How to Save a Dying Aloe Vera Plant?

A drought-tolerant plant with beneficial health properties, the Aloe Vera is a beloved succulent that enjoys direct sunlight, a warm environment, and porous, well-draining soil.

Despite being known for its resilience and ability to survive bouts of drought, the aloe can appear to be dying if the conditions in which it’s kept are contrary to its requirements.

Luckily, there are solutions on how to revive a dying aloe, but it’s important to quickly identify the underlying cause and act fast to save your dying aloe vera plant.

With this article, I wanted to create a comprehensive guide to fixing the problems that might be ailing your aloe and that are seemingly accelerating its untimely death.

Why is Your Aloe Vera Dying?

It’s often not immediately apparent why your aloe vera plant might be dying. Some causes can manifest with the same symptoms, therefore, only a comprehensive assessment can help you get to the bottom of the issue.

Here are the top reasons why your aloe vera looks like it’s about to die:

– Overwatering

Succulents do a great job at managing their water reserves so that they can withstand and survive even in arid environments.

Watered too often, the aloe plant’s root can start to rot. An overwatered aloe will have soft, yellowing or browning leaves.

Rotting may be visible at the base of the plant and several of the leaves may drop or turn limp.

– Poorly Draining Soil

Connected to the previous issue, a poorly draining soil can take much longer to dry than what’s tolerated by an aloe plant. Saturated with water, the soil will stay too wet for the roots of the aloe.

The same symptoms of overwatering – discolored and limp leaves – will be noticeable on aloe vera plants with poorly draining soil as well.

Besides this, soils that don’t drain properly can also become compacted, strangling the roots of the aloe.

– Little to No Direct Light

Most succulents will need around 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If your aloe isn’t getting enough direct sunlight, its leaves can grow thin and leggy.

Discoloration of the leaves – leaves turning light green or pale – are also common symptoms of a lack of sufficient light.

Although etiolated leaves won’t die immediately, insufficient light can weaken the plant making it more susceptible to diseases and hindering its ability to recover from them.

– Sudden Changes in Light Intensity

Even though these plants crave direct sunlight, sudden changes in light intensity can have detrimental effects.

For example, moving an aloe plant from indoors to outdoors in strong, direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and turn them brown, making it look like the aloe vera plant it’s dying.

– Temperature Extremes

For optimal growth, aloe vera plants should be kept in temperatures between 55 F-80 F. Because they don’t tolerate cold temperatures or frost, exposing them to temperatures below 50 F, can cause them to die back.

Similarly, scorching hot temperatures can also cause them to die back, especially when not watered sufficiently.

– Other Problems

Pest problems, over fertilizing, fungal issues can cause brown spots or browning leaves that may seem serious enough to warrant your worry about your aloe vera plant potentially dying.

These are the most common problems to afflict an aloe vera plant. When noticing symptoms out of the ordinary, make sure to check back to this list and try to identify what may be causing your aloe vera plant to look like it’s dying.

Once you zero in on the issue, the next step is to try to remedy the problem as soon as possible, and hopefully just in time.

How to Revive an Aloe Vera Plant?

Some of the issues I mentioned have an easy fix. Others may take more time to produce results.

And sometimes, unfortunately, late intervention may not have the desired effects. But even then, there are ways to start anew.

Here’s how to revive a dying aloe vera plant, depending on what’s causing its untimely death:

How to Save an Overwatered Aloe Vera?

Depending on whether overwatering has already caused damage at the level of the roots, you can try the following things to improve the chances of your aloe getting back to normal:

  • If the soil is sticky, compacted or taking too long to dry, transfer your Aloe Vera to a different pot and use a fresh potting mix formulated for succulents (these usually contain perlite, pumice or coarse sand).
  • Make sure the pot you’re transferring your aloe to has drain holes at the bottom that will allow water to escape from the pot.
  • Inspect the roots and remove any parts that are soft, mushy or visibly rotten. Keep only healthy roots that are firm to the touch.
  • Don’t water your succulent for at least a week after transplanting.
  • When watering, allow the soil to dry between bouts of watering.

If the rotting of the roots is too extensive, you can still try to save your aloe from dying by propagating it.

Simply harvest a healthy leaf cutting and try to root it. Allow the cutting to seal over for a couple of days, then place it on top of succulent mix and spray it so that the soil remains slightly damp, but not wet.

Within a couple of weeks, roots should form and you can plant your aloe vera cutting in a new pot, using a fresh batch of potting mix.

As you can see, even when root rot is severe, there’s still a chance to save your aloe vera plant, you’ll just need to get a little creative.

Other Tips on How to Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant

Here are some other remedies to nurse your aloe vera plant back to health:

  • A sunburnt aloe vera should be moved to a different spot. First, move it to a location with shade or diffused light, and allow it to get back on its feet again. Then, slowly acclimate your aloe with direct sunlight.
  • When moving an aloe from indoors, it’s worth acclimating it to direct sunlight by slowly increasing the amount of time your plant stays outdoors in direct sunlight.
  • Aim for around 6 hours of direct sunlight and monitor sun exposure to see how your aloe vera is taking to it. If leaves are starting to get scorched, reduce direct sun exposure.
  • An aloe vera plant that has been briefly exposed to cold temperatures may be able to recover if moved indoors. Find a sunny spot in your home and maintain temperatures within the range acceptable for aloe vera plants.
  • If overfertilized, change the potting mix with a fresh batch. If repotting is not possible, flush the soil under running water to get rid of the excess fertilizer.
  • Pest problems should be addressed by wiping them off with rubbing alcohol or spraying the leaves of the aloe vera with natural pesticides such as neem oil (repeat spraying is necessary until all pests are killed).
  • An etiolated aloe vera should be moved to a location with more direct light. With enough light exposure, the aloe will start producing healthy, plump leaves again.

What to do with Damaged Aloe Vera Leaves?

Whether scraped, turned brown, yellow or pale, or whether the leaves of your aloe vera have turned limp, soft, or mushy, you can simply remove them.

These types of damages don’t revert back and there’s no reason to keep the leaves on your aloe plant. These will just use up resources that the plant might need in order to put out new growth.

To remove damaged leaves, follow the steps below:

  • Use a sharp blade or sharp pruning shears that have been previously cleaned with rubbing alcohol. This is needed to prevent passing on diseases, fungi or pests to your aloe vera.
  • Cut the leaves as closely as possible to the stem, but without damaging the stem.
  • Don’t cut the leaves mid-way to the stem or just the tips of the leaves, because aloe vera leaves don’t regenerate and the same leaf cannot grow back.
  • The cut will seal over in a couple of days and with newfound resources, your aloe vera can put out healthy new leaves.

Should you Remove Etiolated Aloe Vera Leaves?

Just like with damaged aloe vera leaves, leggy aloe vera leaves cannot be ‘shrunk’ to a smaller size. These will remain thin and stretched out, but new growth will be normal if the plant is getting enough light.

If you’ve moved your aloe vera to a new location, where it gets more sunlight, and you don’t like how your aloe vera looks, you can go ahead and remove leggy leaves using the same method I described.

But here’s a tip – don’t throw away these leaves, instead try to root them to grow a new aloe vera plant.

Wrap-Up

Many things can damage an aloe vera plant, but in my experience, overwatering is the chief cause of an aloe vera plant dying.

Using a well-draining potting soil and understanding the plant’s watering needs are crucial to prevent root rot in aloe plants and save an overwatered aloe from dying.

Likewise, cold exposure, sunburn, dehydration, overfertilizing, and pests can all be problematic for your aloe, so it’s important to keep an eye on all these aspects too.

Succulents   Updated: March 29, 2022
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