Why is My Aloe Vera Plant Not Growing?

Why is my aloe vera not growing

Aloe Vera grows to a height and width of around 24 inches if it is growing in the optimal conditions. However there are a few reasons why aloe vera can stop growing…

Aloe Vera stops growing during Summer in temperatures excess of 80°F as a strategy to conserve water in time of drought. The optimal temperature range for aloe vera to grow is between 55°F-80°F. Aloe vera stops growing in Winter in reaction to less hours of light and lower light intensity.

In most climates aloe vera grows at a faster rate during the Spring and Fall when the temperature is optimal.

There are several reasons why aloe vera may not be growing which I have summarized in this table…

Conditions:Reasons for Aloe Vera not Growing:
Summer Dormancy.Aloe Vera goes into a state of dormancy and stops growing during Summer when exposed to high temperatures as a survival strategy to conserve water.
Lack of Sun.Aloe Vera grows more when in some direct sun. Too much shade can slow down its growth to the point it appears to be not growing.
Too Much Moisture around the roots.Aloe Vera require the soil to dry out between bouts of watering. Too much moisture, caused by over watering or slow draining soils causes stress which can stop aloe from growing.
Grows slower in Winter.Aloe Vera can stop growing in Winter as a reaction to less hours of light and lower light intensity.
Cool Temperatures.The optimal growing temperatures for Aloe Vera are between 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C). Any cooler can slow growth and any hotter can trigger a phase of Summer dormancy and the aloe stops growing.
Larger pots.If the aloe is planted in a pot significantly larger then the root ball the plant can redirect its energy it growing and establishing its roots and the leaves tend to grow slowly at first.

Keep reading for the reasons why your aloe vera is not growing and the best practices for growing aloe vera…

Aloe Vera Stops Growing in the Summer to Conserve Water

Aloe Vera is a succulent that is native to the Arabian peninsula in countries like Oman where they grow in desert conditions with lots of sun and particularly high temperatures.

Aloe Vera is adapted to growing in drought like conditions and climates with high temperatures by:

  • Storing water in its thick fleshy leaves.
  • Opening its stomata at night rather then in the hotter and dryer day time to reduce transpiration (water loss) from the leaves.
  • Slowing its growth in Summer to reduce its demand for water during high temperatures.

Aloe Veras key survival strategy for surviving in high temperatures with infrequent rainfall is to go into a state of dormancy in Summer.

During Summer the Aloe Vera stops growing so that it can lower its requirements for water and endure high temperatures without drying up.

This allows Aloe Vera to grow in particularly hot and dry conditions that are too hostile for other types of plants and succulents.

It is because of this adaptation of Summer dormancy that Aloe Vera can appear to stop growing in your home or garden during Summer with prolonged high temperatures.

This is a natural cycle of growth and dormancy for Aloe Vera plants and it does not mean the Aloe Vera is under any kind of undue stress.

The Aloe Vera should resume growing in cooler weather during Fall, Winter and Spring, although there is often a shorter period of dormancy during Winter due to colder temperatures and less light.

It is important to note that Aloe Vera is more susceptible to the affects of over watering during its Summer as it requires less water in its dormant state.

If your notice the leaves turning yellow, translucent or develop a mushy texture then this indicates too much moisture and you should scale back the watering and let the soil to dry out completely to avoid root rot and allow your Aloe to recover.

(Read my article how to water aloe vera plants to learn how often to water aloe vera in Summer and Winter).

Lack of Direct Sun and Hours of Light

Aloe Vera are adapted to thriving in arid conditions with either partial or full sun, with a preference for 5-6 hours morning sun followed by some shade in the afternoon.

If your Aloe Vera is in indirect light or shade then the Aloe Vera conserves its energy by growing very slowly if at all, as shade is contrary to its preferred growing conditions.

In less sunlight the bottom of the aloe vera leaves can have a dying appearance.

A slower rate of growth more common when Aloe Vera is grown indoors and it may require a grow light to stimulate growth and supplement its light.

If your Aloe Vera in a location with not enough light then it is important to expose your aloe to more light gradually rather then in one go.

Moving Aloe Vera or any succulents from a shady area to full sun results in sun burn with scorched leaves that do not recover and require pruning.

Move your aloe to a sunnier spot over the course of three weeks, increasing its exposure to direct over time so it can acclimate to the new conditions which prevents it from burning.

Once your Aloe Vera is a more suitable sunny location it should start to grow quicker.

(Read my article why is my aloe vera limp?)

