Why is my aloe plant turning red? – A PUZZLE

Aloes are one of the most popular plants in the world and are valued for their unique appearance, ease of care, and unique medicinal properties. It is common for the leaves to turn red, but this is not always a problem. Let’s find out why your aloe plant is turning red and if it’s a sign of trouble…and if so, how to fix it.

Why is your aloe plant turning red? The leaves of many aloe plants naturally adapt to strong light by turning red. Foliage can also discolor from low temperature stress, overwatering, sunburn, fertilizer shock, or even a recent transplant. Proper plant care usually solves the problem quickly.


Overview of Reasons Why Aloe Plants Turn Red

The hundreds of species of the Aloe genus come in many shapes and sizes. Also called the miracle plant due to the medicinal and cosmetic properties attributed to the gelatinous sap of certain varieties, notably aloe vera, it is a succulent known to thrive in sunny, dry conditions.

Many aloes naturally turn red when adjusting to strong light. While some owners confuse this healthy process with sunburn, this redness is actually more of a sunburn that protects the leaves from the sun’s rays.

On the other hand, Aloe leaves can be “talkative” when not happy. A color change does not necessarily mean a serious danger to the plant, but it can give you information about its condition.

The plant often turns red or brown due to stress or a change in the environment. If your plant is a color other than green, it’s important to identify the cause and fix any issues.

Observation: Damaged or dried leaves can be cut or removed without disturbing the plant.

To help you diagnose the situation, let’s first look at normal redness caused by bright light, then look at potential issues that need to be addressed. A stressed plant usually quickly returns to its healthy color once the problem has been resolved.

Healthy coloring thanks to the sun

Aloes generally grow best under several hours of direct sunlight per day. Some smaller varieties do well in shady places, but most aloes like light spots.

However, that doesn’t mean they want to cook in the bright, hot sun. Aloe varieties differ in how direct sunlight they love it, but most appreciate the protection from the intense midday sun.

A natural sun worshiper, the plant responds to intense light by changing color from red to dark bronze as a shield against excessive rays. This pigment is the same protective chemical, anthocyaninthat many trees produce each fall and that cause their leaves to turn red.

In many cases, a red aloe plant is a welcome sign of a happy specimen. You’ll have to research your own variety to determine needs, but a red tint on a sturdy plant usually means it’s getting adequate light. That’s no reason to worry.

You can reduce the light if you want a completely green specimen, but too little light is a bigger problem than too much. Here’s how to tell the difference:

too much light : Outdoor aloes often turn red to brown in the summer and turn green each fall without incident, but that’s different from the unhealthy color changes caused by sun damage. Damaging sunburn can cause dry brown scars, shriveled foliage, thin leaves and burnt tips.

insufficient light: An aloe will in turn lose its red hues in low light conditions and turn a lighter green if it craves sunlight. The center will be paler than the rest of the plant. Eventually, an aloe that does not receive enough light will become long, sprawling, and/or stretching towards its light source.

aloe plant turns red in response to sunlight

Acclimatization is important for your aloe plant

Although aloes are happy in full sun, they need time to adjust to an increase in changing light. Natural outdoor light is much brighter than indoor lighting, and windows filter out ultraviolet rays that are believed to block the red pigmentation of aloe.

Do not take your Aloe out of an interior window and place it in direct sunlight. put the plant bright, indirect light when you first move it outside. Expose them gradually to more intense light.

It also works the other way around. Before bringing a plant accustomed to full sun, leave it in the shade for a few weeks to ease the transition.

Unhealthy Causes Of An Aloe Plant Turning Red

water misery

Excessive watering is a real danger for an Aloe. Leaves can turn brown and mushy from rotting – this is far worse than sunburn. An Aloe can easily recover from sunburn, but it is difficult for it to recover from water rot.

