How To Save Your Sunburned Tomato Leaves

Written by Ivy

Feb 07 2023

How To Save Your Sunburned Tomato Leaves

How can sunburned tomato plants be saved? The best way to save sunburned tomato plants is to relocate them to a shaded location out of the sun and remove the damaged leaves. Your tomato plant will recover if you water the soil well and add nitrogen fertilizer to promote new growth.

This article will address other frequently asked questions about sun-damaged plants as well as how you can aid sunburned plants in healing. All right, let's get started!

Quick Steps:

  • Step 1: Get Your Plant Out Of The Sun
  • Step 2: Prune The Sunburned Leaves
  • Step 3: Continue Caring For Your Plant

What Do Sunburned Tomato Plants Look Like?

Spots on the leaves and fruits of tomato plants are the typical symptoms of sunburn. This spotting typically appears on the leaves as light splotches that can be either brown or a lighter green color. In some cases, sunburned leaves can feel incredibly dry and fragile.

Sunburn spots can occasionally appear on tomatoes themselves. Depending on how ripe the fruit is and how much sun damage there is, these spots are typically paler, white, or brown in color. In severe cases of sunburn, these fruits may also begin to split open or rot.

The leaves of tomato plants can become scorched in some very severe cases of sunburn, and any fruits will likely also appear to be completely burned. A plant with severe sunburn will have completely burnt-looking leaves that also feel extremely dry and brittle to the touch. As opposed to plants with only minor sunburns, these plants are much more likely to die from sun damage.

What Causes Burnt Spots on Tomato Leaves

Over-Fertilization and Fertilizer Burn

While fertilizing your plants is necessary to ensure they receive enough minerals and nutrients, you don't want to go overboard. The scorching that occurs at the leaf edges indicates burned spots on tomato plant leaves caused by excessive fertilizer use or improper fertilizing techniques. The leaf edges appear brittle, brown, and dried out.

To ensure that your tomato plants receive enough nutrition, Haifa suggests fertilizing the soil with a balanced fertilizer before planting, followed by a monthly side-dressing of nitrogen. Don't let fertilizers come into direct contact with the plant's stem or roots in order to prevent root injuries that cause leaf burn. Apply fertilizers and side-dressing materials 4 to 6 inches away from the stem of the plant, and then thoroughly water the area.

Problems With Poor Nutrition

Burning in tomato leaves is a symptom of nutritional deficiency, particularly of potassium. Marginal yellowing of the plant's leaf surfaces, also known as marginal necrosis, is a symptom of potassium deficiency. This yellow hue starts to change to brown as the nutrient deficiency worsens, spreading outward toward the leaf margins until the entire leaf is brown and leathery in texture. The leaves start to dry out, shrivel, and fall off the plant in its most advanced stages of this deficiency.

The best way to guarantee that your crop receives the potassium and other nutrients it needs for healthy growth is to prepare the soil with a balanced organic 3-4-4 or 3-4-3 plant food prior to planting your tomatoes. 75 pounds per 1,000 square feet of your organic plant food should be applied. A monthly application of an organic side-dressing, such as blood meal, keeps your plants fed and healthy because tomatoes are a heavy feeder of nitrogen. Apply 2 1/2 pounds of blood meal per 100 feet of planting rows.

Too Much Or Too Little Water

Throughout the growing season, soil must remain consistently and uniformly moist to the touch for tomato plants. Problems with leaves, such as scorching or burning, are caused by either excessively dry or dry soil. Browning of the leaf tips and margins is the first sign of moisture issues that cause burning. Browning then progresses to curled, wilted leaves that fall off your tomato plants.

By ensuring that your plant receives enough moisture, you can prevent leaf burn and scorch brought on by improper watering techniques. For strong, healthy tomato plants, a weekly deep watering that completely saturates the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches is ideal. It is unlikely that you would need to provide additional watering for your tomato plants unless there is a dry spell in mild coastal climates with high rainfall.

Will Tomato Plants Recover from Sunburn?

Yes, tomato plants can often recover from sun damage. This is especially true if the sun damage does not appear to be too severe. Once you have slightly more adequately shielded the tomato plant from the hot sun, it will typically bounce back on its own.

What Helps Heal a Sunburned Plant?

Placement in a more shady area is the best thing you can do for a sunburned plant; for plants that require a lot of sun, such as tomato plants, it is best to place them in an area that offers partial shade. This will give the plant both the sunlight it needs and protection from the sun.

Should I Cut Off Sunburned Leaves?

Whether or not the plant is fully grown will determine the answer to this query. Pruning a few sunburned leaves here and there when the plant is fully grown can be a smart idea. Cutting off these leaves will usually encourage the growth of new, healthy leaves to take their place.

