The aloe vera plant is supposed to stand tall and proud, so if yours is sagging, you’ll want to figure out why and fix the issue as soon as possible. While there are plenty of general changes you can make to get your aloe vera plant looking healthier again, it’s this specific list that will help fix a limp or droopy aloe vera plant and get it standing upright and healthy again the quickest.
Here’s what to do when an aloe vera plant is limp or droopy:
- Give the plant a larger container
- Avoid temperature extremes
- Provide at least six hours of direct sun daily
- Check for and treat fungal and bacterial diseases
- Remove plant pests
- Stop moving your plant so often
- Follow a watering schedule that works for succulents
In this article, I’ll guide you through the reasons why aloe vera plants droop and provide pointers on how to get yours upright again. You’ll feel like an aloe vera master in no time, so make sure you keep reading!
Here’s How to Fix a Limp or Droopy Aloe Vera Plant
Give the Plant a Larger Container
The average aloe vera can grow 24 inches tall, which is more common in outdoor aloe vera plants than indoor ones. Even still, it’s good to have an estimate of how large your aloe vera will be at maturity, this way you can plan for a pot or container of the appropriate size.
You wouldn’t make your toddler wear baby clothes, you shouldn’t leave your plant in the same pot it started in. If your plant is a fast growing plant, then every year, you may have to repot it. For many more plant species, the snake plant for example, can stay in the same pot for two to five years.
You can often eyeball when your aloe vera plant might have outgrown its pot. Some indicators to look out for include separated soil, lack of water absorption, and roots coming out of the drainage holes.
When soil separates, it’s because the condition of the soil is so weak that it’s disintegrating. Before it gets to that point, the soil tends to pack in on itself, known as compaction.
That brings us to the second issue, which is water sitting on the soil rather than being absorbed into it. Water has nowhere to go in compacted soil, nor does air. Your poor aloe vera is starving for both.
Yes, even though you’re watering the plant regularly it can still end up not getting enough water if the water isn’t reaching the roots. If you see roots poking out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the container your plant is growing in, then it’s high time your aloe vera has a new home.
What Size Pot Should You Repot your Plant into?
Measure the diameter of your plant’s current pot or container and then increase the size of the new container by two to four inches.
Usually, when you’re repotting your indoor plants, you only want to increase the size by 1 and a half inches but in extreme cases when the plant is overdue to be repotted, moving it into a container between two and four inches larger may be better for it.
The reason your aloe vera drooped in a small pot was that its roots could grow no further. Instability of the roots resulted. Once your aloe vera can stretch its roots in a bigger pot, its days of being limp and sad should be behind it.
Avoid Temperature Extremes
When most people think of succulents, their mind goes to desert plants that sit out in the hot, beating sun all day. While sure, maybe that’s the case for some cacti, the aloe vera is not such a fan of hot temperatures. The Aloe Vera plant’s ideal temperature range is 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a comfortable room temperature at home or the office.
What Temperature is Too Hot for an Aloe Vera Plant?
Once the temperatures begin pushing 90 degrees or higher, your aloe vera is undoubtedly going to feel the effects. Your plant will wilt, making it look droopy and saggy. By getting your succulent out of the sun and maybe replenishing it with some water, your aloe vera should perk right up.
Yet what happens if it stays in the sun even longer? Your aloe vera will dry up more. The tips of its leaves will be yellow or brown and feel crispy. Its leaves will be on the floor, as they won’t have any rigidity. Please don’t let it get to that point!
Temperature extremes include cold weather as well. Anything under 50 degrees is cold to an aloe vera. While there’s nothing wrong with leaving this succulent outside on a pleasant (but not overly hot!) spring or summer day, once you get into autumn and certainly by winter, your succulent shouldn’t be outdoors.
If you must keep a window open to air out the house or apartment when it’s cold, don’t put your aloe vera anywhere near the gusty window. Speaking of gusts, in the summer, keep your aloe vera away from the air conditioner, as the cold air from the unit can also chill your plant.
Provide at Least Six Hours of Direct Sun Daily
I have two compelling reasons for you to prioritize your aloe vera’s lighting. One is that it will stop the drooping problem you’re having with the plant. The second reason is that without the right light or enough of it, aloe vera plants tend to stretch out.
Since the aloe vera is so beloved for its ornate shape, a stretchy aloe vera is not exactly aesthetically pleasing. Yet it’s completely avoidable.