By far the best solution is to avoid the problem. Here are a few tips:

  • Be careful when watering. Do not use a predefined schedule; Keep an eye on the soil and only water when the pot is three-quarters dry.
  • A typical interval between waterings is two to four weeks during the growing season, depending on the environment.
  • Another indication of the right time to water is when the leaves begin to wrinkle slightly. Do not add water if leaves are tight and oily.
  • Reduce watering in winter – a combination of cold and wet conditions is very dangerous for aloes!
  • It is not easy to flood an aloe, but the plant is more likely to turn red or brown in bright light if there is no moisture. If this happens, water thoroughly, but don’t overdo it to compensate. Just continue with normal watering.

heavy ground

Aloe plants need light, pH-neutral or slightly alkaline soil that drains exceptionally well. The roots of an aloe quickly absorb water into its fleshy leaves: the porous soil of its native habitat drains quickly. A heavy mix that retains moisture makes it difficult to keep roots dry safely.

Soggy soil kills aloes!

Retail Cactus Mix is ​​an ideal base. Add regular potting soil, humus or organic matter to give the soil absorbency and some nutrition…but don’t sacrifice its ability to drain quickly.

A 50-50 mix of cactus soil and richer potting soil is perfect. If the mix flows too slowly or retains excess moisture, add coarse sand, perlite or other aeration additives.

Read my article on how to choose and make soil for houseplants to learn more.

red leaves of the aloe plant

too much fertilizer

Aloes only need light and irregular feeding. Because their root systems are designed to absorb moisture quickly, aloes can build up and overdose with heavy fertilization. An aloe plant that turns red may be the result of overfeeding shock, causing the leaves to become discolored and the tips to scab over.

Organic fertilizers are gentler than synthetic blends, but even organic fertilizers should be applied lightly. The liquid is safer and easier to use than a dry granular form. A mixture with a lot of phosphorus is recommended.

Dilute the fertilizer between half and quarter. A recommendation is to feed at the start of the growing season, then every six weeks until late summer, and not to fertilize until the following spring.

Pro tip: To protect your aloe’s sensitive roots from the impact of fertilizers, soak (and drain) the soil thoroughly about 12 hours before feeding. The roots retain a thin layer of moisture that partially protects them from rapid and direct absorption.

If you want to learn more about feeding your plants, read my complete guide to fertilizing houseplants.

excess salts

Another problem with over-fertilizing is that it can load the soil with chemical salts. Buildup can burn delicate roots, causing discoloration and darkening of leaf margins and tips.

Each time you water, rinse the soil, letting a stream run freely over the soil. This helps eliminate salts and other toxins. Let the soil drain well.

transplant reaction

Transplantation is an important event for a plant. Your aloe plant may turn red in response to transplant stress, but it should recover as the plant settles into its new home.

Here are some tips to make your move easier:

  • It is enough to increase the size of a pot or about an inch in diameter. Extra soil space can become soggy and stagnant with no roots to absorb moisture.
  • An unglazed clay pot speeds up the drying of the soil.
  • Use the same fast-draining potting soil the plant is planted in, or one of similar composition.
  • Do not immediately place your newly planted aloe in full sun, even if it has been exposed to the sun before. Give it about a week of protection from intense rays while it hunkers down.
  • Wait a month or two before fertilizing. You might even wait longer, as the plant is likely to get the modest nutrition it needs from the newly replenished soil.

Is your Aloe plant turning red due to heat stress?

Cold temperatures can turn an aloe plant red or purple. The anthocyanins that cause browning are said to protect the plant from temperature extremes. You may notice a color change even if your plant cools down for a while.

Most aloes prefer temperatures between 55ºF (13ºC) and 80ºF (27ºC). Some varieties are more cold hardy than others, but if conditions drop below 10°C some color reactions can be expected. If your plant starts to turn red in cool fall weather, that’s a sign it needs to come indoors.

If you see red tints on the leaves near a window during the cold season, the place may be too cold for them. Even in a warm room, temperatures next to a frozen window can be surprisingly cold. Drafts, hot or cold, can also cause a color change. Air circulation helps evaporate excess moisture, but constant airflow is unhealthy.

Aloe Plants That Are Naturally Red

natural red aloe plant aloe cameronii

There are a number of varieties of aloe that have naturally red leaves, such as the beautiful aloe cameroni† Native to Zimbabwe and Malawi, this striking species of aloe has naturally red foliage, although color varies with season and lighting.

In winter, the leaves are mostly green, with red edges and tips, but in summer, with good lighting, almost the whole plant takes on a beautiful red color. aloe cameroni it actually prefers stronger sunlight than other Aloe varieties, so give it plenty of direct sunlight for the best display of red foliage.

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