If the plants are exposed to too much direct sunlight, succulents can seem sunburned.
When a succulent is exposed to light, the burns often appear as brown, yellow, or red blotches on the leaves and stems.
On either side of this leaf’s upper edge, where it was exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time, you can discern brown scorched regions.
The stem end of succulent, fleshy leaves that have spent the entire day outside without shade or moisture protection may also develop this coloring.
This causes a burn mark to form unevenly, and because it occurs on both sides of the upper edge of the leaf, towards the end of the stem, and around the margins, it frequently appears larger than it actually is.
Succulents that are not in direct sunlight will get yellow sunburns.
On plants, these burns appear as mottling and discoloration. It can happen to plants that are close to fences or other plants and is brought on by the leaves spending a prolonged amount of time in the sun.
Where it was exposed to the sun for a long time, the stem end of a succulent leaf may also have a red sunburn.
Common Signs of Sunburned Succulents
Indicators of a burnt succulent include:
- Brown marks
- leaf drop or wilting in the affected area
- wilted leaves
- leaves with a hint of yellow
- yellow sunburns
- Near the leaf’s stem end, there are red sunburns.
- Roots in potting soil that are dry and brittle
- soil that has been damaged or dried out near a sun-exposed region.
It’s important to recognize this soon so you can take care of your succulent plant before it worsens and dies.
How are burned succulents repaired?
There is still time to repair the damage if you find your succulent before it turns yellowish. Put it in a shaded area for 3 to 7 days, and if the soil is dry, water it right away. Before exposing them to direct sunlight, the white spots should be less noticeable or completely gone.
Brown marks on the succulent indicate extensive damage. Don’t discard the plant! The harm will need to heal on its own.
Will succulents with sunburns recover?
You are unable to undo the harm the light has done to your succulents, which is unfortunate. Any discolored patches you notice on your plant are permanent since plants cannot heal from sunburn the way humans can.
There are a few solutions for handling sunburned leaves, but there is no cure for sunburn. The initial step is to remove the plant’s damaged areas. You might be able to grow new succulents from the damaged leaves since many succulents can be propagated from leaf cuttings.
Allowing the plant to grow is another choice. The old burned leaves on your succulent will ultimately shrivel up and fall off as it grows and develops new leaves. If you don’t have to get rid of the unattractive leaves right away, you can just let nature take its course. The plant will eventually produce enough new growth for the sunburned areas to eventually fall off and be completely covered.
Why do the leaves on my succulent look burned?
Sunburn or sun damage is the most frequent cause of brown leaves on succulent plants. When you observe brown spots on your plants’ leaves after moving them to a bright place or after a heatwave or other period of extreme heat, these patches are the equivalent of sunburn.
Brown spots from sunburn do not actually injure the plant, but they do leave a permanent mark on the leaves, which is unsightly but not harmful. The leaves will ultimately fall off as new growth appears, but these spots won’t fade away. More sensitive to sunlight than mature plants are little baby plants or newly produced plants.
If you notice that the plant is getting burnt, move it to a more shaded area or give it some shade. If you intend to leave your plant in a position that receives direct sunlight all day, acclimate it to the heat by gradually increasing its sun exposure. Remember that during a severe heatwave, even a mature plant that has become accustomed to full sun might still get burnt.
When a severe heatwave is predicted, move the plant or offer shade to avoid this from happening. Never leave young plants, plants without roots, or leaves that you are propagating outside in the direct light. Always give protection from the sun to prevent them from becoming completely cooked.
While solar damage is the most frequent cause of dark leaves on succulent plants, there are generally additional factors at play. While the majority of them may be resolved quickly and easily, some are trickier to resolve than others.
Can Succulents Get Too Much Sun?
Photosynthesis requires sunlight. All plants, even succulents, require the process of photosynthesis, which is pronounced FO-to-SIN-thuh-sis. The scorched tissue on a succulent’s leaves, however, prevents it from photosynthesis. Your succulents may suffer permanent damage or possibly die from too much sun.
Succulents do adore the sun, and many of them can tolerate some direct sunlight during the day. Additionally, they thrive in warm conditions of 80 degrees (27C) or above. However, if you combine the two—direct sun on a day that is at least 80 degrees—your succulents could experience problems. Just as you would feel OK sitting in the sun for an hour at 21 degrees Celsius (70), but you’d have to seek cover after 15 minutes at 80, (27C).
Your skin or a succulent will be burned by UV rays and the strength of the sun, not by heat. You both have higher core temperatures and water loss as a result of the increased heat, making you both more vulnerable to physical harm, including sunburn.
