One of the most overlooked habits most people growing an aloe vera plant do is letting it bathe in the scorching sun for more extended periods. While the sun is essential for the healthy growth of aloe, too much of it can burn its leaves. Like any other houseplant, an aloe is sensitive to sudden temperature changes and negligence.
Signs for a sunburnt aloe vera plant
A healthy aloe vera should be fleshy, firm, and green. However, determine if your aloe’s leaves are wilting or changing color due to overwatering, pests and diseases, potting shock, or too much sun because the symptoms are almost similar. If you suspect that sun scorch is the problem, watch out for the signs.
Here are the signs of a sunburnt aloe plant:
Burn spots on the leaves
Sunburnt aloe plants have burn spots that may appear darkish brown, greyish, or black depending on how much of the sun’s intensity it has received. Some spots may protrude on the surface of the leaves.
If you notice this symptom, it’s time you removed it away from the sun.
Brown leaf tips
The green-coloring matter should be evenly distributed from the base to the tip of the leaf. A sign of brown to fading green signifies sunburn. It’s the plant’s way of crying for help, prompting you to make a few adjustments.
Even browning of leaves
While browning leaves may be a sign of overwatering or pests and diseases, sunburn can also cause. It’s easy to know if the latter is the culprit, mainly if you haven’t watered your plant for a while and you’re sure that pests or diseases haven’t attacked it.
For the first few days, the aloe plant’s leaves will start turning yellow but will quickly progress into a darker shade to indicate that the leaves are losing too much water due to sunburn.
Total soil dryness
Take note that soil gets drier during summer and winter. If the soil in your garden or pot is visibly drier than the rest of the days, chances are there is no moisture left in the soil for the plant to feed on.
Therefore, water the roots through the soil at least twice a month during the summer months because the high temperatures increase water loss through leaves and even evaporation from the soil in the pot. The plant doesn’t need too much watering during winter.
Droopy and wilting leaves
Aloe vera leaves might lose moisture causing them to become droopy when exposed to too much sunlight. At this point, your succulent is thirsty and if you don’t provide water, it will show signs of drooping leaves (wilting) then die if the lack of water is prolonged.
However, sometimes wilting or droopiness of the plant can be caused by other reasons such as the plant being top-heavy, too much moisture, pests, and diseases. Overwatering in aloe vera plants is in most cases the major cause of drooping leaves and not due to sunburn.
Can an aloe plant recover from sunburn?
An aloe can recover from sunburn if you move the plant to a shaded area and water it lightly. Remove the affected leaves and leave the healthy ones to acclimate. If the plant is in a pot, place it in a room that only receives bright indirect light.
Here are a few tips to help your sunburnt aloe recover faster:
- Since the soil in the pot is dry, add just enough water to make it moist instead of making it too wet. Too much water can lead to root rot that can also kill the succulent.
- Keep an eye on it for three to four days.
- If the adjustments fail to revive the scorched aloe, move it to another room until you see positive changes.
For aloes planted in gardens, consider mounting a shade-like structure to it. For example, you can construct the shade using four wooden sticks and dried grass. Dip the sticks into the soil so that it forms a wall-like structure. Use three extra posts to support the dried grass. Now mount the dried grass on top of the four sticks.
Alternatively, you can uproot the plant and re-plant it in a pot using a fresh potting mix. Finally, place the pot in an area with shade.
How to Revive a Sunburnt Aloe Plant
Now that you’ve known the symptoms of a sunburnt aloe plant, it’s time to revive it. The trick to save your aloe plant is to remove anything that increases its chances of wilting due to sunburn.
Here’s how to revive a sunburnt aloe plant:
1. Move the pot away from direct sunlight
Assuming your aloe vera plant got sunburns because the pot was in a room allowing direct sunlight, simply move the pot somewhere with indirect sunlight. Ensure the new area receives as little sunlight as possible.
For example, move the plant from an east-facing window to a south facing window, or any window that receives few hours of indirect sunlight. With time, you should see some improvement.
2. Water the succulent to keep the root zone moist
A sunburnt aloe vera plant signifies thirst. That means you have to water it from the roots by placing it in a bowl of water. Leave it there for two to three days. On the third day, you should see the brown leaves turning green again.
From here, you can re-pot it and place it in a room receiving indirect sunlight.
3. Adjust the watering frequency with the seasons
If previously you were used to watering your aloe once a month, it would be best to readjust the watering pattern to two to three week to prevent aloe leaves from being sunburnt during summer.
Slightly increasing the amount of water will help revive the sunburn on your aloe vera plant as soon as the signs start to appear and also while they are still reversible.
4. Cut off the sunburnt leaves
Unfortunately, not all leaves will recover or fade into a tan no matter what you do. If your plant is burnt beyond measure, your only option is to cut off the damaged leaves.
But if they are showing signs of improvement, you can trim them. Use a sharp knife or clippers to avoid damaging the entire leaf structure.
How to prevent aloe plant from sunburn
It’s important to note that aloe can survive harsh weather conditions, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to the side effects of sunburns. Whether you are a beginner in planting aloes or a professional gardening enthusiast, learning how to prevent an aloe plant from sunburn can save you from heartaches in the future.
The secret is to allow your aloe vera to build up to stronger sun exposure slowly. Let it acclimate to different light settings than they are in.
Prevention of sunburns also involves getting your plant to harden off. This works by placing it outside for full shade for five to six days, then slowly introducing it to two to three hours of the morning sun.
Avoid the afternoon sun as much as you can then from there, increase your plant’s sun exposure to over two to three weeks.
Suppose you notice your aloe is struggling with symptoms like browning or wilting away, then there might be other underlying causes other than sun scorch. If the leaves appear mushier and brown than before, your plant could be low on moisture because water should reach the tips last.
You’re probably thinking of overwatering as a last resort when in the real sense, you could be doing more harm than good. Consider changing the soil and pot and repeat the process. If it still doesn’t revive, it’s time to start over with a new plant.
One of the perks that come with planting aloe vera is its resilient nature. It’s the reason it grows even in the harshest conditions. However, no matter how tolerant your plant may be, learn from your mistakes. Your watering pattern should neither be obsessive or negligent. Only ensure the plant receives adequate water and sunlight so that you can reap the benefits of having it as a houseplant.