Everyone knows Aloe vera as a plant that has medicinal uses in beauty products.
Also known as the Barbados aloe, it is a fabulous plant to add to your garden or to grow in a container on a patio or deck.
Aloe vera is an evergreen succulent with long, narrow light green leaves and green-yellow flowers that grow in a spike shape.
No one enjoys seeing a plant look sad and on its way to dying.
If you’re asking why your aloe vera’s dying, here are some pointers that will help you bring your plant back to life.
Let’s look at each of the reasons in depth to see why your Aloe vera plant may be dying.
Why is my Aloe Vera Dying?
There may be several reasons why it looks as if it is dying. This could be due to incorrect soil choice, incorrect watering routines, wrong temperatures, too low or too high humidity, attack by pests, and perhaps the wrong amount of sunlight. It can also be because of using the wrong pot size where you planted your aloe vera in.
1. Overwatering your Aloe Vera
The first point to note about your aloe vera is that it is a succulent. With that said, learning how to water succulents is essential to keeping your aloe vera alive.
Succulents thrive in dry conditions where water is often very scarce. In fact, Aloe vera is very tolerant of drought.
That being said, you should water your Aloe vera from time to time. The idea is not to overwater.
Overwatering can cause your plant to die.
The correct way to water an Aloe vera is to give it a good drenching and then wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
This is known as deep watering.
You should see the water running out of your container through the drainage holes. Ensure that the holes are not clogged and that the water does run out.
If the roots stand in water for too long, they will start to rot and the plant will eventually die.
The times between waterings will depend on the weather conditions and the temperature of your indoor home. In summer, the soil will dry out faster than in winter.
If your indoor room is warm, the soil in your container will also dry out faster.
So, you probably won’t have a routine watering plan for your Aloe vera. If you are in doubt, rather wait longer before watering.
If your plant is outside, do not water after a rainfall. Ensure that your Aloe vera is planted in well-draining soil.
If it is not, the soil will retain too much water and you will create an environment where the roots can start to rot.
2. Underwatering your Aloe vera
Most plants do require some water, no matter how drought tolerant they are.
There are a few signs that your Aloe vera is underwatered. Look to see if the leaves are turning yellow or if they are drooping.
You may also notice that the tips of the leaves are turning brown, or that the leaf edges appear to dry or brittle.
The leaves may also curl inwards. The plant does this to try to retain moisture.
If the soil inside the container’s very dry, you need to give it good watering. Drench it thoroughly.
Ensure that the water runs out of the drainage holes in your container. Then empty out the saucer underneath the container that collected the water.
Don’t get in a panic and now start to overwater!
Aloe vera watering tip: If you can collect rainwater to use for your plant, this will be ideal. Rainwater does not have the chemicals found in tap water.
Another good way to give your plant the best water possible is to boil tap water and allow it to cool overnight. This will purify and remove the chemicals in the water.
3. Wrong soil choice
Many new gardeners believe that buying a rich, potting mix is ideal for all plants.
When it comes to your Aloe vera, this is definitely not what you want to do.
Think of Aloe vera as a cactus and you can imagine that it prefers dry, sandy, gravelly soil. It will not do well with the rich moisture that regular potting soils have.
You can buy a special cactus mix from your local nursery or farmer’s market. This will be specially formulated for cactus and succulent plants.
You can also check out some of the best potting soil for houseplants if you want to do some research.
If you want to make your own mix, plan to use a composition of 40–40–20% of sand, silt, and a smaller amount of clay.
I have a great mix that uses a 50-50 peat and perlite combo. I also add in some pumice, mulch, coco husks, and some organic manure.
Read up on how to create your own soil mixture in one of the articles here for additional information.
Well draining soil is a must for Aloe vera. The water should be able to drain out so that the soil can dry out as completely as possible.
If the aloe vera’s roots sit in soil that’s been damp for too long, they will rot and your plant will die.
Soil tip for Aloe vera: If you are planting into a pot, rather choose a terracotta or clay pot instead of a plastic container.
Plastic does not breathe and tends to trap moisture inside. The sides of terracotta and clay pots allow the moisture to evaporate, helping to speed up drainage.
5. Too much sunlight
Being a succulent, Aloe vera can tolerate direct sun. It is happy in 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day.
In fact, aloe vera is included as one of the high sunlight plants that you can grow in your home.
So, why would your plant get too much light?
This usually occurs if you are moving a plant from inside your house outdoors. Or, if you are replanting your Aloe vera into a different spot in your garden.
If your plant has been indoors or in a part-shade spot, moving it into direct sunlight can cause stress and damage to the leaves.
You will notice that the leaves become sunburned and turn brown. While this may not necessarily kill your plant in a short time, excessive damage will certainly weaken the plant and may even cause it to die.
Try to give your plant an adjustment period. If you placed it in a pot, move it to a shadier spot for part of the day.
For Aloe Vera’s growing in a garden, consider putting up a shade screen during the hottest part of the afternoon.
