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Can Philodendrons Get Sunburned? (+How To Fix)

Light is a crucial factor for plants that helps them to produce energy and food. However, if you place your philodendron in direct sunlight, the light will be too intense for the plant and it will get sunburned.

Harsh and direct sunlight or too much sunlight will cause sunburn on your philodendron. But how can you fix a sunburned philodendron?

In general, too much sun or exposure to intense sunlight can lead to sunburn in philodendron. To save your philodendron from sunburn, you need to find a spot for the plant that gets bright but indirect sunlight. Maintain high humidity and prune any damaged leaves so the plant can recover.

In this article, we’ll discuss the effects of direct sunlight on the philodendron and the ways with which you can save your philodendron from sunburn.


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How do you know that your philodendron is sunburnt?

You can tell that your philodendron is sunburnt by the condition of its leaves. The leaves will change color or get discolored when exposed to direct sunlight.

Excess sunlight will make the leaves of your philodendron yellow, brown, or discolored. If the sunburn is intense, the leaves will become crisp, dry, and will turn brown. Eventually, these leaves will fall off.

You will notice a color change in your leaves due to different reasons, but if you want to make sure that sunburn is the reason behind the discoloration or color change of the leaves, you need to check all the leaves of the plant.

If the plant’s upper leaves are getting dry and turning yellow or brown while the lower leaves are unaffected, you can be sure that sunburn is the cause. This happens because the lower leaves stay under the shade of the upper ones, so they don’t get exposed to direct sunlight.

What causes sunburn on philodendrons?

We’ll now understand the reasons behind the sunburn on your philodendron plant.

Direct sunlight

Philodendrons do not prefer direct sunlight. You can understand this even when you observe them in their natural habitats.

In the tropical rainforests, philodendrons take shade under bigger trees to protect themselves from the direct sunlight.

If you place your philodendron in a spot that gets direct sunlight, the plant will get sunburnt instantly. The sunburn’s intensity depends on the intensity of the sunlight and how long you keep the plant under the direct sun.

If your philodendron is placed outside or on the window exposed to direct sun, the leaves will get scorched, and the plant might get dehydrated.

Therefore, you should keep the philodendron away from direct sunlight to prevent sunburn on it.

Also read: Can indoor plants get too much light?

Temperature fluctuations

Philodendrons thrive in a controlled environment as houseplants, where they get consistent temperature levels. But when the philodendron is exposed to direct sunlight, the temperature levels rise, which is not suitable for the plant.

Philodendrons prefer warm temperatures, but the temperature rise due to the direct sun can be extremely harsh for your plant. This is more applicable if your philodendron is placed outside.

Temperature fluctuations will cause stress in your philodendron plant. It will also dehydrate the plant and make the leaves dry, contributing to sunburn and making it more intense.



Sudden changes in the climate

If you have a philodendron in your house and decide to move it outside, the plant will get stressed and shocked. The plants require some time to get used to a new environment with a different temperature or humidity levels.

You should never make any drastic change for your philodendron without giving it enough time to adjust to the changes. If the plant is prepared for a new environment, it will adjust and not get shocked.

If you move your philodendron outside all of a sudden, it will get shocked and scorched due to excess sunlight.

Therefore, instead of making drastic changes, be gradual and take slow steps so that the plant can adjust.

How to prevent sunburn in your philodendron plant?

It is best to prevent sunburn by taking the correct steps to protect the plant from the harsh rays of the direct sun.

Philodendrons don’t prefer direct sunlight and hide in their native lands to protect themselves from the direct sunlight.

But if your philodendron is hit by direct sunlight, especially during the growing season, it will get sunburnt.

Philodendrons can tolerate the soft sunlight during the morning and late evenings, but the sunlight during the other times of the day becomes too harsh for it.

If your philodendron is placed near a window, it might be getting sunburnt due to the direct sunlight, so you must place it a little far away from the window so that it stays protected from the harsh sunlight.

Use sheer curtains or blinds to filter the direct sunlight coming from the window.

If you want to relocate your philodendron and move it outside, make the changes gradually so that it doesn’t get shocked and scorched.

You can move the philodendron to a shaded spot outside and expose it to the morning and evening sun for 1-2 hours every day. Do this for a few days and increase the duration of sunlight gradually.

If you don’t follow these steps and move the philodendron under direct sunlight all of a sudden, it will get sunburnt.

Therefore, you should place your philodendron under a shady spot or a big tree so that it stays protected from the direct sun even when you are moving it outdoors.

During winter, consider moving the philodendron inside to protect it from frost and low temperatures. The intensity of the sunlight remains low in winter, so the plant will not get sunburnt due to the exposure. However, you can put it under the direct sun for a few hours in the daytime.

What to do if my philodendron is sunburnt?