Too Much Moisture Around the Roots Slows Growth

Aloe Vera are resistant to drought due to their adaptations to growing in dry climates with infrequent rainfall and well draining, gritty soils.

The soil in their native environment is typically sandy and drains very quickly without retaining much moisture.

Watering Aloe Vera too often and planting them in conventional potting soil causes water stress which can stifle its growth and turn the leaves yellow or translucent with a mushy texture.

Even by the standards of succulents and cacti, Aloe Vera is particularly sensitive to too much water so even if the leaves are not changing to yellow or translucent the aloe can still stop growing if its roots are too damp.

To promote growth and maintain a healthy aloe you should only water the plant when the soil has dried out completely between bouts of watering, then give it a generous soak so that the water infiltrates the soil and reaches the deep roots.

Always plant aloes in specially formulated succulents and cactus soil (available from garden centers and on Amazon) as conventional potting soil holds onto too much moisture after watering and causes root rot.

A gritty succulent soil mix is perfect for growing aloe vera plants.
A gritty succulent soil mix is perfect for growing aloe vera plants.

Succulent and cactus soil emulates the well draining soil characteristics of the aloe vera’s native environment.

With a proper watering cycle and well draining soil you are recreating the preferred conditions of the Aloes native range and it can grow at a faster rate without any water related stress.

(For more help with dying aloes read my article how to revive a dying aloe vera plant)

Aloe Vera Grows Slower in Winter

Whilst Aloe Vera growth slows in reaction to high temperatures, aloe also growth slower in the Winter months.

The reasons for your Aloe Vera not growing in Winter are:

  • Less hours of sunlight.
  • Lower intensity of sun.
  • More over cast and cloudy days.
  • Lower temperatures.
  • Water evaporates slower from the soil.

As already stated, Aloe Vera prefer some direct sun to promote growth so with fewer hours of sun as as well as lower intensity of sun (compared to Spring and Summer) the growth rate of Aloe Vera is naturally going to slow down to the point where it may appear to stop growing.

This is not necessarily to the determinent of the aloe as it should start growing as normal in repsonse to more light in the following Spring, but placing Aloe Vera in the sunniest place possible can help keep the plant healthy.

To increase growth for succulents in Winter the best way is with a grow light to maximize the amount of light they get but this is not usually necessary.

Cool Temperatures Slows Down Growth

Aloe Vera is hardy to Zone 9 which means it can tolerate a temperature dip to 20° F (-6° C) over night but at this temperature the Aloe is trying to survive rather then directing its resources into growing.

Whilst aloe vera can tolerate temporary exposure to cold weather, it can not tolerate sustained low temperatures so whenever it is likely to frost, bring your aloe vera indoors or protect with some horticultural fleece.

Aloe Vera’s optimal temperature range for growing is between 55° F-80° F (13° C-27° C) which is in the typical range of most homes.

At these temperatures the aloe does not have to contend with the stress of cold and the Summer dormancy is not as pronounced so it can grow for most of the year.

Aloe Vera typically grows more in the milder Spring and Fall months.

Growth Rate in Larger Pots

There is some anecdotal evidence of Aloe Vera and succulents in general growing slower when the are planted in pots that are significantly larger then the root ball of your succulent.

Whilst it is difficult to establish a definitive reason for there are theories that when planted in larger pots with lots of soil the aloe redirects its energy from growth of the plant to growing and establishing its root system.

However it could also be due to larger pots having a greater capacity for soil and therefore a greater capacity for retaining moisture which creates conditions that are contrary to Aloe Vera’s preferred dryer soil conditions between bouts of watering.

If a larger pot dries out less quickly then the succulent could be slightly water stressed due to increased soil moisture and grow slower as a result.

Typically Aloe Vera grows very well in proportionally smaller pots and can even tolerate being pot bound.

It is unlikely that a larger pot is exclusively the cause of your Aloe Vera not growing, but it could be a contributing factor.

(If the leaves of your aloe are curling read my article aloe vera leaves curling for the solution)

Key Takeaways:

  • Aloe vera stops growing in Summer as a strategy to conserve water during drought and high temperatures and resumes growing the following Fall. Aloe vera can also stop growing in Winter with less hours of light and in response to cold temperatures.
  • Aloe vera can grow very slowly and appear not to grow if it is too much shade. Typically aloe prefer some direct sun for optimal growth.
  • Too much moisture around the roots due to over watering and slow draining soils can cause conditions that are contrary to the aloe vera’s preferred cycle of a generous amount of water followed by the soil drying out.
  • Larger pots have a greater capacity for soil which can cause aloe vera to redirect its energy into establishing roots rather then growing the leaves.

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