Can An Aloe Plant Get Too Much Sun?

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Why is your aloe sick? “Too much sun” is rarely the first diagnosis that comes to mind, am I right? We hardly ever think that too much light could be giving our aloe a problem, often overlooking it as a cause of sickness for a couple of different reasons:

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Can An Aloe Plant Get Too Much Sun?

1. In Africa The Sun Shines Strong

The continent of Africa is no stranger to the sun!  Since aloes are native to Africa, they are used to growing in a hot, arid climate created by the intense sun. It therefore makes sense to assume that your aloe can not only withstand but thrive in a lot of sun. Worrying about whether your plant is getting too much sun seems futile; your energy is better off spent elsewhere–or so it seems!

2. Aloes Thrive in Direct Sunlight

Because of aloe’s reputation as a African-living plant, it is associated with loving the sun. And plant experts fuel that belief by recommending that you keep your plant on a windowsill where it will receive direct sunlight. Although aloes can grow in slightly shaded areas, it needs a decent amount of sun to really thrive. Especially if you want to see flowers on your houseplant, you’ll give your aloe plenty of light.

3. If they Heal Our Sunburns, they Must be Immune to Getting Sunburns Themselves, Right?

Aloe is perhaps most well-known for its ability to provide sunburn relief; it is the plant that comes to your aid when you’ve stayed out in the sun a little too long and begin peeling from overexposure to the sun! But just because aloe can reduce the pain of getting a little crispy does not mean it is immune from getting too much sun itself. An aloe plant responds to too much sun just like we do: bring on that sunburn!

So there you have it: a list of myths that keep aloe-growers from thinking too much sun could be killing their plant. Sun overload is an easily fixable problem for any plant–but not when you don’t it’s the problem. Don’t let your aloe shrivel up from the sun when it doesn’t have to. Recognize the symptoms of sun overdose, and act quickly to get your aloe out of the sun and on to the road of recovery!

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  1. Teresa Owen says

    My Aloe ‘s leaves are quite flat – they are also quite fat and have white blotches down the whole leaf – not all of them but some – any suggestions please

  2. Tijmen says

    I did not get much clarity from this post – now can aloes get too much sun or not? You talk about ‘three myths’, but they seem like truths to me. I’m confused, which is not what you wanted to achieve with the post I suppose.. I suggest you rewrite the post.

    • Jason says

      I agree with this previous commenter.

      I have received virtually no information as to the how’s and why’s of when an Aloe is exposed to too much sun. Nor have I been given any pertinent information in regards to how to rectify an issue of too much sun exposure and or working within some sort of guideline as to how much sun exposure to provide the plant.

      I came out of this article with nothing more than I went in with.

  3. Aloes4luvers says

    I’m with aloe fan, too much negativity in the comments guys! This is about celebrating aloe! Thanks for all the good information!

  4. dave says

    The other posters aren’t generating hate they’re simply stating the truth. The article doesn’t really give any useful information. When someone reads and article on gardening, they suppose they will receive something worthwhile instead of just wasting their time.

    For some useful reference, I have two aloes that I bought from a gardening store this past spring 2015. They were about 8 inches across when I purchased them. The tag on them said to only give them 3-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. I put them on my back porch steps all summer which has southern exposure, but shade from an overhead cherry tree and distant row of pines. They were probably receiving 5-7 hours of Sun and thrived very well. They are in pots that are 14-16″ across now and the leaves now have a span of about 24-30″. I have cut several leaves off of the bottom of them and used them for burns. They worked wonderfully.

    A word of caution though. I brought them in for the winter and put them in a western facing window where they receive less direct Sun as well as less overall light. They are doing well in their dormant state however I have kept the soil around the stem a little too wet and as a result have had a few of the lower leaves fall off easily to the touch, with brown soggy material where the leaves connect to the stalk. This is presumably due to root rot. I have started watering them less (about once every 2 weeks) instead of once a week or more, and expect to see improvement.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Sarah says

    I live in the heat and sun of AZ. I have three flourishing aloe potted plants that sit just under the shade of a porch facing southeastish. During the winter, spring and fall time periods they do just fine where they are with about 50% direct sun and a good soaking of water about once a week.

