Overwatered Aloe Plant (Signs and Treatments)

And overwatered aloe plant is something that needs immediate attention. It is a common problem with this beautiful succulent since many people usually water it like they do their other houseplants.

Unfortunately, doing this results in giving it too much moisture.

Like other succulents, aloe vera are drought tolerant as they’re used to dry, desert environments.

This is why they store moisture in their leaves causing their foliage to be thick and fleshy.

An overwatered aloe plant will display signs of soft, mushy leaves that are yellow. They can also develop root rot if the problem persists.

To save the plant, removing any rotten roots and repotting it in dry soil is necessary.

You want to do this sooner than later since root rot will spread.

Signs of Overwatered Aloe Plant

Wet, Mucky Soil

One of the simplest signs to look out with aloe overwatering is wet, soggy soil. You may even see puddles of water in the soil if there’s a lot of excess moisture.

This is a bad sign.

That’s because aloe vera are succulents.

As such, they are used to drier environments. This is why they store moisture in their leaves to get through periods of drought.

If the surface of the soil feels wet and it has been at least a several days since you last watered, then you may want to check for other signs of overwatering.

 

Yellow and Brown Leaves

Leaf discoloration usually mean something is happening. Although, they can mean many different things.

So, you need to investigate further.

And brown or yellow leaves need to matched with other signs of an overwatered aloe plant before you come to a conclusion.

On their own, they could mean another problem.

That said, yellow leaves are a common sign of overwatering.

Again, aloe vera are prone to this because they’re used to the desert where they get little water. As such, it is easy to overwater the plant.

Yellow leaves usually happen because of the excess moisture. It also occurs because the excess water prevents the plant from absorbing enough nutrients to get to the leaves.

Thus, the deficiencies in nutrients cause the yellowing.

 

Soft, Squishy or Mushy Stem

A soft, mushy stem is a bad sign. It can either mean the plant is in an advanced overwatering stage or that there is root rot and the rotting is now spreading upwards to the stem.

Either way, both are bad.

But the latter is a much worse situation.

Thus, check the stem of the plant if you suspect overwatering.

Soft, mushy stem means that they are holding a lot of excess water. This happens later in the process when the plant is consistently being overwatered.

On the other hand, if there is darkening and a stinky smell, then rotting is spreading.

This means that the root rot is now coming upwards.

 

Dark Brown, Smelly, Roots

Whenever I suspect any of my plants are overwatered, I always unpot them and check the roots.

That’s because root rot can set it.

Although, it is not always the case.

Overwatering can lead to root rot. But if you’re lucky, root rot has not set in.

Nevertheless, it is always worth checking because in case there is root rot, you want to be able to address and treat the problem immediately.

The longer you let root rot linger, the more it will spread.

And past a certain point, your overwatered aloe plant with root rot will be beyond saving.

If there is no root rot, you’ll see all the roots are healthy. They will be white in color and feel firm the to touch while still being pliable.

On the other hand, if there is a foul odor and you see dark brown roots that feel soft and mushy, then there is root rot.

How you treat overwatering will depend on whether there is root rot or not.

 

How to Save an Overwatered Aloe Plant (Step by Step)

In this section, I’ll go through detailed steps in saving an overwatered aloe plant.

Below I’ll explain two instances.

One where there is no root rot. And a second where root rot has set in.

Depending on whether there is root rot or not, you will need to take a different approach.

Here’s how to do it.

 

Stop Watering

The first step is to stop watering the plant. An overwatered aloe plant already has way too much water which is why it is asking for your help by giving you the signs and symptoms of abnormalities.

 

Take the Aloe Plant Out of the Pot

Next, take the plant out of the pot.

This is the definitive way of figuring out whether there is root rot or not.

In the best case scenario, there is no root rot.

If you see that all the roots are white in color, there is no stench and they are flexible and feel firm, then you can breathe a sigh of relief.

The goal now is to drain any excess liquid from the spot or the soil and let the plant dry as soon as possible.

If you want to repot the plant in dry soil, this is the fastest solution. Once you finish this, the aloe plant will start recovering.

Or you can keep the plant in the same pot with the same wet soil.

But try to turn the soil over and aerate it to speed up drying.

Also, keep the plant under bright, indirect light with good ventilation.

Allow the overwatered aloe plant’s soil to dry completely before you begin watering again. Plus, adjust your watering schedule.

In case there is root rot, you’ll see brown or black, stinky, soft and mushy roots.

Not all roots will look like this.

Instead, some will still be healthy while others will be rotten.

Hopefully, not all the roots are rotten. Otherwise, you likely won’t be able to save the mother plant and will have to resort to propagation instead. See below on how to do this.

If only a smaller portion of the root system has rotted, then follow the steps below.

 

Prune the Dead Roots

Sterilize a pair or pruning shears or scissors. Then prune all the rotten roots.

You want to get all of the dark brown, mushy roots.

But do not cut off any of the healthy, white roots. You’ll want to keep as much of them as possible. As the survival of the plant depends on it.

Try to keep track of what percent of the root system you pruned.

If you trimmed off more than a third of all the roots, then you’ll need to remove the corresponding amount of leaves in the next step.

This will reduce the size of the plant in order to give the smaller, healthy root system a chance to save itself.

 

Remove Affected Leaves

Once you’ve pruned off all the rotten roots, sterilize the blades of your cutting tool again.

Then start cutting off the damaged leaves. Anything that does not look normal, you trim off.

