Is Your Jade Plant Sunburned? How to Tell & How to Fix It

Jade plant with two sunburned leaves.

Jade plants are great additions to any home. Not only are they suitable for plant novices, but their thick, glossy leaves are also said to bring good luck.

I have several jade plants, some of which I moved to a west-facing window.  

Since jade plants come from the provinces of South Africa, I thought they’d like the stronger light. However, I didn’t take into account how strong the afternoon light was until the leaves started browning. 

I wondered, can I jade plant get sunburned?

A jade plant can become sunburned if exposed to too much intense light. Signs generally include brown spots on the leaves and stems. Sunburn is not lethal to your jade plant, but it is unattractive. 

In this post, you’ll learn the signs of a sunburned jade plant and how you can fix the problem.

Is Your Jade Plant Sunburned?

Jade plants like light, and need at least 4 – 6 hours of bright, indirect light per day. Some varieties tolerate stronger light better than others.

But, any jade plant can be damaged by too much sun. And, like humans, jade plants too can suffer sunburn.

Signs of Jade Plant Sunburn

Signs of sunburn can include,

  • Leaves begin discoloring.
  • Leaves have scorched-looking spots of brown or reddish brown.
  • Scorched spots become wrinkled.
  • The leaves feel wrinkly and crispy.
  • The leaves or plant begins to droop.

Sunburn is not the only reason for discolored or droopy leaves.  Other issues, like improper watering or pests, can also affect a plant’s leaves. 

But, for my plants, the tell-tale sign was the scorched look to the leaves. Frankly, they looked sunburned. 

Reasons Your Jade Plant Is Sunburned

Sunburn on a jade plant results from overexposure to bright, intense light. This can occur indoors or outdoors. 

Indoors, glass intensifies light. So, a jade plant sitting next to a window may be getting stronger light than you realize. Especially if it’s a west or south-facing window. This is what happened to my plants.

Jade leaf with sunburn.

But, it’s not just windows.  Placing your plant too close to a strong grow light can also burn the plant. 

And it’s the same with outdoors. Jade plants sitting in the harsh afternoon sun can be susceptible to sunburn. 

In addition, overexposure can happen when your plant gets too much light too soon

For example, moving your plant from indoors to a sunny outdoor spot without giving it time to acclimate.  Plants get used to the lower light indoors. They need time to adjust to the extra heat and sunlight.

Jade plant with leaves turned towards the sun.
Image by hartono subagio from Pixabay

It’s the same indoors when you move your plant from a lower light to a higher light area. It may need to adjust.

Lastly, younger plants need extra care. They may have more difficulty adjusting to harsher conditions.

How to Prevent Sunburn on Your Jade Plant

To help prevent sunburn, start by acclimating your plant to any increases in light. 

So, for example, if you’re moving your plant outside for the summer, don’t do so all at once. Put your plant outside for a few hours each day, then bring it back inside.  Do this for about a week, until it gets used to the brighter light.

Indoors, when moving your plant to a brighter window, start with having it sit back from the window a bit. Then gradually move it closer to the window. 

Jade plant in partial sunlight
Image by rConceptz from Pixabay

This was the mistake I made with my jade plants. I placed them next to a much brighter window than they were used to, without acclimating them first.

Once your plant has moved to the brighter spot, monitor it closely to ensure it’s adjusting to the new light level.

Lastly, keep your plant healthy. Healthier plants can better withstand the stress of the extra heat better.  My guide to jade plant care has good information on how to keep your jade plant healthy.

How to Save a Sunburned Jade Plant

1. Move the plant back from the window, to where it has bright, but indirect light.  If outside, move it to an area where afternoon light is more filtered.

2. Check your plant’s water. If dry, water him thoroughly, then let the soil mostly dry out before watering again. It’s important not to overwater your jade plant, as this will further stress the plant. 

3. Consider hanging a sheer curtain, especially if moving the plant is not possible. A sheer curtain will help diffuse the light.

4. Avoid fertilizing your plant for a little bit. Too much fertilizer can also scorch leaves, especially synthetic fertilizers. After a few weeks, you can give your plant a very light feeding with a natural fertilizer. But even here, avoid too much fertilizing.

Should You Remove Sunburned Leaves?

Scorched leaves are not salvageable. They won’t recover and turn green again. However, they can be left on the plant.

Don’t be alarmed if they eventually fall off on their own. 

Although leaves don’t need removing, any burned stems should be pruned. Especially if they’re severely burned. A burned stem can make your plant more susceptible to disease.

To remove stems, or leaves, use sharp clean pruners.

I’ve written an article on the different types of pruners. You’ll find it helpful when it comes to choosing the best pruners for you.

If you do remove the damaged leaves, you can prune the branch just below where the leaves were removed. This helps prevent long, bare stems. And, new leaves will sprout from the pruned spot.

Jade plant with a new leaf growing from a cut stem.

How Much Light Do Jade Plants Need?

In general, jade plants should receive 6 hours of bright, indirect light per day. Mature, larger plants are better able to tolerate more direct light than younger, smaller plants.

If placing your plant outdoors for the summer, keep it in filtered light, such as by a tree or under a porch. Keep it out of intense, direct light, especially during the hot afternoon sun. 

And remember, if putting outdoors, not only will it need to adjust to stronger light, but once back inside for winter, it will need to readjust to the lower light. Both can be stressful. 

Final Thoughts

  • A jade plant can be sunburned from too intense light.
  • Signs can include, brown, scorched-looking spots, leaves wrinkling, or discoloring.
  • Sunburn is not lethal but can be unsightly.
  • Sunburned leaves are not salvageable, but don’t harm the plant.
  • If sunburned, move the plant away further back from the window and give it a thorough watering.

If you enjoyed this article on sunburned jade plants and found it helpful, feel free to share it.


Hi! My name is Angela Carr. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb!

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