Does your aloe plant look under the weather or slightly worse for wear? Well, it could be both chilly and/or drenched!
However, that’s just two of the many reasons your spritely aloe has become mildly skewed to downright floppy! Read on to find out how to diagnose the cause of the problem, and then we’ll help you find a solution.
What should aloe plants look like?
The most common aloe barbadensis, is visually striking – it has streamlined, sharp-pointed leaves stemming from a usually stable core. Normally, a healthy aloe plant has firm leaves of a solid, emerald green, or a less vivid, but deeper shade.
As you’d expect, healthy aloe plants should normally stand up straight! However, some aloes can look a little droopy or even completely bent over depending on how they’re kept.
Rapid response is always the best way to prevent further deterioration. Sometimes, left unattended, for example, during holidays, things can take a sudden turn for the worse!
You’ll need to take action if:
- Your aloe vera appears to be leaning over, and all leaves are at the same angle
- Its leaves are changing color, and the whole plant is drooping
- The plant’s leaves are also mushy and discolored toward their bases
- It’s damaged and the plant is leaning completely
- There’s slime at the base
- Its newest leaves are starting to fall at the center of the plant
- It’s leaning away from neighboring plants
Why is my aloe plant drooping?
Now we’ve looked at a few signs to watch for when it comes to general aloe vera health, let’s break down some of the root causes and how you can bring your plants back upright again.
1. It’s not getting enough light
Indoor Aloe Vera plants need at least 6 hours of bright light and/or sunshine daily. A poor amount of direct light will, sadly, lead to your plant drooping or even bending over in some cases!
If this is the case, your plant may need to relocate to a sunnier or better-lit spot. Place it in direct light, not behind other taller plants.
It may be leaning to reach more light, too – or, it may react badly to a draft or heat source, succumbing to the overall stress of temperature spikes. Move it away from strong direct heat sources such as heaters!
Use this solution if: Your plant’s leaves are at an angle, it’s losing central leaves, and/or they’re changing color.
2. It’s not getting on well with its neighbor(s)
If your Aloe Plant is sharing a container with a companion plant, check they can live in harmony, as you may need to separate them!
Young Aloe Vera plants, in particular, may seek more light if overshadowed by a large companion. Large Aloe Vera plants may find faster-growing companions disagreeable, too – poaching beyond their fair share of water, light or nutrients.
Thirstier companion plants may cause your Aloe Vera to have root rot, too, because they are drowning in too much water. In any case, all of the above can seriously stress your aloe out!
Therefore, you must carefully remove your plant from the pot and/or area it shares with others. Give it a little time to re-acclimatize and see if its leaves pick back up again.
Use this solution if: The plant’s leaves are bedding at a complete angle, the whole plant is leaning, it’s losing central leaves, and/or they’re changing colors.
3. You’re overwatering your plant
Aloe plants don’t need as much water as you might expect! As a succulent, fluid stores in an aloe plant’s leaves. When overwatered, leaf systems can become overwhelmed and will start to wilt.
If caught in time, you may need to lift the plant and repot it in some dry growth medium especially made for cacti and succulents.
It may be good, also, to use a couple of lollipop sticks to offer a little gentle support until your plant settles in and regains a firm stance. Simply slide them out when the leaves look like they’re supporting themselves properly again.
Do remember this solution will depend on how quickly you have attended to the problem – as well as the age and size of the plant.
Try sticking to a succulent-friendly watering schedule wherever possible. That means watering once every two weeks (at least) in warmer months and only once a month in fall and winter.
Feel the soil around your aloe, too. If it’s even a little bit moist, it’s not yet ready for a drink! The first two inches of soil, ideally, should be bone dry before you reach for the watering can.
Use this solution if: Your plant’s leaves are discoloring as well as leaning, there’s mushy patches, there’s base slime, and/or young leaves are leaning during growth.
4. Your plant has root rot
Root rot, unfortunately, is a killer of many different houseplants, and as hardy as aloe can be, it’s not completely immune to this disease. A tell-tale sign that your aloe is starting to suffer with rot is that its leaves are bowing.
By removing your Aloe Vera from its container for root inspection, you will ideally find strong, white roots that do not smell foul. If roots are brown, soft, easily fall away with the compost and/or smell foul, your plant has root rot.
Discard all the used growth medium, then retain any healthy roots and gently untangle if necessary. Discard all rotting material, then gently and slowly rinse off the remaining roots worth salvaging.
The number one cause of root rot in aloe plants is overwatering. As above, try to stick to a healthy watering schedule for succulents.
Use this solution if: The entire plant is starting to lean, its leaves are damaged, new leaves are falling, roots are visibly rotten, leaves are discolored, and/or its leaves can barely hold themselves upright.
If you are conducting some root surgery to save a large plant or cluster, it may be a good time to divide the plant. Aside from reducing the stress on some roots, you can increase the chances of survival by reducing the demand on the mother plant.
Also, any roots strong enough to support maturing plants will have less competition for light, water, and nutrients in the compost. Win-win!
5. Pests are attacking it
Aloe Vera plants can suffer from aphids, mites, soil disease, and fungi. For all it’s a fairly resilient plant in terms of watering and heat, it certainly has a few enemies! Sometimes, if your plant’s leaning or drooping, it’s under attack from pests or disease.
The first thing you should do if pests are to blame is to adjust your watering slightly. Do not mist Aloe Vera plants – as they will simply not respond well!
They absorb moisture via their roots and store it in their leaves. Misting may spread eggs and pests further along the plant and down into central areas where they can be harder to detect, too!
I recommend you either use a green insecticide and/or use a piece of moist tissue and gently wipe away clusters of the offending unwanted visitors or their eggs!
Alternatively, it may be a good idea to relocate your plant if neighboring species harboring minibeasts slowly killing your aloe.
