The reason aloe vera leaves die at the bottom is either because of a lack of sun, drought stress caused by underwatering, or due to the leaves dying back naturally at the bottom as new leaves grow.
Aloe vera leaves dying at the bottom of the plant is a natural part of the plant growth, so often there is nothing to worry about, but it can also indicate that you need to adjust your watering practices or that your aloe vera is in too much shade which can kill the aloe vera.
Keep reading to learn why your aloe vera leaves are dying at the bottom and how to solve it…
Bottom Aloe Vera Leaves Turning Brown and Dying
If there are dying brown leaves that feel crispy at the bottom of your aloe vera then this is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle rather than necessarily the result of a specific problem.
As aloe vera grows, it creates new leaves, and as it does the older ones at the bottom of the plant die back.
This is more typically the case if only one or two of the bottom leaves are dying back.
As there is no immediate threat to the aloe there is no need to remove the leaves but for aesthetic reasons you can pull the brown crispy leaves off the plant, but only if the peel off easily.
If there is significant resistance then do not attempt to pull the leaves off as this could damage the plant and only attempt to remove the leaf it if is completely dry, brown, and crispy.
If practically all the bottom leaves are dying back then this can indicate a cultural problem and may require some adjustments to how you care for the aloe vera plant…
Lack of Sunlight Can cause Aloe Vera’s Bottom Leaves to die back
Aloe vera is a drought-resistant plant that often grows in open areas in its native range in Oman in the Arabian peninsula.
When cared for at home the aloe vera should be in around 4-6 hours of direct sun.
If the aloe is in too much shade the leaves turn pale and grow leggy and weak, often drooping under their own weight as they search for more light.
The aloe vera redirects its energy to grow the inner leaves towards the strongest source of light. The lower leaves consequentially tend to go brown and die back.
If your aloe vera is in less than 4 hours of direct sun then this is the likely reason why the bottom leaves appear to be dying.
Aloe vera is more sun stays more compact and its leaves do not droop or turn brown and die at the bottom at the same rate.
Do not move the aloe from an area of shade to direct sun in one go as this is likely to cause the leaves to burn.
Instead expose your aloe vera to more sun, moving the pot for a bit longer each day over the course of about 4 weeks. This gives your aloe vera a chance to acclimate to the increased intensity of light while being burnt.
Once the aloe is in more sun the bottom leaves should stop dying at the same rate.
If the leaves are drooping completely then often this is hard to revive the individual leaves and it may be necessary to cut them back to the base as more leaves will grow back or take cuttings for propagation.
(Read my article to learn how to revive a dying aloe vera plant if the leaves are turning yellow or feel soft or for other causes of dying leaves).
Not Enough Water Causes Dying Leaves at the Base
Aloe vera leaves can also die at the bottom of the plant in response to drought stress.
Aloe vera is a drought-resistant plant that grows in gritty, porous, well-draining soils with infrequent rainfall in its native habitat, but it can still suffer from under watering.
Sometimes the advice, ‘aloe vera does not need much water’ is misinterpreted as aloe vera should not be watered with a significant amount of water, when in reality aloe vera requires a generous soak so that excess water drains from the base of the pot.
Aloe vera however only requires watering when the soil is competently dry to replicate the conditions in its native habitat of a downpour of rainfall followed by a period of drought.
Watering too lightly only moistens the top inch or so of the soil and the water does not infiltrate and reach the roots where it is required.
This causes drought stress which causes the aloe vera leaves to curl inwards and for the bottom leaves to turn brown and die back.
Aloe vera should be watered when the soil dries out. Typically this is once every 14 days or so but this can vary in different climates and conditions.
To establish the correct watering frequency for your aloe vera give the soil a generous soak then monitor how long it takes for the soil to dry out.
To find out when the soil has dried properly, feel the soil at the bottom of the through the drainage hole in the base.
If the soil is still moist then delay watering for a few days but if the soil feels dry, then this is the perfect time for watering.
This ensures that the aloe vera has enough water to sustain itself and that the soil dries out properly to avoid problems with overwatering such as root rot (read my article, how to tell if an aloe plant is overwatered or underwatered).
With 2 or 3 watering cycles with a generous amount of water, each time the aloe vera leaves should return to a plump look rather than curled inwards and the leaves at the bottom of the plant should stop dying at the same rate.
For more information on all the best practices for watering and how to water properly in Summer and Winter, read my article on how to water aloe vera.
- Aloe vera leaves dying at the bottom of the plant is part of the natural cycle of aloe vera and the plant grows new leaves. However leaves dying at the bottom can also indicate a lack of sunlight or underwatering.
- Aloe vera without enough sun tends to grow leggy and the lower leaves die back.
- Aloe vera leaves can also die at the bottom due to drought stress which is caused by watering too lightly so that the water does not reach the roots where it is required.
- Locate aloe vera plants in 4-6 hours of sun and water with a generous soak to avoid the bottom leaves of your aloe vera dying.