Why Is Your Aloe Vera Plant Changing Colors?

Aloe vera plants with yellowing leaves

Aloe vera plants, native to North Africa and the SW Arabian Peninsula, are known for their resilience in tough conditions. They can survive in poor soils, hot and dry environments, and even indoors with bright natural light. However, sometimes these hardy plants can show signs of distress, such as changing colors. In this article, we will explore why your aloe vera plant might be turning yellow and brown, and what you can do to help it thrive.

How Healthy Aloe Vera Plants Look

Healthy aloe vera plants have a distinct appearance. Their leaves are usually grey-green or blue-green in color, and their young leaves are vibrant green. There are different varieties of aloe vera plants, such as Aloe vera barbadensis var. miller and Aloe vera var. chinensis, each with its own unique color and form.

edible Aloe vera barbadensis var. miller
Aloe vera barbadensis var. miller has a green to grey-green color and a very distinct circular rosette form

Aloe vera var. chinensis non-edible
Aloe vera var. chinensis has a blue-green color and a very different form, somewhat flatter and stacked rather than a rosette

The Symptoms of an Unhealthy Aloe Vera Plant

When an aloe vera plant is not in optimal conditions, it may exhibit several signs of distress. Here are a few common symptoms:

  • Leaves become pale and change from green to a straw yellow color, eventually turning light brown.
  • Leaf tips darken and dry out.
  • Leaves dry out and wither.
  • Leaves become soft, mushy, and start to rot.
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Aloe vera plants with yellowing leaves
A pair of unhealthy aloe vera plants that have been overwatered and exposed to sudden cold weather.

What Causes Aloe Vera Plants to Become Unwell

Aloe vera plants can become stressed when exposed to unfavorable conditions. Two primary factors that can lead to their decline are overwatering and sudden changes in growing conditions.

1. Overwatering

Overwatering is a common mistake that can harm aloe vera plants. When they receive too much water, their leaves may fade in color, turn yellow or brown, and eventually rot away. It’s essential to find the right balance and not to overwater these plants.

To determine if your aloe vera plant is overwatered, you can check the soil’s moisture level. If the soil is waterlogged or if the container feels excessively heavy, it’s a sign of too much water. Aloe vera plants don’t require frequent watering, especially during colder seasons. Water them once a week in summer and once every two weeks in winter.

When growing aloe vera in containers outdoors, it’s important to protect them from excessive rainfall. Place them near a sunny house wall with adequate shelter. If you’re growing them in the ground, ensure that the soil drains well, especially in heavy clay soils.

2. Sudden Change in Growing Conditions

Aloe vera plants are resilient, but sudden changes in their growing conditions can cause stress. Here are a few examples:

  • Moving plants from indoors to outdoors without acclimatizing them gradually can result in burnt leaf tips. It’s important to “harden off” the plants by exposing them to increasing levels of sunlight over several weeks.
  • Extended heatwaves and drought conditions can lead to moisture stress in plants dependent on rainfall. Look for burnt leaf tips and dried-out leaves as signs of drought stress.
  • Abrupt seasonal changes, such as sudden frost or freezing cold nights, can severely stress aloe vera plants. Yellowing leaves and burnt tips are common signs of cold stress.
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How to Revive a Sick Aloe Vera Plant

If your aloe vera plant appears unhealthy, there are steps you can take to bring it back to its vibrant state. Remember, early intervention is crucial for successful recovery. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Overwatered plants: Stop watering them and provide cover to avoid rainfall. Make sure the soil has a chance to dry out.
  2. Overpotted plants: Transplant them into smaller pots with well-draining soil. This will help the growing medium dry more easily between waterings.
  3. Drought-stricken plants: Remove burnt leaves, water the plants to restore soil moisture, and consider using seaweed extract to stimulate root growth and aid in recovery.
  4. Cold-stressed plants: Place pots near a wall that receives midday or afternoon sun to maintain higher overnight temperatures. Water them less often in winter, keep them out of the rain, and remove any saucers underneath that retain water.

With time and proper care, your aloe vera plant will start to regain its health. Don’t worry, these resilient plants have an incredible ability to recover when given the right conditions!

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