sunshine above for more details!) You need to be aware of the humidity, temperature, and daily amount of sunlight your plant receives. Succulents and cacti, despite being relatively hardy plants, can soon become sun-burned and dried out if the sun’s rays are too strong.
Take care while shifting a plant from the shade to full sun or from indoors to the sun once springtime rolls around. Even when you think you’ve done everything correctly, some plants occasionally succumb to the “shock” of such a rapid transformation and perish. The best approach is to gradually expose your plants to different environments and light.