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How To Save Sunburned Tomato Plants – A Guide

If you have lived in a hot and sunny environment, you have likely encountered sunburned tomato plants at some point in your gardening ventures. The good news is that often these sunburned plants can be revived. So, how exactly do you save sunburned tomato plants?

The best way to save sunburned tomato plants is to move them to a shaded area away from direct sunlight and remove the damaged leaves. Add plenty of water to the soil and nitrogen fertilizer to encourage new growth and your tomato plant will recover.

In this article, we will explain how you can help sunburned plants recover, along with answering other commonly asked questions about sun-damaged plants. Let’s jump right into it! 

What Do Sunburned Tomato Plants Look Like? 

Sunburn on tomato plants usually manifests as spotting on the leaves and fruits. On the leaves, this spotting will usually look like pale splotches that can be either brown or lighter green. Sunburnt leaves can also feel very dry and delicate in some cases. 

Sometimes the tomatoes themselves can get sunburn spots on them as well. These spots are usually paler in color, white, or brown, depending on how ripe the fruit is and how extensive the sun damage is. These fruits may also start to split open or rot in severe cases of sunburn. 

In some very extreme cases of sunburn in tomato plants, the leaves will become scorched, and any fruits will likely appear completely burned as well. The leaves on a severely sunburned plant will appear to be completely burnt, and they will likely feel very dry and brittle to the touch as well. These plants are much more likely to die from sun damage than plants with mild sunburning. 

Will Tomato Plants Recover From Sunburn? 

A lot of times, yes, tomato plants can recover from sunburn. This is especially true if the sun damage does not seem to be too extensive. Most of the time, the tomato plant will recover on its own once you have protected them from the hot sun a bit more. 

What Helps Heal A Sunburned Plant? 

The best thing that you can do for a sunburnt plant is to put them in a shadier spot; for plants needing a lot of sun, like tomato plants, placing the plant in a space that provides partial shade is best. This will provide the plant with protection from the sun while also giving it the sunlight it needs. 

Should I Cut Off Sunburned Leaves? 

The answer to this question depends on whether the plant is fully grown. If the plant is full-grown, then pruning a few sunburned leaves here and there can be a good idea. In most plants cutting off these leaves can promote the growth of new healthy leaves to take their place.

However, you should not prune sunburned leaves on seedlings or young plants. This is because doing this could further harm the plant or even end up killing it. As a result, it is always a good idea to prune your plants cautiously. 

How Do You Fix Sunburned Leaves? 

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to fix sunburned leaves. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to save your sunburned plants. 

Step 1: Get Your Plant Out Of The Sun

The first thing you should do for a sunburned plant is move them out of the direct sun and to a shady area. This will allow the plant to get the sun they need while protecting them from further sun damage. 

Step 2: Prune The Sunburned Leaves (If Possible) 

After moving the plant to a shaded area, the next thing you should do is prune the sunburned leaves. This will get rid of the dead leaves and promote healthy leaf growth. New, healthy leaves should replace the pruned sunburned ones in time. Of course, this may not be an option for some plants, especially when they are still seedlings. As a result, you should always prune your plants cautiously. 

Step 3: Continue Caring For Your Plant

Once you have moved the sunburned plant out of the sun and pruned its dead leaves, all that is left to do is to continue caring for your plant. It is recommended that you continue your watering and fertilizing schedule as you would otherwise unless you have detected any other issues related to these things. 

Step 4: Misting Your Plants With Some Water Can Help

Some gardeners will choose to mist some water over their sunburned plants’ leaves. This helps to keep the leaves cool and allows the plant to recover more easily from sun damage. 

How Can You Prevent Sunburn On Tomato Plants? 

Unfortunately, it is often much easier to prevent sun damage in plants than it is to treat it. This is especially true when it comes to seedlings and very young plants. Here are some things you can do to prevent sunburn on all plants, including tomato plants. 

Provide Your Plants With Some Shade

Although tomatoes do need a lot of sun, it is a good idea to plant them in a partially shaded area. This is especially true if you live in a hot climate with a lot of harsh sunlight. Planting your plants in partial shade will provide them with some shelter from the harsh sunlight while also giving the plant the sunlight it needs. 

Slowly Acclimate Your Saplings To Sunshine

It is also very important that you slowly acclimate seedlings and young plants to the sun when transplanting them outside. This will allow the young plants to slowly strengthen themselves against the sunlight. You can acclimate your seedlings to the sun by bringing them outside for a few hours a day for several days before permanently transplanting them. 

Check On Your Plants Regularly

It is also a good idea to check on your plants regularly. This way, you can see if your plants are getting any sun damage early on and effectively treat the sun damage more easily. Not to mention, checking on your plants regularly will also allow you to notice other kinds of problems in their early stages. 

Things To Consider 

There are some other things that you may want to consider about saving sunburned tomato plants. These things include whether or not plants can die from sunburn and how hot it is too hot for tomato plants. Here are some additional things to consider when saving sunburned tomato plants.  

Can Plants Die From Sunburn? 

Yes, plants can die from sunburn if the sun damage is extensive enough. Most sunburned plants that are at risk of dying are ones that have all of their leaves scorched. Plants die from very extreme sunburn like this simply because the damage to the plant was too extensive. Seedlings and young plants are at more risk of dying from sunburn than fully grown plants are. 

How Hot Is Too Hot For Tomato Plants? 

Most tomato plants thrive in temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, most tomato plants are in danger of becoming damaged, especially if these high temperatures are consistent. 

If you are experiencing an unusual heat wave, putting your tomato plants in the shade or temporarily bringing them inside can help protect them from sun damage. If you live in a hot climate and want to grow your own tomatoes, do not worry! Some tomato plant species are known to thrive in hot weather.