Underwatered Aloe Vera Plant – Signs and Solutions


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Aloe vera plants are succulents and the main concern with them is overwatering, but they can also be underwatered.

This article will discuss signs to look for to know if your aloe plant is underwatered, how to revive it, and how to prevent underwatering.

Signs of an Underwatered Aloe Vera Plant

There are a number of signs that the aloe vera plant will give you to let you know whether or not it needs water.

1. Leaves Turning Yellow

Water is important for the growth of plants. The absence of water can harm the plant since it lacks the medium to transfer nutrients to other parts of the plants.

If there’s no water, no nutrients are transferred to the plant roots, which ends in a nutrient deficiency, and that causes the leaves to turn yellow. 

The shade of yellow and leaf appearance will help indicate what nutrients are lacking. This is more advanced though and will need some expertise to identify the specific nutrients.

2. Brown Leaf Tips

Aloe vera plants with brown leaf tips are often signs of being overfertilized, but it can also mean that the plant isn’t receiving enough water. 

Leaf tips will usually show the first signs of underwatering as they are also the furthest away from the roots. 

Use your memory to think about what could be causing the brown tips. Feeding fertilizer and not using enough water are different enough to be able to help assess.  

3. Brown Leaf Edges

 Similar to the brown leaf tips, the leaf edges will also start to dry and brown faster than the meatier parts of the leaf.

These edges are normally thinner than the central part. Being thinner, the edges will also be able to hold less water. As a result, the edges will show underwatering signs first. The edges will brown and crisp. 

4. Brown Spots on the Leaves

Brown spots on leaves are another sign of too much fertilization. But more often than not, brown spots indicate watering issues like overwatered aloe plant or underwatered. 

Luckily, it’s easy to differentiate whether it’s an underwatering or overwatering problem. If you touch the brown spots on the leaves and they’re still wet, then it means that the plant has been watered excessively.

On the contrary, when you notice brown spots on the leaves without any wetness around the area where the spot was formed, this indicates that the plant hasn’t received an adequate amount of water.

Look to see if the brown spots are dry to know if the aloe plant has been underwatered. 

5. Aloe Leaves Drooping

Another sign would be when the leaves begin drooping down. When this occurs, it indicates that the plant does not have the strength to stay straight.

The lack of leaf shape and strength is due to the lack of nutrients and water. The leaves may appear to have wilted because of the low levels of moisture. It might even seem like the plant is dying.

However, if you add water, it’s just a matter of time before the plant starts to regain its shape.

6. Aloe Leaves Curling

When your aloe plant starts curling inward, it’s indicating it needs water. The aloe plant’s leaves are losing its shape, similar to drooping. 

When the leaves curl, it’s reducing the amount of surface area that needs water. This helps the plant preserve what water it still has left. 

7. Potting Soil is Dry 

Very dry potting soil mix is a clear indication of underwatering. There won’t be enough moisture in the soil for the aloe vera plant to absorb. In addition, the soil should never feel hard or crusty. Instead, it should always remain moist.

If the top couple inches are dry, don’t assume the rest of the soil is dry. Be sure to check the soil at the bottom of the pot and see if that’s dry. 

8. Brittle Roots 

Roots are important for absorbing and transporting water from the soil to the other parts. When there is drought, it is the roots that suffer first.

They would have to expend extra effort to find a water source. As the drought continues, the roots will shrink. Some of them may even dry out. That explains why they become brittle when touched.

How to Revive an Underwatered Aloe Vera Plant

There are many ways to try and revive an underwatered aloe vera plant. There aren’t any foolproof ways to save and revive underwater plants, but you can always give it a try if the plant is not completely dead yet. 

Here are the steps on how to revive an underwatered aloe plant:

  1. Prune the dead leaves – Use clean, sterilized gardening shears to cut off the dead leaves.
  2. Take the aloe vera plant out of the pot – Look for any brittle roots as they break easily. 
  3. Soak the roots for 48 hours – Fill a large bowl with filtered water, distilled water, or rainwater. Put the roots into the bowl to soak for 48 hours. 
  4. Check for improvements – If you start seeing improvements in the aloe plant, it’s a good sign. You might see the leaves turning green or it’s not declining at least. It’s time to repot. 
  5. Choose proper potting soil – A well-draining potting soil mix is needed. Even though it’s been underwatered, you still want to avoid waterlogged soil. 
  6. Choose the right size pot – Don’t select a pot that’s too big or small. Too big means more work while too small could mean less space for growth. Choose one that will fit the aloe vera plant’s roots comfortably. Also, choose a pot that’s wide, instead of narrow. The pot shouldn’t be too deep either, as aloe roots grow laterally, so it won’t grow deep. 
  7. Repot the aloe plant – Plant the aloe vera into the pot with fresh potting soil mix. Let the plant settle into the new pot and soil for a few days before watering. Let it get accustomed to the new environment. 
  8. Choose a Good Location – Place the aloe vera plant and pot in an area where it will get lots of bright indirect light. Don’t let it be exposed to direct sunlight though as that will scorch the leaves. 

Tips to Prevent Underwatering the Aloe Vera Plant

Now that you’ve repotted the aloe plant, you’ll want to keep in mind how to prevent underwatering in the future.

Here are some pro tips to avoid underwatering: 

1. Keep an Eye on the Soil Moisture Levels

The best way to know whether your soil needs additional moisture is by checking its moisture level. You can use the finger test by sticking your finger a couple inches into the soil and seeing whether the soil is wet or dry. 

Another option is to use a soil moisture meter. Similar to temperature meters, you stick it into the soil and it’ll spit out a reading. 

2. Set a Watering Schedule and Adjust Occasionally

Regular watering schedules help ensure healthy root systems. But don’t overdo it. Overly frequent watering can cause the roots to rot. 

Watering frequency can be affected by your local area, so you’ll want to monitor the soil and how often you’re watering it. Your local environment’s humidity and temperature will have an effect on how slowly and quickly the soil will dry. 

Adjust frequency of watering as seasons change. The need to water will change, so you’ll want to monitor the soil’s moisture levels and adjust waterings. 

3. Try a Plastic Pot

Plastic won’t absorb water from the soil like a terracotta pot would, so that would leave the moisture in the soil for plants. If you’re often forgetting to water, this can be a solution for underwatering. 

Underwatered Aloe Vera Plant Final Thoughts

All in all, if you follow these steps, you should be able to successfully care for your aloe vera plant. Remember to check the soil regularly and make sure it isn’t excessively dry. 

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