Inside: If you’ve ever found the leaves of your aloe vera plant drooping, you’ll want to act right away to remedy the situation. Learn what you should do when you start to witness the leaves on your aloe vera plant drooping.
Hero’s come in the most unusual form.
While at the grocery store scouring the new plant display, hidden behind some peace lilies stood the most beautiful polka dot begonia I had ever seen. Okay, it was also the first one I’d ever seen, that wasn’t on YouTube.
I felt my heart begin to speed up as the sweat started to congregate on my palms. I knew I wasn’t going to leave the store without this beauty in my hands. Fear swept over me thinking the person who hid it was coming back to rip her out of my sweaty hands.
My adrenaline was pumping.
I heard begonias were somewhat difficult to care for, which sort of made me feel as if I was spiraling down an internal vortex.
With shaky and sweaty hands, I grabbed my phone and opened the first plant app I could find in the App Store.
I took a picture and was told the plant had brown spots, which at the time went unnoticed
I could blame it on the crappy lighting or the fact I was so memorized by finding a Polka Dot Begonia at Kroger, that I overlooked the brown spots
The app also stated, that if the spots were over 50% of the leaves, It would take an act of Congress to bring it back to life. Okay, that wasn’t their exact wording, but you get my drift.
Unfortunately, my 30-second adrenaline rush was stifled, when I realized the begonia wouldn’t come home with me.
Okay, so what does this have to do with helping you come to terms with your aloe vera plant drooping? A lot.
I was so impressed by that particular plant app, I decided to take it out for a spin before plunking down a cool $30 for it.
Everything was going great.
My plants were thrilled to have their pictures taken (of course I lied to them and told them they’d be “Insta-famous”).
Like you don’t talk to your plants.
Everything was going splendidly until my camera was face to leaf with Archie, my aloe vera plant.
I knew his leaves were wilting a little, but I figured it was either due to them growing heavy as he aged or he was being a little temperamental since I put him back inside, taking him away from his outside friends.
Such a little drama king.
He wasn’t smiling when I took his picture and by all accounts, he shouldn’t have.
He knew photos don’t lie.
He knew I’d finally learn of his fate.
When I looked at the app, the bubble in which I lived exploded like someone throwing a Molotov cocktail at a gas tank.
In large writing under his picture, it said, “Insufficient light”. Your plant appears a classic sign of etiolation, a condition caused by plants growing in inadequate levels of light”.
Of course, I had to Google “etiolation”.
Per Succulents Box: “Etiolation is a pathological condition of plants that grow in places that provide insufficient light, as under stones. It is characterized by stretched stems, weak growth, and pale color due to a lack of chlorophyll“.
The $30 app was wrong. The leaves of the aloe vera plant were drooping and if anything they were darker in color, not pale in color due to a “lack of chlorophyll”.
The moment I noticed his beautiful green leaves were turning darker, I thought he was getting a sunburn and brought him inside. He looked as if he was flourishing. I mean, he was sprouting new growth.
It was at this moment, that I realized there was something else wrong. What could it be?
What a bad plant parent I am. To think, I thought he was just mad at me for bringing him inside from the porch.
Someone, please call the plant police. I’d like to report a case of inadvertent plant abuse.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to houseplant care
If plant care was black and white, everything would be peachy-dory, but as with just about anything that hinges on the health and well-being of a plant, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Although each plant genus has the same requirements for it to live a happy and healthy life, like humans, each plant has its DNA markup that makes one plant from the same mother plant tolerate things differently than its siblings.
The Naked Scientists, from The University of Cambridge, explain this process regarding the DNA of a Rhubarb, but the same thing goes for an aloe vera plant.
Why does my aloe vera look limp?
The reason why your aloe vera plant is going soft is due to a myriad of problems.
- Insufficient drainage
- Heat shock
- Transplant stress
- Incorrect lighting
- Root rot
Can you guess which one of these caused my aloe vera plant to droop?
How do you save a drooping aloe vera plant?
The first thing you’ll need to do to save your aloe vera plant from going all droopy on you is to look at its living conditions and review some if not all of the above potential causes.
1. Overwatering or underwatering
When you’re dealing with how to water any type of succulent, the theory of less is more is the best route. Because aloe vera plants derive from a hot and dry climate, it’s best to keep their watering down to once a month.
To remember when your aloe vera plant needs to be watered, you’ll either want to pick one day of each month to water it, such as the first of the month, or you’ll need to keep track of when you watered your aloe vera.
Since aloe vera likes to have its soil dry out completely, it may take you a little while to make sure the soil is evenly wet if you’re using some sort of potting soil, such as cactus soil.
If you’re using a gritty mix, the water will find its way into each crack and crevice, whereas, with potting and or cactus soil, they tend to get compacted, making the soil seem as though it’s all wet, when in fact the middle of the soil, is still dry.
When you’re giving your aloe vera a drink, you’ll want to give them a very deep drink. If you’re using gritty soil or cactus soil, you’ll want to make sure the water flows thoroughly out of the drainage hole.
When you think you have given your aloe vera plant an adequate amount of water, stick your index finger into the pot next to the main stem of the plant. If it still feels dry, add more water, and if it feels moist 2” down, you’ve watered it enough.
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2. Insufficient drainage for your aloe vera plant
Although an aloe plant is hardy, a lack of proper drainage can cause it to droop.
In my case, I thought I had planted my aloe vera plant with the Bonsai Jack gritty soil; I dressed the top of the planter with the gritty soil. However, once I removed the plant from the pot, I noticed it was in poorly draining potting soil.
Insufficient draining equals root rot.
The aloe vera plant was also planted in a glazed ceramic pot, which doesn’t allow the plant to dry out as quickly as it would like.
