Help for Sunburned Plants: Tips from Fort Bend County Master Gardeners
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Help for Sunburned Plants: Tips from Fort Bend County Master Gardeners

August 22 2023

Did you know that plants can get sunburned, too? Both indoor and outdoor plants can be susceptible to sunburn or sunscald. The Fort Bend Count Master Gardeners have several useful tips and techniques to help you identify, treat and avoid sunburn for your indoor and outdoor plants.

Plant conditions which may contribute can be insufficient moisture or nutrient, improper watering practices, extremely high temperature, moving plant suddenly without giving it time to harden properly and unchecked pests or disease resulting in loss of foliage. Light exposure for a plant can change when harvesting of flowers or vegetables resulting in excess foliage removal, heavy pruning increases sun exposure to branches and trunk, or removal of neighboring trees or buildings resulting in removal of shade.

Indoor house plants can benefit from a different exposure, but be careful! If an indoor plant is moved to a new indoor location near a door or window, the sunlight may prism or magnify in this new location and cause sunburn to your plant. This can happen when moving from window to window, shady to more sunlight, etc. You may be able to remedy this by adding a thin sheer to the window or providing a shielding plant that is used to this sun exposure.

If an indoor plant is moved to an outdoor environment to enjoy some fresh air, be careful that aside from the difference in temperature, the outdoor environment can be drastically different than indoors. For example, the wind speed and direction, as well as total light exposure throughout the day, can play a large role in the way your plant will be affected in its new environment.

Plant quality, location and routine care I'll help avoid sunburn or scold. To protect your indoor and outdoor plants, purchase quality plants are healthy and do not already show signs of stress. Frequent your local, reputable growers, avoiding plants grown in a greenhouse in a different USDA hardiness zone. Be sure to plant in the correct location that is conducive to the plant. Be sure plants are hardened off before moving location. Water, fertilize and monitor properly for the plant type. Use proper harvesting techniques, and avoid leaving younger growth exposed. Shade cloth or trellis can provide shade in areas of direct sunlight, and wind or heavy rain damage can expose previously shaded growth.

Do you have questions about your home landscape and plants? Contact the Fort Bend County Master Gardener Help Desk by email at or by phone at 281-341-7068. The Help Desk is manned Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Source: FBCMG

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