How To Revive An Aloe Plant

by | Last updated May 20, 2022

An Overwatered Aloe

Aloe vera is one of the easy-going succulents and a hardy plant. If your aloe plant appears droopy, with its leaves turning mushy, yellow, or brown, it might be time to take extra care of it and take the necessary steps to revive it. Generally, overwatering, root rot, and sunburn are the common causes for an aloe plant to wilt or die. Read on for our tips to revive an aloe plant that is struggling to survive.

Identify the Reason an Aloe Plant is Dying

Based on the problem that the aloe plant is experiencing, there will be different solutions to revive an aloe plant for each individual issue. Find the issue you are experiencing below and we’ll show you simple solutions that should save the day (and your aloe vera)!

Overwatered Aloe

An Overwatered Aloe
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Like all succulents, aloe vera plants store water in their leaves. Overwatering causes the leaves to turn yellow, brown and curled, or swollen. It also causes the roots to drown and develop root rot. Here are a few things you could do to fix this:

  • These succulent plants don’t need too much water. Watering once in two weeks for outdoor aloe plants and once every three to four weeks for indoor ones would suffice. Before watering, check to ensure the top inch of soil has dried out.
  • A pot with drain holes and well-drained potting soil is recommended to prevent water from sitting in the soil.
  • Repot the aloe into fresh soil after removing the old one. Add gravel and sand around the base for better drainage.

Root Rot

Among the few causes of root rot, overwatering is one. If the leaves are mushy brown and overwatering is not the cause, you’ll have to take the plant out of its pot to examine the roots. To fix a root rot, follow these steps:

  • Remove any unhealthy roots with a sharp, sterilized knife; this includes black, mushy roots. If the majority of the roots are healthy with only a small section of dead, mushy roots, the plant can be salvaged easily. However, if most of the roots are damaged, the plant is most likely beyond saving. You could try propagating the plant with leaf cuttings. 
  • Replant the aloe by choosing a wide pot one-third larger than the root system, with drain holes at the bottom. Fill the pot with well-draining potting soil suitable for cactus or succulents, with higher sand content. Remove a third of the existing soil attached to the root ball of the plant, place it in the newly prepared pot, and fill it with the potting soil mixture. A good potting mix has equal parts of coarse sand, gravel, or perlite, mixed with soil. 

An Underwatered Aloe

Underwatering causes the leaves to become yellow with curled tips, pucker, drop off, or become almost transparent. Although succulents like aloe are drought-tolerant, they do need water for survival. These plants require more water during the summertime. If it dries out completely, it could cause irreversible damage. On the first signs of underwatering, follow these tips:

  • Water the aloe plant more often than usual until the top few layers of soil are moist. The next watering must be done only when the top soil layer has become dry.
  • Place the pot containing the aloe plant on pebbles in a tray of water to increase the humidity and moisture of the plant.
  • Keep the plant in bright, indirect daylight to avoid exposure to harsh sunlight. 
  • Spreading a thin layer of gravel over the soil surface will help by maintaining moisture in the surrounding air with the stone’s coolness. 

A Sunburned Aloe

A Sunburned Aloe
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The harsh summer months tend to cause sunburns for succulents, including aloe. They require about 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day, including the morning or evening sun. Sunburned aloe has leathery, brown leaves, brown spots on the leaves with black tips, or droopy, withered leaves. These steps, if followed promptly, will help reverse the damage:

  • Relocate the plant to a shadier location that gets about four hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • An underwatered aloe plant is more prone to sunburn. Watering it will boost its healing process and immunity.
  • Use a sharp, sterilized knife or scissors to cut out the damaged part of the plant, which will then promote growth. Dead leaves must be removed from the base.

A Frozen Aloe

The cold winter months may result in frost damage to aloe plants. With temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant is likely to start deteriorating. If you see brown or yellow leaves with firm and leathery or squishy texture, revive the plant by following these steps:

  • Relocate the plant indoors, near a sunny window or any warmer spot that receives more sunlight, preferably when the outside temperature is above freezing. 
  • Trim off brown/yellow and dead leaves from the stem. Until you’re able to see signs of new growth, avoid watering the plant.
  • Avoid fertilization when the aloe plant is frozen, as it will cause harm to the already stressed plant. 

A Drooping Aloe

The causes for an aloe vera plant to droop include overwatering or underwatering, too much or not enough sun, freezing temperatures, fungal infection, or insect infestation. Once you’ve figured out the cause, you could get a few things done to revive the drooping aloe plant:

  • Avoid overwatering and underwatering the plant. A full cycle in which the soil remains moist and then dries out must be ensured before the next watering. 
  • Gradually expose it to more or less sun, as required. About 4-6 hours of direct sunlight works best; moving it back and forth between shade and sun for at least four weeks prevents sunburn and ensures sun exposure for just the right time.
  • With freezing temperatures outside, moving the plant to a warmer location with more sunlight, like indoors, would be ideal.
  • For fungal infections, such as powdery mildew, applying a fungicide (neem oil) will treat the condition.
  • At times, insects and pests infect aloe. Particularly common are mealybugs, aphids, and whiteflies. Using insecticidal soap or horticultural oil helps treat the plant and get rid of the pests. 

In the worst-case scenario, if none of these work, repotting with fresh, good quality potting soil will most likely do the trick to revive the plant. Avoid watering for a week after repotting, giving the roots the time to re-establish.

A Rotting Aloe

Extremely wet, soggy soil or a dense potting mix results in a plant rot. Here’s what you can do to fix this:

A Rotting Aloe
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  • Repot the aloe plant with fresh, well-draining soil that doesn’t contain any fertilizers. There are potting mixes available for succulents that will work perfectly for repotting aloe plants.
  • Avoid overwatering by checking that the soil feels sufficiently dry before watering again. 
  • Keep your aloe plant in a bright, sunny spot that receives at least four hours of sunlight a day.
  • Ensure the pot has drain holes at the bottom to avoid water sitting in the pot, causing a rot due to the constantly wet soil.

An Aloe Without Roots

Your aloe plant can lose its roots, in which case, you could attempt propagation of the plant with leaf cuttings.

  • Cut off a healthy, fleshy leaf from the aloe plant.
  • Dipping the end of the leaf into a rooting hormone such as honey helps the leaf-cutting root quicker.
  • Place this cutting in a pot with drain holes at the bottom, with fresh potting soil that must be maintained moist, not wet. 
  • The pot must be placed in bright, indirect sun.
  • The aloe leaf-cutting will show new growth in a few weeks, following which it can be replanted in soil with better drainage. 
How to revive a dying aloe vera plant step by step

Final Thought

Reviving an aloe vera plant is quite simple once you’ve figured out what’s causing the trouble. Generally, aloe makes for a great indoor plant and is easier to maintain. There’s no need to worry even if the plant is beyond revival; it can always be propagated to create a new one. 

Shelbi Clifford

Shelbi Clifford

Hi, I'm Shelbi! I am the founder of Houseplant Advisor - a blog for all things houseplants. Whether you are looking to add some green to your home or want to learn about how plants can help improve air quality in your space, Houseplant Advisor is here with the answers. Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out and ask me anything!

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