Plant Health Check: Leaf Scorch

Photo of a plant with leaf scorch

Have you noticed the top of your plant’s leaves turning a paler color or white? This is sunburn damage. Combine this with drought conditions and it speeds up the damage to the plant. Many of the plants that are living in full sunlight (exposure to direct sun for 6+ hours per day) are experiencing some degree of sunburn damage this year.

How to identify sunburn. Look at the bottom side of the leaves that have discoloration on the top. If the underside is still normal looking, then it is sunburned. Look at the leaves on a plant that are not directly exposed to the sun (those shaded at the bottom of the plant). If the topside of these leaves look normal then your plant is sunburned, not suffering from a fungal infection. The leaves will may become dry and brittle with holes eventually appearing in the leaf.

Photo of a plant with leaf scorch

How can we help our plants?

• If the plant is in a container move it to a shaded spot which will prevent further sunburn damage.

• For plants that cannot be moved then make sure the plant is receiving enough water. Soak the soil at the base of the plant thoroughly.

• Make sure there is a thick layer of mulch to help retain water.

• Once leaves are damaged, they will not return to their normal look. You can allow them to fall off naturally, or prune the plant. This will cause the plant to grow new leaves to replace the burned ones.

Cooler weather will arrive again as August turns into September and then October. Thankfully, not all of our summers are as intense as this current one.

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