Aloe vera, despite not being a heat lover, does prefer full sun, aka direct sunlight. If the afternoon clouds roll in and obstruct the sun for a little while, periods of filtered sun and shade are fine. That’s especially true in the afternoon when high temperatures accompany the bright sunlight.
All said, the aloe vera needs no fewer than six hours of direct light per day, ideally around eight hours. This is no problem in the spring, summer, and even parts of the autumn, but once the days get shorter, you might struggle to keep your aloe vera in a sunny spot.
The aloe vera–like any other houseplant–can’t discern between natural and artificial light, so use a grow light in the winter as well as on dark, overcast days. Not only will your aloe vera stand up straighter, but if lack of light was your only issue, then your plant will stay upright.
Check for and Treat Fungal and Bacterial Diseases
If you’re excelling in the above care areas yet your aloe vera is still limp, I recommend checking for fungal and/or bacterial diseases. Being afflicted by a disease will certainly make your aloe vera droop. Here are some fungal and bacterial diseases that are common in aloe vera plants.
Bacterial Soft Rot
Bacterial soft rot is not one disease, but several. Of all the bacterial conditions that can affect crops, none kills more than bacterial soft rot. That should be a testament to how serious this plant disease is.
All succulents can develop bacterial soft rot, which invades their bulbs, stems, tubers, and fruits. Your aloe vera’s pectate molecules degrade too. These molecules usually hold together the plant’s cells, so when they break down, it’s a big deal.
The bacteria that cause bacterial soft rot include Pseudomonas, Clostridium, Dickeya dadantii, and Pectobacterium carotovorum. Any natural openings allow the bacteria to get in; the bacteria can also enter through hail. Insects can spread the bacteria, and so can failing to disinfect your gardening tools.
If your aloe vera has bacterial soft rot, it will develop spots that look very wet to the touch. The spots grow in size, becoming softer and sinking deeper into the aloe vera’s thick leaves.
The tissue within its leaves gets mushy and begins seeping fluid. Discoloration will occur as well, so look for black or cream-colored leaves. You also can’t miss the smell.
If your aloe vera has bacterial soft rot, you can’t save it. You need to throw the plant away immediately and monitor any adjacent plants to ensure the disease hasn’t spread to them too.
Basal Stem Rot
The fungal disease known as basal stem rot is common among oil palms, but aloe vera plants can rot too. If your aloe vera’s soil can’t drain or you overwater the plant (more on this a little later), basal stem rot usually follows.
The symptoms of basal stem rot in aloe vera plants start at the base and then move upward. You’ll notice plant base discoloration, with the area black or brown instead of green. If you touch the aloe vera’s base, it’ll feel mushy. Basal stem rot can spread to the roots as well, making them mushy and black too. This is often mistaken for root rot due to overwatering a plant.
Look for leaf discoloration as another symptom, especially at the ends of the leaves. The leaves may be yellow at first, then black as the leaf ends die. Your aloe vera will also be limp.
The best treatment for basal stem rot is prevention, but otherwise, you can try to save the plants’ roots. Remove the old roots with gardening shears, cutting all the black, dead bits away until only the white roots remain. Please make sure you disinfect your shears when you’re finished.
The third disease to look out for is aloe rust. This fungal condition causes circular rings across the plant’s leaves that are brown or black. The rings create an oxidized seal so only they are discolored.
When watering your aloe vera, make sure you aim your watering can or cup at the plant’s soil, not the leaves. Keeping the leaves wet could lead to aloe rust, as can a lack of sunlight.
Overwatering your aloe vera is another cause of aloe rust, and even keeping too many aloe vera plants close together might encourage the spread of this disease.
To treat aloe rust, you’ll have to remove the damaged leaf spots. If that’s the entire aloe leaf, then so be it, it’s all got to go. Then dispose of those leaves, as they’re not savable nor usable in any other way.
Remove Plant Pests
Remember that within those thick plant leaves is aloe vera gel. This gel is rich in vitamins (A, C, and E), amino acids, salicylic acid, saponins, lignin, sugars, minerals, and enzymes. It’s no wonder that insects like aloe vera gel as much as we people do.
Most Common Bugs & Pests on Aloe Vera Plants
Mites and aphids are the two most common unwanted critters that will infest the aloe vera plant. These insects feed on sap. As the aloe vera’s sap depletes, its leaves can fall.
