Succulent Sunburn – What Is It And How To prevent It

All plants need light for their growth. We have learned about the whole process of photosynthesis. But is there anything like too much light. Plants like us do get a sunburn if they are exposed to too much sunlight. 

Even Succulents, which are drought-resistant plants get a sunburn if they are exposed to sunlight for long hours.

In this article, we will tell you what is a succulent sunburn, how to identify a sunburn and treatments for sunburn.

Succulent sunburn – what is it?

succulent sunburn

Succulents are plants that love sunlight, daily maybe 2-3 hours of sunlight is fine for them, but if they are exposed to long hours of full direct sunlight they get a sunburn.

Succulents normally grow in a temperature range of 60 to 90 degrees F. Overexposure of both indoor and outdoor succulents can cause sunburn to their leaves.

As you see in the above pictures, the succulents when exposed to too much light all at one time they develop blackish, brown or dark red patches on their leaves. These are irreversible.

If a succulent is exposed to the correct amount of light they will start to give beautiful coloration known as blushing.

Sunburn in succulents is due to the leaf tissues getting burned on exposure to high-intensity light or UV rays. This scars your succulent for life.

So next time you plan to give your succulents a sunbath don’t let them hang for too long.

Indoor succulents

Indoor succulents are not prone to that much sunburn, as we mostly keep them in partial sunlight. This doesn’t mean that indoor succulents won’t get sunburnt at all.

If you have them placed near a window, which gets a full blast of sunlight. That much exposure will sunburn your succulents.

Pot bound succulents can get sunburn quickly as the water in the potting soil can dry up quickly and the pots also absorb heat (imagine as you are inside an oven, there is heat coming from all directions).

So if you have them near a window on a hot day go quickly and move it to the shaded area.

Outdoor Succulents

Now, these succulents are on constant exposure to sunlight and succulents will give you signs if they are unhappy.

The fact is the ground-bound succulents will not get sunburn easily, as the ground stays relatively cool when compared to a pot.

This doesn’t mean you can plant the succulents in a high sunlit area, they can tolerate light and temperature to an extent like us.

It is wise to plant succulents in a semi-shaded area always.

Otherwise, you can also opt for heat-tolerant succulents.

How much is too much?

Different succulents need different temperatures and sunlight (know your succulents). Some succulents can tolerate high sun exposure, but that doesn’t mean you should directly place them in full sun as soon as possible. We slowly expose them to the sun, starting by keeping them in shade sun and then slowly moving them to full sun.

Succulents can show develop brilliant colors on exposure to sunlight.

Mostly they like a temperature range of 60 to 90 degree F. The best thing to do is to keep them in partial shade.

Identifying Sunburn

So how do we identify that a succulent has sunburn? They are plants that give signs when they are unhappy. Below are some signs that will help you identify a succulent sunburn.

  1. Discolored patches – sunburned succulents can develop certain discolorations on the leaves.
  2. Patches of brown, blackish or reddish colors near the tip of the leaves.
  3. If it’s lightly burned then white patches start to appear.
  4. Brown means sunburn is severe.
  5. Otherwise black will start at the outside edge and then finally the leaves dry up.
  6. For those shaded succulents or indoor succulents, the indication of sunburn has a golden or yellow coloration.

How to prevent sunburn?

If the succulent has the white patch which means it’s starting to get burned there is hope that it can be still brought back to the green plump state. To undo the beginning stages of sunburn follow these steps.

  1. Move the plant to a shaded area.
  2. Water it immediately to prevent extra dryness. Also for out succulents make sure to water your succulents during the morning or evening hours when the temperature will be relatively lower. This prevents the stressing of succulents and rotting.
  3. If the plant is indoor move it away from the window or covers the window so that only partial light passes through it like with a sheer curtain.
  4. Place your plant below or under the shade of another plant.
  5. For outdoors shade net can be used

If you follow these tips in a few days you should be able to see you succulent regaining its color back.

