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Why Are Aloe Leaves Turning Brown?

We often think of aloe as a nearly indestructible plant. However, even this hardy species can run into issues. One common problem among growers, especially those who keep their aloe on a windowsill, is yellowing leaves.

There are mainly three reasons why your aloe might change color. First off, it’s about the water. Either too much or too little water can cause this issue. It’s tricky, right?

Secondly, it’s the nutrients in the soil. When there’s too much salt built up in the soil, it can ‘burn’ the roots, leading to discoloration of the leaves.

Lastly, it’s the environment. Aloe plants are not fans of the cold. If they’re kept in a chilly spot, their leaves might change color. And on the flip side, too much direct sunlight can sunburn the leaves, causing them to discolor.

Now, about those dried leaves – where should you cut them?

1- Irregular Watering Schedule

Aloe leaves can turn brown from both under-watering and over-watering. But how do you figure out if your plant needs more or less water?

The simplest way to check if your aloe has enough water is to use a wooden stick to feel the soil. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water your aloe, but don’t go overboard – give it some time to recover.

If you can’t gauge the moisture level of the substrate with makeshift methods, take a close look at the plant’s leaves.

Leaves of an under-watered aloe are noticeably thinner and yellower compared to a healthy plant, while over-watered plants tend to have browner, rather than yellow, leaves. However, the turgor might still be quite firm.

2- Wrong Environment

Aloes aren’t fussy about their location, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have specific lighting needs. Despite these plants originating from sun-drenched deserts, they require shading in intense heat, especially in a home environment.

Most of the year, the sun in my region isn’t as strong as in aloe’s native habitat. Since the plant has adapted to this more ‘gentle’ light, direct sunlight can be harmful.

It’s particularly crucial to monitor your aloe from October to March. During this period, the plant’s biological processes slow down significantly. In this semi-dormant state, the plant struggles with the active winter sun, so it might need extra shading.

3- Temperature Regulation Issues

The optimal temperature for Aloe, regardless of the season, is between 73-77°F (23-25°C). The plant can also thrive at lower temperatures, but the key is that the temperature drop should be gradual.

A sudden chill with a temperature drop of around 18°F (10°C) will definitely have an impact. Similarly, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight in hot weather (above 84°F or 29°C) can also be problematic.

Often, Aloes suffer from sharp temperature fluctuations, especially those placed on a glazed loggia or balcony during the spring and summer.

Therefore, it’s crucial to keep an eye on weather forecasts and either shade the plant or bring it indoors as needed.

What’s the Ideal Pot Size for My Aloe?

Once an aloe plant settles in after being repotted, it starts producing numerous side shoots. Eventually, the stems run out of space outside the pot, and the roots become cramped inside.

The root system fills up all available space, leading to a water and nutrient deficit, causing the plant to slowly dry out. Interestingly, some shoots may still look healthy.

To prevent this, timely prune the “extra” side shoots. Regularly divide and repot the aloe into larger containers.

For pot size, it’s generally better not to go too big for your aloe. As the plant grows, you’ll need to repot it. Here’s a guideline I follow:

  • For an aloe about 12 inches (30 cm) tall, I recommend a 6 to 8-inch pot.
  • If it grows to about 20 inches (50 cm), it’s time to repot it into a 10-inch pot.
  • When it reaches about 31 inches (80 cm), move it to a 12-inch pot.

Once the aloe gets really tall, potting can become tricky. So, when it grows to a certain size, I either prune it or divide the plant to maintain a manageable size.

Should I Repot My Aloe if It Turns Brown? Will It Revive After Repotting?

When your aloe turns brown, it’s like a message from the plant that it’s not happy with its current growing conditions. Let me explain what you can do about it.

To address water issues, repotting your aloe in a soil mix with a higher proportion of perlite, which improves drainage, might just be the solution. It’s like giving your aloe a new, comfy home.

If the problem is with the nutrients in the soil, changing the soil can reset the nutrient balance and help improve the discoloration. Aloes are quite resilient, so addressing these issues can often lead to a revival of the plant.

Is There a Way to Revive Aloe Leaves That Have Gone Limp and Droopy?

I mentioned earlier that aloe plants are sensitive to cold. When exposed to cold, their leaves, which are full of moisture, can freeze, damaging the cells and causing them to become limp and droopy. This can eventually lead to the plant dying.

At this point, whether the aloe revives or not depends on whether the roots are still alive. Move it to a warm, sunny spot and keep an eye on it. If there’s no sign of revival, it might be time to let go.

But if things start looking up, keep the healthy leaves and trim away any parts that didn’t recover. It’s all about giving your aloe the care it needs to bounce back!

Where Should I Cut the Dried Leaves of My Aloe?

When it comes to cutting off the dried leaves of your aloe, you should snip them right at the base. I use scissors or a knife for this, and it works just fine.

But a word of caution: make sure your tools are sterile to prevent disease. I usually clean mine with alcohol or heat them up to kill any germs. Removing these dried leaves is a step towards reviving your beloved aloe.

What Should I Do if My Aloe has Root Rot?

If your aloe hasn’t completely perished from root rot, there’s a chance you can bring it back to life. If the stem is still healthy despite root rot, first remove the rotten roots.

Then, let the cut end dry for about a week. After it’s sufficiently dried, repot it in a new pot. Hold off on watering for about a week after repotting.

Once you start watering again, new roots should eventually grow, and your aloe could return to its former glory.

Don’t give up on your aloe, even with root rot. With proper care and its strong will to live, revival is possible.

What If My Aloe Grows Too Big?

If your aloe has grown too large, consider pruning and reshaping it. The best time for this is during the warmer months, from April to September.

Trim the brown leaves and old stems, and let the soil in the pot dry out thoroughly before removing the aloe. Shake off the soil from the roots and thin out the offshoots.

If the top part of your oversized aloe looks unbalanced, cut off about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) from the top. Allow the cut to dry out well before replanting.

Also, you can plant the cut-off top part after drying the cut end, which can grow into a new aloe plant.

Can Sunburnt Aloe Leaves Be Restored to Their Original State?

Unfortunately, sunburnt aloe leaves can’t be restored to their original state. However, you can revive the aloe plant itself.

If the sunburnt parts are in areas that can be cut off without issues, go ahead and trim them. Next, by removing the cause of the sunburn, your aloe can bounce back to health.

Sunburn usually occurs when exposed to too much strong sunlight, especially in the summer, or not getting enough light.

If it’s not getting enough sunlight, move it to a brighter spot. Conversely, if direct sunlight is too strong, use a shade net or something similar to adjust the light exposure.

Key Takeaways

In this article, we’ve explored how to deal with aloe leaves turning brown and dying. Aloes are hardy plants, but here are key points to remember for their care:

  • Both too much and too little water can damage the leaves and roots.
  • Excess nutrients in the potting soil can harm the plant starting from the roots.
  • Poor environmental conditions, like improper lighting or temperature, can damage the aloe.

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