This will encourage the plant to push out new leaves.

It also allows the aloe to redirect all its energy to the healthy leaves while creating new leaves as well.

If you removed more than 1/3 of the root system, trim away the same amount of leaves to event the top part of the plant with the roots.

 

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Treat the Root System with Fungicide

This is a very important step when there is root rot. That’s because root rot is usually caused by suffocation due to overwatering or fungal disease.

In case it is the latter, you need kill all the pathogens in the root system or any remnants of them.

This way, the fungal infection does not resurface after you repot and save the plant.

Rinse the healthy roots with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. You can also use a fungicide solution. Make sure you get every nook and cranny.

If you’re not sure, you can submerge the root system in a basin or the sink filled with the solution. This will ensure every bit of the root system is disinfected.

 

Disinfect the Pot and Throw Away the Soil

Next, use the same solution to clean the pot. Again, you can rinse it or just submerge the entire pot into a container.

Of course, which method you use depends on the size of the pot.

Also, throw away all the soil.

This includes any soil that was sticking to the root system as well as those left in the pot.

These can harbor the pathogens. So, you don’t want to reuse the soil for other plants.

 

Find a Suitable Pot

You can use any kind of pot you want. But make sure that the container has drainage holes at the bottom. This will help prevent waterlogged soil in the future.

Also, avoid getting a pot that is too big or too small.

An overly small pot will keep the roots crowded. It also increases the risk of an underwatered aloe plant.

On the other hand, an overly large pot increases the risk of overwatering due to the excess moisture that keeps the soil wet when you water the plant.

Instead, choose a pot that is 2 inches wider than the size of the root ball.

 

Prepare an Appropriate Potting Mix

In addition to getting the right pot size with drainage, using the proper potting mix is also important.

This prevents underwatering and overwatering.

Aloe vera is a succulent. As such, it stores moisture in its leaves. And it is drought tolerant.

The plant also prefers dry soil and will have problems if you let it sit in wet soil for prolonged periods of time.

Therefore, avoid using water-retentive soils or heavy soils.

These tend to hold more water which increases the risk of overwatering and waterlogging in the future.

On the other hand, an overly sandy soil or one that drains too much water puts it at risk of underwatering.

The best soil for aloe vera is one that is well-draining. And you can pick up one that is made for succulents. Your local nursery should have one.

 

Repot the Aloe Vera

Finally, it is time to repot your aloe vera.

Fill the new pot with succulent soil up to around a third of the way. Then place your aloe plant into the pot and fill the remaining space with succulent mix.

Don’t water the plant for the next few days to around a week to give the plant time to recover.

 

What if the Overwatered Aloe Vera is Too Damaged from Revive?

Sadly, not all overwatered aloe plants can be saved. A lot depends on the severity of the damage the root system has endured.

Beyond a certain point, no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to save the aloe plant from root rot due to overwatering.

Fortunately, there there’s still hope.

You can propagate the aloe plant.

That said, it is important to act quickly because you still need healthy parts of the plant to make propagation successful.

When it comes to propagating an aloe very, you have 3 options.

  1. Division
  2. From pups of offshoots
  3. Leaf cuttings

The order of success and ease of achieving success come in that order as well.

But because of the overwatered situation and the root rot, division is not really a good option at this point.

The roots are damaged and suffering. And you’ll need every bit of healthy roots if you want to try and save the plant.

Plus, there’s a risk that they’re compromised at this point.

Propagating from pups which are also called offshoots or plantlets, are your next best bet.

These are baby aloe very plants that will grow on the base of the plant. So, you can check the surface of the soil to look for them.

Ideally, you want to get plantlets that are at least a few inches big.

This gives them a better chance of surviving when planted on their own. But in an emergency situation like this, you take what you can get.

Here, you’ll cut off the plantlets from the parent plant. Make sure to use a sharp, sterile knife or blade.

Then plant the plantlets in a pot with well-draining soil.

In traditional propagation, you can propagate the plantlets in water. But that’s not a good idea in this case because the plant is already overwatered.

So, this makes them susceptible to rotting.

Thus, go with directly planting them into a soil mix instead.

While plantlets are the easiest way to propagate aloe vera plants, they’re not reliable. The biggest downside to them is that the plant will produce these babies when it wants to.

So, this can be once every few months or once every few years.

You just don’t know.

And there’s a very high likelihood that when you’re trying to save your overwatered aloe plant, there won’t be able plantlets there.

This brings us to propagating via leaf cuttings.

While it does not produce as high as success rate as division or plantlets with aloe plants, this is your best bet if there are no plantlets available.

Here, you’ll need to look for healthy leaves.

So, unaffected leaves are a must. Additionally, the cuttings need to be at least 3 or so inches.

If you see any good candidates try to take several of them.

Since the rate of propagation success is lower, you want more than one leaf cutting to have a higher chance of having a new aloe plant in case the mother plant does not make it.

Use a sterile cutting tool and snip off the healthy leaf cuttings.

Then allow the cuttings to dry. This takes a while, and you’ll want to wait for the gel part to callous.

It usually takes several days before they’ll callous.

While it takes a long time, this increases the chances of propagation success. Otherwise, there’s a high risk of root rot when you plant the cuttings.

Once the leaf cuttings have calloused, plant them into soil with the tip facing upwards. Push in the leaf about nearly halfway into the soil.

Keep the plant in bright, indirect light that is warm.

Soon enough, the cuttings will develop roots and slowly grow.

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