Food coloring is a great way to add pomp to your succulents. But how do you do it? Let’s find out how to dye succulents with food coloring!
Here’s how to dye succulents with food coloring:
- Prepare your succulent by leaving it without water for more than usual.
- Prepare a dye solution with a color of your choice.
- Water your succulent with a food coloring solution.
- Wait for the color change to take effect – up to a few weeks.
That’s basically it. Your succulent will soon be spotting some particularly charming colors – that’s if you get the process right and are patient enough.
Not to worry you, though – the specific details aren’t that complicated. It’s basically just like watering your plants the usual way but with a dye solution. We’ll get into that in a few.
Meanwhile, let’s see if it’s a good idea in the first place.
Dyeing Your Succulents With Food Coloring – Is It Safe?
Food coloring sounds like a foreign substance to your plant. So the question goes – is it a good idea to introduce the same to your plant? Can food coloring kill your plant?
Not in the slightest. Coloring is just about… color. It doesn’t have any other effect on the plant just like it doesn’t affect the taste of food because that’s how it was meant to be in the first place.
How Dyeing Succulents With Food Coloring Works
Succulents – and plants in general – take in water through the roots, use some of it to stay alive, and lose the rest when it evaporates via the leaves. Unlike most plants though, succulents usually don’t lose that much water via evaporation since they grow in water-scarce areas for the most part.
Letting go of water in such a fashion will be costly in the long run.
What happens is the succulents instead store this water in the stem and leaves which is why they appear swollen most of the time. That’s what we use to our advantage when trying to change a succulent’s color using food coloring.
The colored water gets sucked into and stored in the plant’s tissues potentially impacting how the succulent looks.
How to Dye Succulents With Food Coloring – Complete Steps
Now to the main part of our post – how do you actually dye your succulent with food coloring? I mentioned preparing your succulent and the dye. But how exactly do you go about these tasks?
Here’s a deep dive into each of the steps you should take.
Step 1: Get Your Succulent Ready
This is nothing major, and it’s not really necessary to successfully dye your succulent using food coloring. And, it’s nothing complicated either.
Basically, you just leave your succulent without water for longer than you usually would as I mentioned earlier. This ensures that the plant has spent much of its stored water which could potentially speed up the dyeing process.
There’s no fixed length of time here. But a good benchmark will be until the succulent starts showing signs of underwatering like shriveled/wrinkled leaves.
Step 2: Gather Your Materials
To color succulents you need the following besides the succulent and the food coloring:
- Measuring cup
- A tray
- A watering can
You don’t necessarily need both a tray and watering can – just one of them will do. But a tray might be the better choice for this kind of work since you can let your succulent sit long enough in the food coloring solution for maximum absorption.
Step 3: Prepare Your Dye Solution
This is pretty straightforward – grab some water, add a few drops of food coloring, and stir. The amount of water and dye will depend on the size of your succulent – the bigger the plant the more of these two you’ll need.
Of course, if you want more pronounced colors later on then you’ll need to use slightly more food coloring.
This is kind of a free area, so you’re free to experiment.
Step 4: Dye Your Succulent
When everything’s ready, you can now go ahead and get the ball rolling.
You can water your succulent with the dye solution using the conventional method, that is drenching the soil mix until water flows out through the drainage hole at the bottom.
Alternatively, you can use a tray, which is slightly better for a couple of reasons.
For starters, you can dye several plants at a go; quite handy if you’re looking to use the food coloring on more than one succulent.
Secondly, you can let the succulents stay in the dye solution for longer which allows them to take in as much as possible. Of course, longer here doesn’t mean days on end. Definitely, your plants aren’t going to appreciate that. Up to 12 hours is enough after which you can get your succulents into their normal routine.
Step 5: Wait
Now it’s time to wait for the color changes to kick in. Remember, the dyeing doesn’t take effect immediately even if you’ve considerably starved your succulent of water.
So everything from this point on is out of your control.
There aren’t any round numbers here but one to a few weeks should be enough for you to start seeing changes.
Getting Colorful Succulents – Alternatives to Dyeing
Sure, dyeing your succulents with food coloring is great if you’re looking to add some colorful cheer into your collection. But it’s by no means the only way to have beautiful hues.
Here are a few more ways you can have some pretty awesome-colored babies.
Stress Your Succulents
Yes, stressing your succulent works in getting them all cute and humming with colors. By this, I mean exposing them to more sunlight than usual or letting them deal with temperature extremes, especially during summer and winter.
Some change into a deep red like the Hens and chicks plant while others like Lithops and trailing jade turn purple under stress.
But before trying to stress your succulents, be sure to ascertain that they can handle it. For instance, not all succulents are big fans of lots of sunlight. Same goes for extreme temperature changes – some will pull through others won’t.
Mix Up Succulent Species
Succulents offer lots of options in terms of shape, color, and size. This is so much good for you since you don’t have to make do with a few available options. You can hunt around for some “not-so-normal” colors to lighten up your collection.
Here are some great colorful succulents options:
- Blue chalksticks (blue)
- Dragon’s blood (red)
- Santa Rita prickly pear (pink)
- Sunset jade (yellow)
- Blue glow agave (blue)
- Black knight (black)
- Grafted cacti (red, pink, yellow, and orange)
You can always look up numerous others either in online stores or your local plant sellers. Friends and families who are succulent enthusiasts can help too.
That’s what’s up – dyeing succulents with food coloring is pretty straightforward. You just prepare your dye solution, use it to water your plant, and give it time.
And while at it, you can consider other ways of getting more interesting colors in your succulent collection – stress due to extreme temperatures and more sunlight work well for some succulents to alter their colors.
Also, you can just grab a few more colorful species. There are more than enough of these beauties out there to add enough color to your little flora paradise.
Hello! I’m Oscar, a freelance writer from Kenya. Among other topics, I also love writing about houseplants – succulents to be specific. I prefer them because they’re so much easier to care compared to other plants and they also offer so much variety in terms of shape, size, and color.