Does Your Aloe Vera Plant Look Like It's Dying? Here's How to Fix It

Overwatering is the biggest problem for this succulent. But even if your plant is struggling, you can still save it.

Forgetful plant parents, take note: Aloe vera is one houseplant that won't mind if you miss a watering (or two or three). Like most succulents, this plant is drought-tolerant. But the flip side is that aloes don't appreciate sitting in soggy soil. If you're more of a serial overwaterer who drenches your houseplants on the regular, you could have an unhappy aloe on your hands. The plant's long, green, plump leaves may start looking droopy or you may notice brown leaf tips or dark spots showing up. But don't give up hope, yet! You can still fix what's wrong with your aloe and save the plant with these tips.

Aloe plants near window
Marty Baldwin

Aloe Vera Plant Care

For aloes grown indoors, your goal is to keep the roots from sitting in too much moisture, which will cause them to rot. Choose a pot with drainage holes. Make sure to use potting soil made for succulents ($5, Target), which dries a little faster than regular potting soil. Only water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch and always empty out excess water from the saucer. Place your aloe in plenty of bright, indirect light. A south- or west-facing window is best.

If you want to use a beautiful planter that has no drainage hole, you have two options. Either drill a hole or use the planter as a decorative outer pot (called a cachepot) that you place a smaller, plain plastic container into. Elevate the inner pot on a half-inch of pea gravel or other small stones ($6, The Home Depot) so the bottom of it won't sit in excess moisture that drains out after watering. You also can move the plastic pot to a sink to water it and then replace it in the cachepot once it's done draining.

How to Fix Aloe Plant Problems

Your aloe's leaves should be plump, firm, and upright, with an even green color. If the leaves look droopy, shriveled, or have brown or dead parts, you've got an unhappy plant. But most of the time, you can fix the problem and restore your aloe to health.

The most common problem with aloes is overwatering. You'll know your aloe plant is being overwatered when the leaves develop what are called water-soaked spots that look soggy and soft. It's almost as though the entire leaf becomes saturated with water, then it turns to mush.

You might be able to save your waterlogged aloe if you dig it up and let it dry out for a day or two. Gently remove any leaves and roots that appear to be dead or mushy. This also is a good time to divide your plant if it has several offshoots growing from the base. The younger plants with shallower roots may still be fairly healthy so you can move them to new containers in fresh potting soil.

Once the main plant's root ball has mostly dried out, dust the base of the plant with rooting powder ($5, The Home Depot). Then, replant your aloe in a pot with a drainage hole and keep it on the dry side. It may take a couple of weeks, but you should begin to see new, healthy leaves starting to grow from the center of the plant.

What if overwatering doesn't seem to be the problem, but your aloe's leaves start looking droopy? It could be that your plant is getting leggy from too little light. Try moving your aloe to a brighter spot or using a grow light.

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