Sunburned Calathea: How To Identify, Treat and Prevent It

By | Updated April 22, 2023

Calathea, commonly known as the Prayer plant, is an attractive houseplant valued for its beautiful foliage. But, unfortunately, calathea can get sunburned if not cared for properly.

Sunburned calathea is a common problem for indoor gardeners. It occurs when calathea leaves are exposed to too much sunlight, causing the leaves to become discolored and dull.

In severe cases, calathea can even suffer from leaf scorch or dryness, leading to death.

Fortunately, it’s possible to identify calathea sunburn early and take steps to prevent it from occurring.

Here you’ll find all the information you need to identify calathea sunburn and take the necessary steps to treat and prevent it from occurring.

Identifying Sunburn in Calathea Plants

Sunburn in calathea plants is a common problem. The calathea plant, native to tropical South America, is an attractive and easy-to-care-for houseplant. However, it can suffer from sunburn if exposed to too much direct light.

To identify sunburn in calatheas, you must understand the symptoms and common causes.

Symptoms of Sunburned Calathea

It’s important to know what calathea sunburn looks like so you can take steps to prevent severe damage. The most common symptom of calathea sunburn is discolored or brown leaf tips, although some species may show yellowing instead.

Other signs of calathea sunburn include:

Sunburned damage to calathea leaves may take several days to appear after calatheas have been exposed to too much sunlight.

Common Causes of Sunburn in Calathea

The calathea plant is a tropical beauty with vibrant leaves and unique patterns. But its delicate nature can lead to sunburn if not correctly cared for.

Common causes of calathea sunburn include:

  • Direct sunlight: Calathea does not do well with direct sun and can easily burn if exposed for too long.
  • Unprotected windows: Windows that face south or west, without any protective covering, could be too much sun for these plants.
  • Too close to a heat source: If calatheas are placed near heat sources like radiators, the intense heat can cause damage.
  • Hot environment: Calatheas thrive in temperatures around 18°C (65°F). Anything higher can cause them to experience sunburn.
  • Not enough humidity: Low humidity levels can cause calathea leaves to become dry and brittle, increasing sunburn risk.

Prolonged exposure to any of the above factors can result in calathea sunburn. Identifying the signs and taking steps to protect your calathea from further damage is critical to maintaining its health.

Treating Sunburned Calathea Plants

Sunburned calatheas can be treated, but the severity of the sunburn will determine how successful these treatments are.

Sunburn can often be reversed with proper care, but more severe cases may require removing damaged areas.

Immediate Action to Take When Sunburn is Identified

If calathea sunburn is identified, the first step is to move the calathea away from direct sunlight and any other heat sources or dryness. The plant should be placed in an area with more consistent humidity and less direct sunlight.

Place the calathea in an area of bright, indirect light and keep the soil evenly moist. Adjust the water accordingly, as calatheas prefer moist but not soggy conditions.

The calathea should also be watered regularly with distilled water to prevent additional damage. Hard water with high chlorine levels and other minerals can cause calathea leaf burn. 

If the damage is more severe, cuts can be made to remove damaged leaves and stems. Be sure to cut away any discolored or uneven areas of the plant.

Long-term Treatment Options for Sunburned Calathea

When it comes to calatheas and sunburn, prevention is key. But if you find your calathea plant suffering from sunburn, there are treatment options. An essential part of calathea sunburn treatment is giving your plant the extra care it needs to recover and heal.

Long-term calathea sunburn recovery involves:

  • Gradually adjusting the amount of light exposure.
  • Providing adequate moisture and humidity.
  • Promoting healthy growth with fertilizing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Move the calathea to an area of the house with indirect sunlight or filtered light. An east- or west-facing room is ideal, or consider using sheer curtains to filter the sun.
  • Increase humidity around the calathea. You can place a pebble tray near the plant or mist it lightly with room-temperature water up to twice a day.
  • Make sure that you keep the calathea adequately watered and fertilized. During sunburn recovery, provide your calathea with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
  • Prune the calathea to remove dead leaves and stems, but be careful not to damage any healthy parts of the plant.

When done correctly, these steps should help your calathea recover from sunburn over time. With patience and care, you can restore your calathea health and beauty.

Preventing Sunburn in Calathea

Prevention is always better than cure, and this holds true regarding ensuring your calathea stays healthy. A calathea plant needs to grow in the right light and temperature conditions; otherwise, it can suffer from sunburn.

To help your calathea thrive and avoid sunburn, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Understanding the Ideal Light and Temperature Conditions for Calathea

Calathea plants are native to tropical areas and prefer warm, humid environments. They need indirect sunlight that is not too intense or direct, which can cause sunburn.

Bright indirect light is the best environment for calathea, along with daytime temperatures of around 65-80°F (18-27°C) and nights around 60-65°F (15-18°C).

When grown as indoor plants, calatheas usually thrive near east or west-facing windows, which provide the best indirect light. The calathea should also be kept away from any sources of heat and cold drafts.

It is essential to maintain a consistent temperature for calatheas to ensure their optimum growth. You can place a thermometer near your calatheas to check the temperature.

Humidity should also be considered when caring for calathea plants. High humidity is recommended for calathea plants. If the air is too dry, you can keep your plant hydrated by misting it often or using a humidifier.

Properly Positioning Your Calathea to Avoid Direct Sunlight

When it comes to avoiding sunburn in calatheas, proper positioning is vital.

Place your calathea out of direct sunlight and away from windows that receive too much sunlight.

To keep your calathea in optimal health, avoid placing it in south-facing windows, as these spots receive the most direct, intense sunlight.

Regularly Inspecting and Adjusting the Placement of Your Calathea

Throughout the year, it’s essential to observe and adjust your calathea’s position as the light intensity shifts.

Make sure to relocate it to a place that gets less direct sunlight during summer when there is more intense sun. During winter, you can move it closer to a sunny window, as the light is less intense.

You can keep your calathea healthy and free from sunburn by understanding its ideal light and temperature conditions, correctly positioning it to avoid direct sunlight, and regularly inspecting and adjusting its placement.

Additional Tips for Preventing Sunburn in Calathea Plants

Besides the above tips, there are a few more steps you can take to prevent calathea sunburn:

  • Move calatheas away from air conditioning systems and heaters if possible.
  • Make sure to keep calatheas away from cold drafts.
  • Relocate calathea plants to a brighter spot gradually instead of suddenly exposing them to more intense light.
  • Allow calatheas to get direct sunlight in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not at its strongest.
  • Monitor calathea leaves and check for signs of sunburn.

If you provide the proper care, calatheas will flourish in your home or garden! This necessitates diligence and close attention to their environmental conditions and light exposure. With patience and dedication, enjoy watching these lovely plants thrive with ease!

Final Thoughts

Being aware and paying close attention is the key to protecting your calathea from sunburn.

Regularly inspect and adjust your calathea’s position, ensuring adequate indirect light and avoiding direct exposure. If you notice any signs of sunburn developing, take action immediately and provide more shade or cover.

With a little effort and dedication, your calathea will stay healthy and beautiful for years. Enjoy!

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