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Leaf scorch


by Pippa Greenwood

Even though we've not had a great summer so far in Hampshire, the leaves of many of my garden plants are suffering from scorch.


Scorched leafEven though we've not had a great summer so far in Hampshire, the leaves of many of my garden plants are suffering from scorch. It's not just my own plants – I've seen leaf scorch on quite a few plants and I answered many questions on the subject at a recent gardening questions event in Singleton.

Many gardeners associate scorch with strong sunlight, but it's not only sun that can damage plants in this way. In warm, wet conditions, plant foliage is often quite soft, and therefore easily injured. Wind can scorch leaves as well as sun (and we’ve certainly had plenty of wind in Hampshire). Heavy rain and hail will also damage plants, peppering leaves and flowers with tiny shot marks.

To make matters worse, water droplets on foliage can magnify the sun's rays, burning leaves beneath them. This effect is exacerbated if the plants are in the greenhouse. I think this has happened to some of my ripening peppers.

Some crops, like tomatoes and chillies, can develop low calcium levels if they have been watered erratically. This makes their plant cells more vulnerable to scorch damage.

There's not a lot we can do about wind scorch or damage from heavy rain and hail, but we can change our watering technique to protect container plants and fruit and veg from sun. Keep watering plants regularly, avoid leaving water droplets on leaves, and try not to water plants just before bright sun is forecast!



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Gardeners' World Web User 10/08/2011 at 18:21

My most useful piece of equipment in my conservatory is a pile of plastic trays which hold an inch or two of water so I can water all my plants from below and avoid leaf scorch.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/08/2011 at 19:12

Hmmm. Thought that had been mostly debunked, Pippa, and recently too? That the sun only magnifies if the plants are hairy and not smooth? That most water evaporates before it can cause harm?

Gardeners' World Web User 12/08/2011 at 04:46

Ihave put my rubber plant outside from the conservatory. Some leaves are showing brown patchy marks very similar to scorch marks. Otherwise the plant loves to come out for 3 summer months or more,anyone else do this?

Gardeners' World Web User 12/08/2011 at 08:22

Yes, Lady Linda, I give my conservatory plants a summer vacation in the garden and this gives me a chance to thoroughly clean the conservatory, glass, floor, shelves, and get rid of any spiders that have set up home there. They get put out into the garden too. There is a little wind damage on the beautiful mimosa like leaves of my Persian Silk Tree (Albitzia jubillissima) but nothing that looks like scorch marks on anything.

Gardeners' World Web User 12/08/2011 at 08:33

I do the same as happymarion, I water all my plants from below and have some standing in trays in the greenhouse. I do damp down the greenhouse in the early morning which seems to help. I don't seem to have many birds at the moment in the garden, have they all gone on holiday? Does anyone know why? I haven't changed anything and I've still got feeders out and fresh water.

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