If you’re looking for a plant that’s not only beautiful to look at but has medicinal properties as well, the Aloe vera is perhaps what you’re looking for.
Since this plant’s part of the succulent family, caring for an Aloe plant doesn’t need to be highly meticulous, as they are quite forgiving, at least as far as watering goes.
However, if you find that your Aloe plant’s turning brown, you might need to take a closer look and find out what’s happening.
Aloe Plant Turning Brown
The main reason an aloe plant turns brown is that it’s getting watered too much. Other reasons include too much sunlight, poor drainage, using the wrong kind of soil, or a possible fungal infection.
The main reason why the leaves turn brown on an aloe plant is too much water. Sometimes, the stalks even get a bit mushy and brown.
The way the leaves look is going to indicate the moisture level of the Aloe Vera plant.
A healthy Aloe will have glossy green leaves with small cactus-like prickly bumps along the edges.
Take a close look at the leaves. If they are wilting and turning brown, it is most likely because the plant is waterlogged.
If you notice such signs, dial back the watering level. If you water the plant more than the recommended schedule (which is once every week), it’s not good for the Aloe.
It usually requires a couple of weeks in between each watering at least, depending on the size of the pot and the time of year.
Ideally, an aloe plant should be watered once every 15 to 20 days. If you notice the leaves starting to wrinkle, add a little more water.
An Aloe only needs water when 75% of the soil in its pot is dry to the touch.
Never let the water touch the leaves. Give it time, and the aloe should start to recover back to its nice green color gradually.
This re-greening may happen after a few weeks. Look for it to show signs of regrowth life starting from the center of the plant.
2. Improper Drainage
You may feel as though you are not watering the plant too much, but it’s still turning brown. Why?
It may be because of how it is draining.
Remember, your Aloe plant doesn’t like to have wet feet, so make sure it has proper drainage and that the soil around its roots is completely dry between waterings.
Also, make sure to take note of these tips to avoid waterlogging your Aloe plant.
- Make sure the Aloe’s container has a drainage hole at the bottom
- Make sure there are no roots or soil packed up to block the drainage hole
3. Cold Temperatures
An Aloe tolerates drought-like environments well. It is native to desert-like climates where it is very dry. Most Aloe plants prefer temperatures to stay between 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, aloe plants will begin to die when their environment is contrary to their natural conditions.
If you live in a place that has cold winters, you will need to protect your aloe plant. It does not resist frost or handle cold, freezing temperatures well.
If the plant is outside, move it indoors during the winter, or protect it by placing plastic over it. Also, in the winter, you can take longer between waterings.
If the plant is inside, and it is cold outside, look for a draft in the window and position the plant accordingly.
4. Too much Sun
Another reason why an aloe plant may turn brown could be too much exposure to sunlight. Place the plant in natural lighting but not too much sun.
Too much sunlight could also cause the leaves to turn brown.
If this is the case, try moving an indoor potted aloe to a less sunny spot in the house. It may not make any sense as it’s a desert plant. But, indirect sunlight is best.
Too much light can make its leaves start drooping. However, too much shade may cause the leaves to droop as well.
They thrive in about 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight. To avoid a sunburn response from the plant, introduce it to more light slowly.
It’s important to know that if the leaves turn brown in direct sunlight this is harmless as the plant is protecting itself against sunburn. The plant will then produce phenolic compounds that serve as its protection against ultraviolet ray damage.
It is normal for an aloe plant to turn brown during the summer or late spring when the sun is beating down on it.
If so, the yellowing leaves are simply older leaves that have been shed. They usually retain their green color again by the fall.
5. The Wrong Choice of Soil
According to scientific journals like PLOS One, too much salt in the soil is another reason why an aloe plant could turn brown.
To keep the plant from becoming brown again, use soil that is rich in nutrients and porous. When the soil is too salty, calcium and magnesium are overridden by sodium.
And, when there’s too much sodium in the soil, it’ll burn the roots and cause the plants to turn brown.
Aloe plants like conditions that have low water or rainfall, partial or full sun, and well-drained gritty soil. Replace the soil with some specially formulated for succulents and cacti that will help with drainage.
Sand works well mixed in. Aloe plants also require drainage so water doesn’t build up around the roots.
If the plant is outside, it could become choked out from herbicides that drain or blow into your yard. If it is inside, harsh cleaning chemicals could have been splashed onto the plant when you were cleaning.
6. The Wrong Kind of Pot
The size of the pot matters. Aloe plants do well in pots that are in proper proportion to their size.
Large pots are going to require more soil which will dry out slower and put the Aloe plant at risk for turning brown.
Choose a pot with a porous material, like Terracotta. A porous pot will help the soil to dry faster.
Use a plant pot that’s shallow but wide, making sure it has drainage holes.
Sometimes, it may be essential to re-pot it. If you choose to, re-pot it into a potting soil that has good drainage quality.
This soil can be a gritty mix like pumice or sand or simply mix equal parts soil and sand.
Don’t use pebbles at the bottom of a container, since the water will not move down through the pebbles until the soil is completely saturated.
Why is this a problem? Because it means that the roots of the Aloe are waterlogged and will begin to rot.
Essentially, when the airspace between the soil particles is full of water, the roots start to be choked off and may actually even die due to a lack of oxygen.
If you choose to re-pot it, you have to lift the plant from its original holder.
As you do so, take careful note of how the roots look. If you notice any rot, remove those portions from the roots.
Re-pot in well-drained soil, but check for root rot before attempting to replant it.
If it is excessively waterlogged, you may need to let the roots dry out for a day or two before replanting it.
Trim off any leaf, or tip of the leaf that has turned brown. Use a knife or sheers.
7. Fungal Disease
Another possible reason for an aloe plant to turn brown is that it may have a fungal disease.
Brown tips on the leaves or brownish spots may indicate that the plant has a fungal disease. If so, spray with a garden-safe fungicide spray.
Listen to Your Plant
Listen to your plant. No, it won’t speak English to you.
But, its leaves will speak volumes in terms of letting you know what it needs.
Are they turning brown? It is probably overwatered.
Are they puckering or shriveling with discolored leaves? It may not be getting enough water.
Are they a flourishing glossy green? You’ve got it just right.
Frequently Asked Questions about Aloe Plant Turning Brown
How often should I water my Aloe plant?
Most succulents require very little water. Watering once every 15 to 20 days is usually sufficient to provide the plant with the necessary hydration without fear of watering it too much.
How much water does my Aloe need?
When you water your aloe plant, add water until it begins to flow out from the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. If too much water pours out onto the saucer, remove it immediately so the plant isn’t allowed to sit in it for so long that its roots begin to rot.
How do I cut the leaf to use the gel without killing the Aloe plant and turning the leaves brown?
Cut off a section of the green leaf, but be careful not to take off more than one-third of the plant at once.
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.