There is an old saying that it’s impossible to kill an aloe plant, especially aloe vera.
However, although the sheer amount of abuse aloe plants can take, one thing can and will kill them over time—overwatering.
It can be quite easy to overwater an aloe plant if you’re watering on a schedule or dump the water in.
In fact, something you might not know is that over 97% percent of the water absorbed by a plant isn’t even for drinking.
Instead, it’s used for a process called transpiration that works similarly to sweating.
However, in transpiration, the goal of secreting moisture is to increase the humidity around a plant.
As a result, how much a plant drinks at any given time depends on a wide range of environmental factors that are impossible to predict.
This, in turn, often leads to overwatering or underwatering your plant.
Overwatered Aloe Plant (Signs and Step By Step Solution)
Plants have a language of sorts by which they’ll tell you when they’re happy or feeling ill.
This allows you to identify when you’ve overwatered the plant, at which point it’s generally easy to remedy the problem before permanent damage is done.
Signs Of Overwatering
Plants tend to have similar signs of overwatering, although not entirely the same.
For aloe plants, watch out for the following:
Soft Or Mushy Leaves And Stem
An aloe’s leaves and stem should be plump and firm.
However, as these are succulents, they store extra water in their leaves.
Too much water can cause the leaves to become mushy, just like your skin when you’ve been in a swimming pool too long.
This condition is caused when the plant absorbs water too quickly and cannot store it.
The water will swell leaf cells until they burst, leaving discolored blisters.
Leaf Discoloration And Droopiness
Your plant’s leaves will droop and lose their vibrant color.
This might be accompanied by the tips or edges turning either brown or yellow. More on Why Aloe plants Turn Brown.
Over time, the brown tips may turn black as they become necrotic.
These symptoms can often also occur due to underwatering or other environmental factors, so you’ll need to check for additional signs to be sure of the cause.
Damp Soil Or Mold
This is one of the most prominent signs that you’re overwatering.
The soil should never feel wet or soggy, and puddles need to be addressed quickly.
Likewise, you may discover a foul odor or discoloration of the soil, a clear sign of fungus or mold.
Fungus gnats may begin to infest the plant, or, in worst-case scenarios, your aloe may develop root rot due to the fungal growth.
Learn How To Save an Aloe with Root Rot.
Repairing Damage From Overwatering
The good news is that you can save an overwatered aloe plant with just a little effort.
If you only overwatered it once and noticed the mistake immediately, you may be able to tip the container and drain out any excess moisture.
However, frequent overwatering will require a little more work.
Step 1: Remove The Plant
The first thing you need to do is get the plant out of the pool.
Follow these steps:
- Tip the container and slide it out gently.
- If your aloe is planted in the garden, dig in a wide radius around the plant and tip it out that way.
- Remove any excess dirt, being careful not to damage the roots.
Step 2: Check The Roots
Give the roots a thorough examination.
Healthy roots will be white or light brown, while infected roots will be dark brown to black.
Do these steps for infected roots:
- Remove any infected roots using sharp, sterile shears.
- Dip them in alcohol between each cut and try to avoid removing any healthy roots.
Step 3: Sterilize The Roots
You can do this one of 2 ways.
Most growers like to dip the roots in fungicide and let them dry in a soft cloth for a day or two.
However, it’s often an excellent alternative to soak the roots in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for 30 minutes, as bacteria can also cause root rot.
Allow them to air dry for 2 to 3 days after a bleach soak.
If you’re working with a garden plant, skip to step 5.
Step 4: Preparing The Container
You should always discard the old soil unless you’re experienced in sterilizing it.
Likewise, you can soak the old pot in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for at least 20 minutes (30 or more is best), then let it air dry completely.
Be sure whatever container you use has adequate drainage holes.
You can line the bottom of the pot with ½ to 1” inch of gravel or aquarium stones to further help with drainage.
Fill the container with fresh, unused potting mix.
Avoid buying cheap potting mixes unless the company has a sterling reputation (such as Miracle-Gro).
Those savings are usually because the company cut corners by not sterilizing the soil before packaging it.
Step 5: Replant
Finally, replant your aloe in a container or back in the garden.
When planting in the garden, you will want to replace the aloe soil previously growing.
Lightly moisten the soil before planting and again to help the soil settle.
How To Avoid Overwatering (Soak-and-Dry Method)
Prevention will always be the best medicine, and using the soak-and-dry method is the easiest way to ensure your plant gets just the right amount of water every time.
Here are the tips to follow:
- Stick your finger into the soil to gauge the wetness.
- When the soil feels dry around 1” inch down, it’s time to water your aloe.
- Pour slowly and evenly, working your way around the base of the plant as you go.
- Avoid getting the plant itself wet, which can lead to fungal infections.
- You’ll know it’s time to stop if you see moisture beginning to seep from the drainage holes or the surface is no longer absorbing water as fast as you’re pouring it.