Sun Damage on Succulents

Sun Damage on Succulents

I guess it's about time to write about the possible ways of causing damage to succulents! 

If you are growing your succulents outdoor, you are probably familiar with sun damage but there are levels of degrees when it comes to sun damage.

You all probably know that I'm obsessed with UV value; during winter the UV value is between 1-2; Spring & Autumn is between 2-4; however summer could go as high as 7 and there's UV from 8am til 5pm. In another words, your succulents could even get the UV from shading area as long as they are outdoor.

Shading net is a must during summer and UK is blessed with temperamental weather. It's always very hard to decide if I should cover them with polysheet when there's sun and rain the same day (It's massive pain right?). 

Anyway let's focus on the sun damage, shall we?

Level 1: Slight torched on the edges or tips

This is extremely common especially you are growing them outdoor. As most of my (personal) succulents are positioned facing East and South, so they do get full sun since 9am til 3pm starting from late spring til late autumn. So little torched on edges are definitely inevitable.

I should probably move them but I have way too many to move. 

Graptoveria Opalina

My Opalina got torched quite badly... ignore the left damage leave (dropped her last year).


My solution: Meh... just leave it... Unless they are variegated plants where extra care is required I would usually cover a layer of shading net (or two layers) and that would usually do the trick. 

Level 2: Sun-burnt 

The most common reason for this level of sunburn is when you introduce your indoor succulents to the full sun as your indoor babies are not familiar with high UV and the heat from the outdoor sun. Or like me being silly and cover them with polysheet instead of shading net during holiday. 

Graptoveria cupid

Graptopetalum amethystinum

Solution: As long as they are not dead, you could move them to shading area and let them recover or simply add additional layer of shading net. Your succulents would normally detect the damaged leaves and would absorb all the nutrients from damaged leaves. 

Level 3: Rotten

Probably the worst nightmare for all the succulent lovers!

There are various reason that causing rotten stems and the main culprit is humidity and lack of air circulation. For example

1. Overwatering causing the excess humidity 

2. Stems and roots are not dry enough prior to facing the full sun

3. Cover your greenhouse without any ventilation

4. Wrong soil that traps too much of moisture

5. Pots with no drainage hole

echeveria romeo


Regardless how long you've grown succulents, you do always expect some rotten succulents every year. I think I lost 5-8 succies last year and so far 2 this year.

So what's the sign of rotten stem? 

First of all if you suddenly see your succulents

  • turn semi-transparent or
  • give you super vibrant colours
  • lose all the leaves for no reason
I'm sorry to tell you she might be rotten. If you spot that in early stage, what you can do is pull up the plants (from the pot), remove all the infected leaves and use a sharp knife and cut off the rotten area. You then let them face the sun whilst air dry. Hopefully that would save them like my White Snow. 

echeveria white snow

But I do have to warn you that it might not work all the time. 


How to prevent sun damage? 

I am just going to ignore the level 1 damage as that happens way too much and unless you do have commercial greenhouse or grow them under shaded areas then you probably won't get any level 1 damage. 

There are simply too many reasons causing rotten succulents but you only have to remember to two key points: Dry & Air Circulation

  1. Shading net if you are growing them outdoor especially your babies do get maximum sun from 11-3pm
  2. Only water during evening and leave them dry before facing the full sun
  3. High porosity soil
  4. Pots that drain well, my favourite is still terracotta pots
  5. Cover them if it's raining. I know I have previously mentioned that I love rainwater but I love to collect them; not so much on exposing to the rain consecutively. 
  6. Bug spray every two weeks or 10 days. 

If you are going on holiday during summer, my best advice is check the weather forecast and cover them with at least of shading net. I would normally move them to other areas where there won't be facing the full sun and cover with a layer of thin polysheet whilst still providing adequate air circulation or don't cover with polysheet at all. But you do have to pray that your babies will still survive when you return from holiday!

1 comment

I having been reading on you page about what ways that you are growing you succulents what way do you them outside grown or pots. Advice i a problems with my plants the last few warm has left them with burned sun marks What can i do with them. I am enjoying reading you page. What i am sorry about is that the were on computer there when dad was alive. He used to bread sempeveria in a big way. He only put one out for sale. We had about 13,000 of them going back to about 1700’s. We had a big English estate which there all grew until the IRA burned us out in 1921 all the them them we sold by the family then.
My dad wanted me to learned to bread plants but i had no interest in them. it is only the past couple of years that i am trying succulents. I am not young now i don’t how long i have left. I will keep trying i have a friend in down under who is getting material that he going to send me. I am told that there are leaves with small plants. Do you think there grow and what mix to try growing.
Wait order. Do you have new on

Joseph Buckley

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