Aloe Plant Turning Brown

aloe vera turning brown

Why Is My Aloe Plant Turning Brown?

So we notice that our aloe plant is turning brown, why?

The number one reason why an aloe plant is turning brown is watering. A wilting brown aloe is a symptom of overwatering. Furthermore, a plant with discoloring pucking leaves is too dry. The leaves indicate the moisture of aloe vera and they must always brandish a glossy green color. The solution is to repot the plant in a well-drained substrate and check for rot roots before replanting.

  • Aloe plant turning brown causes are:
  • Overwatering.
  • Excess of exposure to sunlight.
  • Excess of salt in the soil.


  • Overwatering: Excess of water is the first and most common cause (1) for your aloe plant turning brown (3).
  • Exposure to sunlight: The brown color is produced by the phenolic compounds that the plant synthesizes to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation (5). This is a normal situation (6), but it evidences that the aloe vera plant should be relocated indoors (10).
  • Excess of salt in the soil: This is not a frequent cause for an aloe plant turning brown (7). Salinity improves soil structure, but the excess of salt generates an antagonistic competition with other elements (8). In saline soil, calcium and magnesium become replaced by sodium (9) and the soil reduces its permeability because sodium seals the soil (4). In my studies, the first cause is overwatering, anyway.

The brown color in the aloe plant turning brown is produced by the phenolic compounds that the plant synthesizes to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation (2). These compounds have their maximum absorption precisely in the ultraviolet region (280-320 nm). That is, they are compounds that absorb this harmful type of radiation. After this, we can easily observe the aloe plant turning brown.

All these issues can be easily solved as I explain below through a repotting process, change of substrate, installing the plant indoors and preventive measures to avoid in the future overwatering cases, as I explained also for the succulents in general in this article about overwatering succulents.

Nevertheless, despite other causes, we can consider that the number one issue for an aloe plant turning brown is overwatering. There can be other causes like a fungal disease, too much exposure to direct sunlight, and excess of salt in the soil. However, empirical evidence almost always shows normal salt content in the soil, no fungal diseases, but the excess of water and the exposure to direct sunlight.

The color of aloe vera should be mostly a glossy green color. Therefore, when you notice that your aloe plant is turning brown through observation, you can proceed to solve it as I explain to you step by step below now.

Case When Aloe Vera Has Brown Tips Or Spots

The leaves of the aloe vera often turn brown in the blazing sun. It is harmless and serves to protect against sunburn. Brown spots or brown tips on the leaves, on the other hand, indicate a lack of nutrients, a fungal disease, or care errors.

Step by Step Solution For An Aloe Plant Turning Brown

This is a step by step solution for an aloe plant turning brown, It applies when the cause is overwatering, and when the cause is a specific composition in the substrate, as for example, an excess in salt.

  • Start by repotting the aloe vera in a soil that allows a good draining. It can be the gritty mix I usually recommend for succulents or a substrate that has about half of a gritty material that can be pumice or also sand. If you cannot acquire the gritty mix, as a substrate, it is also feasible best to use soil and sand in a ratio of 50:50,
  • Second, as you remove the plant from the container, check the condition of the roots. If there is any rot, proceed to remove these segments of the root.
  • In the new container with dry soil, monitor on a daily basis if the color green and the usual brightness return to the aloe vera plant.
  • Remove the plant from the exposure to direct sunlight. Install the plant indoors. Gradually it will recover the usual green hue.
  • Perform watering of the aloe vera once each twenty days to avoid overwatering and the aloe plant turning brown again. Water should not touch the leaves. Aloe vera endure droughts very well.

It is possible to appreciate when a plant is healthy just by looking at it: the leaves should look green and the stems firm, unless it is in a phase of transformation, as a consequence of the arrival of a new season. If you notice your aloe plant turning brown simply follow our step by step indications explained above.

aloe plant turning brown

Soil, Fertilizer, And Watering for Aloe Plants To Avoid Them To Turn Brown

The best soil for Aloe Vera to avoid the plant to turn brown is one that is rich in nutrients and porous so it is advisable to add a little sand or perlite to achieve this purpose. The gritty mix I usually recommend for succulents is also feasible to use in these cases.

It is also important that the plant lives in a soil with good drainage. The reason is that aloe vera is not a plant resistant to moisture but needs a substrate that can evacuate the water so that it does not accumulate within the container and within the root ball. In this sense, it helps to have a wide and shallow pot with a drainage hole. If you are looking for a pot for aloe vera, choose a wide and shallow container instead of small and deep vessels.