The arachnid known as the mite is 0.04 inches long and very difficult to spot with the naked eye. Its body is unsegmented and the insect might be red or brownish.
Mites can survive in soil and in water. The best way to remove them without harsh chemicals, that can linger in the air of your home, is to use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or cotton ball. You can also try dish soap.
How to Remove Mites from Your Plant
- You’ll want to put enough rubbing alcohol or dish soap on your cotton ball or cotton swab so that its completely wet but not dripping.
- Next, rub along the stems or leaves where you see live mites or in areas you suspect they’ve already been and wipe the area completely while intermittently putting more alcohol or soap on the cotton.
- If it feels like you’re polishing your plant with alcohol or soap then. you’re doing it correctly.
How to Remove Aphids from Your Plant
Aphids are called blackflies and greenflies despite that they come in lots of colors. Female aphids can be born pregnant and ready to lay eggs, so an aphid problem can quickly become out of control.
Unlike mites, it’s easier to see aphids, so you can always take your plant outside and brush them off your aloe vera plant by hand if you’re comfortable with that. Obviously, if your aphid infestation has already taken hold, attempting to brush all of the aphids off by hand will seem futile.
Otherwise, you can spray them with a mixture of either water & essential oils or water mixed with neem oil. I’ve found the best luck with spraying the aphids off using a spray bottle that’s mixed with water and neem oil.
If I’m out of neem oil, I usually mix 2 parts water and 1 part dish soap to spray the infested plant. Make sure to spray it on top and underneath the plant’s leaves.
I’ve often seen bugs run to the underside of the leaves to get away from being sprayed or from me wiping them off with a cotton ball.
Stop Moving Your Plant
I mentioned earlier how sometimes you will have to change your aloe vera’s pot or container. Just make sure you’re not doing it too often, or you could induce what’s known as transplant stress.
Transplant stress or shock is one of the main causes of leaf yellowing and wilting. Your aloe vera needs time to adjust to its new surroundings, so I suggest giving it several days of placidity if you suspect it’s stressed. By that point, hopefully, your plant will begin bouncing back.
If that doesn’t work, keep your aloe vera’s roots moist so the plant isn’t starved for water. You might prune its leaves a little if root loss has occurred so the plant’s energy can be directed more on growing the roots than leaves.
Pruning or trimming your aloe plant to Reduce Shock
Some indoor gardeners have had good luck by feeding their plant sugar after a period of shock. No, don’t pour a packet of sugar straight into the soil.
Instead, mix water with sugar to dilute the sugar considerably. Then add the sugar water to the soil. Not all plants react to sugar water, but the ones that do will be better off for it.
To avoid trading your transplant shock problem for an ant or pest problem, try adding adding a quarter pack of a single serving sugar packet into a watering globe. Make sure to shake the water globe enough so that the sugar crystals are broken down and dissolved into the water before sticking the globe deep into the soil of the plant. Feeding your plant this way is a great way to get any plant food or plant fertilizer into the plant’s system.
For more plants that love to grow in the shade, you’ll want to read my article: Which Indoor Plants Like Shade?
Follow a Watering Schedule That Works for Succulents
If your aloe vera is still limp and you’ve read this far, then I bet your watering schedule has something to do with it. Aloe vera plants do not need frequent watering like the rest of your indoor garden.
The aloe vera plant is a succulent, so it retains water in its leaves. Water the aloe vera at least every two weeks in the spring and summer, maybe every three weeks if the temps aren’t very hot.
In the autumn and winter, you can water your aloe vera about once a month. I always suggest the fingertip test to gauge when it’s time to water your plant. When the first inch or two of your aloe vera plant’s soil is dry, water it. If the soil feels even a bit moist, then it’s not time yet.
An underwatered aloe vera will crisp up like it does when it’s overexposed to the sun. The leaves will also droop or wilt.
When you overwater the aloe vera, it can wilt as well. What’s worse, the leaves will darken and even blister in severe cases. Under the plant’s soil, its roots are being drowned in water. The roots become mushy and start dying. Overwatered plants whose roots have been suffocated with water so much that the roots have collapsed on themselves, turned black and died, is a sure case of root rot.
Your best recourse would be to remove the aloe vera from its pot, trim away the roots, and replant it. The earlier you catch root rot, the easier it is to save your plant. When more roots are black and mushy than they are white and firm, your aloe vera plant probably will not survive.