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Little Red Hen's Blog

Aspiring Gardener

Hello, and welcome back to another week with the Aspiring Gardener! This week, we’re going to be discussing something that’s been affecting a lot of people across California—scorched leaves. This last heat wave was a rough one, and many plants may have suffered damage from the baking-hot days. Now, scorched leaves and burnt tips can also be caused by too little water or too much water or fertilizer, but the most well-known causes are too much sunlight and dry, hot air. This can be scary, especially when your plants begin to look half-dead, but that’s okay. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and follow these steps!

The first step is to evaluate your plant and its soil and identify why its leaves are burning. The soil should be moist and damp to the touch, but shouldn’t be dripping or have any standing water in the pot. If there is, drain what you can and prune away any rotted roots, as those cannot recover and are dead. Once done, repot your plant and let the soil dry out before watering again. If the soil falls apart or holds a dry, hard shape, the plant hasn't been getting enough water. Break apart the crust and press the soil against the sides of the pot so that water can be directed back to the roots. While checking the soil and roots, check for a white crust indicating salt from fertilizer buildup. This can cause burns on the plant by drawing water away from the plant and creating an artificial drought. To help with that, water the plant heavily and flush away the built-up salt. For indoor plants, this can be done in a sink or tub.

The second step is to keep an eye on your plant as it recovers. Most plants are healthiest when watered deeply but infrequently. Lastly, get rid of the evidence. Prune away scorched parts of the leaves, following the shape of the leaf and leaving a thin brown line along the edge to protect the healthy part of the leaf. If your plants are outside and part of your landscaping, seasonal changes will eventually do away with the burnt leaves without interference.

See you all next week. Happy planting!


Posted by Fran H

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