Use this solution if: There’s discoloration at the base of the plant as well as droopy leaves, there’s root damage, there’s slime at the base, you can see mold, and/or new leaves are leaning or are completely bent over.
6. Your plant is pot-bound
There’s every chance your aloe simply needs a bigger home to live in! Drooping leaves can tell us that they’re pot-bound, which means you need to do a little bit of surgery and move them to a bigger pot or receptacle.
Remove the plant and rehouse it in a more spacious container. Terracotta is best for Aloe Vera plants – being porous, excess moisture drains away from the plant’s sensitive root systems. Take a look at our guide if you’re really stuck on the best aloe vera pots.
Place some gravel at the bottom to ensure there is good drainage – and remember, Aloe Vera plants prefer showers to baths! Overwatering is the most common reason for the loss of these plants, and, as you’ll know by now, it’s probably why your leaves are drooping excessively.
Use this solution if: Your plant is leaning away from neighbors, its roots are showing beneath the pot, the leaves are mottled and bent, and/or the whole plant – not just leaves – is at an angle.
When checking the size and fit of an aloe’s pot, always closely examine its roots. Even if you think the container is large enough and no roots are escaping via drainage holes, there could be a hidden problem!
Ageing Aloe Vera plants have mostly likely enjoyed periods of vigorous growth under the pot’s surface. Even if the plant seems to have enough space at the surface or depth in its container, the roots could be impacted.
Aside from entwining, they can seal the drainage holes from the inside without any evidence on the outside. Roots may compact too closely, or may individually be too thick to escape. This means excess water may not escape either, and droopy, leaning leaves may be the result.
7. Your plant may be injured
Is it possible your usually sturdy Aloe Vera plant is injured? Have you moved house, changed the position of the plant or moved in from your garden into your home?
The usually firm structure of Aloe Vera leaves makes them liable to snap – and a dramatic temperature change can also shock them into submission, causing them to wilt!
Or, perhaps a curious pet has pushed them or even toyed with them. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment can be as simple as loosening the growth medium and resetting the plant altogether. Alternatively, a temporary support may help the plant regain its composure!
To keep curious cats and dogs away from your recovering Aloe Vera plant, save a slice or two of lemons or any citrus peel and place near to your succulent! Housepets usually hate the smell of these fruits and will leave your plants alone!
Use this solution if: Your plant’s new growth is bending or twisted, its roots are showing from under the pot, its leaves are mottled and bent, and/or the plant is starting to lean.
8. It can’t stand the heat… or the cold
As mentioned briefly, extreme temperatures will never work out well for your aloe plant. It ideally needs a stable temperature between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Now – that may not be too easy to measure on your own, but it tends to be typical “room temp” for most of us.
Your plant will start to sag if things get too hot. It’ll wilt at around 90 degrees and will struggle to hold up. While they love sunlight, aloe plants still need a healthy balance regarding ambient warmth.
Over time, you may even find that aloe leaves start to crisp up if you leave them in the blazing sun. Move them away from their current spot and give them some water.
Letting the temperature drop below 50 degrees will also spell danger for these plants. Ideally, you should keep them away from drafts and to close windows on cold days.
Keep your aloe in a room where you’re unlikely to open windows all day, but where it can still get plenty of healthy access to the sun.
Use this solution if: Your leaves are generally starting to wilt and droop, and/or they are crisping up.
9. It’s in shock
Finally, stress is a huge cause of wilting and discoloration in succulents such as aloes, and this typically happens when you move plants too frequently. Specifically, it’s highly likely you’ll shock your aloe if you transplant it too often.
In which case, simply stop moving your plant if you don’t need to! Give your aloe time to get used to its new home (if, for example, you need to move it somewhere warmer or cooler to avoid temperature damage).
In some cases, you may be able to treat a shocked plant with a little sugar water. However, if you wish to do this, always make sure you dilute the sugar well!
Use this solution if: Your leaves are wilting considerably, and/or there’s discoloration throughout.
What types of disease can aloe plants contract?
We mentioned above that root rot is a common cause for concern among plant owners – and it happens that aloe is at risk from several. However, you’ll most likely find your aloe suffers from aloe rust, basal stem rot, and/or bacterial soft rot. Here’s what to expect from each of these natural nasties.
Aloe rust is likely to be in play when you start to notice brown or black rings covering your plant’s leaves. As you will probably expect by now, overwatering is to blame!
So, make sure to remove any leaf spots carefully – even if it means taking the entire leaf away. Then, be extra careful not to overwater the leaves of your aloe in particular!
Basal Stem Rot
Basal stem is unfortunately fairly common across oily plants and aloes, and it typically occurs if soil or growth medium isn’t draining efficiently.
As well as leaf wilting, you’ll notice discoloration leading upwards, with black coloring where there should be green. There’s also a lot of mush at the base!
This is commonly mistaken for root rot, so be sure to clip away black and dead roots, and disinfect your equipment afterward.
Bacterial Soft Rot
Bacterial soft rot covers a whole range of diseases, and sadly, succulents commonly fall prey to them. Bacteria that causes this type of rot can ride in on the back of insects, and may also infect plants through weather such as hail (so keep your aloe indoors!).
You likely have BSR if your aloe has soft spots that feel wet, and grow larger over time. The biggest drawback to an aloe plant with BSR is that it’s beyond saving. Unfortunately, a plant with this kind of rot cannot be brought back to full health, and it’s at risk of infecting other plants nearby.
Aloe plants seem like they should stand up to a lot of stress and aggravation. However, despite being fairly hardy on the water front, there are – as you can see – plenty of good reasons to keep your aloes standing upright as much as possible.
Don’t forget to always check if you’re watering your aloe properly – and if you can, keep it in a sunny spot that’s not likely to burn it to a crisp!