Some small tips to help indoor succulents from sunburn is shown here

Now if your succulents are severely sunburned also you can do the above steps, but the one difference is that the coloration due to sunburn won’t disappear but the succulent would have new growth from center.

If your succulents are totally dried up there is nothing that can be done but to say goodbye.

acclimatize the succulents

Sometimes, your succulents can get a sunburn if they are being moved from a shaded area to a sunny area suddenly. This is because the succulent get shocked as they are not adapted to the extreme light. This can scar your succulents with brown or whitish patches of sunburn.

The main reasons —- if you’re buying a succulent from a nursery where it has been under a shade net all its life and then you are bringing it home and placing it suddenly in full sun or you are rearranging your indoor succulent display by moving it from shaded corner to a full sun window.

In these cases, the solution is to acclimate the succulent or gently adapt the succulent to sunlight. For this

  • When you get your succulent from the nursery observe how they have grown in —full sun or partial sun.
  • After potting place the succulent in the indirect sun for at least 7 days.
  • Then slowly place it in direct sunlight for a short duration of time (20 to 30 minutes) daily.
  • Gradually increase the duration of daily sunlight each week for example if the first week it’s in 30 minutes full sun keep for 1 hour the next week.
  • If you see blushing colors come that means your succulents are ready for the sun.

Use of shade nets

Even if we acclimate our succulents and keep them in full sun the summer heat can be very intense these days, which might be too much for your succulents to handle. In this case, the best solution from sunburn prevention is to get a shade net.

Shade nets are great as they filter the light passing through them. Shade nets are designed so as to filter out UV rays and prevents overheating by permitting only some sunlight.

Shade nets come in a variety of sizes and colors. They are easy to set up and it’s good not only for your succulents but also for your other plants in the summer heat.

Shade cloths come in various densities that offer various ranges of shade. If you are in a hotter climate then higher density shade cloth might be best suited for you. Shade cloth can provide 35 to 70% shade for your plants.

Shade nets are made from knitted plastic which offers resistance to tearing, decay or fungi. Benefits of shade net are

  • Lowers the temperature inside as it reflects the sunlight
  • Regulate UV light so plants are not exposed to direct sunlight
  • Lower the humidity rate
  • Air circulation there as it has small holes that permit passage of air

Five of the best shade net option available in amazon are

Harvest 70% Green Sunblock Shade Cloth

  • It offers UV protection
  • Comes with different size options
  • Grommets are available for easy installation
  • Made with a high-density polymer to provide long life and durability

NKTM 50%-60% Sunblock Shade Cloth

  • The shade cloths come in three different size options
  • Provided with grommets on each corner for ease of installation
  • It is made of a high-density polymer which makes it more durable and offers long life

40% Black 6.5’x10′ Sun Mesh Shade Sunblock Shade

  • It is lightweight and durably made with high-density polymer
  • Offers 40 % shade perfect for your garden
  • It doesn’t come with edges fitted with grommets

E.share 40% UV Shade Cloth Black Premium Mesh

  • Comes in more than five size options
  • It prevents UV ray
  • It’s also made with high-density polyethylene which offers lightweight and durability.
  • The edges are fitted with grommets which help in easy installation to the frame.

50% Sunblock Shade Cloth Net Black UV Resistant

  • It offers protection from UV rays
  • Provide about 40 to 50 % shade from sunlight
  • The edges contain grommet, so can be tied easily to shade structure
  • Comes in two size options

So now you would get a general idea about shade nets and how they can be used to prevent succulent sunburn.


One important thing you need to keep in mind is ‘different succulent have different requirements’. When you are buying or have a succulent find out some details about it like will it survive high temperature, does it need long hours of sun, how much water is required, etc? Know the plant in your hand.

Look for signs of stress in your plant, keep a close watch over your plants during hot summers. Meticulously place your succulent in part of your garden where the sun exposure is different throughout the day.

Extreme heat is taunting for the succulents even though they are drought tolerant. Sunburn can be prevented before it destroys the succulent by taking a few cautionary steps.

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