On seedlings or young plants, you shouldn't cut back sunburned leaves. This is because doing so might cause the plant more harm or even lead to its death. Therefore, it is wise to always prune your plants with caution.

How Do You Fix Sunburned Leaves?

Fortunately, there are some remedies for sunburned leaves. This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to save your sunburned plants.

Step 1: Get Your Plant Out of the Sun

Moving a sunburned plant to a shaded area and out of the sun should be the first thing you do for them. The plant will be shielded from additional sun damage while still receiving the necessary sunlight.

Step 2: Prune the Sunburned Leaves (If Possible)

The following step is to prune the sunburned leaves after relocating the plant to a shaded location. Dead leaves will be removed as a result, which will encourage strong leaf growth. The sun-damaged leaves that were pruned should eventually be replaced by fresh, healthy leaves. Naturally, some plants may not be able to do this, particularly if they are still seedlings. You should always prune your plants carefully as a result.

Step 3: Continue Caring for Your Plant

The only thing left to do is to keep taking care of your plant after you have moved the sunburned plant out of the sun and pruned its dead leaves. If you haven't found any other problems related to watering and fertilizing, it is advised that you carry on as usual.

Step 4: Misting Your Plants With Some Water Can Help

Some gardeners opt to mist water onto the leaves of their plants that have sunburned. As a result, the plant can more readily recover from sun damage and the leaves will stay cooler.

How To Save Your Sunburned Tomato Leaves

How Can You Prevent Sunburn on Tomato Plants?

Regrettably, preventing sun damage in plants is frequently much simpler than treating it. When it comes to seedlings and very young plants, this is especially true. Here are some steps you can take to protect tomato plants and other plants from sunburn.

Provide Your Plants With Some Shade

Planting tomatoes in a partially shaded area is a good idea even though they do require a lot of sun. If you live in a hot climate with a lot of direct sunlight, this is especially true. By placing your plants in some shade, you can give them some protection from the sun's glare while still giving them the light they require.

Slowly Acclimate Your Saplings to Sunshine

Another crucial step in transplanting seedlings and young plants outside is to gradually acclimate them to the sun. This will enable the young plants to gradually fortify themselves against sunlight. Before permanently transplanting your seedlings, you can acclimate them to the sun by putting them outside for a few hours each day for a few days.

Check on Your Plants Regularly

Additionally, it's a good idea to regularly check on your plants. In this manner, you can more easily detect early sun damage in your plants and treat it effectively. Not to mention that keeping a regular eye on your plants will help you spot other types of issues in the very beginning.

Things to Consider

There are some additional factors to take into account when trying to save tomato plants that have been exposed to the sun. These include the extent of the tomato plant's tolerance to heat and whether plants can suffer sunburn. Here are some additional factors to take into account when trying to save tomato plants that have been exposed to too much sunlight.

Can Plants Die from Sunburn?

If the sun damage is severe enough, yes, plants can die from sunburn. Plants with all of their leaves scorched are the most severely sunburned and most likely to die. This kind of extreme sunburn causes plants to die because the damage is too great for them to recover from. Compared to fully grown plants, seedlings and young plants are more susceptible to dying from sunburn.

How Hot is Too Hot for Tomato Plants?

Most tomato plants thrive in a range of 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Most tomato plants are susceptible to damage if temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if they occur frequently.

Your tomato plants can be protected from sun damage if you temporarily move them indoors or place them in the shade during an unusual heat wave. Do not worry if you want to grow your own tomatoes but live in a hot climate. Certain tomato plant species are known to do well in hot climates.

Frequently Added Questions About Sunburned Plants

How Do You Fix a Sunburned Money Tree?

Similar to the plants we talked about, a sunburned money tree can be repaired. Move them to the shade, remove any scorched or burned leaves, and give them plenty of water.

Can Tomatoes Get Sunburned?

Tomatoes are susceptible to sunburn, particularly if they are young and have not yet developed a strong protective layer.

Can Basil Get Sunburned?

Yes, basil can suffer from sunburns like other plants if it is not properly hardened off.

Can Indoor Plants Get Sunburned?

Yes, even indoor plants are susceptible to sunburn.

What to Do With Sunburned Leaves?

Sunburned leaves should be removed so that the plant can concentrate on healing.


While there isn't much you can do once you notice sunscald on tomatoes, there are steps you can take to lessen its occurrence. Growing tomato plant varieties with thick foliage can help shield the fruits from the sun's rays, especially during periods of extreme heat.

Disease-resistant varieties can also fend off sunscald by preventing the leaf drop that is a symptom of numerous diseases.

The need for pruning can be reduced by maintaining proper plant spacing and by using tomato cages or stakes.