How to Treat a Sunburnt Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe vera plants are native to arid regions and they have adapted to thrive in dry and hot climates. Their succulent leaves can store water enabling the plant to survive long periods of drought. These plants prefer full sun but too much direct sunlight can scorch their leaves and cause sunburn.

A sunburnt aloe plant may heal naturally but this may take some time. The plant may take a few weeks to recover from a mild sunburn and up to several months when severe. Moving the plant to a shady place, watering properly, and removing leaves that are badly damaged can speed up plant recovery.

Most cases of sunburn happen due to a lack of acclimation when transferring plants from a shady region to bright sunny conditions. It’s like feeding a newborn with an oatmeal. Plants typically change their appearance, size, and shape in response to the new conditions of light or temperature. 

Sunburnt aloe vera plant symptoms

Sometimes an overwatered aloe plant may show symptoms similar to those of sunburn. So, it’s important to inspect the soil for moisture to rule out overwatering.

A sunburnt aloe vera plant can show a number of symptoms depending on the duration of exposure and the intensity of the damage.

  • The leaves may turn brown, reddish, or yellow, especially on the side facing the sun. This discoloration can just be spots or covering the entire leaf surface.
  • Sunburnt aloe vera plants may appear dry, wilted, or shriveled. The leaves will lose their firm texture and feel soft to the touch.
  • The plant may also lose its vibrant vigor and appear droopy or washed out.
  • Aloe vera plant leaves may get dry and crispy indicating severe dehydration.
  • A sunburnt aloe vera plant may exhibit slow growth and appear weak. This can make it susceptible to pests and diseases.

Also, check here why your succulent leaves are falling off prematurely.

How to treat a sunburnt aloe vera plant

There is no specific treatment for sunburn on succulents. By providing good care, a plant can heal on its own. If your aloe vera plant has sunburn, here are a few things you can do to help it recover quickly.

  1. Move the plant to a shadier place or indoors where it can get bright indirect sunlight.
  2. Water the plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out completely between the waterings. Overwatering can cause root rot and other fungal problems.
  3. Trim off the severely damaged leaves using a clean sharp knife or pruning shears. This will help the plant to focus more on new growth than repairing the badly damaged leaves.
  4. Avoid using fertilizers or any chemical treatment on the plant during this time.
  5. Do not disturb, repot or mishandle the plant while it’s healing from sunburn.
  6. Be patient as it may take several weeks to months for the plant to fully recover. And if it’s not recovering, you may need to dispose of it and get a new plant.

If you are introducing your aloe vera plant to direct sunlight for the first time, do it gradually over a few days so that the plant can have time to adjust. Indoors, place the aloe plant in a place that receives bright indirect sunlight such as the east-facing window.

How to care for aloe plant during a hot summer

A hot summer can cause sunburn and heat stress to your plants. You may consider bringing your plant indoors temporarily or providing special care that will protect the plant from extreme temperatures and heat waves. Here are a few things to do:

Provide indirect sunlight

While aloe plants prefer full sun, it’s essential to protect them from intense, direct sunlight, especially during hot weather. Place the plant in an area where it can receive morning or evening sun, and provide partial shade during the midday hours. 

Adequate watering

Hot weather can increase evaporation causing the soil to dry out more quickly. It’s best to water your aloe vera plant thoroughly but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Insert your finger into the soil to check the moisture level.

Water your succulent only when the soil feels partially dry. Further, ensure the soil is draining well and the plant is not sitting in any standing water. Overwatering and waterlogged soil can cause root rot and other fungal problems.

Ensure proper ventilation

Heat buildup can encourage the spread of fungal diseases. Ensure the aloe plant is placed in an area with adequate airflow. However, avoid placing it in drafts or near air conditioning vents, as this can cause leaves to turn brown or yellow.

Aloe vera plants like warm dry air, the ideal temperature should be 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% relative humidity. These plants don’t need extra humidity, so don’t mist their leaves.

Mulch the soil

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant. This can help insulate the soil, conserve moisture, and regulate soil temperature. Mulching can also help in preventing the growth of heat-tolerant weeds. You can use bark chips or straw.

Watch for signs of heat stress

Keep an eye on your plant for any signs of heat stress and take quick action to save the plant from further damage. If you notice these signs, move the plant indoors or to a cooler location and provide some shade until it recovers. You can use a shade cloth or umbrella.

Inspect for pests

Aloe vera plants can be resistant to insect pests and diseases but during the hot weather, they can be infested with mealybugs, scale, spider mites, and aphids. Pests are known to suck juices from succulent plants causing them to weaken and lose their vigor.

It’s important to inspect your aloe plant for insect pests and treat them as needed. You may use neem oil or insecticidal soap

Final thought

Aloe vera plants are generally easy to care for. These succulents, are well adapted to arid environments and can store water in their leaves. This makes them relatively drought-tolerant but you should acclimate before introducing them to sunny conditions.

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