Aloe vera plants are massively popular the world over. Not only are they beautiful and unique, but they also have fantastic healing properties. It’s why they are commonly used in beauty and hygiene products. However, they also need some careful looking after, too. So knowing how to revive a dying aloe vera plant is worth keeping in mind – simply because you never know when you might need to undertake some houseplant CPR!
In this guide, we’ll show you how to fix a dying aloe vera plant, and how you can look after it better for the months and years to come.
What’s wrong with my aloe vera plant?
Aloe vera will generally thrive providing you water it properly and keep it in adequate sunlight. These gorgeous greens thrive in direct sun, though you will need to work to a specific schedule when it comes to watering.
If your aloe vera is starting to turn brown and wilt, it may be likely that you are actually giving it too much water. Remember that these plants are extremely hardy in desert climes. Therefore, you should be careful to give your specimen a good drink every fortnight and monitor it carefully.
It pays to be careful when adopting aloe vera from garden centres, too. Even though they may appear to be thriving when we buy them, some centres do not tend to aloe vera properly, or even in the right soil. Be sure to adopt from a vendor or brand that you trust.
Aloe vera can be tricky to look after. It’s a fairly large plant that can get easier to care for once you establish a good watering and feeding schedule. If your aloe vera’s showing signs that it’s at the end of its life (and before its time), you’re going to want to crack open the first-aid kit.
However, in order to know how to fix a dying aloe vera plant, you will need to first understand what you are doing wrong – and how to avoid the problem happening again in the future. Let’s take a closer look.
How to revive an aloe vera plant: Troubleshooting
As forgiving as aloe vera can sometimes be, they, like any other plant, need very particular environments in order to thrive. Therefore, it is important to identify the cause of the issue with your aloe vera plant. The best way to do this is to look carefully at how the plant holds itself, and its colouring.
What makes aloe vera turn brown?
If the leaves on the aloe vera are changing colour, turning brown or yellowish, and are beginning to soften, then that is linked to a problem with the soil. If aloe vera is in soil that is too wet, then it is either because you are overwatering it or because the soil does not drain well.
Or you may notice that the leaves are surprisingly strong, as is the base of the plant – but the leaves are turning brown and dying at the ends. Don’t worry – your plant itself is not dying. However, it is a sign that the leaves are spending too long in the sun and are therefore burning.
Why is my aloe vera plant drooping?
On the other hand, if the leaves are beginning to fall and die at the base of the plant and / or your aloe vera plant wont stand up, then the issue is linked more to the sunlight your plant is placed in. Likely, your aloe vera plant is not getting enough light where you currently position it, and is therefore dying.
Now that you have been able to identify the issue with the plant, let’s take a look at what you can do to bring it back to life, and ensure that this issue never occurs again.
How to revive an aloe vera plant that has been overwatered
So, the leaves on your aloe vera plant are yellow, brown and soft to the touch. If that is the case, then yes, your aloe vera plant has been overwatered and definitely needs some TLC!
The problem is that aloe vera definitely needs water (as do all plants), however, as mentioned, when it is overwatered, or in poor quality soil, then the roots will rot. In the wild, it commonly grows in the Arabian peninsula, and therefore is used to very dry, well-draining soil. Therefore, you need to emulate these kinds of conditions as best you can.
You can start by replacing the soil or medium in place. The medium will need to drain well and be suited to cacti or succulents. Generally speaking, even normal potting soil is not quite nutritious enough for succulents such as aloe vera, as it does not adequately resemble these plants’ medium.
You may also need to replace the pot in which the aloe vera has been placed. Even with the right soil, if the pot does not have enough drainage holes in the bottom, then your aloe vera plant could still suffer due to over-moisture.
Opt for a terracotta pot that has a sizeable drainage hole or holes in the bottom. It is also wise to choose a pot that offers space of around two inches at all sides of the plant. This way, you will avoid overwatering the soil (due to the sheer amount), and therefore reduce your risk of making the roots rot.
Finally, you will need to learn how to water your aloe vera plant properly. Aloe vera plants need watering only when their soil has completely dried out. In order to ensure that the soil is totally dry, simply touch the soil at the bottom of the pot by feeling it through the drainage hole(s).
If the soil is completely dry at the bottom, then the plant will need watering. If not, then leave it for an extra few days until it is free from moisture.
It can take up to two weeks between waterings to ensure that your aloe vera plant does completely dry, so do not worry about leaving it for such a period. It is also wise to regularly empty the tray beneath your pot (if you have one) to ensure that the water does not remain within the housing.
You should now notice a significant change in your aloe vera plant within a few weeks. You may notice some leaves dropping off, which is normal and better for the plant. On the other hand, if you notice that some leaves are simply not getting better, then cut them back to the base of the plant, to allow the rest of your aloe vera to recover without wasting energy on that specific leaf.
