How to stop plants from burning in the summer sun

Homebase detail water saving tips for the garden in summer

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PLANTS require good measures of sunshine and rain to maintain a steady growth but can quickly take a turn for the worst if exposed to extreme weather. Protecting your garden from too much sun is essential to maintain that impressive evergreen display, but how can you do it?

Like most things in life, plants grow best when they consume everything in moderation. Although we haven’t seen much of the sun this summer, we all know just how unpredictable the weather can be here in the UK so it’s important to know how to prepare your plants for both the best and the worst of the Great British Summer. Plants can be scorched if over-exposed to the sun but with these top tips, you can stop a burning plant in its tracks.

With extreme weather conditions on the rise, refreshing your gardening knowledge on heatwave plant care is more important than ever to prevent a spoiled garden display.

What does sunscald look like on plants?

Just as humans go red in the sun, your leafy greens will begin to turn white if they have been victim to sunburn.

Excessive exposure to the sun affects the outer layers of leaf tissue which burn and discolour causing a white hue on the leaves and stems of your beloved garden plants.

New and established plants can suffer from sun damage and it is most likely to happen when there is a sudden change in the level of UV rays – which come from a high, hot sun.

Sunburn doesn’t discriminate so don’t neglect your ‘sun-loving’ plants as even they can suffer – pay particular attention to tomatoes and peppers which will stop producing if they overheat, bringing your home-grown summer salad source to a halt.


To prevent your plants from stunted growth, keep up with your watering during a heatwave.

Watering when it’s hot is one thing, but watering effectively to prevent thirst is crucial to your plants chances of survival when it’s hotting up outside.

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Time it right by watering early in the morning and when the evening arrives to quench the roots before the heat can evaporate the water.

Aim to water your plants two to three times a week and dive deep for the roots to test the soil moisture so that you know whether they actually need more water – overwatering can do just as much damage as the sun.


Mulch for temperature regulation and to retain soil moisture – you can use tree bark, wood chips, pine straw, moss, grass clippings, or leaves, newspaper, manure and compost.

How to shade outdoor plants from the sun

Shade cloth gardening is one way to create deliberate shade during hot spells to protect your plants against sun damage.

You can create simple shade structures over your plants using steaks and thin canvas-like material to create a ‘half tent’ shade cover which is ideal for use on a single raised garden bed.

Use two taller steaks and two short ones then lay the canvas cloth over the structure so it is slanted over the plants and secure.

  • Utilise patio umbrellas for potted plants for an extra boost of shade protection
  • Build large stake structures to cover multiple flower beds
  • Use lowly placed white, green or black shade cloth for complete shade – use support hoops to keep the fabric directly off the plant
  • Use a thin bed sheet as a make-shift shade cover
  • Strategically place garden statues and other taller garden accessories to create shade over smaller-plots

How to protect plants from direct sunlight

It’s not just outdoor plants that can be affected by sunburn so keep an eye on your window-sill pots to avoid them being caught out by strong beams.

Protecting potted plants from heat is easily done with a little bit of forward-planning to organise your plants to a less intense spot with lower UV penetration.

Keep an eye on container pots as these will dry out more quickly so you may need to up the watering – use the soil moisture test to determine whether it is necessary.

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