Drought stress is the cause of the curled aloe vera leaves. In its leaves, aloe vera retains water. Aloe vera consumes the moisture held in its leaves to survive, which causes them to curl inwards if it is not watered frequently enough or watered too lightly.
As a result of individuals misinterpreting the suggestion that aloe vera doesn’t require much water as meaning they should only be watered sparingly, aloe vera leaves frequently curl. In reality, aloe vera requires less frequent watering than most plants but should always be given a full soak.
However, the aloe loves the soil to dry out between bouts of watering to mimic the watering cycle of their original desert habitat. A generous soak ensures adequate water infiltrates the soil to reach the roots.
Aloe leaves can also curl up as a result of poor soil moisture absorption and too-rapid drying owing to environmental variables.
Continue reading to learn why your aloe vera leaves are curling and how to prevent this from happening.
(Note that excessive watering and lack of light can cause leaves to droop rather than curl; in this case, read my post on how to revive a dying aloe vera for alternatives.)
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Aloe Vera Leaves Curling Inwards Indicates Drought Stress
In their native territory of Oman in the Arabian peninsula, aloe vera are succulents that store water in their leaves as a survival strategy for surviving in settings of occasional rainfall, gritky well-draining soils, and high temperatures.
As the plant uses up its remaining stored water, aloe leaves under drought stress begin to curl inward, get thinner, and become concave.
A healthy aloe vera leaf, on the other hand, should appear thick, plump, and meaty, which denotes the ideal level of watering.
Your aloe vera leaves may curl inward due to drought stress for a number of reasons:
- Aloe is not given enough water (aloes require a generous soak).
- Not watering regularly enough (aloe are drought resilient but still require planned watering) (aloe are drought tolerant but still require scheduled watering).
- Aloe vera growing in an air conditioning, forced air, or excessive wind current (too much air flow can sap the leaves of moisture and dry out the soil quicker).
- Indoor heat sources have the potential to heat the soil and cause leaf water loss.
- high temperatures and solar exposure (aloe prefer some sun but several hours of intense sun and heat can dry the plant out quicker).
- Peat-based soil can bake hard when it dries up, repelling water from the surface so that it drips down the side of the pot rather than reaching the roots.
- Reduced humidity may also result in more leaf transpiration.
All of these elements may speed up soil drying, accelerate the rate at which aloe vera loses moisture from its leaves, and, in the case of light watering and soil that repels water, hinder the ability of water to reach the roots of the plant.
How To Revive Aloe Vera with Curling Leaves
Aloes don’t need to be watered as frequently as other plants, but when they are, it’s important to give them a fairly good soak so the water can penetrate the soil and go to the roots.
The ability of the aloe vera to withstand drought is further increased by a good soak, which also promotes the roots’ growth and establishment in the soil.
The leaves will curl inward if you water too little because just the top inch or two of the soil becomes damp, and the moisture does not sink down to the roots where it is needed.
Aloe vera should always be generously watered until water can be seen dripping from the pot’s base.
This makes sure the water has reached the roots, enabling them to absorb the necessary moisture for the leaves to return to normal after two or three watering cycles.
How frequently to water aloe varies on a number of factors, including environment, sunlight, and humidity, thus there is no set rule.
Depending on how quickly the soil dries out, you should water your aloe vera more frequently or less frequently.
Give the soil a good soak, then keep an eye on the moisture to determine how frequently to water your aloe based on your climate.
Feel the soil through the drainage hole at the pot’s base to determine its moisture content.
Delay watering for a few days if the soil is wet. This is the ideal time to water if the soil seems dry.
The aloe vera’s native environment, which has a downpour of rain followed by a time of drought, is replicated by the cycle of a good soak followed by soil that dries out. This cycle keeps the leaves plump and healthy while also preventing root rot.
For most regions, watering once every two weeks is usually sufficient, but because aloe vera can become dormant at different seasons of the year, the water requirement can change.
(Read my post on how to water aloe vera plants for specific instructions on how often and how much to water your aloe vera in Summer and Winter.)
Place the aloe vera pot into a bowl of water for 10 minutes to give the parched soil time to absorb the water and give the roots a nice drink, which will give the roots a head start on recovering so the curl leaves may heal as effectively as possible.
Water Repellent Soil Causing Leaves to Curl
Even when gardeners water their aloe plants according to best guidelines, drought stress can sometimes cause the leaves to curl.
This is typically because the aloe is planted in potting soil with peat, which as it dries out becomes hydrophobic (rejects water).
Certain potting soils can bake to a hard texture when the soil dries out between waterings (which is what aloe vera should do between waterings), which inhibits water from penetrating the soil and reaching the roots of your aloe vera.
The water then trickles out of the pot’s base after dripping off the soil’s top and down the pot’s side.
