How to Save Sunburned Plants

Sherin Woods is a California-based DIY enthusiast and garden design aficionado. With a background in Environmental Science, she combines creativity and sustainability in all her projects. A Pinterest favorite, Sherin is committed to eco-friendly solutions and has contributed to various home and garden publications. Her areas of expertise include DIY project planning, sustainable garden design, and content creation.
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Too much exposure to harsh light can scorch the leaves of the plants. If you too have experienced this, here’s a guide on How to Save Sunburned Plants.

How to Save Sunburned Plants

Long exposure to direct sunlight can cause scorching or burning of the leaves, turning them yellow and brown. This can happen in late spring or summer when plants accustomed to lesser light feel the heat of the warmer months. You should immediately adopt some cultural habits that can help you learn How to Save Sunburned Plants from irreconcilable damage or death!

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What Do Sunburned Plants Look Like?


When you notice the leaves turn brown or yellow, know that it is the only sign of sun scalding. When the plant is exposed to harsh sunlight for a longer duration of time, it causes tissue damage to the exposed outer layer of the foliage, making them turn brown. It may even cause the stems to burn up in tender plants. 

This can also happen to low-light plants that are suddenly exposed to more light than they need. Sun damage can also happen to heat-loving plants, if they are constantly exposed to the harsh afternoon sun, especially during an unexpected, prolonged heatwave. 

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Can You Save Sunburned Plants?

Sunburn is much easier to prevent than to cure. Once the leaves are fully damaged, you can do nothing but snip them away and give support and care to the plant for the new growth.

The best way to promote sun-resistant leaf growth and prevent sunburn damage is slowly acclimation to bright sun, called Hardening Off. It is a process that can take about 10-14 days, after which your plant should again be ready to face the sun.

How to Save Sunburned Plants

  1. First, cut off the damaged leaves as they won’t heal or return to being green and full of life, ever. 
  2. Immediately shift the plant to a shadier spot, away from any direct sunlight to prevent any further damage. You can gradually move it back to its sunnier place, which does not get harsh afternoon sunlight for long hours.

Tip: Consider adding a sheer curtain near the plant to block direct sunlight while giving it the dappled light it needs to grow.

3. If your plant lost too many leaves due to sunburn, it won’t need much watering like before. So, only water when the topsoil dries out.

4. It would help if you also cut down on fertilizing your plant after losing most leaves due to sunburn. It is best advised to stick to your original schedule but ensure the amount of fertilizer is reduced to half. When the new leaves begin to appear, you can gradually increase the dose. 

Some Additional Tips 

  • For garden plants, it is a good idea to spray water on the foliage in the afternoon to keep the leaves cool, especially if they are directly exposed to the harsh sun. It will also keep the plant safe from burning its leaves.
  • If your plant is growing in a shaded or dappled area, never change its location directly to a bright, sunlit spot, as it will result in burnt leaves. Slowly acclimate it to more light, in the gap of 5-7 days, to make it used to the increased sun exposure.

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