How To Prevent Sunburned Plant Leaves!
This past weekend we had what I’ll call “a whole lotta weather”. It was 84 and then it was 35 and there was a little bit of rain and a lot of clouds and a whole lot of sun. So, there was at least 2 seasons worth of weather in one weekend!
It’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve planted the majority of my vegetable seedlings in my various gardens. I didn’t plant them as seeds, I bought them from my local nursery as seedlings and planted them in my garden a couple of weeks ago. The weather has been a pretty nice 65 – 72 degrees, except for the weekend, of course.
After this weekend of “a whole lotta weather”, I noticed that my cherry tomato plants, that I have in a planter on the front porch, had leaves that looked like someone had spray-painted them with gold paint and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.
Sunburned Cherry Tomato Leaves
I asked my neighbor if they knew, because, as I’ve told you before they can throw anything in their yard it will grow. They thought that it was mud and dirt on the vegetable leaves due to the “world of weather” we had. But, it wasn’t until I started seeing several leaves on other plants kind of doing the same sort of thing that I decided to take some pictures and look it up online.
Apparently many of my vegetable and herb plants got sunburned! Who knew?! Well… Google… lol Apparently that happens when you put seedlings out and they haven’t had time to harden off. What that means is when you put the seedlings out there still just babies and they haven’t really had time to adjust to any kind of weathering.
According to Wikipedia:
Plants vary a lot in their tolerance of growing conditions. The selective breeding of varieties capable of withstanding particular climates forms an important part of agriculture and horticulture. Plants adapt to changes in climate on their own to some extent. Part of the work of nursery growers of plants consists of cold hardening, or hardening off their plants, to prepare them for likely conditions in later life.
Now, I will also say that many of my herb and vegetable plants had black leaves on them, as well, because it got so cold that some of them kind of froze. I told you it was CRAZY weather! So, here I was with frozen leaves on the bottom and sunburned leaves on the top. They were quite a sight.
So, keep this in mind when you are putting out your seedlings. You need to treat them more cautiously or carefully than you would plants that have been growing for a while. Try putting them out in the sun for an hour the first day and maybe 2 hours the next day and give them some wind if they’re not being blown around. Maybe a small breeze with a fan, if you don’t have much wind. In Texas the wind is crazy and is always blowing and often very strong. These extra measures should help to prevent sunburned plant leaves in your garden.
Sunburned Cucumber Leaf
All of that helps them “harden off” and get used to the weather, so that when you put them outside and the weather hits, hopefully not like it hit for me, it will be okay for them.
This is how I handled the situation: I made sure that all of the plants had plenty of water so that they didn’t have to stress over not having enough water AND having this frozen/sunburned stuff happening all at once. Then, I cut off most all of the sunburned leaves, as my tomatoes are now beginning to have fruit on them, I don’t want them to be working hard to try and send nutrients to the leaves that are burnt and are not going to get better, so, I just cut all those off so that they could concentrate on the fruit that they’re growing.
Sunburned Basil Leaves
Keep that in mind if you have this weird look to your leaves and you had “a whole lotta weather”, like we had, then maybe you didn’t let them harden off before you put them out. You can always cut a leaf off and take it into your local nursery or the place that you trust about plants and show them and see if they can help you figure out if it’s something else or, if indeed, your plants have become sunburned.