Sunburnt Succulents

Introduction

Sometimes, when you leave a succulent in full sunfull sun direct sunlight for at least 8 hours of the day for too long or introduce it to full sun without slowly acclimating it, it will become sunburnt, may lose its leaves and will definitely turn brown. This is not necessarily a bad thing—if you can see new growth coming out of the stem after a few days.

picture showing what sunburn on a succulent looks like
Aeonium nobilis that I put in full sun without acclimating first.

Some succulents can be sunburned when placed in direct sunlight for extended periods.

Some succulents are more susceptible to sunburn than others. If you’re looking to add some plants to your collection, we recommend purchasing a variety that isn’t as sensitive to the sun. Sunburnt succulents develop brown leaves and stems, making them unattractive but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dead.

To prevent this from happening:

  • Place your new succulent in a shaded area where it won’t receive direct sunlight for long periods of time (ideally at least 6 hours per day). If you live in an area where there is no shade available, try using a plant stand or planter with an umbrella over it!
  • Water your new plant often enough so that its soil remains moist but not soggy—this will help reduce damage caused by dehydration from prolonged exposure to heat waves!
picture showing what sunburn on a succulent looks like
Sunburnt sedum clavatum

But there is good news! A sunburnt succulent can still recover.

But there is good news! A sunburnt succulent can still recover. The key is to give them time to heal and allow new leaves to sprout from the stem. Just be sure not to water them until you see new growth in less than a week, or else they’ll rot.

If you were wondering how long this takes, I’m afraid we don’t know for sure—it depends on your plant’s specific circumstances. In general, however: if you see new growth emerging from your succulent after about 10 days (or less), then start your care cycle as normal again!

Watering your sunburnt succulent, especially when it’s in full direct sunlight, is not recommended, as that may cause more damage to the plant.

When it comes to watering your sunburnt succulent, especially when it’s in full direct sunlight, you should definitely avoid doing so. This may cause more damage to the plant than just having a water bottle left out on its own.

The plant is in shock and needs time to recover. You can’t force-feed it with water or think that by making a few tweaks here and there will make everything all better again—it won’t! The best thing that you can do for your sunburnt succulent is allow him/her some quiet time away from any direct sunlight and let him/her rest until he/she feels like moving again.

picture showing what sunburn on a succulent looks like
Graptoveria Afterglow showing signs of sunburn.

During recovery time, place your sunburnt succulents in a shaded spot with indirect sunlight.

During recovery time, place your sunburnt succulents in a shaded spot with indirect sunlight. This will help to protect them from further damage and keep their leaves green. You can provide shade by using an umbrella or some other method that keeps the sun away from your plants but still allows them to receive light. Be careful not to put too much shade on them because this can cause more harm than good! If you want more permanent protection for your plants, consider putting them under a covered porch!

If you have a succulent that has been sitting in full sun for too long, don’t water it right away – allow it some time to recover first!

If you have a succulent that has been sitting in full sun for too long, don’t water it right away – allow it some time to recover first!

The plant needs time to recover from the sunburn. You can help this process by providing shade or moving it into a shaded area where its skin will begin healing and repairing itself faster.

Shade cloth is my preferred way to protect my succulents while acclimating them to full sun. In San Diego, I’m very fortunate to be able to put my succulents in the full sun all day, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get sunburnt as shown by the pictures in this post. Here’s some shade cloth that you can use to protect your soft succies from the sun’s harsh rays: https://amzn.to/3oZJPEL