Aloe vera is a common plant in gardens and landscapes. The succulent is hardy and easy to grow and maintain. The roots of aloe vera are not deeply penetrating, they tend to spread out near the surface of the soil. If not handled well, they can break off resulting in the death of the plant.
If aloe vera roots broke off, allow the plant to air dry for a day or two for the damaged part to callus over. Replant it into well-draining soil and place it in a location with bright indirect sunlight. Use a pot with drainage holes and water sparingly when the soil feels dry.
In this guide, I’ll explain why aloe vera roots might break off and what you can do to save the plant.
Possible reasons aloe vera roots broke off
Roots are an important part of a plant. They provide support and take up water and nutrients that help a plant to grow and survive. If roots are damaged, a play may wilt and die. With the right care, this may not spell doom for a succulent like aloe vera.
However, it’s important to understand first why your aloe vera roots broke off. Here are possible reasons:
Aloe vera roots are pretty delicate and can easily break off when mishandled. The most critical moment is when transplanting or repotting. If the roots broke off, you might have forcefully pulled the plant from its pot. Aloe vera pups can also get damaged if separated before they form roots.
Aloe might also sustain injuries or lose parts if forced into a container smaller than its root ball.
This is why there is a need to understand the size of the roots before repotting your aloe vera plant. You’ll need a deeper pot if you are repotting aloe vera with a long stem.
To prevent physical damage when transplanting aloe vera, water thoroughly to make the soil soft. When removing the plant from the soil, scoop it out from the pot. Avoid holding the leaves and pulling the plant out. If you try, the stem will forcefully separate from the base.
If you are propagating aloe pups, separate them from the mother plant once they have grown their own root system. Since they are young and delicate, avoid pulling them out forcefully. Just dig around the plant to access roots and remove the pups using a clean sharp knife.
Aloe vera is a succulent, as such, it prefers well-draining soil and infrequent watering. Overwatering and poor drainage can deprive roots of oxygen, which kills them. If the roots of your aloe vera broke off, inspect if they are mushy or rotten.
An overwated aloe vera plant can be very difficult to treat. Removal of the damaged roots and reporting the plant in well-draining soil is sufficient. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes and adjust your watering schedule.
A good rule of thumb is to allow the soil to dry out between the waterings. Always insert your finger in the soil to check for soil moisture before watering your succulent. Water thoroughly during spring and summer but less during winter. Above all, don’t let your plant sit in any standing water.
Pests and diseases
Although aloe vera is pretty resistant to common garden pests, infestation by root mealybugs can weaken the roots, causing them to break off. Overwatering and neglect can make aloe vera become susceptible to pests and fungal diseases like root rot.
Besides proper watering, it’s important to inspect your aloe plant regularly for any signs of pests and diseases. You can effectively treat pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap. If you suspect any disease, seek help from a nearby nursery or garden center.
Aloe vera is a full-sun plant, meaning that it needs at least 6 hours of sunlight. Like most green plants, sunlight is an essential resource for photosynthesis. Insufficient sunlight makes plants grow thin and tall as they try to reach the sun. This is what is described as etiolation.
Leggy or top-heavy aloe vera is commonly a sign of etiolation. Such plants will easily break off from the roots with just a slight breeze or any disturbance. For plants that are extremely top-heavy, you can provide temporary support by using stakes.
A permanent solution is to ensure that your plant is receiving bright, indirect sunlight for a significant part of the day. If you are growing aloe vera indoors, place it near a south-facing window and provide shade during the intense afternoon sun to prevent sunburn symptoms.
What to do if aloe vera roots broke off
Under the right care, aloe vera can regrow roots. Here’s what to do if your aloe vera roots broke off.
- Assess the plant to determine the extent of the damage. There is a great chance of reviving the plant if it still has healthy foliage.
- Cut off any damaged or rotting parts of the plant or roots. Use a clean and sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears for this.
- Rinse the remaining plant with clean tap water and allow the damaged part to dry out for a day or two. This helps a callus to form over the wound, which helps in preventing further infections to the plant.
- Get a sizeable pot that will fit your aloe vera plant and fill it with a well-draining potting mix designed for succulents or cacti. You can use standard potting soil combined with an equal amount of pumice or perlite.
- Plant the aloe vera in the new pot, making sure any remaining healthy roots are properly placed and covered with soil. Gently press down the soil around the plant to stabilize it.
- After transplanting, water the plant lightly and place it in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight as it can cause more stress to the plant.
- Monitor the plant and water it only when the soil feels completely dry. During this time, avoid fertilizing the plant.
It may take a few weeks for the aloe plant to adjust to its new environment and start growing new roots. Once you are sure that it has fully established in the soil, treat it as any healthy aloe plant.
If the plant was badly damaged and the roots seem not to be growing, consider propagating your aloe plant. Obtain the healthy leaf cuttings and allow the cut ends to callus over for a day or two. Plant them in a container with well-draining soil and water lightly.
Place the pot in a location with bright indirect sunlight and watch over the cuttings. Water when the soil gets dry and in a few weeks the cuttings will begin to root. Leaf cuttings that have successfully shown new growth can be transplanted to your preferred location.
Aloe vera is a hardy plant, and with proper care, it can recover from root damage. However, the success of the revival can vary depending on the severity of the damage and the health of the plant before the roots break off. If the plant won’t recover, just propagate the healthy leaves to get a new plant.
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.