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What Does An Underwatered Aloe Plant Look Like? (7 Obvious Signs)

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Aloe vera is a common houseplant that can hold water in its leaves for extended periods. While this plant requires quite a little water, calculating how much water it needs is challenging.

Climate, location, and season may all impact the frequency with which aloe vera plants are irrigated, putting them at risk of being underwatered. Indeed, although the aloe plant can survive in harsh climates, its tolerance for extended dehydration has significant limitations. 

So, what does an underwatered aloe plant look like? If you also get stuck in this question, this article is for you. Continue reading to get hold of 7 signs of an aloe plant and how to revive it. 

What Does An Underwatered Aloe Plant Look Like

7 Signs Of An Underwatered Aloe Plant

In general, the most obvious telltale signs of an underwatered aloe plant are curling and droopy leaves. Moreover, the leaves will turn yellow with brown tips, and the leaf margins will dry off.

Due to underwatering, there will also be some spots, drying of the soil, and the roots becoming brittle structures.

Finding it difficult to understand? Don’t worry! Let’s scroll down to find some specific signs of an underwatered aloe plant.

1. Yellowing leaves

When the leaves of an aloe plant turn yellow, it indicates that the absorptive function of the roots has been impaired. In detail, water transports essential nutrients from the soil to the plant’s many components. 

When not providing enough water to the soil, the roots also have a tough time taking in the necessary nutrients. As a result, it’s not unexpected that underwatered plants suffer from nutrient deficiency as well.

Due to nutrient deficiency, the leaves turn varied shades of yellow.

  • If the yellowing appears on mature leaves, the plant may lack immobile nutrients such as N, P, K, and Mg.
  • If the yellowing occurs in the younger leaves, it is caused by the deficiency in nutrients: Ca, Cu, B, Fe, Mn, and Zn.

2. Droopy leaves

An aloe vera plant will become limp due to a lack of water in the plant cells. This implies the cells will contract and lose their turgid form.

Water helps to maintain the plant upright, and without it, the plant loses form. When left thirsty for a long time, the droopiness might lead to wiltedness. In this circumstance, the aloe plant may die as a result of excessive dehydration.

Droopy leaves What Does An Underwatered Aloe Plant Look Like
Droopy leaves via

3. Curling leaves

One mechanism by plants to avoid moisture loss is curling of the leaves, especially inward curling. As the curling persists, the stomatal holes shrink, giving the leaves a shrunken appearance.

This occurs when there is a high transpiration rate because the smaller leaf size allows the aloe plant to save its water during times of water deficiency.

4. Brown and dry leaf edges

The brown edges of aloe look like a burnt leaf tip, often appearing after the plant has been overfertilized. However, it might also signal that the plant is suffering from water deficiency.

The aloe plant’s margins are usually thin and have less water content than the rest of the leaf. Thus, amid extreme drought circumstances, it can readily dry up and become crisp.

Additionally, this part is the last to absorb the moisture of the plants. As a result, since they are the furthest away from the water source, the leaf tips are the most prone to withering.

5. Brown spots on the leaves

Even while brown spots can occur in either overwatering or underwatering conditions, there are many distinctions in how these spots appear.

Compared to an overwatered aloe plant, the brown spots of an underwatered one are drier to touch. These spots are dead cells that have succumbed to a lack of moisture.

6. Dry potting soil

One of the most evident indications of underwatering is dry potting soil. However, the soil may be dry on the top while still retaining water in its bottom.

It all relies on the sort of soil you used to pot your aloe vera. For example, potted plants in sandy soil require more water than those in clay soil. If the soil dries down to the bottom of the pot, your aloe is at risk of dehydration.

The roots will no longer take water from the potting soil if it becomes too dry over time. As a result, the plant dehydrates day by day. If the problem is not solved quickly enough, the plant will wilt permanently.

7. Brittle roots

Roots primarily serve in water intake and transfer from the soil to the plant’s other components. As a result, when water deficiency happens, they suffer the most.

If the underwatering continues, the roots will shrivel owing to a lack of moisture. Some of the roots may even dry up completely. That explains why the roots get brittle.

How To Revive An Underwatered Aloe Plant (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How To Revive An Underwatered Aloe Plant

Step 1: Remove the aloe plant from its pot

Tilt your pot upside down, gently pat the pot bottom to remove the plant from the dry soil without inflicting shock. Then, inspect its roots for brittleness and the soil for complete dryness. Yet, if your plant isn’t extremely dry, you may skip this step.

Step 2: Immerse the roots in water for 48 hours

Immersing the plant’s roots in a bowl of clean water for at least two days is the quickest cure for dehydration. Then, check the plant after 48 hours to see if there have been any improvements. Once the leaves turn green and puffy, it’s time to re-pot. 

Step 3: Cut off yellowed and dry leaves

The next step is to remove the yellow, brown, or dried aloe vera leaves with a sharp cutting instrument such as scissors or a knife. Pruning off damaged aloe leaves allows the healthy ones to absorb nutrients more efficiently.

Step 4: Place it in a new ideal pot

First, it’s essential to choose well-drained soil. To emulate the aloe plant native environment, experts recommend using cacti soil instead of typical potting soil.

Furthermore, the aloe’s roots develop laterally and get heavier, so choosing the right-sized pot is critical. As a result, an ideal pot has a bowl-like shape since it should not be too deep or narrow.

How To Revive An Underwatered Aloe Plant 2

Step 5: The watering frequency

If the plant is dehydrated, you may feel compelled to water it more frequently. Yet, watering once a week is overwatering. So, the suitable frequency is every two weeks or if the soil at the bottom of the pot seems to be dry.

Moreover, your watering frequency will be determined by factors like climate, seasons, and pot size. The 14-day watering plan, for example, is only applicable during the summer or in regions with a warm tropical climate. On the other hand, you can water your aloe vera plant every 3-4 weeks during the winter.


In short, to know whether the aloe is underwatered or not, you should pay close attention to every sign. In this article, the question “what does an underwatered aloe plant look like?” is solved with 7 obvious signs, along with ways to revive it. Hopefully, this knowledge will help you in your gardening time.