Early Signs of Succulent Sunburn
A succulent will become stressed if it is exposed to too much sunlight. The succulent may be able to adjust to the additional heat and light by creating vibrantly colored pigments if this stress is introduced to it gradually. It will get sunburned though if the extra light is too much all at once. On the leaves, discolored areas will start to appear. These blotches typically cover the top of the leaf and are light beige, tan, brown, or black in color. They have a rough roughness in contrast to the leaf’s smoothness. These blotches are made out of sunburned leaf skin tissue.
Scars appear on a burnt succulent. Where they develop, the dark, discolored areas on the leaves are persistent. A closer inspection of the image above reveals that some of the leaves still have a faint beige hue at the base of the black. The texture is still smooth, and the leaf almost seems to have a gloss. This is the initial indication of a succulent sunburn, which is still treatable at that point. The results are not as unattractive, and the leaf will recover quickly if you catch it at that point and provide shade right away before the full scarring happens.
The Echeveria seen above was exposed to the sun until the actual succulent sunburn’s dark patches appeared. Despite considerable damage and scarring, the plant is still in good general health. Most of the harm is aesthetic. The scorched leaves are still standing. In the green parts, they can still photosynthesise. Additionally, each can still communicate nutrients and moisture through its cells. The burned leaves will ultimately fall off when the plant naturally sheds the older foliage as it grows outward from the center over time. As an alternative, you could take off the damaged leaves right away for further growth. The likelihood that the leaf will root and grow a new plant offspring is unaffected by this level of sunburn.
Prompt Action is ImportantSunburn Progresses
It’s crucial to act quickly when succulent sunburn first appears. When your succulent starts to burn, don’t keep it in the same spot—it will continue to burn and get worse. Only a few leaves would be damaged on the Echeveria in the picture above if it had been quickly relocated into some shade, but the plant would still be in good health. More than half of the leaves in the second photograph have severe scarring and are no longer able to perform photosynthesis. However, you can tell that the plant still has a lot of energy to devote to healing or reproduction from how vibrant the green leaves are. The scarred leaves are severely wrinkled and starting to crumble by the third photograph. You’ll also see that the plant’s vitality and health are declining as the green leaves turn more grey.
Take steps to safeguard your succulents if you see them starting to burn; otherwise, the damage will get worse.
Individual plants and various species of succulents will react differently to intense heat and sunlight. The majority of the leaves on the Echeveria on the front left and right both have significant sunburn. The Echeveria may outgrow its scarred leaves if the container is placed into greater shade, or they can be utilized to generate other plants. There is a lot of carotenoid production from the Sempervivum in the middle. Carotenoid (Kair-AH-ten-oid) is a yellow, red, or orange fat that has entirely lost all of its color as it tries to adapt to the environment. And the burning of the leaves has only begun. This plant will quickly regreen if provided prompt shade. Not even stressed is the Echeveria on the back right.
Sun Damaged Succulents
Aloe and agave are two succulents that can withstand the intense summer sun. As the summer temperatures rise, other types, such as Sempervivum and Aeonium, are more likely to struggle. But it’s crucial to maintain a close eye on your entire collection.
This Sempervivum has been severely burned by succulent sunburn, and many of the leaves are dead. However, some of the puppies and healthy leaves are still present. The baby succulents that emerge at the base are known as succulent pups, and they still seem to be in good health. The puppies don’t appear to have any scars, despite the fact that their hue indicates that they are plainly under stress. If shade is promptly given, they should joyfully take root, develop, and mature, and it is likely that the mother plant will live to propagate further. The Echeveria is under some stress, although it has not yet been harmed.
Succulent Sunburn Can Be Deadly
Tragically, sunburn can be fatal. I think this Sempervivum would have died completely if it had spent even one more day in the direct light. It will fight valiantly to survive as it is. The center’s newest leaves do appear to be healthy. The majority of the damaged leaves have collapsed, rendering them incapable of photosynthesizing or transmitting moisture or nutrients. The plant might be able to survive on some of its lower, still-green leaves while it grows new top growth. But if the destruction had continued for another day, it would have been impossible.
Succulents require varying amounts of sunshine. But be cautious when shifting even a succulent that enjoys sunlight quickly from a shaded growing area to greater sunlight. It is well worth the time to let them gradually get used to the proper level of light. Read my post on etiolated succulents and the cues they provide regarding light exposure for guidance on determining when your succulents need more or less light.
