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How to Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant

Three Methods:Repotting Due to Root RotMonitoring WaterCaring for a Sunburnt Plant

Aloe Vera plants make great indoor or outdoor plants; they are also handy to have around because of their healing properties. These plants are succulents, and therefore can become sick due to overwatering, underwatering, and other environmental factors. Root rot is one of the most common ailments of Aloe Vera plants, but they can also become sunburned. If your Aloe Vera plant looks a little under the weather, don’t lose hope! You can still revive it!

Method 1
Repotting Due to Root Rot

  1. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 1
    Remove the Aloe Vera plant from its current pot. One of the typical reasons for Aloe Vera plant death is root rot. In order to determine if this is the case, you need to first take the plant out of its pot.[1]
    • Loosely hold the base of the plant and the bottom of your pot. Tip the pot upside down, and continue holding the plant with your other hand. Hit the bottom of the pot with your hand or knock it against a table ledge (or other hard surface).[2]
    • Depending on the size of your plant, you may need another person to help you. One person should hold the plant base with both hands, while the other person tips the pot upside down and hits the bottom.[3]. You might also find it helpful to jostle the pot back and forth until the plant comes loose.
    • If you still have difficulties removing your plant with two sets of hands, you can run a trowel or knife around the interior of the pot and try releasing it again. If your plant still does not come out of the pot, you may need to break your pot, but this is a last resort.[4]
    • While releasing the Aloe Vera plant from its pot, be sure that you are keeping the plant itself as steady as possible. All the movement should be centered on the pot, not the plant itself. In other words, hold, don’t pull, the plant. Hitting the bottom of the pot will keep your roots intact, and gravity will push the plant downward.
  2. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 2
    Tend the roots. Examine the roots and determine how many of the roots are still healthy. Mushy roots are characteristic of root rot and need to be removed.[5] Any roots that aren’t black or mushy are good and can be kept.
    • If you see a lot of healthy roots and only a section of dead or mushy roots, you can likely save your plant without too much trouble, but you’ll need to cut away the damaged roots.[6] You can use a sharp knife to cut away the dead roots[7], but make sure to get them all.
    • If you notice that the majority of your plant has damaged roots, it will take a little more effort to save the plant, and it may be beyond saving. In this case, you can try to save the plant by removing the largest leaves (with a knife). Cut away about half of the plant. This method is risky. However, with fewer leaves to nourish, the small amount of undamaged roots can better direct nutrients throughout the plant.[8]
  3. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 3
    Chose a pot that is one-third larger than the root system. Any excess soil will hold water and could cause root rot in the future, so a smaller pot is better than a larger one.[9]
    • The roots of Aloe Vera plants grow horizontally, rather than vertically. [10] Aloe Vera plants can also become quite heavy, and the weight of the plant can cause a narrow pot to tip over. Thus, select a wide pot, rather than a deep or narrow pot.[11]
    • The pot you choose should also have plenty of drainage holes on the bottom so that excess water does not sit in the soil.[12]
    • A plastic pot is best if you live in a dryer climate, while a pot made from terra cotta or clay is best for cooler or humid areas.[13]
  4. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 4
    Use potting soil suitable for cactus or succulents. This type of soil has a higher sand content and produces a well-draining environment for your plant. You can find this type of soil easily at your local garden center.[14]
    • You can also create your own soil mix for your Aloe Vera plant by mixing equal parts of sand, gravel or pumice, and soil.[15] Be sure to use a coarse sand (like builder’s sand), rather than a fine sand. Fine sand can clump and hold water, rather than allowing it to drain down and through the pot.[16]
    • Although you can use potting soil for Aloe Vera plants, they will thrive better in a mixed soil.[17] Potting soil is more likely to hold moisture and could therefore cause root rot.
  5. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 5
    Replant your Aloe Vera. Prepare the pot by filling it with the potting soil mixture, and shake your Aloe Vera plant gently to remove about a third of the soil that has attached itself to the root ball.[18] Place your plant in the newly prepared pot and cover the top with more of the potting soil mixture. Be sure that the entire root ball is covered with the soil mixture.[19]
    • You can also layer small rocks or gravel on the top of the soil, which helps reduce the evaporation of water.[20]
  6. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 6
    Do not water immediately after repotting. Your Aloe Vera plant needs a few days to readjust to its new pot and to repair any broken roots.[21]

Method 2
Monitoring Water

  1. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 7
    Check the soil. You can tell if your Aloe Vera plant needs to be watered by pressing your index finger to the soil. If the soil is dry, your plant needs water. Aloe Vera plants are succulents and do not need to be watered often. Overwatering can kill your plant![22]
    • If you keep your plant outside, watering every two weeks should be sufficient.[23]
    • If you keep your plant inside, water it every three to four weeks.[24]
  2. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 8
    Modify watering according to the season. Aloe Vera plants need more water in the warmer months, but less in the cooler months. Water less often in Fall and Winter, especially if your plant lives in a cool space.[25]
  3. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 9
    Examine the leaves. As a succulent, Aloe Vera plants store water in their leaves. If you notice the leaves are dropping or are becoming almost transparent, your plant likely needs water.[26]
    • However, the same qualities can be a sign of root rot, caused by overwatering. Ask yourself when you watered your plant last. If you watered it recently, you should remove the plant from the pot and check for root rot.[27]
  4. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 10
    Water until the soil is just moist. Water should never sit on top of the surface of the soil, so water with a light hand. Continue to check your plant weekly or bi-weekly by testing the soil to see if it needs to be watered.

Method 3
Caring for a Sunburnt Plant

  1. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 11
    Check the leaves. If the leaves of your Aloe Vera plant are turning brown or red, your plant may be sunburned.[28]
  2. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 12
    Reposition your plant. Move your plant to a place where it receives indirect, rather than direct, sunlight.[29]
    • If your plant is typically in a position to receive artificial light rather than sunlight, reposition the plant so that there is a greater distance between it and the light source. You can also try moving it outside so that it is getting some indirect natural light, rather than artificial light.[30]
  3. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 13
    Water your plant. Check the soil and determine if your plant needs to be watered. The soil is likely dry if your plant has been getting too much sunlight, since the water would be evaporating more quickly.[31]
  4. Image titled Revive a Dying Aloe Vera Plant Step 14
    Remove dead leaves that are sunburnt beyond repair. With a sharp knife, cut the leaf away from the plant at the base. Any leaves that are dead or dying take nutrients from other parts of the plant, so be sure to remove them so that the rest of your plant doesn’t suffer.[32]


  • Instead of snapping off leaves when you want to use the aloe, cut the leaves at the base with a sharp knife where the leaf meets the soil. The plant will heal itself better from a more precise cut.[33]

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Indoor and Patio Plants