Sunning

November 20, 2020

Since the weather was nice Melissa decided it was a good day to put some of the winter growing succulents on the patio to soak up some rays.  While they get some sun on the porch, the plastic cuts down on the amount of light and limits some light colors from coming through.  That is not a problem with the dormant plants, but the active plants need light to grow.  Melissa purchased several grow lamps for the long periods of cold weather we will get later, but right now it is just as easy to let them air out in the warm sunshine.

When I was growing up part of your right of passage every summer was getting a bad sunburn.  As the summer wore on and your tan darkened, I believed I did not have to worry, as my tanned skin blocked the burning rays.  As I got older, I found out about the damaging effect of sunlight on your skin.  It not only causes aging but can also causes skin cancer.  I have had several “tanning” friends who have ended up with skin cancer (Melanoma).  This is usually curable, but it can be fatal if left untreated.  There is a five-year survival rate of around 99% if it is caught early.  That still means one in every hundred.

I was interested to find that succulents react like people.  Light is essential for the growth of every plant through the process of photosynthesis.  However, plants can get sunburn from exposure to too much sunlight.  Even drought-resistant plants like succulents get sunburn if they get exposed to sunlight for more than the required number of hours.  The problem comes as the number of hours of sunlight differs with different types of succulents.  You also need to beware of shifting the plants from shaded to direct sunlight.  You need to start to sun them slowly to let them adapt to the full sun.  Oddly, it is this same exposure that allows them to produce their brilliant colors.  Sounds a lot like my summer tan.

Thoughts:  As a boy, I never used sunscreen.  As an adult I do on occasion, especially when I plan on fishing on the water (reflected sun somehow seems worse).  Properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98% of UVB rays, and SPF values between 30 and 50 offer adequate sunburn protection, even for people sensitive to sunburn.  Many today avoid the sun and instead use tanning beds or lamps.  According the Skin Cancer Foundation, tanning beds provide the same type of light as the sun, that is why you tan.  That is also why you can get basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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