What happens when you lose track of how much time you’ve spent outside, forget to reapply that sunscreen or just overestimate your tolerance to sunlight? You burn. But this reaction to the sun is not unique to humans: if overexposed to light, plants can burn too. When an aloe gets too much sun, its symptoms will resemble those of a typical sunburn: it becomes dry and turns a nice crispy color. Although an aloe is most susceptible to burning when placed under artificial light and not positioned far enough away from the hot bulb, your aloe can also soak up too many natural rays and start to shrivel when placed on a windowsill in direct sunlight. Who knew an aloe plant, being native to hot Africa, could get too much sun! And no matter why your plant begins to burn, it is important to recognize the symptoms of sun poisoning so you can do something about it. Your aloe’s life depends on it!
Aloe Vera and Sun: Symptoms of Sunburn
If you think your aloe might be getting too much sun, here are some things to be on the lookout for:
- leaves turning red or brown (especially the tips)
- brown spots on the leaves (sunspots!)
- faded, pale green color of the leaves
- dry soil that requires watering more than once a week
Too Much Sun? How to Recover Your Plant
When you realize your aloe is suffering from too much sun, your first instincts are probably the right ones: get it out of the sun! To be more specific, you’ll want to
- remove your aloe from direct sunlight.
To do this, move your aloe away from the window–if that’s where it has been living. Sit it on a tabletop in the middle of a room for a few days. If your aloe has been growing under artificial lights, however, you need to take different steps to get it growing green again. First, you can approach the situation by creating a greater distance between your aloe and the lightbulb. If your plant continue to brown, give it a break from artificial lighting; it might be too intense for its needs. Let it soak up some natural light instead!
Another action you should take when you notice your aloe with sunburn symptoms is to
- give your plant some H2O!
Chances are, if your aloe has been getting too much sunlight it is also low on water. Although aloes do not usually need to be watered a ton (no more than once a week, normally), pay attention to its water needs when you suspect it is getting too much sun. It might need a bit more than usual to get back on the right foot. Removing it from direct sunlight might not be enough!
If It’s Not Too Much Sun, It Could Be…
If you try removing your plant from direct sunlight and it still looks brown and sickly, you might have a different problem on your hands. Underwatering is another big reason your aloe could be drying out. Because water reaches the tip of leaves last, it will be the first to go bad–or brown, in this case. So if you try treating your aloe for a sun overdose, but fail to see adequate results, try giving it some water.