Signs of Sunburned Jade Plant and What to Do

Jade plants are native to arid regions of South Africa and they love plenty of sunlight. Ideally, they should receive at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day to maintain their health and lustrous appearance. However, exposure to intense, direct sunlight can cause sunburn.

Sunburn is caused by excessive exposure of plants to sunlight. It is common in plants that are not adapted to high levels of sunlight. The increased light intensity can cause damage to the plant’s cells, disrupting their normal functioning. 

The hot sun rays can also cause massive water loss from the plant. This may affect important processes such as photosynthesis. A prolonged exposure may slow down the plant’s growth and vigor. Sunburnt plants are also prone to pests and diseases.

What does a sunburned jade plant look like?

A sunburnt jade plant will display visual signs of distress and damage. Here’s how to tell if your jade plant is getting too much sunlight.

Wrinkling or shriveling

Jade plants have thick, fleshy leaves that store water. A healthy plant will have lustrous, firm, and plum leaves. When overexposed to sunlight, the leaves may get wrinkled or overly soft. Jade plant wrinkling leaves can indicate dehydration or damage to the cells.

Leaf discoloration

The leaves of a healthy jade plant are typically vibrant green. Some varieties may have a hint of red or bronze. In the right conditions of growth, these colors should be uniform across the plant. Leaves turning yellow or browning at the tips can be a sign of sunburn.

Additionally, the sunburned areas on the leaves may develop reddish or brown spots. This is a result of damage to the plant cells caused by extremely hot sun rays. Sometimes the affected areas of the leaves may become dry and crispy.

Soft or squishy texture

A healthy jade plant typically has a compact growth. As it matures, it grows into a tree-like structure with a thick trunk. In severe cases of sunburn, your jade plant may become soft or squishy. This response to the stress may result in the jade plant drooping or appearing limp.

Leaf drop

It’s rare for jade plants to drop their leaves. However, the plant may shed some of its leaves prematurely as a response to heat stress. The plant will do this to reduce the severity of the damage and also to conserve important resources like water.

Symptoms of sunburned jade plant

How to save a sunburnt jade plant

If you suspect that your jade plant is sunburned, here are steps you can take to help it recover.

1. Move the plant to a shaded area

Relocate the plant to a location with filtered or indirect sunlight. Protect it from intense, direct sunlight until it has a chance to recover. Gradually reintroduce it to sunlight over several days to prevent further stress.

2. Prune the damaged leaves

Trim off the severely damaged leaves using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Make clean cuts close to the stem. This not only improves the plant’s appearance but also redirects its energy to healthier parts. However, don’t trim if more than 50% of the plant looks healthy.

3. Monitor and adjust watering

Ensure that your sunburnt jade plant is receiving proper watering. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Jade plants prefer well-draining soils, overwatering can cause root rot and more stress to the plant. So be cautious not to keep the soil consistently wet.

4. Provide adequate ventilation

Proper air circulation is beneficial for the overall health of the plant. Ensure that your sunburned jade plant is not placed in an enclosed space. This can contribute to stress and susceptibility to pests and fungal infections. Powdery mildew on succulents thrives when air circulation is inadequate.

5. Hold on fertilizing

Avoid fertilizing a sunburned plant. Fertilizing during a period of stress can further damage your jade plant. Wait until the plant shows signs of recovery before considering a light application of balanced houseplant fertilizer. Apply during the growth period in spring and summer.

Where to place jade plant in your home

The location of your plant is very important as far as light is concerned. Jade plants prefer direct sunlight or bright indirect sunlight. To prevent sunburn, place your jade plant near a south or west-facing window where it can receive filtered sunlight.

If the plant is exposed to direct sunlight, ensure that it is shielded from the hot midday sun. Insufficient sunlight is also unhealthy for indoor plants. Jade plants grow leggy when they don’t receive enough sunlight. They grow thin as they try to reach the source of light.

Jade plants can tolerate artificial lighting. If natural light is not enough, place them under fluorescent lights but not too close to cause damage. Keep the lights on for 10 to 12 hours a day. To ensure even growth, rotate the jade plant regularly. This helps prevent it from leaning toward the light source.

Jade plant temperature considerations

Jade plants are comfortable in average indoor temperatures. They can tolerate cooler conditions at night. So keep daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 ° F and at night between 50 and 55 ° F. Cold temperatures below 50 ° F can kill or damage the plant.

During the cold winter period, you should bring your jade plant indoors. Avoid placing the jade plant in drafty areas or near vents. Generally, try to avoid placing the jade plant in areas with drastic temperature changes. Sudden temperature fluctuations can stress the plant.

Final thought

Jade plants are native to arid areas, as such they need plenty of light to thrive. However, intense, direct sunlight can scorch the plant causing it to wilt and die. If you are growing jade plants indoors, provide plenty of bright indirect light, and water sparingly, and maintain optimum temperature. Remember to inspect your jade plant regularly for pests or any other issues.

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