The reason aloe vera leaves turn soft is because of too much moisture around the roots caused by overwatering, slow draining soils or pots without drainage holes in the base. If the aloe vera leaves are soft and turn yellow, brown or translucent then this can indicate root rot.
Keep reading for why you are aloe vera leaves are soft and how to solve it…
Overwatering Aloe Vera Turns the Leaves Soft
By far the most common cause for Aloe Vera leaves turning soft is because of overwatering.
Aloe veras are succulents that have adapted to growing in dry desert like conditions in their native habitat in Oman in the Arabian peninsula where they thrive in sandy soils with infrequent rainfall.
The thick leaves of the aloe vera store water as an effective survival strategy to cope with drought in the blazing sun with high temperatures and relativity little water.
As aloe vera is adapted to a life without frequent rainfall it is very susceptible to overwatering when grown by gardeners.
If you are watering aloe vera more then once per week then you are almost certainly overwatering.
The symptoms of any overwatered aloe vera are the leaves turning soft to the touch with a brown, yellow or translucent coloring.
The soft mushy feeling to the leaves is a sign of stress and can indicate rot if the leaves have gone brown or black or the leaves turn limp.
However an aloe vera mushy leaves can be saved if you scale back the watering to a more appropriate cycle.
Aloe vera should only be watered (with a good soak) when the soil around the roots has dried out completely. Typically watering once every 2 weeks is the right amount for aloe vera to prevent turning the leaves soft and keep the plant healthy.
To establish how often to water you aloe vera feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes in the base.
If the soil is still moist then delay watering but if the soil feels dry then this is the perfect time to water aloe vera.
Once you have established how long it takes the soil to dry after watering then you know the correct schedule for watering aloe vera in your home according to your conditions to maintain the optimal balance of moisture.
(For more information read my article on how to water aloe vera in Summer and Winter as their watering requirements can fluctuate throughout the year).
However if the soft mushy part on the leaves is spreading then it may be necessary to try to propagate any cuttings from healthy tissue so that the aloe vera can survive to stop the whole plant dying from root root.
Watch this YouTube video for how to propagate aloe vera easily:
Moisture Retaining Soil Causes Aloe Vera Leaves to Turn Soft
Aloe vera leaves can feel soft in texture and turn brown or yellow due to slow draining soil that retains too much moisture around the roots.
Aloe vera plants do not grow well in ordinary potting soil as it stays moist too long after watering which causes the leaves to turn soft as a sign of stress.
Water retaining soils has essential the same effect as overwatering as the soil does not dry out quickly enough for the roots to stay healthy.
If you feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole and it still feels damp or boggy rather then just moist then it is a good idea to transfer your aloe vera to a pot with well draining soil (read my article on the best potting soil for aloe vera).
Aloe vera grows in sandy, gritty soils that is porous and well draining in their native habitat.
So to prevent your aloe vera leaves turning soft it is important to replicate the soil conditions of their native environment with a well draining potting mix that is specifically formulated for succulents and cacti (available on amazon and in garden centers).
The special succulent and cacti soil mix contains more inorganic material (such as sand, grit or perlite) to create a porous well draining soil that is optimal for you aloe vera.
Once the aloe vera has had a chance to dry out and you are watering appropiately then the aloe vera can recover from is soft leaves and restore to its full plump leaves.
However if you feel the soft texture spreading and the aloe vera is turning brown, yellow or translucent then you may have to propagate the plant from healthy tissue to save the aloe vera.
(For more information read my article how to revive a dying aloe vera).
Pots Without Good Drainage Causes Aloe Leaves to Turn Soft
Aloe vera is sensitive to excess water around the roots, so it is important that you plant it in pots with drainage holes in the base of the pot to allow excess water to escape so that the soil can dry between bouts of watering.
If the aloe vera is planted in pots without drainage holes the excess water pools around the roots and causes the leaves to turn soft and the aloe can quickly develop root rot.
Transfer you aloe to a pot with drainage holes in the base and allow the soil to dry out.
There are several other reasons why your the water could be pooling around the roots of your aloe despite drainage holes in the base.
- The use of a saucer or tray underneath the pot. Saucers and trays are a good way to stop excess water spilling in your home but they should be emptied regularly so that the soil at the bottom of the pot does not stay damp.
- Roots and compacted soil can slow drainage. If you notice that the soil is draining slowly then check to see the drainage holes to ensure water can escape freely.
- Decorative outer pots can prevent water escaping. Occasional I see aloe vera sold in a pot with drainage holes and presented in a decorative out pot with drainage holes that causes water to pool around the roots. Empty the outer pot of water regularly to allow the soil to dry out.
Once you have ensured that the aloe is in a pot with good drainage and allowed the plant to dry out properly then the leaves can start to recover from their soft texture. (Read my article on choosing the best pots for growing aloe vera).
However if the roots have been in standing water for some time then it can be difficult to revive the aloe so it may be necessary to propagate any healthy leaves before the soft, mushy feel to the leaves spreads and the plant dies of root rot.
(Read my article if your aloe vera leaves are curling inwards as this is usually a sign that your aloe vera is not being watered properly).
- Aloe vera leaves turn soft when there is too much moisture around the roots due to overwatering, slow draining soils or pots without proper drainage. Soft aloe vera leaves often turn brown, yellow or translucent and can be a sign of root rot.
- Only water aloe vera when the soil has dried out to replicate the dry conditions of its relatively dry habitat with infrequent rainfall.
- Plant aloe in soil that is specifically for succulents and cacti for improved drainage to prevent the roots being in damp soil which causes root rot.
- Plant aloe in pots with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape. If the soil is allowed to dry out the aloe can recover, however if the leaves are soft and turning brown, yellow or translucent then it may be necessary to take cutting from healthy tissue for propagating to save the plant.