Gradually increase the time it gets full sun until it is fully happy with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
Older plants can withstand sunlight better than younger plants. Keep your young plants protected in the mid-afternoon when the heat and sun are the strongest.
6. Too little sunlight
Aloe vera does not like to grow in the dark! This succulent loves sunshine and will not be happy in dark or shady spots.
South-facing gardens and south-facing windows are the perfect spots for Aloe vera.
They will not do well in gardens that face north, as they tend to get far too little direct sunlight.
West and east-facing gardens do offer some sunlight and Aloe vera can survive provided that the temperatures are warm.
Sunlight is crucial to the health of every plant you have. If you deprive your Aloe vera of sunlight you will notice discolored leaves.
The stems may also start to stretch towards the light to try to get as much sun as possible. This will disfigure the plant and weaken it.
Dark and shady places also tend to be damper. Damp soil is not good for Aloe vera.
It causes the roots to rot and your plant will die. The sun plays a big part in drying out the soil, and Aloe vera loves dry soil.
Do not plant your aloe vera under trees, large bushes, or against a fence or a structure that will block out valuable sunlight.
7. Incorrect temperature
Aloe vera enjoys warmer temperatures. Temperatures should stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), with a temperature range between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 26 degrees Celsius).
These plants are very sensitive to temperature changes. If the weather turns cold and wet, you may have to consider protecting outdoor plants from the elements.
Set up a screen or even use a blanket at night to cover your plants.
Pot plants are more easily moved. In winter, consider moving your Aloe vera to a warmer spot or into a greenhouse.
Signs of the temperature being too cold will show when the leaves turn brown and start to die.
Signs of the temperature being too hot will show when the leaves become sunburnt, brittle, and lose their color.
This will usually only occur if you have moved a happy Aloe vera from a shadier spot into full sun and have not given it a chance to adapt. You should plan to gradually introduce it into full sun.
Be aware of cold or draughty air conditioners when growing your plants indoors. You may feel cool and relaxed, but your plant will not be happy.
8. Incorrect humidity
Aloe vera enjoys low humidity. It is not a tropical rainforest plant that enjoys damp conditions. Its natural habitat is hot and dry.
Your average home should be fine for indoor plants.
If your living space is very humid, consider installing a dehumidifier to reduce the dampness in the air. This is good for humans and for your Aloe vera.
Humid conditions tend to breed mold and fungus which can lead to breathing problems and disease.
If your plant stands in a spot where the humidity is too high for a long time, your Aloe vera may die.
9. Plant is getting too big for the container
Any potted plant that is growing too big for its container will start to suffer and may eventually die.
If you notice that your Aloe vera is dropping or has stunted growth, it is possibly time to repot it into a larger pot.
Check the size of your indoor Aloe vera plant. If the leaves are the same size as the pot or bigger, it is time to move the aloe vera to a new container.
If you’re a newbie and you’re not sure how to go about repotting succulents, you can definitely do some reading up in an article in this site.
Plants in containers that are too small will struggle to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil. This is due to the roots becoming rootbound.
Rootbound plants have roots that are twisted and looped around one another, forming a dense mat that is almost impossible to untangle.
Tip to check for rootbound plants: Lift the plant from the base of the stem, about one inch (2.5cm) out of the soil.
If you see a tight mass of roots, you know that it is time for repotting.
Prepare a new container that is at least double the size of your current container. Remove the Aloe vera from the current pot.
Using a sharp knife, trim off some of the rootball. Don’t worry – the new roots will grow and spread fast.
Replant into the new container and water very well. Allow the water to run out of the holes you created for drainage.
An Aloe vera growing in a container that is too small will eventually die. This is because it will be unable to absorb the moisture and nutrients from the soil.
10. Pest infestation
Aloe vera is very resistant to pests. That does not mean, however, that you are totally protected.
Looking at a sad and droopy plant could indicate that pests are sucking the sap and vital nutrients out of your plant.
The first pest to look for is scale. Scale grows on the leaves and forms hard shells under which the eggs will hatch.
Once they hatch, they start to feed on the plant. You can see scale as tiny brown spots staying on the leaves.
Scale can be removed by spraying the aloe vera’s leaves with a rubbing alcohol solution. This will kill the scale but they remain attached to your plant.
To get them off, you can rub the leaves gently with a face-exfoliating cloth.
Another pest that attacks Aloe vera is the snout beetle. This beetle punctures the leaves with its proboscis.
A large infestation will weaken your plant and eventually it will die. You can remove snout beetle by sprinkling with insecticidal powder.
Fungus Gnats are another pest that can attack your aloe vera. Fungus gnats are the result of damp and cold soil.
They look like small dark gray flies with transparent wings. Fungus gnats cling to the leaves and are easily visible.
Fungus gnats are easy to get rid of by allowing the soil to dry out. If your plant is growing in damp and dark conditions, you are inviting fungus gnats in!
Move your Aloe vera into a dry sunny spot and it will soon recover.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.