Your philodendron plant will not return to normal if it is sunburnt and the leaves are scorched.

You should prune the scorched leaves to save some energy for the plant. Otherwise, the plant will waste its energy in trying to revive those leaves. 

Pruning the scorched leaves will make space where new leaves can grow.

However, it is better to prevent sunburn than treat it.

How to save a sunburnt philodendron?

If your philodendron is exposed to the direct sun or too much sun, it will get sunburnt. If you want to ensure that your philodendron is sunburnt, you need to check the leaves. If the leaves are dry and discolored, the philodendron is sunburnt.

You can’t leave a sunburnt plant just like that. You need to fix it so that it can recover from the damage.

It will help if you move the philodendron to a shaded spot where it will not get exposed to direct sunlight.

You need to reduce the watering if the plant has lost many leaves. A philodendron that has lost a lot of leaves will not require as much water.

Once you have watered the philodendron, you need to wait till the excess water gets drained out of the system.

Prune the scorched leaves, and once the philodendron starts recovering and growing new leaves, you can increase the watering as usual.

Since a sunburnt plant is dehydrated, you should reduce fertilizing it as fertilizers can make the plant drier. You can fertilize it as per the regular schedule but reduce the dose. Give the plant half of what you usually give it.

After the philodendron recovers, you can go back to the normal schedule and give the regular dose of fertilizer to the plant.

Tips for a healthy philodendron

Taking care of a philodendron is easy as the plant is very adjusting and forgiving. You can make mistakes, but you will fix the plant if you catch the problem on time.

Some tips to keep your philodendron healthy and save it from sunburn are:

Light

Philodendrons enjoy 6-8 hours of indirect light throughout the day. You can keep it in a room with many windows that can provide indirect light to your philodendron from all sides.

You can put the philodendron near a window that gets sufficient indirect light all day. If your house gets dark due to insufficient light, you can use grow lights to help your plant get adequate light.

Also read: What Kind Of Light Does A Philodendron Need? (Light Requirements)

Water

Philodendrons require deep watering, and they like the soil to remain moist most of the time. So you should consider watering the plant when the soil is 50-75% dry instead of waiting for the soil to get bone dry.

You can check the soil’s moistness before watering your philodendron with the help of a moisture meter. If the soil is wet, wait for the soil to get dry before watering to avoid overwatering.

You can water the philodendron once a week, see how the plant reacts, and adjust the watering routine based on the plant’s requirements and other external factors.

Also read: How Much Water Does A Philodendron Need? (Water Requirement+How Often)

Temperature

Philodendrons prefer a warm climate and high temperatures between 70-80°F. The plants can face an issue with the temperature levels if your house is in a cold region or during the winter season when the temperatures fall.

You can place the philodendron near a furnace or fireplace in winter when the temperatures drop, but you should not keep the plant too close as the heat can burn the leaves of the philodendron.

Place the philodendron at least a few inches away from the furnace or heating vent.

Don’t let the philodendron remain in cold winter temperatures by placing it outside or on the window. Keep it at a spot where it is protected from low temperatures and cold drafts.

Humidity

In tropical lands, the philodendron receives ample humidity that encourages its growth. However, if the plant is placed indoors, it will require at least a 50% humidity level.

Philodendrons can face challenges in the dormant period as the humidity levels drop during this time. Low humidity can also be a challenge if you are living in colder regions.

But if you want to see a healthy philodendron, you must give it enough humidity.

You can increase the humidity by using any of the following methods.

Get a humidifier for your house. These are small equipment designed to add moisture to the air.

Make a pebble tray by adding some pebbles to a tray and fill it with some water. Keep your philodendron plant on top of the pebbles. As the water evaporates from the tray, it will add moisture to the air.

Group the philodendron with other moisture-loving houseplants.

Keep the philodendron in the bathroom, kitchen, or basement as these rooms get more humidity than other rooms of the house.

If you have an aquarium in the room, place the philodendron near it.

Also read: Do Philodendron Like To Be Misted? (+Ways To Boost Humidity)


If you are looking to buy a lot of houseplants to brighten up your space and that too on a budget, try out Cellardoorplants. They offer a wide variety of plants, delivered right to your doorstep, and that too for every budget. If you haven't checked them yet, Try them now!


Final thoughts

Never expose your philodendron to direct sunlight as it is not suitable for the plant. Place it in a shaded area if you want to keep it outdoors.

You can protect your philodendron by filtering the direct sunlight from the window by using curtains or blinds.

Provide proper water and fertilizer so that the plant can grow fast and maintain the correct temperature and humidity levels for a happy philodendron.


Ref: Evaluation of Different Species of Philodendron Under Indoor Conditions, University of Florida, University of Vermont, ScienceDirect, Academia, Wikipedia, Britannica.