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Droopy Aloe Vera

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
by applescruff on February 27, 2004 01:40 AM
I've had this aloe since last summer and it seemed to be doing quite well until this Christmas Break. When I went home for break I couldn't take all my plants with me so I left my Aloe and Jade behind since they need the least care in the winter. I watered them beforehand and left the heat on and the window open. I was only gone 2 weeks but in that time all the leaves on my aloe got very flimsy and brownish. PLusthe tips started bending started bending so that they snap off the moment I touch them (or look at them). Several of the leaves have no tips now and the rest are limp. I know aloes are prone to overwatering, but I've been trying to limit the amount of water it gets and it seems to get worse when I don''t water it for awhile. Help please.

* * * *
And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:32 AM
There are over 250 species of Aloes in the world, mostly native to Africa. They range in size from little one inch miniatures to massive plant colonies consisting of hundreds of 2 foot diameter plants. Although most Aloes have some medicinal or commercial value, the most commonly known is the Aloe barbadensis... better known as Aloe vera.

All Aloes are semitropical succulent plants, and may only be grown outdoors in areas where there is no chance of freezing (USDA zones 10-11) . However, they make excellent house plants when they are given sufficient light. Potted Aloes benefit from spending the summer outdoors. Older specimens may even bloom, producing a tall stock covered with bright colored coral flowers. Aloe flower nectar is a favorite of hummingbirds!

It has a fibrous root system producing long, tapering, stemless leaves. These light green leaves have spiky margins and are blotched with cream. The firm upright stems bear several bell-shaped, fleshy, yellow-orange flowers.

Is there a chance it may have been too cold while you were away and is suffering effects from the cold?
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:35 AM
Because Aloe plants consist of 95% water, they are extremely frost tender. If they are grown outdoors in warm climates, they should be planted in full sun, or light shade. The soil should be moderately fertile, and fast draining. Established plants will survive a drought quite well, but for the benefit of the plant, water should be provided.

I think if your plant is sick don't hold back on the watering, just make sure it isn't overwatered, preferably the pot has large drainage holes and fast draining soil. If not don't repot it while it is sick just be careful not to overwater, do provide it with water however.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:36 AM
Here is some watering information: During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. Allow the soil to become completely dry before giving the plant a cup or two of water. During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:38 AM
If you need to repot it when it is better here are some planting tips: Use a planter with a drainage hole, or provide a 1-2 inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot to ensure adequate drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand added.

Btw, sorry for all the posts but I think it is easier to break it up rather than try to squash it all together, I hope some of this helps.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:43 AM
The group of aloes known as the maculate aloes are notorious for tip die back in winter. It is part of their natural cycle. In nature they experience a dry cool season and respond by reducing their foliage. It is as if they were slowly evolving into bulbs. Come spring and warmer weather and they will leaf out with new foliage, which will cover the old dead tipped leaves. Aloe vera is sensitive to cold and wet in winter. Perhaps it would be worth looking into which tipe of Aloe Vera you have, maybe this is your answer, it's hard to help you a whole lot without knowing the specific type, there are over 250 types, the best I can do is keep feeding you information in hope that you will find one or more glitches in your care tatics.
by applescruff on February 29, 2004 08:45 AM
Bonsai,

Yes it is possible that it got too cold while I was gone. It has also been somewhat starved for light since I only have one window, I have to put my plants on the radiator next to the window if they are going to get any light. However, it is absolutely impossible to regulate the temp when it's cold. So I had to take them out of direct light to keep them from freezing. This also means that when they are next ot the window they dry out fast so I'm never quite sure if I'm overwatering them or not.

* * * *
And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:48 AM
If you are overwatering maybe root rot is contributing to the problem take the time to read this: The Aloe vera is a dandy little plant famously kept in kitchens as first aid for minor burns.But, as a succulent, the aloe stores lots of water in its fleshy stems and doesn't dry out fast at all.

As with many desert plants, the stem's tissue simply prevents evaporation, even in hot weather. So, during the summer, you should water it very moderately, waiting for the soil to dry out completely before watering again. In the winter, it requires even less water; think about it every month or so.

The potting soil you're using may be too rich and moisture-retentive for this plant. The soil should be on the sandy side, drain quickly and not hold water.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:53 AM
Well the cold might have had some damage and it likes lots of light. Now that your back try regulating the temperature and giving it as much light as possible following the rules for watering I posted. Also check your soil and pot, maybe it is retaining too much water. For my plants that hate to be wet I use pots with wide drainage holes so that the extra water drains quickly, I then get rid of the extra water. Also if you need light maybe it would be worth while buying a flouresant plant light.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 08:58 AM
Here is some more information regarding Aloe Vera, the end part especailly regarding light:

Plant Form: This plant has green gray fleshy thick sword shaped leaves 4 to 7"long. Leaves are spotted when new and all leaves have soft spines on the leaf margins. Aloe grows in a rosette type growth habit and can reach a height of 24".

Culture: To avoid droopy and pale appearance this plant needs 200 to 250 foot candles of light. It can take drying out of the growing medium in between watering.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 09:19 AM
I also found some information regarding water cycles in nature, it may or may not help but it's worth knowing about it:
When growing aloes, we must realize they have two basic seasons, wet or dry. The wet season goes from about April to October. During this time, your aloe should be given water especially during hot weather. From October to March, aloes require little watering. In fact, aloes can go from October to March without a drop of moisture and be no worse for wear, although watering once at about Christmas time is okay.

People become concerned about not watering from October to March; however, as a home gardener we must try and mimic Mother Nature’s own watering schedule. Aloes are 97% moisture and from October to March, the plant relies on the water reservoir in its leaves for moisture. Expect some leaves to dry and shrivel during this time. Come April when the plant receives its first good watering, the succulent aloe will rejuvenate and begin growing quite happily again.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 09:26 AM
In short I'm under the impression that your aloe vera was too cold, without sufficant light, and is being overwatered. The tips I said earlier about regulating the temperature, giving it light, checking the pot and soil, and following the watering rules should help. As for the varying watering rules I discovered, try to determine the exact type of Aloe Vera as there is probably a very specific watering guide, if this is not possible, maybe trial and error is the only way, pick carefully. Sorry I couldn't be of much help and keep us posted!
by Rick on February 29, 2004 09:41 AM
A large aloe I have showed very similar symptoms when I moved the planter into full sun. The leaves turned what I would call a pinkish brown and got quite limp. It recovered after some time in filtered light. Apparently, Aloe likes light, but not necessarily hot sun. At least that was the problem I had. It's now bright green, about 2 feet from my west window, with a few taller plants in front of it, filtering the sun. Still in the same planter with the same soil.
Rick
by Bonsai Beginner on February 29, 2004 10:42 PM
Rick is right, in the wild they are often found growing behind a rock in partial shade, however considering that your plant had been, 'light starved', I don't think it is the same problem, I think it is more likely that it requires more light, warmth and perhaps a different watering/potting arrangement.
by Magie on March 08, 2004 07:51 PM
Read all the posted replys to my question-many thanks for the info. Maybe I can figure out what I doing wrong with a little experimentation. Will keep you posted about my progress. Thanks again.
by Bonsai Beginner on March 10, 2004 02:41 AM
Your very welcome! I'm looking forward to hearing about your progress.

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