Alocasia is one of the gorgeous houseplants with large and beautiful arrow-shaped leaves. But their beautiful foliage can get damaged due to various problems, and sunburn is one of them.
Alocasia needs bright indirect sunlight, but when this plant is exposed to direct sunlight for too long, it can lead to sunburn. Common signs of sunburn are droopy, brown, and curly leaves. To save the plant from sunburn, place the alocasia where it doesn’t get exposed to the direct sun.
This article will help you understand every sign and cause behind sunburn in detail and the solutions. You will also get to know various preventive measures to protect your Alocasia from sunburn.
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Signs of a sunburned Alocasia
Signs will help you to identify whether your Alocasia is sunburned.
You need to treat your Alocasia before it’s too late.
Otherwise, it becomes difficult to revive them, or the plant can die.
Yellow leaves and white patches
When Alocasia is exposed to direct or intense sunlight, you will see yellow and white patches on the leaves.
The leaves start to dehydrate due to the intense sunlight, which damages the tissues, and therefore, the leaves develop white patches.
Brown and brittle leaves
As time passes, the leaves dry and get brown from the edges.
The brown part expands to every corner, leading to brown and brittle foliage in Alocasia.
Brown leaves occur when the plant requires water desperately but stays dehydrated for too long.
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Curly and crispy leaves
When the leaves stay dry for an extended period, they start to curl to retain the remaining moisture.
As soon as you notice the signs like the leaves curling, turning dry, brown, crisp, and falling before time, you should immediately take action to treat your plant.
Otherwise, your Alocasia can even die.
Causes behind sunburn in Alocasia
You have to give proper attention to your Alocasia if you want it to stay healthy.
The light requirement is one of the main factors, and even a slight mistake can cause extreme stress.
Now let us discuss the causes behind sunburn in Alocasia.
Overexposure to direct sunlight
The most common cause of sunburn is exposing the Alocasia to direct sunlight for an extended period.
Most houseplants can’t tolerate direct sunlight as they are very sensitive to it.
Extreme exposure can damage your Alocasia.
Alocasia prefers to grow in filtered sunlight, and intense sunlight can damage the cells of the foliage.
When Alocasia gets too much sunlight, it destroys the chlorophyll, which leads to the discoloration of leaves.
It not only destroys chlorophyll but also damages necessary photosynthetic pigments that cause various health problems to your Alocasia.
Plant mostly suffer from sunburn during the summer when the temperature is high along with intense sunlight.
Sudden exposure to the direct light
When the plants have fully adapted to their surroundings, slight changes can stress them.
If your Alocasia is growing in moderate indirect sunlight, sudden exposure to direct light can shock the plant and cause damage to the leaves.
Extreme shock can damage your Alocasia, and the plant can also die.
When the plant stays in the same environment for a longer period, every part of a plant adjusts itself to these conditions, so it becomes difficult for them to accept the sudden change in the surrounding.
If you shift your Alocasia from a comfortable location to an area where the plant is getting bright direct sunlight, it will lead to sunburn.
Sudden exposure to extreme light and heat causes dehydration to the plant, leading to weakness.
This affects the functioning process of Alocasia and makes the situation even worse.
Poor water quality
If you are providing Alocasias with poor quality water, it can cause serious health issues.
Many people use tap water for their houseplants without knowing how harmful it is for the plant.
Tap water is considered harmful for Alocasia as it contains hard minerals like iron, sodium, chlorine, etc.
All these minerals destroy the cells of the leaf and weaken the plant.
Even filtered tap water can cause the same harm as normal tap water.
So if you are thinking of using filtered tap water, you are wrong.
You will find a thin layer of white crust on the soil surface if you use poor water quality.
Drinking water is also not preferable for Alocasia as it has a low Nitrogen concentration, so too much water will not promote any growth to your plant.
Poor water quality leads to weakness in Alocasia.
Because of this, the cuticles that protect the leaves from direct light become weak and thin.
Because of weak cuticles, even slight direct sunlight can harm your Alocasia severely, and the plant can easily get sunburn.
How to fix a sunburned Alocasia?
Moving your Alocasia suddenly from a shady environment to intense direct sunlight can cause sunburn to the plant.
If you want to fix your plant, you need to provide it with ideal care.
You can’t immediately recover your sunburned Alocasia, and it takes time.
You have to follow the solutions step by step to fix your plant.
Let us discuss the solutions which you can follow:
- At first, prune all the dry and damaged leaves from Alocasia. This will encourage new and healthy growth. Lack of pruning makes the entire plant unhealthy, causing stunted growth.
- Move your Alocasia to a shadier spot. This will relieve your plant from sudden stress.
- After the plant recovers, relocate it to the area where it will get indirect sunlight throughout the day.
- The plants lose a lot of leaves due to sunburn, so they need less water. You should reduce watering for some time until the plant develops new leaves. Watering your sunburned Alocasia too often can make the situation worse.
- Make sure you don’t stop watering your plant completely. Otherwise, it can cause an underwatering situation.
- Don’t fertilize your Alocasia when it is sunburned. The plant already stays weak as they lose all of its leaves. Fertilizing it in this situation can harm your Alocasia.
- You can continue fertilizing after your Alocasia develops new and healthy leaves.