We talked earlier about a soil rich in nutrients and that is why, among the treatments of aloe vera, fertilizer occupies an important place. Use earthworm humus to enrich the soil and the plant to obtain the necessary nutrients to live in optimal conditions.

To complete the picture, you have to check the irrigation if the plant does not look good. If the Aloe Vera is no friend of the humidity then the irrigation must be spaced, every 15 or 20 days to avoid the plant to rot. Irrigate inside the soil and preferably avoid water to touch the plant.

You should monitor the results observing the plant because if you notice that the leaves become thin and somewhat wrinkled, it is a sign that it is required a slight increase in irrigation because the plant is lacking water.

Aloe Vera and the Exposure To Sunlight: Relation With The Brown Color

Aloe vera needs to live in a place with natural light so if the leaves turn brown try replacing the plant so that it receives the best possible light but paying attention that the leaves do not burn. In some cases, it works to have it in the shade, especially when the sun is too strong.

During the winter, the plant must also be protected because Aloe vera is not resistant to frost or low temperatures at all. You can move it indoors to place it near a window or protect it with a plastic or something similar.

In the comments here or in the social networks, people tell me that they have an aloe plant turning brown. When summer arrives and the sun shines on them, they turn brown, as if they were subject to disease, and ask me what they can do.

The fact of an aloe plant turning brown is normal and usual in these times of the year, summer and late spring, of high illumination and above all of high ultraviolet radiation. 

The brown color is produced by the phenolic compounds that the plant synthesizes to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. These compounds have their maximum absorption precisely in the ultraviolet region (280-320 nm). That is, they are compounds that absorb this harmful type of radiation.

The origin of this type of compounds dates from 400-450 million years ago, when the plants (then aquatic), began the colonization of the terrestrial environment. These first terrestrial plants were immediately exposed to a series of new stresses and challenges that they did not have in the aquatic environment, such as high ultraviolet radiation, stress due to desiccation, and the attack of herbivores and insects that would soon co-evolve with them.

Faced with these new stresses, the plants developed a series of new metabolic pathways, normally referred to secondary metabolism, among which the phenylpropanoid metabolism played a very important role since it allowed the accumulation of compounds of a phenylpropanoid nature (ie, phenolic compounds) whose maximum absorption is precisely in the ultraviolet region (280-320 nm).

The reason is very simple: without these compounds, ultraviolet radiation would produce deactivation of photosynthesis (photoinhibition) and therefore the death of the plant. In addition, it would produce an increase in the temperature of the leaf and also deactivate photosynthesis. It is a usual defense mechanism in plants. But in aloe, it is more important because it is a plant with CAM metabolism. 

This means that it opens the stomata at night and closes them during the day. Stomata, besides being the place where CO2 enters for photosynthesis, is the place where oxygen and water vapor come from. That is, they are a cooling mechanism of the plant. Because during the day (when there are more heat and radiation) aloe has closed stomata, and therefore can not use this cooling mechanism, the plant must generate other mechanisms to prevent the inhibition of photosynthesis.

One of these mechanisms (besides others) is the synthesis of phenolic compounds that act as a shield, absorbing the ultraviolet radiation and protecting the photosystems (place where photosynthesis takes place) of the inhibition.

In addition, plants of the genus Aloe, in the wild, are of this color. They grow in areas of generally high lighting (such as the Cape region in South Africa), deserts or semi-deserts and the acquisition of these brown tones is an adaptation to these environments. 

Therefore, there is no need to worry, the plant is perfectly fine, you have to water it regularly as we explain in this article to avoid overwatering. When autumn arrives they will recover the green tonality and hue.

Conclusions For Treatment In Case Of An Aloe Plant Turning Brown

If you notice leaves of the aloe plant turning brown is that the plant is in trouble, and almost always the reason would be overwatering or excess of salt. Our solution explained above, is to perform a repotting and use a new container with a new dry substrate.

Having an Aloe Vera plant is really interesting, not only because it is an attractive plant to look at but also because of its many virtues. The juice of Aloe Vera is very beneficial for health because it is a plant with great medicinal properties. It is also possible to pass the leaves through the body to improve some skin reactions.

For all this is that many people have an Aloe Vera plant at home. Although it is not a difficult plant to care for, it is important to pay attention to its development because from time to time certain disorders may appear as the aloe plant turning brown or with tones of yellow.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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