Sunburn Spots on Leaves: Should You Worry?

Question of the Week:

“Hi Ryan!sunburn

Here is a picture of my phalaenopsis. As you can see, one of the leaves has what appears to be a burned spot. The plant seems healthy and happy but I have no idea what happened or how to prevent such burns from happening in the future. Could it be from too much direct sunlight?”

– Michael Preis
Saranac Lake, New York

Ryan’s Recommendation:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your question—this is definitely a common one for orchid growers. Apart from the spot on the leaf, your orchid does look like it’s in good shape with that bright green glossy foliage, so give yourself a pat on the back for making your plant happy. The spot on the leaf does appear to be sunburn, so let’s talk about the how and why…and what you can do to keep it from happening again. And no, it doesn’t include applying any SPF! :-)

Many varieties of orchids, including Phalaenopsis, will do best when given bright but indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can lead to burnt spots like yours on the leaves. Orchids are pretty hardy plants and can continue to thrive after small amounts of sunburn, but severe sunburn over a large area of the plant can kill it. It’s important to note that, just like humans, orchids can be affected by sunburn in a short amount of time, so you’ll want to make sure that you’ve found a growing spot that provides indirect enough light—and we’ll get to how to do this shortly. Green Thumb Club Members Only
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