- Try to mist your plant every day to provide some relief. Misting can cool your Alocasia to some extent, and it will also prevent the leaves from burning.
- Don’t expose the plant suddenly to a new bright environment. You should do this gradually. First, place your Alocasia into direct sunlight for 1 to 2 hours daily. Continue doing this for 6-7 days to increase the plant’s potential to tolerate the light. After 6-7 days, slowly increase the exposure time for the next few weeks to help your Alocasia adjust completely to the direct sunlight.
How to prevent sunburn on Alocasia?
It’s better to prevent your Alocasia from sunburn than damage it with extreme exposure.
You can easily prevent your Alocasia from sunburn.
You just have to keep some steps in mind.
- Keep your plant in the correct spot
- Apply mulch
- Provide shade
- Give artificial light to the plant
Now let us discuss each point in detail.
Keep your Alocasia in the correct spot.
Alocasia requires indirect sunlight to thrive.
The light should not be too low or too intense.
That means you should provide the plant with moderately bright light.
- Don’t keep your plant in a location where the temperature fluctuates frequently.
- Avoid keeping Alocasia near a heater, chimney, furnace, radiators. This can dry your plant to an extreme level.
- You should always provide shade to your plant to protect it from direct sun rays.
- You can cover the windows with curtains to protect them.
- Keep your Alocasia near an east or north-facing window to avoid direct sunlight.
- The light in these directions is not harsh. Keep your plant at least 6-7 feet away from the window to prevent sunburn.
If giving proper shade is not possible, you can mulch the soil surface.
You can use shredded barks, tree leaves, wheat straws, compost for mulching your Alocasia.
Mulching can help your plant to stay moisturized even in summer.
The evaporation rate slows down, so the plant stays hydrated for an extended period.
Mulch keeps the plant moisturized and protects the soil surface from the direct sun rays.
This is one of the best ways to prevent sunburn in your plant.
Provide shade to the Alocasia
You need to provide shade to your Alocasia if it is in an outdoor setting to protect it from harsh light.
You can use a shade net to protect sunlight and direct heat.
You can easily get this from any market.
You can also use sheer curtains, fabric cloth, frames, and hoops to provide shade.
While choosing any shade, make sure the plant can breathe into that; otherwise, it can suffocate.
Provide artificial light to the Alocasia
If it gets difficult for you to provide indirect sunlight without exposing the Alocasia to direct sunlight, there is a solution.
When the sun gets too harsh for your plant, you can provide it with artificial light.
Artificial light works the same as natural sunlight, so you can continue it for some days.
You can again relocate your plant near a window when the sunlight becomes less intense and tolerable for Alocasia.
Care tips for Alocasia
|Light||Alocasia needs at least 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight every day.|
If they don’t get enough, they can suffer from health issues like leggy growth and smaller leaves. Use artificial light to provide enough light.
Protect the Alocasia from direct sunlight.
|Water||Water your Alocasia only after checking the moisture level with a moisture meter.|
Alocasia needs to be watered when 25-50% of the soil is dry.
Don’t let your Alocasia experience either underwatering or overwatering.
Both of the problems can lead to various health issues in Alocasia.
Reduce watering during the winter months as it is their dormant period.
|Humidity||Alocasia needs 50-60% of humidity.|
If the humidity is low in your room, try misting the plant.
But since this is not practical, you can group your Alocasia with other houseplants or use a humidifier to increase the humidity.
|Temperature||Alocasia thrives in warm temperatures between 65-85°F. Try to maintain the temperature by using a thermostat device.|
Don’t keep your plant near frosty windows, hot or cold drafts, air conditioners, heaters or radiators, or any cool or hot object.
Also, avoid keeping the plant near a window or door that is frequently opened and closed. Sudden temperature fluctuations can also cause the same trouble.
|Soil||Alocasia likes to grow in well-drained soil that also retains enough moisture.|
Use a soil mix that contains equal parts of regular potting soil, perlite, and peat moss.
Make sure you don’t change the soil frequently. Otherwise, it can stress your plant. To improve the soil texture, you can simply blend it with manure or compost.
|Fertilizer||Alocasia needs to be fertilized once a month during their growing season.|
The best way to fertilize your Alocasia is with a 20:20:20 diluted liquid fertilizer during the summer and spring seasons.
Stop fertilizing your plant when the winter arrives. Alocasia doesn’t need fertilizer during its dormancy.
|Pruning||Always prune all the damaged parts of the plant to encourage new and healthy growth.|
If you notice overgrowth, dry and diseased leaves, leggy growth, and dead branches, cut them off. Use a sterilized scissor and make a sharp cut.
Intense and direct sunlight doesn’t suit Alocasias and can easily cause sunburn. If you notice that the plant is sunburned, relocate it to a shadier location and prune all the damaged leaves as they will not turn healthy again.
Don’t provide too much sunlight until your Alocasia recovers fully. Provide some water to the plant and allow it to recover. After recovery, you can continue to provide your Alocasia with bright indirect sunlight.
If you want to expose your Alocasia to direct sunlight or move it outside, do it gradually to avoid sunburn. However, Alocasia will do best when placed under indirect sunlight.
Reference: Science Direct, Propagation of Alocasia, The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Alocasia sanderiana, Alocasia micholitziana.