Posted on December 19 2014
The “Super Hero of Color Stress” Euphorbia tirucalli variety ‘Firesticks’ a.k.a. ‘Sticks on Fire’
An easy to grow succulent for areas that stay above freezing, ‘Firesticks’ is colorful all year but come the winter stress period it explodes like no other. It will glow almost fluorescent in shades of pink, coral, green, red and orange. Be sure to check out the video!
Article written by Bob Reidmuller, Altman Plants
Published as part of the Altman Plants Monthly newsletter January 2015
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When stress is a good thing………… really!
Stress from the inside can manifest itself in a number of ways. Ever see someone so stressed to the point of anger that their complexion can change to a bright red or even a scarier kind of purple? Not a good sign for sure. Stress from the outside is usually less frightening and far more common. If you’ve ever spent any part of your life growing up in a cold, fall and winter area of the country, or even another country, one of the telltale signs of temperature stress is a reddening of the skin, most notably “rosy cheeks”. It is temporary and endearing, often considered a sign of looking healthy (and “cute” to your Grandma!).
Succulents have an incredible palette of colors and textures, and in areas of the country where the night time temperatures begin to fall into the 40’s and even near freezing, many of them begin to “stress” and the results can be “rosy cheeks” the likes of which nobody’s Grandmother ever saw! Along with temperature drop, lack of water, and even excessive temperatures during the other half of the year, all of these conditions cause an intensifying of colors for many types of succulents.
Some of the more notable “chameleons” affected by this stress are many aloes, echeverias, crassulas and kalanchoes. Varying from genus to genus the color changes can run the gamut from a pink blush through scarlet and ruby red. Others, especially in the echeverias and kalanchoes may take on pinks and reds as well as shades of pale lavender through vivid plum and purples.
This isn't a problem, just the sign of a seasonal change when many of the succulent family are starting a brief dormancy period and it is a time to enjoy this unusual natural kaleidoscope that just sort of appears out of nowhere, and will leave again as the temperatures begin to warm again in the spring. Just be aware that because of this dormant period, succulents will need less water than during their active growth period so be sure to hold back a bit.