The Q&A Archives: Whitening Leaves on Tomato and Cucumber Plants

Question: I have different kinds of Burpee tomato and cucumber plants. They are still in inside the house and in potting soil. Since the weather was nice over the weekend I put the pots out in sun on the porch. In the evening I wanted to carry them back inside since the temperature is too cold at night. Here's what happened: I noticed that some tomato and cucumber leaves turned almost white color and feel as dry as paper on the surface. It almost looks like all the green color of the leaves disappear continuously. I don't know if it could be fungus like mildew or blight of some kind, or if the sudden sun damaged the leaves. Some of the leaves turn yellow after some time and fall off. I saw mildew and fungus on plants before, but this seems to be different.

I am helpless! Can you please advise me what I can do to save my plants?

Answer: Based on your description it sounds like the culprit is too much sun too fast. Plants grown indoors, even those grown with supplemental lights, need to be acclimated gradually to real sunshine so their leaves can adjust to its intensity. The best way to do this is over a week or so by first moving them toa sheltered spot in the shade, then to a spot with a bit of early morning sun, then to a spot with longer sun exposure and so on until eventually they are in full sun. At this point you can try setting them in the shade and begin acclimating them, be sure they are watered, and hope they recover. You may find that they continue to lose their damaged leaves but also manage to grow replacements. I'm sorry about your plants!

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