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Revive Yellowing Aloe: An Unconventional Approach

Aloe Vera turns yellow due to overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, diseases like root rot, or abrupt temperature changes. Each cause manifests distinct symptoms and requires specific solutions. An unconventional solution like using rice rinse water might also help revive the plant.

It’s been about a year since I bought my aloe plant, and I was pretty disappointed to see its leaves starting to turn yellow and losing their vigor.

However, I was able to revive it using a certain method, and I’d like to share my journey here.

Aloe Vera Plant Turning Yellow

The Mystery of My Yellowing Aloe 

When my aloe started to turn yellow, I turned to Google for advice. Most of the search results told me, “You’re giving it too much water!” or “The roots must be rotting!”

Honestly though, I wasn’t drowning the plant in water. I thought it might still be too damp, so I decided to cut back on watering. But instead of improving, the yellowing worsened, and the plant began to look sicker. I had no clue what was going wrong!

Adding to my woes, the leaves started to curl. I couldn’t bear the thought of my aloe dying on me!

Sun and Air Conditioning: A Series of Experiments 

My first instinct was to give my aloe more sunlight. It seemed to perk up a bit at first, but eventually, the leaves started to droop again.

I noticed that my aloe plant seemed to lose its pep during the summer, leading me to wonder if it might be the cold draft from the air conditioner.

To test this theory, I moved the plant to a room out of direct AC wind. Disappointingly, it didn’t make much difference.

In a last-ditch effort, I decided to relocate my aloe plant outside. I left it on top of the outdoor unit of the air conditioner, exposed to the summer heat, for about two months.

Instead of reviving, it looked even less healthy than when I first moved it out. The situation was looking grim.

The Winning Solution!

When I turned to my mom for advice – she’s been growing aloe vera at home for years – she suggested, “Why not try using the water you rinse rice with?” Without wasting a minute, I poured a generous amount of that milky rice rinse water into my aloe pot.

The very next day, it seemed like my plant was perking up. After a week, I treated it to another heaping dose of rice rinse water, and wow, it sprang back to life!

Here’s a photo taken 4 months after I began the rice rinse water regimen. My aloe was on the brink of death, you can see how remarkably it has revived and even blooming.

The leaves now stand tall and firm, and it’s an absolute joy to see! They’ve become so robust and strong. You can even spot new growth!

The life force coursing through it is simply awe-inspiring. Despite the stem showing signs of dryness, it seems to be absorbing water just fine.

Though my experience offers one possible solution, remember that the cause of your aloe plant’s yellowing might be different, requiring a distinct approach.

So, let’s explore some other potential reasons and their corresponding solutions for the yellowing of an aloe vera plant.

Overwatering Can Lead to Fungal Growth in Aloe Vera

Excessive watering can leave your aloe vera sitting in damp soil for extended periods. This persistent moisture fosters conditions ripe for root rot, a disease often caused by fungal growth.

Constantly soaked soil creates an anaerobic (oxygen-deprived) environment, causing the root system to decay. If fungal spores are present in the soil, the situation can quickly deteriorate.

Unfortunately, early stages of root rot often go unnoticed because visible symptoms don’t appear until the disease has extensively damaged the root system.

By the time your plant starts to show signs, the rot has already impeded the supply of nutrients and water, or it has progressed upwards into the main stem.

This explains why an overwatered aloe vera plant might start to yellow – the roots can no longer fuel the plant’s normal physiological activities.

Aloe turning yellow because of overwatering

Lack of Watering Is Causing The Aloe Leaf to Dry Out And Yellow

While aloe vera plants can happily survive for 2-3 months without a drop of water, it doesn’t imply you can skip watering them entirely.

If you neglect to water your aloe for a long time, the soil inevitably dries up. The dry soil hinders the roots from absorbing the necessary nutrients, as these essential elements for plants are soluble in soil water.

The water deprivation means your plant can’t utilize the available nutrients effectively. Consequently, your aloe vera begins to exhibit signs of stress, such as yellowing leaves.

