How To Protect Your Plants From Leaf Burn

Leaf burn is a common problem in the hottest months of the year and can affect any plant. Taking a few straightforward precautions can easily prevent leaf burn on plants, which is unsightly and annoying.

When you spray chemicals, fertilizer or water onto plant leaves when temperatures are high and sunshine is present, leaf burn occurs.

The water on the leaf functions as a magnifying glass. It increases the sun’s intensity until the leaf burns from the excessive heat. It’s like trying to burn a piece of paper with a magnifying lens.

What causes leaf burn?

The term “leaf burn” also refers to leaf scorch or leaf wilt. Leaf burn is easily visible by its telltale signs. If a tree’s leaves get burned, they’ll wilt, curl up, turn brown around the edges, and eventually drop.

The pine needles on evergreen trees change color, becoming orange or brown. Lack of nutrients and water causes leaf burn.

The root system is unable to successfully extract nutrients and water from the soil and transport them to the veins of the leaf system because of anything happening below the surface. The leaves wilt and perish due to a lack of water and food.

A tree can recover from leaf burn and generate new, healthy leaves if given the right care. Finding out what’s causing the leaf burn is the first step in fixing the issue.

This may result from increased building activity during prolonged periods of little rainfall or high temperatures. If you want an honest assessment of your tree’s condition, you should call in the pros.

What can you do to prevent or treat leaf scorch?

The most effective method for controlling leaf scorch is prevention. Preventing stresses caused by plant health and environmental problems is the best way to deal with leaf burn problems.

In addition to the obvious measures of avoiding mechanical damage and farming blunders. Although we have no say over the weather, there are steps we can take to mitigate the damage extreme temperatures cause to plants.


Fertilization boosts plant vitality and health in general. Choosing the correct fertilizer formulation and applying it at the right time are both important. For instance:

  • Late-season applications of high-nitrogen fertilizers delay the hardening of plant tissues like wood, leaving them vulnerable to damage from frost and snow.
  • Plants with sufficient potassium have stronger cell walls, which protect them from pests and diseases.
  • Increased cold hardiness due to sufficient phosphorus levels.

How does leaf burn look?

The same condition is known by several other names, including sun scorch, leaf burn, leaf scorch, and leaf wilt.

Plant tissues, such as the leaf tips and margins, get brown as a result. Also, the veins darkening or turning yellow can lead to the leaf wilting and falling off.

What causes leaf burn in plants?

  • Cold damage

As with water stress, many houseplants aren’t used to the cold, drafty conditions near a window during the cold months. The edges and tips of leaves are particularly vulnerable to cold and are hence the first to exhibit signs of damage.

Increase the warmth (and, probably, humidity) surrounding your tropical plants during the cold months if they have leaf burn.

  • Lots of light

Another source of leaf burn is placing a plant that prefers shade in a sunny spot. Container gardens make it simple to address this issue. If the plant needs more shade, relocate it.

Keep the plant inside, position a taller plant in front of it, or use an umbrella or curtain to create more shade if the balcony garden doesn’t have a naturally shaded spot.

  • Hot or dry air is present

Extreme temperatures or dry air could be another factor. A plant will shut down at high temperatures and refuse to absorb water. The leaves of the plant could dry out and burn if the air is too dry.

  • Lots of fertilizer

Leaves can become burned by fertilizer salts if you apply them in excessive amounts. You may have a fertilizer problem if you see burning on the plants soon after applying a strong amount of fertilizer.

To avoid any future problems with excess fertilizer salts, it is best to flush the soil with clean water multiple times. When temperatures rise, potting soil dries quickly, so avoid fertilizing your balcony garden.

  • Too little or too much watering 

If the leaves on your plant look burned, it means that it is not getting sufficient water. Because they are further from the roots, where water is taken in, the leaf tips of a plant die off first.

It’s natural to assume that a plant with dry leaf tips is not receiving enough water, yet this assumption could be incorrect. Soggy soil prevents a plant from growing new roots and absorbing water, which is a common problem in container gardening.

Issues with watering are typical when gardening in grow bags or containers. Either the potting soil dries out quickly because the plant container material is porous or the plant container holds too much water (plastic containers with poor drainage).

How do you treat leaf burns?

Is it coming to your attention that some leaves on a tree in your yard look sunburned and brown?

Whether evergreen or deciduous, most shrub and tree species are susceptible to leaf burn. A lack of nutrients, environmental stresses, or bacterial diseases can cause leaf burn.

  • Bacterial Disease

It’s possible that a bacterial disease is to blame for the leaf burn on your tree. It is best to have a professional inspect the damaged leaves if they are clustered along the stem rather than spread out along the branches. Your tree may be able to be saved with treatment if you catch the problem soon enough.

  • Environmental Trauma

Extreme shifts in the weather, like hot, sunny weather following a period of persistent rain and cloud cover, might cause issues. An additional stressor for trees is long periods of drought.

If your tree’s leaves curl up and look brown because of the weather, consider watering it more often. Check that the water is reaching the roots of the plant.

  • Lack of nutrients

There are instances when the soil in which your tree grows lacks the nutrients it needs to thrive. Leaves that seem to be dying between the veins are a symptom of a lack of nutrients. You can do a simple soil test to find out what the tree roots need.

Can plants recover from leaf burn?

Once the leaf tissue has been burned, the damaged areas will never recover. But minor damage, despite the fact that it is unappealing, will not cause the plant’s death.

Even though leaves with burned margins don’t look very appealing, they are still contributing to the plant’s ability to perform photosynthesis. They also provide nourishment for the development of new, undamaged leaves.

Can overwatering bring about leaf burn?

One of the most prevalent causes of plant problems is overwatering. Soils that are dense and poorly drained can become soggy. Roots may perish if they are unable to draw enough oxygen from the wet soil.

The longer the roots are deprived of oxygen, the more harm they will sustain. Roots that have died off rot and stop functioning as a water and nutrient source for the plants. Overwatering damage is often misunderstood to be caused by pests.

But pest damage rarely leads to a root system that is densely concentrated near the soil’s surface. Waterlogging might cause abnormal vulnerability to fungal pathogens in plants that are already injured or stressed.

  • Symptoms and diagnosis

The roots of plants growing in waterlogged soil die, and the plants become less robust due to a lack of oxygen. Overwatering causes leaf yellowing and stunted plant growth. Leaf burn can occur in plants.

Oedema, or water-filled blisters and spots, can form on plant parts like leaves and stems. Possible rotting of the plant’s crown roots that have been injured are helpless against the invasion of rot-causing soil organisms. Root rot causes the plant’s demise.

Stop your plants from getting leaf burn

The less damage pests do, the better your plants will be able to endure natural disasters like temperature extremes, floods, and drought.

If you water deeply but less frequently during the summer, your plants will have stronger roots that can withstand dry spells. To keep the landscaping from drying out over the cold months, give it a good soaking in the fall.

As long as the soil does not freeze, the roots can use the water contained within the soil profile. Drought-stricken plants are more vulnerable to winter damage and burning.