Why Aloe Vera Plants Turn Brown: 10 Reasons
Aloe Vera is an ancient plant that has been serving humankind in several ways for many years. These plants are non-demanding and require very few requirements to thrive. However, if the needs of this plant are ignored, the leaves can turn from a healthy green to a brownish color.
Overwatering is one of the main causes of aloe vera leaves turning brown. It will inevitably lead to root rot, which causes the leaves to be wilted and eventually fall off. Signs of an oversaturated aloe plant include yellowing, mushy leaves, soft stems and foliage, and the tips turning brown.
Apart from excess water, several other reasons could be responsible for the brown color of aloe plants. The key is early identification of the problem, applying appropriate treatment, and making necessary adjustments. In this article, we have summed up the 10 most common causes of the aloe vera plant turning brown and the solutions to these problems. Read on to find out.
The 10 Reasons Why Your Aloe Plants Are Turning Brown
As already mentioned, excess water in the soil is one of the primary causes of yellowing or browning leaves on aloe plants. Aloe vera has very few stomata, therefore, they cannot perspire moisture as effectively as other plant species. This means excess water will accumulate within the meristem (a tissue of non-specialized cells).
When too much water is compressed within the meristem, the pressure can break the structure of the tissue. This will not only affect the physical form of the tissue but will affect the color as well. The leaves will start yellowing and then browning in advanced phases. As with all succulent plants, overwatering is a common cause of ruptured leaves, root decay, and in some cases, even death.
Similarly, when aloe plants do not receive enough water, the leaves harden, and brown spots begin to spread toward the base of the stem. The plant may even look shriveled and shrunken due to dehydration.
If you notice your aloe plant is turning brown, especially at the base of the stem, chances are high that it may be too late to save the entire plant. However, if you notice earlier symptoms such as brown spots on the leaves, you have the chance of saving the plant by employing a few quick fixes.
2. Exposure to Excessive Sunlight
When Aloe leaves are exposed to excessive sunlight and heat, they will inevitably dry up. The chloroplast starts losing its green coloring pigment (chlorophyll), which consequently causes discoloration of the leaves. In the last stages, the leaves will have turned brown.
Aloe plants may thrive in warm places with temperatures between 55°F–80°F but they may experience sunscald, too. This is ironic, considering the plant is sometimes used to treat sunburns in humans. When the temperatures exceed this range, the leaves will start to develop brown spots. You can even find fully dried-out leaves still firmly stuck on your plant.
You may also notice that the aloe plant needs watering more often because the soil is drying up too quickly. These are sure indications that the plant is suffering from sunburn from exposure to too much direct sunlight.
3. Sudden Climate Changes
Sudden temperature changes can cause browning of the Aloe plant leaves. The cells may not withstand the sudden temperature fluctuations, thus they will change color as they wither. Most of us with succulents like Aloe Vera at home tend to keep the plants indoors and take them out during summer. However, both indoor and outdoor spaces have unique characteristics.
You may end up causing stress to the aloe plant when moving the aloe from your sitting room to the balcony if the environmental conditions are different. For instance, the light in your living room may be dimmer with no strong winds and the humidity could be fairly high.
However, the conditions on the balcony will be different because of the wind, bright sunlight, and low humidity. When the aloe plant is moved between these two positions, it responds with stunted growth, browning of the leaves, and lack of bloom.
4. Fungal Infections
Sometimes discoloration on aloe leaves is caused by fungi. The plant may be resilient to most diseases, but it can occasionally get fungal infections.
Contrary to popular belief, aloe plants don’t get infections when in the wild or in places that experience dry winters. However indoor spaces with high humidity and high soil moisture content are highly susceptible to fungal infections. Additionally, plants fertilized with excessive nitrogen can get off balance, making them highly susceptible to fungal infections.
These three main fungi can make a home out of your aloe plants. They normally do not respond equally to treatment. The fungi include:
5. Wind and Draught
Excessive wind and drought could also cause the aloe plant to turn brown. Strong winds tend to have a drying effect on plants. They suck up moisture from the plant starting from the leaves because they are the most exposed to the draft, all the way to the base of the plant.
6. Excessive Cold
Similar to excessive heat, exposure to excess cold conditions can also cause browning. It indicates tissue decay which causes death in aloe plants. In some cases, it shows that the plant tissue has started rotting if accompanied by softening and the jellification of aloe vera’s tissue.
It is a well-documented fact that aloe vera thrives in warm weather, like in arid and semi-arid environments. While some adult and mature aloe species can withstand temperatures as low as 32°F, when temperatures fall under 40°F, the plants will suffer.
7. Too Much Fertilizer
When aloe plants receive excessive nutrients, some of the plant’s tissue may die. This will result in the plant changing the color of the tissue from a healthy green to a dead brown. Like most succulent plant species, aloe vera doesn’t thrive in areas that are too rich with nutrients.
Moreover, too much fertilizer causes salts to accumulate in the soil, leading to what farmers commonly refer to as fertilizer burns. Also known as tip burn, the burn manifests itself as browning on the tips of the aloe leaves. This is a common sight, where healthy-looking plants have tips that appear brown, dry, and burnt.
When we think of Aloe Vera, we think of a highly resilient plant that is not fazed by pests or diseases, yet these plants are subject to attacks by several types of pests and insects which can damage the plant leaving brown spots on the leaves. Aloe plants are susceptible to attacks from mealybugs, fungus gnats, mites, and flies.
These insects slowly feed on aloe vera whose damage is hard to notice and, worse yet, can be lethal to the plant. Pests like mites may be too hard to see, but they leave various traces of their presence. When brown spots develop on the leaves, they look like they are twisted and develop in a deformed way. This is due to the chemicals deposited on the leaves with every bite a mite takes.
9. Physical Damage
Sometimes, adventurous or curious children and kittens may inadvertently damage your aloe plants. The damage can turn into brown spots over time. Mild damage may not be aesthetically appealing but doesn’t permanently damage your aloe plants. However, rough handling and severe damage will almost certainly kill your plant.
10. Psychological Disorders
Aloe vera needs certain environmental conditions to grow healthy and thrive. If you do not meet these conditions, your aloe plant will start to show symptoms of discomfort. One major symptom of underlying psychological disorders is the browning of the leaves.
Psychological disorders occur in plants due to nonpathogenic factors like poor lighting, adverse temperatures, water requirements, and poor nutrition, among others.
Aloe vera is an important plant species for human beings. It has aesthetic and medicinal values, making it a convenient plant to grow at home. Fortunately, the aloe plant requires little attention or specialized care to thrive. However, if the plant’s ideal growing conditions are not satisfied, the plant turns brown.
The main causes of browning in aloe plants are overwatering, extreme heat and cold conditions, pests, fungi, and excessive fertilizer. Fortunately, you can solve the browning by being vigilant with the amount of water, sunlight, and fertilizer that you feed the plant.
Featured Image Credit: joanshannon, Pixabay