To ensure proper drainage, you’ll want to use a potting soil mix that is quick draining, such as but not limited to, cactus potting soil, Bonsai Jack gritty mix, or make your own with a lot of Perlite.
3. Diseases that afflict aloe vera plants
Aloe rust – is a fungal infection that causes brown or black spots on the aloe leaves. The best way to prevent aloe rust is to keep the leaves on the aloe plant as dry as you can and to allow good air circulation.
Sooty Mold – is another fungal infection but this is a residual effect from a mealybug or aphid infestation.
4. Pests, bugs, and other icky critters
There are a few different types of bugs that love aloe Vera plants. Be on the lookout for the following:
Recommended Reading: This is what you need to know how to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants
Gall Mites – If your aloe vera plant isn’t flowering, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about these, but if it did flower, then this can be a culprit to your aloe vera plant drooping. The Gall Mites grow on the flower stalk and it will look like a weird cluster of small balls.
Snout Beetles – these boogers grow up to ¾ inches in length and they like to congregate around the center of the aloe plant. It will typically wedge itself into the leaf to drink the sap.
Spider Mites – The red spider mite leaves small pale markings on the surface of the aloe leaves.
To learn more about pests and diseases that love aloe vera plants, visit the Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society.
5. Heat and/or Temperature Shock
As plant parents, sometimes we don’t think when we move our indoor plants outdoors and vice-versa.
One reason your aloe vera plant may be drooping could be it’s gone into shock due to a sudden increase or decrease in temperature if they’re moved from one extreme to the next.
If your aloe vera plant was outside in the summer, you may not think bringing it into your home that’s maintained at 73°F degrees is cold enough to put it in shock.
Think about how you feel when you come into your house after being outside in the summer heat. I’m sure the coolness of the air conditioning feels mighty good to you.
Well, to a plant, moving from one extreme to the next is like you jumping into a pool full of ice cubes. It doesn’t matter how hot you are, that’s one painful experience.
6. Transplant Stress
If your aloe vera plant started to droop after you repotted it, that may be the reason why your aloe vera plant is drooping.
Just give it time to acclimate to its new pot. It may be helpful to stake it up in an upright position during its transition to its new home.
7. Root Rot
Ding..ding..ding. If you guessed root rot was the reason the leaves of my aloe vera plant were drooping, you just won a prize! Thankfully, only a few roots started to rot, and I was able to remove them before any further damage was done.
If all else fails, check for root rot. If any of the aloe vera’s roots are black, brown, and mushy, remove them. It’s best to use sterile shears before cutting off the rotted roots. You’ll want to cut off the part of the healthy root that’s slightly above where the rotten roots are.
8. Aloe Vera plant and incorrect lighting
Is it in a North facing window? Are you using supplemental lighting in a dark room? Are you not giving it enough natural or supplemental light for a minimum of 4 to 6 hours?
Before you move your aloe vera plant to its new home, you’ll want to move it gradually. If you move it from the dark corners of your house to the most brightly lit area, not only can it go into shock, but the lighting in that one spot may be too much for the plant.
Recommended Reading: This is why you need to find the best lighting for indoor plants.
If you’re using artificial lighting, such as with a grow light, make sure you turn off the light at night. It’s a good idea to turn the light off around 6 pm, or when you’re making your dinner.
Not enough light isn’t great for plants, and for an aloe plant, too much light isn’t good also.
How do you revive an aloe vera plant that’s dropping?
Unfortunately, mouth-to-leaf resuscitation doesn’t work, but you can try to revive the leaves by giving them a second chance. Why not attempt to water propagate the leaves?
Should I cut bent aloe leaves?
If only aloe vera plant leaves were as flexible as an Olympic gymnast. The sad thing is, once your aloe vera plant leaves start to droop, just cut them off because they will never again stand tall.
Sure, you can attempt to stake them up, but once you remove them from the stake, odds are they’ll just droop again.
This is what you should do if you find your aloe vera plant drooping
Once you’ve determined what the root cause was that made your aloe vera plant droop, you’ll want to proceed with the following steps to avoid your aloe vera plant from dropping.
Step 1: Cut off all the wilted leaves, and check for root rot, before repotting in a terracotta planter with an adequate-sized drainage hole. You’ll want to make sure your pot is as wide as it is deep.
Step 2: Use well-draining soil. It would also be beneficial to place a layer of gravel, chunks of bark, or rocks in the bottom of the pot before putting it in the soil.
Step 3: If the remaining healthy-looking leaves start to droop once you’ve repotted them, place a stake in the pot and adhere the leaves to the stake loosely until it’s able to stand up on their own.
Step 4: Place your plant in a spot that receives bright, indirect light.
Step 5: Ignore your plant for a little bit. Once you place it in the new pot, don’t water it for around a week or so.
Although the plant app I used that helped me decide not to buy the Begonia was wrong when it came to diagnosing my aloe vera plant, I’m still happy I downloaded it. Without the app telling me, there was an issue with my plant, I may have thought my aloe vera plant was sunburnt and left it at that.
So, in turn, I’ll consider that $30 app a hero. It made me investigate what was wrong, and for that, I’m thankful.
As of today, with help from a BBQ Skewer and Velcro Brand One Wrap Garden Ties, the two leaves of my aloe vera plant are growing stronger each day. The boys are loving their new location in my home, and I’m sure they’ll be inviting some of their buddies to join them in their new pot.
As for the old leaves that were removed. They’re all living comfortably tucked between the Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, and a bag of green peas in a plastic zipper bag in my freezer, to use in case of sunburn or any other skin ailment we may encounter.
How have you dealt with a drooping Aloe Vera plant?
I’d love to know how you’ve dealt with your Aloe Vera plant when it drooped. Share with a comment.