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Have you ever gotten a sunburn?  Maybe a better question is, “Who hasn’t?”


Well, did you know that many plants can get sunburned too?

I recently made a house call for a client who was worried about her newly planted citrus trees.


This particular client had a large courtyard where she had several new citrus trees planted in pots.

The citrus had been planted that spring and she began to notice the leaves on her orange tree turning yellow as the summer progressed.


Now yellowing leaves can indicated a number of different problems.  But in this case, the diagnosis was rather simple – this citrus tree was suffering from sunburn.

Here are some common signs of sunburned plants:

– The areas of the leaf that are yellow are in the center and NOT along the tips or edges.

– Often, the yellow areas begin to turn brown.

– Signs normally occur in the summer months.

– The sunburned leaves are generally located on the south and west-facing parts of the plant.

– This particular citrus tree was located in an area that received full, reflected, afternoon sun. 

So, what can you do to prevent sunburned citrus?

In this case, the solution was simple – moving the citrus tree to another part of the courtyard that received afternoon shade was all that was needed to prevent further sunburn damage.

Citrus do best when planted at least 10 – 15 ft. away from walls, which absorb the heat of the day and re-radiate it out toward your citrus.  

Avoid planting where they get the full force of afternoon sun.
If your citrus trees suffer sunburn every summer, you can provide temporary shade using shade cloth. 

Have you ever had sunburned plants?  What did you do to prevent furture sunburn?

This is the first of a new series called “Garden House Calls” where I share the answers to questions that I am often asked in my work as a horticulturist and landscape consultant.