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7 Reasons Why the Aloe Plant Turns Brown

Aloe plants are not only attractive but also practical. It’s no wonder they’re so popular, but sometimes they can be a bit tricky to care for.

Overwatering is often the main issue when an aloe’s leaves start turning brown. Being desert plants, they hold extra water in their thick leaves, making them more prone to getting too much water than too little. If the leaves of your aloe are brown and starting to get soft or mushy, it’s a clear indicator that you’ve given it too much water.

1. Overwatering

Aloe turning brown because of overwatering.

Aloe turned brown because of overwatering.

Aloe, like other succulents, doesn’t do well with waterlogged soil. This preference stems from their natural desert environment. Aloes can go without rain for a while, and the soil they naturally grow in is sandy and rocky, which means it drains really well.

Watering your aloe too much can cause the roots to rot and the leaves to turn brown. Root rot might also happen if the soil stays damp or if your pot doesn’t have holes for drainage.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Gently take the aloe out of its pot and check the roots.
  2. If any roots are mushy and rotten, cut them off. Keep only the healthy parts.
  3. Shake off any remaining soil from the aloe.
  4. Clean the cut areas with a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water. Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 5 parts water.
  5. Let the aloe sit in a dark, dry spot for several hours to dry out.
  6. Repot the aloe in a high-quality, well-draining succulent mix, in a pot that has drainage holes.
  7. Water the aloe only when the soil is about 80% dry.

2. Excess Sunlight

Too much sun.

Aloe turned brown because of too much sun.

While succulents typically love sun, aloes are a bit unique. They need direct sunlight, but too much can harm them. Initially, an aloe’s color may fade to pale and then turn brown as the plant reduces its chlorophyll to avoid severe burns.

Sun damage often happens if you move an aloe from a shaded or artificially lit area to a south-facing window. It can also occur when you shift the plant to a sunnier spot or take it outside for summer.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Move your aloe to a place where it gets a bit less sun. However, it should still get about 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  2. If you’ve just bought the aloe, place it in a room that faces east or west.
  3. Gradually get it used to direct sunlight, increasing exposure by 1 hour each week.

3. Underwatering

Aloe turning brown because of underwatering

Aloe turned brown because of underwatering

Aloe plants can handle dry spells, but they won’t look their best without water. When an aloe feels it’s not getting enough water, it starts reducing chlorophyll in its leaves. This slows down growth and conserves water, but it also makes the leaves change from green to pale green, and eventually brown.

During drought conditions, an aloe can undergo various changes. Its leaves might shrivel, or the tips could become dry and crispy. So, it’s important not to withhold water from your aloe, especially in summer.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Water your aloe when the soil is about 80% dry.
  2. A moisture meter is handy for checking soil moisture accurately.
  3. When watering, keep going until water starts coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Wait for the excess water to collect in a saucer, then pour it away.
  4. In winter, you can let the soil dry out 90%, or even completely, before watering again.

4. Cold or Heat Damage

Temperature stress

Aloe turned brown because of temperature stress.

Growing aloe indoors helps create a more controlled environment, keeping the plant healthy and vibrant for most of the year. However, if you move it outside in the summer, intense heat and sunlight might cause its color to turn brown.

Cold temperatures can also affect the aloe’s color. If it gets colder than 50°F (10°C), the leaves might turn a reddish-brown.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Keep your aloe in a comfortable temperature range between 60°F-80°F (15°C-27°C).
  2. Try to avoid exposing it to temperatures above 90°F (32°C).
  3. When you’re moving the plant to a different location, do it gradually.
  4. Don’t place your aloe near appliances that emit heat or cold. Make sure to protect it from cold drafts.

5. Overfertilization

Aloe turning brown because of overfertilization.

Giving too much fertilizer to an aloe can lead to its leaves changing color. The issue is that a lot of fertilizers are made with salts, which can be pretty harsh. If there’s an overload of salts in the soil, they can harm the plant’s living tissues.

Also, keep in mind that aloe is a succulent, and succulents don’t need a lot of nutrients. A little bit of fertilizer can be beneficial, but too much can cause problems.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Place the aloe pot in a bucket and water it generously. The running water will help flush out the excess salts from the soil through the drainage holes.
  2. Alternatively, you can repot the aloe in fresh soil.

6. Pest infestation

Pests

Aloe plants can be troubled by pests like aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and others. Despite aloe being a watery plant, it’s surprising how many insects feed on its sap. Even a small group of pests can suck enough sap to make the leaves lose their color and firmness.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Regularly check your aloe for pests. A magnifying glass can be helpful to spot tiny mites.
  2. If you find any insects, treat your aloe with neem oil spray.

7. Diseases

Aloe turning brown because of disease.

Aloe turned brown because of disease.

Diseases are another reason why an aloe plant might turn brown. There are many pathogens that can cause brown spots on the leaves, commonly referred to as ‘leaf spot’ diseases. Another disease, known as ‘leaf blight,’ affects parts of the leaves, causing them to darken and lose their green color.

Here’s a solution:

  1. Cut off any diseased leaves.
  2. Make sure your aloe has good air circulation and is in a low humidity environment.
  3. Be careful not to overwater the plant.
  4. When watering, avoid getting water on the leaves.
  5. Treat the aloe with a multi-purpose fungicide or a copper-based fungicide.