Did you know that your plants can get sunburned? And I’m not talking about plants that have been moved from inside to a sunny spot outside, but plants in your home that you may move into a high light window from a low light area.

An unfortunate African violet

I care for a few plants at my church and this one was sitting back many feet and to the side of a huge south window. It was getting the right amount of light and doing well. Unfortunately, someone thought it would do better ON the windowsill because all plants should be on the windowsill, right? This is what I came back to the next week. Ahhhhh!

How the plant looked before I removed the burnt leaves

Flowers

Notice the flowers don’t really have too much damage. Since the leaves are the part of the plant using sunlight, they were the only parts that were damaged. It was weird to see gorgeous flowers on top of these horribly burned leaves. If plants could scream or cry, I’m sure this one would have. I spilled boiling tea on my hand the other day and I had ice on it for hours. It was so painful! Too bad the violet didn’t have a friendly Aloe vera nearby to lend some soothing gel. I wasn’t home and didn’t have my aloe, either.

Plants do like windowsills as long as it is the one that will meet its needs.

If it had been moved to an east window it would have been fine.

Southern exposure

The sunlight in a Southern exposure is intense in the summer and really best for your high-light-loving plants. Cacti and other succulents, crotons, and ficus love it. It isn’t as bright in the winter as the sun is lower in the sky, but in the spring and into the summer, it is hot. The violet had previously been approximately 5 feet from the window, receiving bright light. The area outside is a courtyard, surrounded by 2 wings of the church, and the only open area faces directly south. The sun on the sill is extremely strong, so the violet may have been sunburned even if it had just arrived from the grower. It had been in its previous position for a few weeks and so was acclimated to that exposure. Setting it back in the direct sun was the same as putting a white pasty Michigander in the hot sun after a long, dark winter. We ARE going to burn!

Acclimatize your plants.

This was moved to a south windowsill, a situation no African violet would like at any time. (Unless the south window had a sheer curtain or an awning or a tree outside shading the window) The point is, if you are going to move a plant, ANY plant from a low light area to a higher light, it should be done slowly and gradually. The plant needs to gradually get used to a higher light situation and it is called acclimation.

Which exposure is best?

The moral of the story is, find out what light your plant needs before you place it in your home. If you researched African violets, you would find that they like a bright light, but not intense, hot sun. I’ve found that an east exposure is the best, but the west is fine too.  I removed the damaged leaves and placed the plant back from the window where it had previously been and hopefully, it will recover nicely.

Has this ever happened to one of your plants?

Have a great week, plant friends!

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