Aloe vera plant

Are your aloe vera leaves turning brown? Here’s why – and what you can do to save your plant

Posted by for Plants

Browning leaves are one of the most common problems aloe vera owners face. Keep reading to check out everything you need to know about this frustrating issue.

Alongside their various medicinal and cosmetic benefits, aloe vera plants are some of the fastest-growing and low maintenance succulents out there – making them a popular choice among first-time plant owners.

But just because they’re low maintenance, it doesn’t mean aloe vera plants are immune to facing health problems – the most common of which being browning leaves.

We’re not talking about the tips of the leaves going brown (which is usually a sign of underwatering), but an entire leaf (or leaves) going brown and soggy.  

In comparison to the rigid, pointed leaves you typically see on a healthy aloe vera plant, these leaves are limp and flaccid – and are often a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

So, what causes aloe vera leaves to turn brown? And what can be done to save a plant with this problem? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know – including top tips for keeping your aloe vera plant happy and healthy in the future.  

Why do aloe vera leaves turn brown?

The Stem aloe vera
A healthy aloe vera plant has rigid, green leaves.

The main reason why aloe vera leaves turn brown and soggy is overwatering – one of the most common mistakes new plant parents make.

“Aloe veras are native to the hot and dry Arabian Peninsula and, as with all types of succulents, have adapted to these conditions by storing water in their fleshy leaves so they can survive through long periods of drought,” explains Maddie, plant expert at the online garden centre The Stem.

“As with all houseplants, it’s always best to try and mimic the conditions of their natural environment, so for an aloe vera, the key is to water infrequently.” 

Can brown aloe vera leaves turn green again?

Whether or not you’ll be able to nurse your plant back to health depends largely on how quickly you act to remedy the problem. 

Indeed, once a leaf has turned entirely brown and limp, you won’t be able to save it; instead, you’ll need to use some scissors or shears to remove the leaf entirely. 

What’s the best way to deal with brown aloe vera leaves?

Aloe vera plant
The key to dealing with brown aloe vera leaves is repotting.

If you notice the leaves of your aloe vera plant turning brown, you’ll want to take immediate action to limit the amount of damage to the plant as a whole. 

To start with, remove the brown leaves – and then it’s time to get your hands dirty.

“The best way to save your brown aloe vera is to repot it in well-draining houseplant compost within a nursery pot that has holes at the bottom of it,” Maddie explains. 

“This ensures that water can drain properly from your plant in the future. You can then place this pot inside a decorative pot.”

Maddie continues: “When repotting, check that your aloe vera isn’t suffering from root-rot (if it is, the roots will be black and mushy). If this is the case wash away any remaining soil and snip off the affected roots before replanting it.” 

How to prevent aloe vera leaves going brown

Once you’ve managed to nurse your aloe vera plant back to health, you need to make sure you’re taking steps to prevent the same issue from arising again. To do this, you’ll need to pay attention to your watering routine.

“To avoid your aloe vera leaves turning brown, only water it when the soil is completely dry to touch all the way through,” Maddie says. “This may mean only watering an aloe vera every couple of months in the winter and slightly more in the spring and summer.”

She continues: “When it is time to water your aloe vera, remove it from its decorative (outer) pot and allow the water to completely drain away from its nursery pot before replacing it back in its decorative pot. This will stop your aloe vera sitting in a pool of water, which can cause root rot.” 

How to care for an aloe vera plant

An aloe vera plant on a windowsill
Because they love bright light, aloe vera plants make great additions to a windowsill.

On top of nailing your watering routine, there are a number of extra steps you can take to keep your aloe vera plant in tip-top condition.

“To grow healthy and happy aloe vera, keep it in a sunny spot such as a windowsill, and only water it when its soil is dry,” Maddie says. “In summer and autumn, you can also fertilise it once per month to promote growth.” 

New to plant parenthood? Check out Stylist’s guide to buying, styling and caring for plants to get started.

You can find out more about the most common houseplant problems by checking out our range of plant care content, too. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.