Aloe vera tips turning yellow.
Underwatered Aloe vera Turning Yellow

Wondering about the best way to hydrate your aloe vera plant? Here’s a friendly guide that most plant enthusiasts swear by:

  • Start by gently loosening the top layer of the soil and let it dry out for about an inch or two.
  • Next, it’s time to water your plant. Make sure to provide just enough water without saturating the soil – it’s crucial for any excess water to freely drain from the pot.
  • Try to water your aloe once every ten days. However, when winter comes around, you’ll want to cut back a bit on the watering frequency.

Here’s a little tip: Young aloe plants are typically thirstier than their mature counterparts, so they may need a bit more water.

Always bear in mind that the frequency of watering greatly depends on factors such as the intensity of light exposure, humidity, and the size of your plant.

Yellow Leaves on Aloe Plants May Signal a Nutrient Deficiency

Aloe plants may start to turn a pale or yellowish-green when they experience a nitrogen deficiency. You may also observe a thinning of the leaf plates and the tips of the leaves taking on a yellow hue.

In an aloe plant, the chlorophyll content directly relates to the nitrogen content. A deficiency in nitrogen or iron leads to less chlorophyll being produced.

With less chlorophyll, the plant undergoes less photosynthesis, leading to a reduction in food production, and ultimately, yellow leaves.

If you notice the lower and older leaves of your aloe plant yellowing, it could be suffering from a nitrogen deficiency.

Conversely, if the new or younger leaves are turning yellow, it might be due to an iron deficiency, also known as chlorosis.

Despite these concerns, keep in mind that aloe vera doesn’t require much fertilizer. A single application of succulent or cactus fertilizer in the spring should suffice for your aloe’s nutrient needs.

Remember, after transplanting your aloe, hold off on fertilizing for about six months. The new soil will provide the necessary nutrients, and young plants won’t need extra fertilizer during this period.

Why Diseases Might Be Turning Your Aloe Yellow

Roots turned black and soft indicates root rot

Root rot can stealthily annihilate your plants before you get a chance to intervene. However, if you identify it in time, there are measures you can take to rescue your plant from this devastating condition.

Phytophthora fungi, often spurred by excessive moisture in the potting soil or overwatering, is the main culprit behind root rot. This nasty fungus decimates the root system, hindering your aloe’s ability to soak up nutrients and water.

Consequently, the entire plant starves, unable to function normally due to a shortage of vital nutrients.

Here are some telltale signs of root rot in aloe vera:

  1. The leaves become thin, take on a watery appearance, and start to wilt.
  2. The vibrant green hue fades into a sickly yellow.
  3. The aloe stem seems thin and brittle, and can easily snap off at the base.
  4. The soil starts to emit an unpleasant odor.
  5. The plant’s growth stalls.

If your plant shows these symptoms, don’t panic. I’ve written another article on how to rescue your aloe vera from root rot. I break down the steps I took to nurse my own plant back to health, making it an easy, stress-free guide for you to follow.

The Effects of Temperature Shifts on Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera thrives best in temperatures ranging between 50-80°F. However, abrupt changes in temperature can interrupt its normal physiological processes, leading to visible symptoms on the leaves such as yellowing.

When the temperature falls below 50°F, the aloe vera plant might begin to show signs of stress through color changes.

On the flip side, if the aloe plant basks in the sun for prolonged periods (more than 3 hours) during hot weather (above 80°F), it can overheat and show color changes as well. In this scenario, your aloe vera may start turning yellow as a signal of distress.

How I Keep My Aloe Vera Healthy And Happy

Here’s what I continue to do:

  • I replace tap water with rice rinse water when watering.
  • I keep the plant in a sunlit room, away from direct air conditioning.

I can’t help but stand in awe at the sheer vitality of the aloe plant. It’s a testament to Earth’s magnificence, life’s preciousness, the cosmic mysteries, and the origins of life energy. It truly shows how intriguing our world can be.

So, as you ponder over life’s energy mysteries, why not experiment with some rice rinse water on your aloe? Maybe while savoring a delicious cup of tea, you could give your aloe a nourishing dose of rice rinse water? (But remember, the tea is just for you, not for the plant!)

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