When succulents see red!

Chlorophyll is responsible for the green we see in plants, but what causes the red?  In times of seasonal change, plants reveal pigments that are otherwise hidden, and anthocyanin is one of these. In Florida, as the days get shorter and overnight temperatures drop, sugars accumulate in the plants’ leaf tissue.  This kicks off a storm of anthocyanin production and many of my tropicals are seeing red! 😉


The Kalanchoe luciae (above) is particularly vibrant. The offset (in the pot’s foreground) illustrates this succulent’s typical chalky green-ness, visible 9 months of the year.

The Euphorbia Tirucalli (below) has been slower to brighten due to living on the back patio under partial shade. Placed in full sun during the change of seasons, these succulents are known to turn a deep, bright orange.


Bromeliads produce anthocyanin as a natural sunblocking response.  The deep pink splotches on the neoregelia below, protect the plant’s DNA from damaging UV radiation.


The presence of red leaf margins is a good indication a succulent will undergo color changes.  The Agave guiengola is a great example of this trait!

Agave Guiengola, 12/01/12

In the Ranchero garden live some of my best loved species, acquired in crazy ways. One day, I admired a plant in a garden adjacent to a yardsale..the homeowner overheard me and gave me a little teeny (variegated green) cutting of Pedilanthus tithymaloides. Fast forward two years and this euphorbia is MUCH bigger…and seeing red…well…ok… pink, really 😉

Pedilanthus Tithymaloides Variegatus (zigzgag plant) 12/02/12

Now we’ve come full circle: this post started with a Kalanchoe and so too, ends with one ❗


K. Gastonis Bonnieri may be one of the most stunning kalanchoes, ever!  Right now, my yard has several in full bloom AND coloration.  Note how the plants along the perimeter experience the full anthocyanin response, while the more protected ones behind them do not.

For a well written, layman’s term explanation of the science behind this post, I recommend this link.

Until next time…….

🙂 🙂 🙂

28 thoughts on “When succulents see red!

    • Me, too! I think that’s why I love certain succulents so much, really.
      The christmas cacti (Schlumbergeras) fall into this category too, but alas I had no pics to share! When Maggie moved to her apt at school, they went with her.
      She says the stems have barely turned a pale pink/purple, but this is because she didnt withhold their water. The greater the stressors the deeper the red tones get or said another way, “you got to suffer to be beautiful!” (poor plants! 😉 )

    • ….and now you know!
      In summer when it’s beastly hot here, some of my aloe saponaria plants turn a sickly orange/olive color. It’s hard to believe they can rebound from such extremes, yet they do!

  1. They are irresistibly beautiful. Some of them I helped my mom plant in her garden so many years ago like the bromeliads. Brought back great memories. Thanks. Happy Holidays.

    • So nice to see a comment from you…Hello!
      Bromeliads fascinate me….there are SO many varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes. I can see why people begin collecting them. 🙂
      Thank you for the holiday wishes and back at you! 🙂

  2. Those are some happy plants. You’ve obviously taken the time to learn about them in great detail. There must be a strong connection between your knowledge and the plants’ ability to thrive. I guess I’ll stop whining now about how our plants take one look at us and lose their will to live.

    Thank you for the beautiful photos, and the accompanying information.

    • You’re very welcome. 🙂
      I’m smirking at your observation connecting a gardener’s knowledge with plant survival….my poinsettias obviously missed the memo!
      Dang things are thumbing their noses at me (or spitting chlorophyl or whatever plant life does in contempt!)

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Color | small house/BIG GARDEN
  5. Pingback: Kalanchoe Luciae coming into bloom! | small house/BIG GARDEN
  6. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday: Nov. 6, 2013 | small house/BIG GARDEN
  7. Pingback: A new growing season begins! | small house/BIG GARDEN

Comments are closed.