    However, come the blistering heat and sun of the summer, if I leave them in the direct sunlight for too long, the plants start to turn brown. I then move them in the shade with just a bit of the morning sun and they immediately recover from the sun. I water when the soil appears to be dry and never fertilize them because mine are flourishing like a well kept lawn.

    They are a very low maintenance plant and seem to do quite well with a northern exposure of sun. Mine never see temps less than 30 degrees so I do not know how well they would do in the high desert if repeatedly exposed to freezing temperatures. Hope this gives more clarity to the article.

  6. David says

    Thank you Sarah, that explains it! Yes, if you live in the subtropical or tropical zones, the aloe may get too much intense sunlight during the summer. But when I lived in London, I didn’t think an aloe could suffer too much heat there. However, an aloe I had in a pot which I put in an enclosed southwest facing porch did seem to suffer a bit, after several days of clear sunny weather in July. The temperature must have got up to 45 centigrade or more (115F) inside the porch.
    I also wonder if there are other varieties sold, other than Aloe vera, some of which might be less tolerant of heat or sunlight?

  7. Joe says

    I don’t get it, If they can’t withstand direct sunlight then why are there plenty in the desert where they get no shade or plantations that aren’t covered? Either different types of plants or something to do with the soil.

  8. Kia says

    As one of the other commentors mentioned, I also live in Arizona, in the Phoenix area. Please understand that our subtropical Sonoran desert is one of the hottest deserts on the planet. Although beating out Libya is a bit controversial for the hottest spot on Earth, Palm Springs in Death Valley (along the western border of the Sonoran desert) now holds the record for the hottest _air_, or atmospheric temperature ever recorded on the planet, at 134 F/56.7 C (134 F in the shade…!). In the Phoenix area we don’t get up into the 130s (we are at 1250 feet or so in elevation, which is probably the only reason we don’t get up to the 130s, remember Death Valley is -below- sea level), but we do get up to 118 or so every summer (in the shade…), and every few years up into the 120s (low 50s C). The sun out here is monstrous, even in winter (the slight elevation probably enhances the sun at least a bit).

    On a South-facing balcony in late October (it’s currently reaching the high 90s to 100 F/ 38 C still in October – perfectly normal for here), I just totally killed an aloe nobilis by accident. The sun killed it in one day – I had moved it from another spot and I picked the wrong place. Because this balcony faces south, even though it’s covered, it gets bombarded with a ton of sunshine as fall progresses to winter, here. One day, just ONE day, and it immediately began to sun rot – no pretty red or brown color, just from green to dead in a day (well it did take a few days for the sun rot to spread completely through the plant, but it only spent one day in that spot before I moved it into shade hoping it could somehow bounce back – no luck with that).

    So YES, you can definitely kill an aloe from too much sun, if you live in the right place for it. :P. In fact not much will heartily grow on my balcony aside from spekboom (portulacaria afra), kokerboom (Quiver Tree – and it likes some shade in the afternoon), and my nooienskokerboom (Maiden’s Quiver tree – also likes some shade in the afternoon). Only the spekboom will survive a hanging basket in full sun at the edge of the south-facing balcony. I would call its heat tolerance extreme – I really love spekboom, and it’s a great salad green, too (too bad there are not many elephants around here to enjoy it…they love spekboom!). I think one of the reasons I really love it is because it will not die in the sun here, lol.

    Oh, did I mention the sun shining on the south side of my home, shining on the south-facing balcony, is hot enough to melt plastic hanging plant baskets? No joke. Melted like it had been in a fire. No more plastic – it melts in the sun! When I bought this home I didn’t change out the crappy plastic blinds on the master bedroom’s south-facing window…and the sun melted them like I’d had a fire. I replaced them with wood blinds (and briefly wondered if it could get hot enough to light even them on fire, lol, but apparently it’s not quite hot enough for that – a lot of people use wood blinds here because of their sun resistance and great blackout ability).

    In my experience (yes I’ve travelled to South Africa/Namibia/Tanzania), Southern Africa is just chilly by comparison. ;-)

  9. Jack St. George says

    I recently bought an Aloe Vera plant and when I got it it was orange to light brown on the half of the leaves and the leave are curved I took it out of the sun because I thought it was receiving to much sun. Is there anything else I can do?

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