Sunburn among us humans is well known. However, the fact that orchids can also get sunburn is much less known. Since you can not fall back on the well-tried suntan lotion, I would like to give tips in this article, how to avoid sunburn on orchid leaves.
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The right choice of window
The easiest way to prevent sunburn on orchids is not to expose the plants to direct (midday) sun in the first place. In summer, the sun is quite aggressive even in our latitudes. If possible, you should place your orchids at a window where they only get the early morning and/or the late evening sun in summer. Orchids like this and there is little risk of sunburn.
In winter, when the sun shines less strongly from the sky, a somewhat more extended sunbathing in the morning and evening is possible. But be careful: even in winter, the sun has more power than is commonly thought and you should not overdo it with the sun for the orchids.
From March or April at the latest, caution is advised in any case. I speak from my own experience, as I once mercilessly underestimated the sun at the end of March. The result was nasty burns on some of my orchid seedlings. Not pretty.
Shading aids – many ways lead to the goal
If one does not have the possibility to place the orchids at a sunless window for logistical reasons or simply from the orientation of the windows in one’s home, one can remedy the situation with various utensils. One variant is adhesive films, which you stick directly on the window panes. They are available in a firmly adhering or removable version. Foils with a frosted glass look are very suitable here.
They let some of the sunlight through – so they don’t shade the windows completely. Of course, the films also change the appearance of the window and you can no longer really look out of the window. You have to think about whether you want to pay this price, because the foils can not be just removed and reattached.
Roller shutters may be suitable
Who would like to have a somewhat more flexible variant of shading, pleated blinds could be the means of choice. These are variable up and down adjustable sliding curtains that you screw or clamp into the window frame. Here you can vary the shading of the windows by simple handles. Pleated blinds also still let light through and do not shade completely. The orchid likes this because while direct sun is a danger to it, it definitely still wants to get enough light to grow. Pleated blinds, however, are not a very cheap alternative and depending on how many and how big windows you want to equip with them, it can blow the budget.
Roller shutters only limited recommendable
Far less flexible are roller shutters, which in my opinion are only suitable for shading orchid windows with a timer – or if someone is constantly at home to move the shutters up and down as needed. The problem here is that shutters usually provide complete shade, allowing little to no light to pass through. So the orchid is more or less in the dark all day. It is questionable whether it still gets enough light to effectively maintain its metabolic processes. Especially during a longer period of good weather with continuous sunshine, I imagine this to be rather unfavorable. Nevertheless, of course, still better than letting the orchid leaves burn.
My first choice: sun shades
Personally, I’ve been lucky at home so far to get by without any special shading precautions, as my windows provide just the right dose of direct sun for the orchids. It was different in my office, where one March said young plants burned. Here I needed a solution that would meet several requirements at once: 1. it couldn’t be anything that needed to be permanently fixed. 2. it had to be something that could be quickly removed for window cleaning and then quickly reattached. 3. it should keep within the price range.
After some research I came to the conclusion that sunshades, as they are known for the car, could be well suited. Among other things, I have this self-adhesive sun visor from Verano* in use. It can be easily attached to the window without suction cups and can also be removed again. I have this variant now for several summers in use and must say that it works really well and is for me for this purpose the ideal solution. In winter, I simply stow the sun shades in the closet and no later than the beginning of March – you learn – they come back to the windows. So far, this has been a great way to prevent sunburn.
If it happens anyway
Despite all precautions, it can still happen that an orchid gets sunburned. The reassuring thing is that in most cases the orchid will survive. It is, however, the case that the burned leaf will not recover. So the burn marks will be visible until the leaf dies of old age. Although this may be a visual defect, the leaf should not be cut off. Firstly, there is a risk of infection and secondly, the still green parts of the leaf can continue to photosynthesize and supply the plant.
By the way, you can recognize an approaching sunburn on the leaves among other things by the fact that the leaf turns yellowish. This is usually already a sign of too much sun. At the latest now you should act and shade the window or move the orchid to a more suitable window.
I hope I could help you with my tips against sunburn of orchids. Feel free to tell me how you do it with the sun protection and what tricks you have in store against sunburn!
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.