Aloe vera is quite an attractive succulent grown as a companion plant for ornamental and medicinal purposes. It is grown both indoors and outdoors. The other name for aloe vera is “wonder plant”.
Being a short-stemmed shrub, it is ideal for low water use gardens.
Aloe vera is a hardy plant but a few reasons can plague the aloe vera plant causing it to turn brown. Let us delve into the causes and cures of aloe vera turning brown
Causes of browning of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera requires a well-drained, sandy potting soil and bright, sunny conditions. It likes to be a bit on the dry side of watering. Browning of aloe vera plants can be due to a variety of reasons.
You can remedy the situation by adjusting the plant’s sunshine, irrigation, and soil.
- Too much water
- Too little water
- Temperature changes and direct sunlight
- Nutritional deficiency / Excess salt in the soil / Chemical toxicity
- Fungal diseases and pests
Let us view each cause one by one
Too Much water
A brown aloe vera that is wilting and has soft spots is likely over watered. Being a native of the hot and dry climate, its irrigation requirements should not exceed. It will lead to root rot.
This is especially true for potted aloe vera plants with no proper drainage holes.
Let the soil dry out between waterings. When you water, water thoroughly. If you happen to over water, set it in a bright location and do not water until the soil has dried up.
Use a terracotta pot and a well cactus soil mix. A terracotta pot will efficiently remove all excess water. If you are keeping it outdoors, make sure it is not drowning in rain.
Repot in case of severe drenching. once the plant is out of the soil, check for root rots and remove those parts. Do not let the plant sit in water.
Too little water
Shriveled, thin and curled leaves with discoloration indicate too little moisture. If this goes on for long, the leaves will eventually wither out changing to yellow and then brown color. It is a low water plant but not a no-water plant.
If you forget to water it, it will eventually dry up using all the extra moisture stored in its leaves.
Keep checking the soil to find out if it is dry or moist. At Least two inches should be dry before watering again. Make a note about how much time it takes to dry up and water accordingly.
Reduce the quantity of water by half in winters.
If you happen to underwater and aloe vera has turned brown, give your plants a generous drink and set it aside to recover.
Temperature changes and direct sunlight
Browning of aloe vera can also be caused due to unfavorable changes or sudden changes in the temperature of the atmosphere around the plant. Direct sunlight is another cause for the browning of the plant.
Aloe vera does best in temperatures between 55 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit ( 13 and 27-degree celsius). The temperatures of most homes are ideal. Some aloe vera prefer warm temperatures.
Drafty windows can cause foliar damage. Sudden temperature changes can cause aloe vera stress and lead to browning. Temperatures below 16 degrees can brown the plant and eventually kill as aloe vera is frost-sensitive.
If the plant is indoors, bringing it under sunlight suddenly cause browning of aloe vera.
Aloe vera requires bright areas but not direct sunlight. Direct falling of sun rays, especially in the afternoon in a warm climate can cause the leaves to burn and become brown.
From May to September, you can keep your plants outdoors without any problems. Bring it back inside in winters as aloe vera is frost-sensitive.
Do not suddenly move from the shaded area indoors to full sunlight outdoors. Keep it in a shaded area outdoors for a week before keeping in a bright location.
Keep them at room temperatures and a warm area. The leaves become brown in reaction to cold.
Bright indirect sunlight or artificial light works well. keep it in a location where it gets lots of light but not direct sunlight.
If the leaves grow outwards instead of straight up, it is an indication that the plant is receiving too little sunlight.
Sun scorched plants will recover over time naturally but may lose a few leaves in the process.
Nutritional deficiency, excess salts and chemical toxicity in soil
The soil in which aloe vera is planted is another leading cause of aloe vera getting stressed. Excess salt concentration, chemical toxicity and nutritional deficiency in the soilare some of the reasons aloe vera turns brown
Aloe vera kept in a potted plant has its limitations in terms of nutrition. Over a period of time, the nutrition content is lost. If the nutrition is not replaced, then unlike growing in soil, where the roots grow long in search of nutrition, aloe vera turns brown.
Fertilizing the plant over a period of time can lead to salt buildup in the soil. This causes the roots to burn and aloe vera plant to brown.
Too much chemical toxicity in the form of fertilizers or pollutants in the air, the herbicide in the wind can cause the aloe vera to brown.
Aloe vera plants do not require much feeding. But they do require food for normal and healthy growth. Feed once per month with a diluted plant food at half the strength.
Leech the soil with plenty of water to flush out excess salt deposits or repot the plant with fresh soil.
Wilted aloe vera’s due to harsh chemicals can only be cured by transplanting the plant in fresh soil and pot. This will prevent any chemicals in soil from transporting into the vascular system of the plant.
Fertilize only in spring and summer. Do not fertilize in the winter dormancy period.
Fungal diseases and pests
A common cause of browning of aloe vera plants is fungal diseases due to wet soil.
The attraction of pests also causes browning of aloe vera plants. Mealybugs, scales and mites negatively affect the leaves sucking on its juices.
Go for a well-draining soil. A cactus potting mix soil or garden soil that contains extra perlite and sand. Check the bottom of the plant pot for ample drainage holes to prevent fungal growth.
The interior portion of the pots drain area should be covered by two inches of stones that are topped by gravelly or sandy soil.
In the case of pests, spray the plant with water and wipe the mealybugs, mites, and scales away. Insecticides, miticides and alcohol-soaked wipes can help the aloe vera plant get rid of pests.
However, in cases of bad infestations, the leaves may have to be cut away to fully remove the pests from the plant.
Prior to using alcohol rubs or insecticides, miticides on your aloe leaves, always test a small area first. This will ensure that the plant does not have any adverse reaction to the substance.
Keep it in a warm area of indirect sunlight to remove fungal growth. Use a good fungicide or better yet, repot the plant in fresh soil, put it in a bright corner and wait for it to recover.
If the damage is so extensive that the plant’s roots are also brown, then trim off the root rot before repotting the remaining plant.
A brown aloe vera can be due to the above causes. Just go through the list and eliminate all the possible causes with cures until you strike the right one. Aloe vera plants are one of the most resilient and forgiving plants and should return back to a greener and healthier plant quite quickly once cured.
Sometimes, although rare, it so happens that the damage is too extensive to be cured. In such cases, look for any new growth and separate it from the wilted and brown plant and pot it separately. If no new growth is present and the browning of aloe vera is too extensive and not getting cured, know it’s time to say goodbye and bring in a fresh aloe vera plant for your care.
Here is a good motivation I leave for you at the end – Some species of Aloe Vera can live up to 100 years when properly located outdoors or cared for in pots.
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