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Banana plant with a sunburn on its leaf

What are signs of too much sunlight on plants?

You might have looked at your plant before and thought, why does it look bad? What am I doing wrong? You're seeing yellow, brown, or dried leaves and think you're not giving your plant enough water. When you check the soil, you notice it's still moist, so it can't be a watering issue. But what is it? Your plant might be getting too much sunlight!

If you're a beginning plant owner, then you might not be familiar with the signs of too much sunlight on houseplants. Just like people, plants need sunlight - but only in moderation. If your plants are receiving too much sunlight, they will start to show symptoms to tell you that they're not doing so well. In this plant care guide, we're going to look at the signs of too much sunlight on houseplants, so you can identify them early on and prevent any damage to your beautiful houseplants.

Here are some signs that your plants are getting too much sun:

Before we look at the signs of too much sunlight for your plant, let's rule out another common cause for these symptoms: a thirsty plant.

Let's get started with this plant care guide!

Is your plant thirsty or is it getting too much sunlight?

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Before we look a little closer at the different symptoms, I'd like to mention that these symptoms could also mean that your plant just needs a little water. Signs of too much sunlight are very similar to signs of a thirsty plant. So before you start to move your plant, check if the soil is bone dry. If it is completely dry, you should try to water your plant before you move on to the rest of this plant care guide.

However, a very common way beginning plant owners accidentally kill their plants is by watering their plants before checking if it needs any extra water. That's why it's very important to check if the soil is dry before you start to water your plant.

If you notice that the soil is still moist, you know that your plant is suffering from too much sunlight. Now, let's look a little more at the most common signs that your plant might show when it's getting too much sunlight!

The leaves turn yellow and/or brown

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Anthurium leaf with burn marks

One of the most common signs of too much sunlight on houseplants is leaf scorching. This is when the leaves of the plant turn brown or yellow, and they may even start to curl up at the edges. The leaves colors change because the intense heat of the sun can scorch the leaves, causing the color to change. If you see this happening to your plants, it's a good indication that they're getting too much sun.

The leaves are wilting or curling up

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Withered jasmine leaves Another sign your plant is getting too much sunlight is wilting. This is when the leaves of the plant droop down as if they're tired or thirsty. Wilting happens when the plant doesn't have enough water in its stems and leaves, which causes them to start hanging.

Wilting is also a common symptom for plants that are either thirsty or are experiencing root rot. Wilting could kill a plant quite quickly, but you can help your plant by either giving it extra water when it's thirsty, propagating it when you're dealing with root rot or moving it to a slightly darker place in your house.

What can you do when your plant is getting too much sunlight?

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If your plant is getting too much sunlight, you can move it to a shadier spot or put up a shade cloth. This shade cloth could also be a thin curtain that still lets through a little bit of light. All plants still need light, some just need a little bit less. You can also water it more frequently to help keep it from getting too hot, but only when the top of the soil is dry again. If you water your plant before this, you risk overwatering your plant.

Should you trim the crispy leaves off your plant?

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Dry leaves on a Parlor Palm

If the leaves of your plant are starting to turn brown or yellow and they're also curling up at the edges, you might be wondering if you should trim off these crispy leaves.

If you're only talking about trimming the crispy edges of the otherwise green and healthy leaf, this is completely fine. When you're trimming the crispy edges, be sure to not cut into the green parts of the leaf and only cut off the brown edges. Trimming off the dead parts of the leaf, reduces the changes of attracting pests.

However, if you're talking about trimming off the entire leaf, the answer is no, you shouldn't! When you trim off these crispy leaves, you're also removing the part of the leaf that's still green and healthy. This means that the plant has to work even harder to produce new leaves, which can be very stressful for the plant. It's better to just move your plant to a shadier spot.


Now that you know how to identify signs of too much sunlight, it’s important to take action. If your plants are showing any of the symptoms I've mentioned, start by moving them to a shadier spot and give them some time to recover. Once they have regained their health, you can slowly start reintroducing them to more sunlight to find the sweet spot! Be sure to share this plant care guide with your friends and family so they can keep their plants healthy too!

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

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Posted on: Aug 14, 2022 Last updated on: Aug 18, 2022

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Frequently asked questions

What are some signs that a plant is getting too much sunlight?
The most common signs that a plant is getting too much sunlight are wilting leaves, brown leaf tips or margins, and scorching.
Why do plants wilt when they get too much sunlight?
Leaves wilt when they get too much sunlight because the plant is not able to transpire water quickly enough due to the heat from the sun. This can result in the leaves drying out and dying.
Why do leaves turn brown when they get too much sunlight?
Leaves turn brown when they get too much sunlight because the plant is not able to produce enough chlorophyll to photosynthesize. Without photosynthesis, the leaves cannot produce the food that the plant needs to survive and will die.
Why does a plant scorch when it gets too much sunlight?
A plant scorches when it gets too much sunlight because the leaves are burning due to the high levels of heat from the sun. Scorched leaves will often look black or charred and will be crispy to the touch.
What can I do if my plant is getting too much sunlight?
If your plant is getting too much sunlight, you can move it to a shady spot or put a shade cloth or thin curtain over it until it recovers.

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