Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that do not thrive in cold, rainy climates. So it stands to reason that they would thrive in full sun on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, this is not entirely correct. Succulents benefit from direct sunlight, but too much of a good thing can be hazardous.
If you’ve ever taken your succulent collection outside to get some sunshine and either left them out for too long or positioned them in an area that receives full sun all day, you might find that they’ve become sunburned.
It’s upsetting to realize that your prized plants have received too much sunlight, but is there anything you can do about it? This is determined by the intensity of the burn. Serious sunburn can endanger your plant’s life, although lesser burns may only be ugly. Before selecting what to do with your damaged succulents, it’s critical to understand the symptoms of sunburn.
Related: How Often do Succulents Need Sun?
Sunburn Signs and Symptoms
Succulents that have been sunburned will develop discolored areas on their leaves. If only a portion of the plant was exposed to the light, only certain areas may be sunburned. The patches may be tan, brown, or black in color, depending on the degree of the burn. The darker the discolouration, the more severe the injury.
The texture of the discolored spots on the leaves may differ from the texture of the healthy regions of the leaf. If the plant’s leaves are generally smooth, you may notice that the burned regions are rough. Minor burns may cause little to no texture change, while severe burns will change the surface of a leaf from silky smooth to rough and scarred.
The intensity of the burns will determine whether or not your succulent lives. If your plant has simply been exposed to too much sunlight for a day or two, it may be alright. If you left your plants in direct sunlight over the weekend, the outcome may be less favorable.
The discolored regions on your succulent leaves have been damaged to the point where they are no longer capable of photosynthesis. The unburned regions of the leaves will still be capable of photosynthesis, thus your plant may or may not be fine depending on the severity of the burns.
Succulent Sunburn Treatment.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to heal the sun’s damage to your succulents. Plants can not heal from sunburn in the same manner that humans do, so any discolored patches on your plant are permanent.
While there is no cure for sunburn, there are a few ways for dealing with sunburned leaves. The first step is to remove the plant’s damaged portions. Because many succulents can be propagated from leaf cuttings, you may be able to grow new succulents from the damaged leaves.
Another approach is to let the plant grow on its own. The old burned leaves will gradually shrivel up and fall off as your succulent grows and produces new leaves. If you’re not in a hurry to get rid of the unattractive leaves, you can simply let nature do its thing. The plant will eventually develop enough new growth that the injured areas will fall off and there will be no indication of sunburn.
Related: Which Succulents Like Full Sun?
Avoiding Sunburned Succulents
Many succulents can flourish in full sun, but they must be given the opportunity to adapt. Instead of moving your plant from its inside perch near the window to full sun on the patio, gradually introduce it to greater amounts of light over a two-week period.
Consider placing your succulents in full sun for a few hours at a time during this introductory period, gradually increasing the duration in the sun every few days. After the plants have had their fill of sunlight for the day, relocate them to a shaded location. If moving the plants isn’t an option, consider covering them with a shade cloth. Moving or covering your plants during the warmest portion of the day will help keep them from being sunburned.
When exposing your succulent to additional sunshine, you need also consider a few other environmental considerations. Plants are more susceptible to sunburn in hot weather because they dry out faster. The lack of water produced by greater temperatures just makes the plant more delicate and prone to burning.
Succulents grown in pots are more likely to dry out than succulents grown on the ground. Succulents that are planted in the ground benefit from the naturally cooler temperatures underground. Containers quickly heat up, especially in direct sunlight, increasing the rate of evaporation. Although you should still water your succulents just when the soil is dry, they may require more regular watering during hot weather, especially if they’re in containers.
Water your succulents in the morning or evening when temps are cooler to protect them from drying out so rapidly. This allows the plant to absorb as much water as possible without having to worry about the water evaporating before it has had its fill. You’ll also be able to avoid the mistake of watering your plant with water from a sun-heated hose or watering container. Hot water can scald your plants’ foliage as well as their roots.
Although sunburn is a significant condition that can result in lasting damage, it’s crucial to recognize that a little solar stress might benefit your succulents. Stress can cause your succulents’ colors to deepen or even change completely. Your garden can seem more vivid than ever with a little stress!
Don’t be too dismayed if you overstressed your plants or accidentally exposed them to too much sunlight. Succulent care isn’t always easy, and you may have to learn the hard way. You may not be able to save sunburned succulents, but you can learn from the experience and be better prepared to avoid sunburn in the future.