How to treat a Sunburned Plant: A Helpful Guide


Every year in the Spring and Summer, a lot of plants, in particular our houseplants get sunburned. This can severely affect their health. It is important to treat the sunburn and not let it get worse. To do this you’ll need to:
– Move the plant away from extended direct sunlight
– Don’t cut off sunburned leaves
– Water your plant less to prevent root rot
– Fertilize your plant less to prevent chemical burn

In this article you’ll learn about the dangers of sunburn to your plants and how to treat a plant that has been sunburned. You’ll be surprised with how easy it really is to fix a sunburned plant, there isn’t some magical process you need to follow, you just need to make a few tweaks to how you care for your plant and everything will be okay!

How do plants get sunburned?

Plants get sunburned the exact same way we do, over exposure to the sun. This is amplified on warmer days when there is higher UV levels. What actually happens is the harsh light can dry out and blister the plant. This is often more prevalent on days of low humidity as a plant ill experience more water loss and struggle to replace it.

Young plants and new growth is most susceptible to sunburn, this includes new buds, flowers and leaves. So if your plant has new growth or is only young, try to be a bit more careful on sunny days.

What does plant sunburn look like?

When a plant is sunburned the leaves will turn white, this can be the entire leaf or just patches. Although the leaves are the most common part of the plant to experience sunburn, it can happen anywhere on a plant, the stem, flowers, fruits or even exposed roots.

It is important to not that some plants are naturally more resistant to sunburn but even plants of the same species can have different tolerances to the sun due to how they have been grown. Plants which have been raised with indirect sunlight if moved into direct sunlight can be more susceptible to sunburn, so keep this in mind before you think its a good idea to put your plants outside on a nice, bright, sunny day.

How to protect plants from sunburn?

We get to use sunblock, big floppy hats and long sleeve shirts, our plants on the other hand, aren’t so lucky. Unfortunately the only way to protect your plants from sunburn is keep them from being exposed to too much sunlight. Direct sunlight, that is the light that isn’t filtered by glass or something similar, is much more harsh on plants, so keep that in mind.

If it is going to be an above average day in terms of heat and sunlight, it is a good idea to move your plants somewhere where they’ll get more shade. This will help to prevent any possible sunburn from an extended period of sunlight.

Another way to make sure your plant doesn’t get sunburned is to not water the leaves, particularly in the morning. If there is water sitting on the leaves it can actually magnify the effects of the sun and burn a plant, even on a regular day.

Can sunburn kill a plant?

Like anything which puts your plant under stress, sunburn can damage your plant to the point where it dies. It can dry out your plants and leave them without any means of photosynthesising. What can hurt plants even more however is poor aftercare following a sunburn incident.

How to fix a sunburned plant?

A plant which has been sunburned will be able to heal itself however there are some simple things you can do to make the process quicker and avoid further issues.

Honestly, all you need to do is make a few adjustments to your regular routine and your plant will be just fine.

The first thing you need to do is to move your plant into the shade. This is important for obvious reasons. You’ll be able to limit the damage and give the plant some relief from the stress induced by the harsh sunlight. This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how many growers don’t do this and they let the problem get worse and worse.

Don’t cut off the affected leaves. Often it is common practice to remove damaged leaves but in the case of sunburn it can be more helpful to leave them attached. These burned leaves act as a sunshade for your plant and can protect it from further damage which is a great reason to leave them on. Sure, they may not look great, but if it helps your plant in the long run you should definitely leave them on. The other reason to not cut off the affected leaves is that by doing this you’ll be encouraging new growth, which as explained before is more susceptible to sunburn. If your plant got sunburned recently, chances are there will be more hot and sunny days coming in the recent future, at this point you’re in damage control, so don’t make it easier for the plant to be sunburned.

Plants which have been sunburned need to be watered less frequently. This may seem counter intuitive, but yes, a sunburned plant doesn’t need as much water than a healthy one. This is because the burned areas wont require the water so less will be absorbed by the roots.
You should still keep the same watering process that you were using before, just make it less frequent, for example, if you watered every week, make it every week and a half that you water. This will ensure that you don’t overwater your plants and create more issues in the future such as root rot.

Similar to watering, you’ll need to fertilize your plant less after it has been sunburned. For the exact same reason as stated above, your plants will need less fertilizer than they did before. With less of the plant needing extra nutrients, if you bombard it with the same amount it was getting before you may find that your plant experiences root burn from the excess chemicals and decreased pH levels. You don’t want to add to the stress that your plant is in.

So now you know how to fix a plant that has been sunburned, and furthermore, you also know how to prevent it from happening in the first place. Prevention is the best cure. So get that sunburned healed and when your plant is happy and healthy again use the tips you’ve learned today to ensure that it doesn’t happen again!

Recent Posts