Sun burn? Looks like someone set it on fire.

As the rain finally started after a long dry summer, I was enjoying not having to water my plants. Being lazy at heart (or as I say at parties where they are serving fruit with cheese, a”naturalist”) I am always glad when mother nature does the watering. I walked through my garden casting judgment and noticed that the leaves on the growing point of a number of succulents were curling slightly and looked all wrong, looking wrong is generally a sign of sap sucking bugs (like scale, mites and aphids) taking up residence in the grooves of the leaves. Apparently, what happens when you let mother nature watch over things for a week is you get bugs in your growing point.

The day was overcast with expectations of rain that night. I stared up into the sky and squinted, after a few seconds I nodded like I knew what I was looking for. I always feel it is important to at least look like you know what you are doing, just encase a neighbor is watching.  Since there wasn’t any sun I made my homemade bug spray and went out to spray the plants, taking extra time to ask the bugs questions as I sprayed, such as “Do you like that?” and “You want more?”.

I ran some errands and came how to work on some projects I have been putting off. I was successfully still putting off my projects and watching Total Divas near the window when a stray beam of light hit my hand and realization hit. The sun had come out and I hadn’t noticed. I ran outside to check the damage and found my succulents with horrible black burns on them. Months later and I still haven’t seen one bug… so I am counting this as a win.

This whole drama filled moment of utter dumbness got me thinking about sun burn, what is it? Is it reversible, please, please is it reversible? Does time heal all wounds or will my succulents hold a grudge forever? How long must I herd people away from my disfigured succulents?

Sun burn on succulents is exactly what you think it is, it is where a plant gets so much sun that a scorch mark appears, leaving a scar behind if severe. To help prevent sun burn on succulents extra hours of light are introduced a little at a time. Unlike me, most people burn plants when introducing an inside plant or a shady area plant to full sunlight. So a slow introduction is a good way to get a plant use to full sunlight. The plant will naturally “tan” and its leaves will get darker, helping to stop sun scorch.

Can Sunburn Scars Heal Over Time?

Some people say that removing the plant from all light when you first notice the burn drastically reduces how bad the scar will be. I have never tried this because most my succulents are in the ground. So lets just focus on scars after the burn, will they go away on their own? Because pictures are what most of you will scroll to anyway, lets compare the burn overtime.

Aeonium 'kiwi' a week after the burn.

Aeonium ‘kiwi’ a week after the burn.

Two weeks later the same Aeonium 'Kiwi'.

Two weeks later the same Aeonium ‘Kiwi’.

Wow, look at that burn. Whenever you have felt like you really messed up I want you to think about how I had a BBQ and the menu was all succulents. But lets look at these images, after two weeks there isn’t any real healing. Yes, there is more green, but that is due to the plants natural growth. As you can see there are small cracks in the scab forming from the succulent leaves growing healthy flesh. The burned leaves will fall off and become replaced before they heal themselves.

Aeonium Haworthii managing to come out of this disaster only sort of burned.

Aeonium Haworthii managing to come out of this disaster only sort of burned.

Same Aeonium Haworthii two weeks later.

Same Aeonium Haworthii two weeks later.

 Now this Aeunium is showing real signs of self healing. Many of the smaller scorch marks are gone only leaving the worst scars behind. Will dark plants heal faster than lighter colored? I don’t really know, but I do know the worst scars on this plant won’t heal by the time it drops those leaves.

Echeveria lilacina that is hard to even identify.

Echeveria lilacina that is hard to even identify over the burns.

Same Echeveria Lilacina two weeks later.

Same Echeveria Lilacina two weeks later.

Actually looks worse doesn’t it? Echeveria, I have been told and haven’t seen anything that proves otherwise, will never heal from a burn and carries its scars forever. As time goes on it might become less noticeable but the discoloration will always be there and if you are the one that burned the plant your eyes will focus on it for the rest of eternity.

Crassula Mesembryanthemoides after the burn.

Crassula Mesembryanthemoides after the burn.

Same Crassula Mesembryanthemoides but different branch, two weeks later, so comparison isn’t easy.

This crassula ,despite being slightly furry, has burns all over. Even though it is dark green like the Aeunium I have seen no signs of any self healing. The plant grows very quickly though so in a season or so I won’t even notice any burns left, unless I burn it again, which is possible.

What Can I Do To Fix Sun Scars?

That is the big question isn’t it? In general, most succulents will lose their burned leaves anyway so messing with the scar isn’t often done. Time doesn’t really heal all wounds but time does eventually kill the organism that has the wound, which is kinda the same thing. Randomly people report plants that don’t lose leaves will heal on their own for no reason after years of no change. Are plants slowly stealing our life energy to heal at a rate too slow for us to notice? The jury is still out on that one.

So what am I getting at? I am telling you I have no idea what you can do to make your plant heal, no one seems to have any kind of answer. There isn’t a cream sold or a DIY anyone has posted to make sun scars better. Fortunately for you I have lots of scarred plants and more time than anyone should have, so stay tuned for my experiments in making sun scars worse.

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This entry was posted in IMessedUp, NothingWasFixed, SunBurn, SunScar, SunScorch and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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