Why Is Aloe Vera Plant Turning White?
Healthy aloe vera plants have a blue-green to grey-green color. So, if your aloe vera is turning white, it’s a sign that something is off with it.
Often, aloe leaves turning white is accompanied by other symptoms too that can give you a better idea of what’s going on with it.
The cause can almost always be found in the conditions in which the aloe vera is kept.
When these conditions go against the needs of your aloe, the plant will undergo changes to signal it’s not happy with its environment. One of these changes is the leaves turning white.
If you too are experiencing this problem with your aloe, I urge you to read through the causes and fixes I recommend in this article.
Sometimes, even simple changes can make the difference between a healthy and a struggling aloe vera plant.
Aloe Vera Leaves Turning White – Causes & Fixes
Generally unfussy and easy to grow, aloe vera plants can often struggle if their essential requirements aren’t being met.
Here are the chief causes why leaves on your aloe are losing their color:
1. Insufficient Light
Succulents thrive in bright light and they even crave direct sun exposure. When deprived of light, their leaves will often turn white or pale.
But leaves turning white isn’t the only symptom of insufficient light exposure. Often this symptom is also accompanied by something we call ‘etiolation’.
Etiolation is essentially the stretching of the leaves. An aloe that doesn’t get enough light will grow thin, leggy leaves that can often get droopy.
The solution to light deprivation is easy – simply move your aloe vera to a location with more light. The plant needs a couple of hours of sun exposure (around 6 hours per day) for it to thrive.
Although direct sun can be the most beneficial to succulents, in areas where the sun is very strong during hot summer days, aloe vera plants can get sunburned.
Therefore, aim for partial or bright indirect light if you’re growing this plant in climates where the sun is very strong during the summer, or aim for 6 hours of direct light in areas with a cooler climate.
When kept indoors, light may not be as abundant as necessary for the plant. If it’s not possible to move the plant to a brighter spot, simply use LED grow lights to make up for the lack of enough light indoors.
Succulents are no fan of excessive amounts of water. In fact, being overzealous with the watering will almost always cause root rot that will eventually eat away at the roots of your plant.
An overwatered aloe vera will showcase a variety of symptoms including soft, mushy leaves, leaves that droop, shriveled leaves (when root rot is severe), white, translucent leaves, yellowing-browning leaves.
Succulents like the aloe vera need their soil to dry out a bit between bouts of watering. If the soil isn’t allowed to dry, the roots of the aloe vera can begin rotting.
Depending on the severity of the overwatering, you can try the following things:
- Refrain from watering your aloe vera and allow the soil to dry completely.
- If there is no improvement in the condition of your aloe or it looks like it’s about to die, consider replacing the potting mix with a fresh succulent mix.
- If repotting or transferring to a different pot, check the roots for signs of rotting. Remove soft, brown and mushy sections of the roots, so that only firm and healthy roots remain.
- Change your watering habits by always checking the moisture level of the soil and water only if the soil is dry.
- If the root rot is too advanced with no healthy roots remaining, try to see if there are any healthy leaves remaining that you can use to root the leaf.
- Make sure the pot you’re using is fitted with drainage holes.
Preventing overwatering and associated root rot is much easier than remedying a root rot issue, especially in advanced stages.
Therefore, I recommend that if you’re growing an aloe vera plant, observe the following tips to prevent overwatering and root rot:
- Always plant aloes and other succulents in potting mixes formulated for these types of plants. Succulent mixes contain perlite, coarse sand, and pumice that are porous. These allow the soil to be well-aerated and well-draining.
- Opt for unglazed terracotta or clay pots for planting aloe vera plants and other succulents too, but make sure these too have drainage holes.
- Check the soil every time you water to make sure it’s dry enough to water. The soil doesn’t have to be bone dry or dried all the way through, only the top layers should be dry.
Leaves that have turned brown or droopy should be removed as there is no benefit to keeping them on. Use sterile blades or pruning shears and cut as close as possible to the stem.
3. Cold Temperatures
Aloe plants survive in temperatures between 55 °F – 80 °F. When exposed to extreme cold or frost, it’s not uncommon for the leaves of the aloe to go limp and turn white.
In some cases, the leaves may also turn red or a reddish purple if the weather is too cold for these plants.
Take your aloe vera plant indoors immediately to prevent further damage. Create ideal conditions for the plant and see if you can help it bounce back to health.
Leaves that have been damaged by frost will not recover and you can remove them from the plant to preserve the energy resources of the plant.
4. Problems with Overwintering
In winter, succulents will naturally go dormant and their growth comes to a natural stop.
If after you’ve taken your aloe plant indoors, you’ve been actively watering it or, worse yet, you’ve been fertilizing your aloe, your aloe continued to grow and skipped the dormancy period.
Because the aloe vera is forced to grow in limited light with limited resources, its leaves may turn white. White leaves will especially be noticeable on new growth.
First off, stop fertilizing and significantly reduce watering. You should only fertilize aloe veras during spring and summer, when it’s their active growing period.
And even then once a month is plenty. Use a fertilizer that’s formulated specifically for succulents. As the fall sets in, skip fertilizing and only resume in spring.
In terms of watering, you can still water your aloe vera; it’s just that you won’t need to water as often. In winter, your aloe uses less water and less nutrients. Also, evaporation is also slower in winter, so watering is not needed as often.
Both a nutrient deficiency and overfertilizing can cause leaves on your aloe vera to turn either pale or white.
If the potting mix is depleted of nutrients and you haven’t been fertilizing your aloe at all, a nutrient deficiency can also explain why the leaves of your aloe are turning white.
This especially, if all other possibilities have been examined and excluded as a potential cause.
Overfertilizing can also discolor the leaves of your aloe if there’s mineral salt build-up in the soil or if there’s a case of fertilizer burn.
Overfertilizing can be fixed by either flushing the soil under running water or replacing the potting mix of your aloe vera.
If you suspect your aloe vera suffers from a nutrient deficiency, you can slowly introduce succulent feed in your plant care routine.
Like with all things, make sure to start with a diluted dose and don’t fertilize more often than once a month.
I advise you to use a liquid fertilizer formulated for succulents and cacti. Other types of feeds may be too strong for the aloe vera.
While not as common, sap-sucking pests like mealybugs or aphids can also discolor the leaves of the aloe, and sometimes cause them to turn pale.
Air that is too dry or moisture on the leaves can favor the spread of certain pests. To keep pests under control, you can use a rubbing alcohol and water solution to wipe them off the leaves of your aloe.
Spraying your aloe vera with neem oil can also help eliminate pests and even help with fungal leaf problems.
Keeping leaves clean and dry can help prevent many pest or fungal issues.
Healthy aloe vera plants have grey-green or blue-green leaves that are plump and firm to the touch. An aloe kept in less-than-optimal conditions can develop a host of issues, including leaves that turn white.
White leaves can appear as a result of overwatering, insufficient light exposure, cold exposure, bad overwintering, fertilizing issues, and less often, pest problems.
In my experience overwatering and insufficient light are two of the most common causes of the leaves of your aloe vera turning white.
When noticing this problem in your aloe plant, it helps to examine each possibility and apply the suggested remedies as soon as possible to save your aloe vera plant from dying.