Aloe vera is a plant that will demand patience. It is easy to assume that quickly changing your watering schedule will allow you to see big changes in a few days. However, give your plant time to adjust – slow and steady wins the race.
How to revive an aloe vera plant that has not had enough sunlight
If you have noticed that the leaves on your aloe vera plant are falling down and appear a bit limp, then the issue is likely to be the placement of the pot in your home.
Although aloe vera plants do well in indirect sunlight, especially during the hotter part of the day (the afternoon), they still do need some direct sunlight, preferably in the morning. Remember that in the wild, they commonly get up to about six hours of direct sun, and you will need to provide that in your home, too (as best you can). They make for great windowsill plants providing you don’t overdo it.
However, if you’re reviving a plant from a lack of sun, you can feel safe placing the aloe vera in direct sunlight. It is best to do so gradually, to ensure that the plant can adapt to its new placement, and not be shocked by the change. Believe it or not, houseplants can go into shock if you alter their medium too much (for example).
Ideally, you should set up your plant in an area that has about four to six hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably in the morning. It can take about four to five weeks for the plant to adapt to its new settings. Take that time to move the pot between the shade and the sunlight, allowing it to adapt to its new area.
You should begin to notice the leaves becoming more firm and upright. However, if you notice that only some of the leaves are doing this, then cut the falling leaves at the base of the plant. Again, this allows the plant to focus its energy on the recovering and growing leaves instead of focusing on the dying ones.
Soon enough, you should have plenty more leaves, and your aloe vera will grow beyond your wildest dreams – or at least, it will thrive as you expect it to.
How to fix an aloe vera plant that has been burnt by the sun
Although it will not need reviving, your aloe vera plant will still need tending to if it has been sunburnt. You’ll normally be able to spot this if the plant itself is robust, but the leaves are starting to brown and crumple.
Aloe vera, unlike houseplants that do well in shade, is a desert plant. So it does need plenty sunlight. However, it can get sunburnt if it is in too much direct sunlight, or indeed if you move it from shade to direct sunlight too quickly.
If the plant has been burnt, then do not simply cut the brown parts of the leaf off. Cutting an aloe vera leaf only halfway will not encourage regrowth from the middle, and could instead damage the plant further. Therefore, it is best to cut the leaf entirely from the base. That way, a new, healthy leaf will be able to regrow, and the plant can focus its energy on growing ‘as a whole’.
You can always use the remaining, healthy part of the damaged leaf by recuperating the gel inside of the leaf. You can leave it in the freezer and apply it directly to a sunburn, or keep the gel from inside the leaf, and use it in other ways. This is a fantastic natural resource that’s worth making the most of.
In order to ensure your aloe vera plant does not burn again, you may need to move it to a more covered area. It will still need sunlight, but ensure that it is not exposed to direct sun for more than four to six hours per day. Of course, during the summer, the amount of time that the aloe vera plant spends in direct sunlight should be reduced due to the change in weather.
Why is my aloe vera plant not growing?
If your aloe vera plant does not appear to be dying or damaged, but does not seem to be growing – don’t panic. As big and strong as these plants can grow, they do take time to fully prosper. In fact, aloe vera plants are seasonal growers. They do not necessarily thrive at all times during the year – you may find other succulents and cacti follow the same behaviour.
Although aloe vera plants are used to very warm temperatures, they need to brace themselves. It’s true! During the warmer seasons, particularly when the temperature remains above 27 degrees Celsius, the aloe vera plant shuts itself off. That is to say, it purposefully stops growing, and instead focuses on remaining hydrated during the heat. Once the temperatures begin to fall again, the plant will restart its growth cycle. It’s a truly fascinating plant!
Be cautious, however. When temperatures become too cold in winter, your aloe vera plant may stop growing due to the lack of sunlight. It is also best to ensure that you do not water your aloe vera plant too much in the winter, as the soil will drain far slower. In fact, even in the summer – when the soil will dry out easier – you should never be tempted to overwater aloe vera. It’s extremely sensitive to water simply because it’s not used to it in large volumes in the wild.
Do also remember that you may need to change the pot for your aloe vera plant if it’s struggling to thrive. We have a complete guide to choosing the best aloe vera pot that will help you along.
So, if you have found your aloe vera plant dying, or even your aloe vera plant going brown, now you know what’s likely to be the cause. It’s simply a case of making your home act like a desert – this plant needs heat, light, and sparing water.
It may appear as though they need a lot of attention, however, simply finding the right spot, and planting them in the right soil or appropriate medium goes a long way.
Aloe vera is a fantastic plant that’s not only eye-catching and super-resilient, but could also help you with its natural healing properties. It’s time to look after it properly!