Once you’ve chosen the ideal location for your succulent, you must keep an eye on it all year long. A plant that enjoys full sun in the early spring may suffer in the same location in the summer. With some of the aforementioned photographs, that is what took place. I wish I had a better understanding of the science and mechanisms underlying succulent sunburn so I could explain it to you more clearly. For now, suffice it to say that when temperatures rise, the sun’s intensity rises as well. And this could end up killing your succulent plants.
Protect Your Succulent from Sunburn Like the Pros Do
The easiest option to shield your succulents from harm caused by excessive heat and/or sunlight is to use shade fabric.
Shade cloth is a unique material made to shield plants from sun harm while still allowing some light to get through. In addition to blocking a substantial amount of UV rays, it guards against heat buildup in the tissues of the plants. To keep their plants looking their best for sales, professional succulent growers generally grow their plants under shade cloth. While this method definitely works to increase sales, a careless succulent grower can take a succulent that has been well-sheltered and place it in the sun, which would cause the plant to become fried or collapse. Succulents should always be exposed to increased light gradually. And suppose that shade cloth was heavily used to protect the plant you just bought. Give it plenty of bright shade in your garden before easing it into more light. Every two to three days, add just a half-hour more light, and pay close attention to the plant for signals that it needs more or less light.
Although I don’t cover all of my succulents with shade cloth constantly throughout the year, many people do. I would rather see them become more resistant to environmental hardship. But I do set up shade cloth structures for them in the summer heat. And I wholeheartedly urge anyone who gardens in scorching temperatures or in arid regions to utilize shade cloth all year long. Use shade cloth if you’re not sure if your succulents require more sun. It is the simplest approach to match succulents’ year-round requirement for sunlight with their protection from sun harm. Additionally, it gives you a lot more alternatives for how to expose different types of plants to light in your garden.
Shade fabric is available in a variety of hues and densities, ranging from 5 to 95 percent shade. The density should not be confused with the colors. While some black shade fabric only blocks 40% of the sun, some white shade cloth blocks 60% of it. Because they are cooler for my plants and the colors make more sense to me in the garden, I like white, pale beige, or tan. However, every shade cloth blocks UV radiation and offers shade that is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the temperature in direct sunlight. You should choose your shade cloth based on density before deciding on a color that you like. Depending on your environment, choose a shade cloth that offers at least 35 percent shade and up to 70 percent shade. In hotter regions, use a higher density.
In addition to being extremely durable against UV rays, water, and wind damage, shade cloth also lasts for many years of continuous usage.
Use Shade Cloth to Protect Against Succulent Sunburn
I have rigged my various shade cloth constructions utilizing 22-, 24-, and PVC-pipe frames (not all in the same structure). My succulent plants prefer morning sunlight with cooling shade throughout the warmest part of the day. By doing this, I can benefit from some vibrant stress reactions while protecting my plants from sunburn and overheating. Additionally, you can build a straightforward shelter to protect underground plants from sunburn.
Use whatever suits you best, even though I favor shade cloth for its simplicity and adaptability. Some individuals shade their plants with an umbrella, while others use cut branches laid on the ground as a rustic alternative. Just be sure to provide shade for your succulents during the sweltering summer afternoons to prevent scorched, damaged succulents.
How to Water Succulents in Summer
Even in the sweltering summer, succulents require proper irrigation. Avoid the temptation to water your succulents before the soil is completely dry. But compared to the cooler months, your succulents are probably going to use water more quickly in the summer. They require moisture, but the water will also aid to chill their roots.
In the cool of the morning or the evening, water your succulent plants. By doing this, you can reduce the chance of accidentally administering hot water that could scald or even cook the roots. In comparison to plants grown in containers, plants grown in the ground will not experience as much root heat stress. They are well insulated in the ground thanks to the surrounding dirt. In pots, the heat is transferred to the limited amount of soil within by the container itself. No place exists where the heat can escape. Even though I’m careful not to water my plants during the hottest part of the day, I do occasionally wash the pots to help them chill down a bit.
Summer Care for Succulents
Succulent summer care turns out to be very similar to what we do for ourselves, our children, and our pets; we all need to drink plenty of water and spend as little time in the sun as possible.
So how are your succulents doing this scorching summer so far? Please tell me how you take care of your succulents in this heat in a moment. And do let me know if you have any questions! I’m happy to assist!
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P.P.S. Would you consider joining my Facebook group for cactus lovers? We discuss the maintenance, growth, id, and design of succulents. They’re a friendly bunch who would love to meet you!