Plants need light to survive and to create the sugars that keep them alive. But some plants like the light more than others! What happens if a plant gets too much sunlight? Well, this can be almost as bad as not getting any at all. Let’s look into this in a little more detail.
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What Happens If A Plant Gets Too Much Sunlight?
Plants absorb the sunlight using Chlorophyll and Carotenoid, two things that help them transform the sun’s energy into the energy that helps them survive.
However, too much sunlight can damage the plant, in some cases irreparably. Excessive sunlight is almost as bad as not enough!
Plants will give you a few unmistakable signs that they are unhappy with the amount of light they are receiving:
- Leaf burn. This is generally shown in brown, crispy patches on the plant’s leaves, which might not drop off as a dead leaf usually would.
- Yellowing. The leaves will start to turn yellow while the veins remain green – the leaves will eventually drop off.
- Stress. A stressed plant is easy to spot – the leaves yellow and drop off, and the stems start to wilt and die.
- Scorched leaves. Much like humans, plants can actually “burn” in the sun. Watch out for those telltale burnt leaf patches.
- Disease. A stressed plant is far more susceptible to infections and diseases, so if your plant is showing signs of fungus or mold, it may time to reevaluate your light conditions.
- Pests. Plants which are not at their healthiest are far more likely to succumb to a creepy crawly invasion, so keep their light requirements right!
This article explains the plants’ defense mechanism against too much direct sunlight.
What Should You Do If A Plant Is Exposed To Too Much Sunlight?
Some plants cope better with the direct sun than others – some species will keel over and die, while others can recover.
If your sun-sensitive plant has been exposed to too much sunlight, they will need immediate shade -either move them indoors or cover them with a fabric sunscreen.
A sun-tolerant plant will fare better, but after excessive sun exposure you should still move it or cover it so it can have a break.
Once you have moved or covered your plant, it’s time for some damage control! You should trim dead or scorched leaves, to give the plant the best chance of survival.
Give it a good watering to help it overcome the effects of too much sunlight, and to give it a fighting chance or survival.
Spread some mulch over the soil. This will help to retain the moisture in the soil, as well as offering some sun protection to the roots.
Once you have rescued your plant from too much sun, proceed with caution. It will already be sensitive, so may need a little acclimatizing.
Keep a good eye on it in the future, and make sure it doesn’t have to go through the same stress again – you might not get as lucky the second time around.
This video shows you what you can do if you accidentally burn your plants:
Does A Plant Get Burned If It Gets Too Much Sunlight?
In short, the answer is yes. Plants, like people, can get burned in the sun – but plants don’t turn pink and complain as we do!
A burnt plant is a sorry sight; it will droop and develop brown patches, and it may even give up the ghost altogether.
The only way to save your plant is to remove it from the sun and take preventative measures.
Interestingly, it is only the light from the sun that causes these issues – even the most intense grow light probably won’t burn your plants.
Too much light from a grow lamp can impede the growth of your plants and cause them to look a little sickly, but the leaves won’t be burnt in the way that the sun burns them.
What Do Sun Scorched Leaves Look Like?
Sun scorched leaves are a sorry sight, to be sure. Plants aren’t as dramatic with their sunburn coloring as people are, but leaf burn is unmistakable!
Leaves will develop yellow or brown patches, as the plant tries to save itself by withdrawing support for damaged leaves.
The leaves will look yellow, although the veins will retain their green color. This is not only unsightly, but a sign that a plant is unhappy.
Dry, crispy patches will appear on the leaves – these areas are now dead, and will not revive.
Once you have removed your plant from the direct sun, you will have to trim off the sunburnt leaves – these are now no longer supporting the plant.
Keeping your plants healthy and happy includes keeping them out of burning sun – after all, plants cannot wear sunscreen!
How Long Should Plants Be In Full Sun?
The answer to this question is entirely dependent on which type of plant you are trying to grow.
Some plants like a full sun position for the whole of the day; others can only cope with a couple of hours of indirect light.
You will have to work out your plants’ individual requirements before you decide where to put them, and how much sunlight they should get.
Even the most sun worshipping among your plants should only get around 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Plants need time to rest and recover from exposure to the sun, just as we people do! 6 hours a day is plenty.
Of course, there are some plants that should NEVER be in full sun – this is why it is important to research your plants thoroughly.
Without sunlight, a plant will not thrive and will eventually die. With too much sunlight, exactly the same can happen!
What to do if your plant is exposed to too much light, and how much light they should typically have, is definitely something to be aware of as a gardener.