When the soil around the roots is dry, this can create the appearance that your aloe vera is receiving adequate watering.
Despite watering, the water-repellent soil eventually results in a prolonged dry spell, which causes the aloe vera leaves to curl inward and become thin instead of thick and plump.
How to Fix It
You should repot your aloe vera in a soil mixture that has good drainage if your current soil is peat- and water-resistant.
There are two trustworthy approaches to determine whether your soil’s surface deflects water.
- When watering, pay particular attention to see whether there is any indication that the water is permeating the soil or if nearly the same amount of water that you are using drains out the bottom of the pot, a sign that it is not permeating the soil sufficiently.
- Put a chopstick into the ground close to the root ball. If the chopstick is dry when it comes out, water is not permeating adequately.
Repot your aloe in a special succulent and cactus potting mix designed to mimic the well-draining soil features of the plant’s natural habitat (available at garden centers and on Amazon).
More grit and sand are included in succulent soil mixes, which enhance drainage and, more crucially, maintain the soil’s porous structure, which enables water to permeate the soil even after it has dried out.
In order to ensure that water reaches the roots while draining rapidly enough to prevent root rot, which is a typical issue for aloe vera, succulent soil mix aids in maintaining the ideal balance of moisture.
This enables the water to hydrate the curled-up leaves by getting to the aloe plant’s root.
The aloe can recover after one, two, or three watering cycles and grow new, healthy, plump leaves.
Indoor Aloe Vera Leaves Curling
While aloe vera leaves can curl whether they are indoors or outside, there are a number of reasons that can speed up the rate at which the plant dries out when aloe vera is grown indoors.
Since temperatures in the aloes’ natural habitat often cool off at night, air conditioning and forced air can considerably raise the temperature inside your home during that time.
This might cause the aloe leaves to curl inward because it can rob water from the leaves faster than the roots can ordinarily absorb it to maintain the ideal balance of moisture.
Additionally, because of the decreased humidity indoors, potting soil often dries up much more quickly than it does outside.
When planning your watering schedule, keep in mind that indoor aloe vera typically needs to be watered more frequently than outdoor aloe vera.
However, I must stress that general watering advice is useless because there are so many variables that can affect how quickly aloe vera dries out (causing the leaves to curl).
Before watering your aloe again, always employ the technique of monitoring soil moisture by feeling the soil through the drainage holes to determine whether the soil has dried out after its previous bout of watering.
This equilibrium keeps the leaves moist and guards against root rot.
The aloes leaves can regain their curled-up appearance in the following weeks with the recommended watering frequency.
(Read my post on how to determine whether your aloe plant is being overwatered or underwatered.)
Outdoor Aloe Vera Leaves Curling
To stop excessive wind from evaporating the moisture from the leaves of your aloe, try to find a more protected place.
The morning sun should be present for around 4-6 hours, followed by bright indirect light in the afternoon.
Aloes can dry out far more quickly under direct sunlight, which causes the leaves to curl inward.
The frequency of your watering should be increased to fit your climate, and you should always water deeply so that the leaves can recuperate.
To prevent issues with root rot, you should only water when the soil is dry.
(Read my article Why is my aloe vera plant not growing if your aloe vera is growing slowly.)
- Due to drought stress, aloe vera leaves bend inward. Aloe vera plants retain water in their leaves, which curl inward when the water is exhausted due to drought.
- When dried out, peat-containing soil can be water-repellent, preventing water from penetrating and reaching the roots of the aloe plant. The leaves begin to curl inward as a result of drought stress.
- Air conditioning and forced air indoors can quickly dry out your aloe, causing the leaves to curl inward. When there is excessive wind outside, the leaves dry out and curl inward.
- Water the aloe generously and according to the climate to revive it and stop the leaves from curling inward.
Can curled leaves go back to normal?
Your plant should be able to return to normal fairly soon if you find out what is causing the curling. However, if curled leaves do continue, it is best to remove them so that your plant can save its energy for the healthy leaves.
How do you fix an overwatered aloe plant?
Replace the potting soil with a gritty, well-draining mix, remove any leaves that are going brown or yellow, and trim back any roots that are too long. Then, wait until the soil is totally dry before watering the aloe plant again.
What does an overwatered aloe plant look like?
Overwatering of an aloe plant causes the leaves to become yellow or brown, become soft and mushy, and appear to be drooping. The roots decay and die back, appearing brown and emitting a foul odor. Native to the Arabian Peninsula, aloe plants thrive in poorly drained, rocky soils with infrequent rainfall.
How do I stop my leaves from curling?
Always let the top inch or two (about 2.5 to 5 cm) of soil dry out to prevent curled leaves brought on by too-wet soil. Use only pots that have holes for drainage. Never let your potted plant sit in water for an extended amount of time; instead, let the water drain entirely away after watering.