WSU Extension


Camellia : Sunburn
(revision date: 4/23/2014)

Camellia leaves are sensitive to direct sunlight, which kills leaf tissue. Sunburn occurs when the shrub is planted in full sun or against a south- or west-facing wall. It only takes one hot summer day for damage to develop. In excessive heat and sunlight, transpiration rates exceed water uptake from the soil, causing leaves to experience moisture stress. Leaves develop irregular brown areas along the edges which eventually spread inward along the ribs. Another type of sunburn occurs with new growth in spring during cloudy weather. Before the leaf tissue can harden or mature, a bright sunny day occurs. Tissue damage appears in the center of the leaf (not the edges). Damaged leaves are seen mostly on south and southwest exposures. Although undesirable aesthetically, sunburn does not significantly damage the plant. Weakened leaves are, however, in greater danger of fungal or bacterial infection.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Transplant injured plants to a shaded area, or provide greater shade at their current spot.
  • Provide adequate moisture during hot, dry weather.
  • Remove affected leaves wherever feasible to avoid fungal or bacterial infection.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended

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Caption: Camellia sunburn
Photo by: R.S. Byther