Too well-intentioned watering and waterlogging quickly causes the roots of succulent aloe vera to rot. Find out how to save your plant here.

detect root rot

The true aloe belongs to the desert plants that are originally native to the Arabian Peninsula and the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa. Its fleshy, gray-green leaves are able to store a lot of water, so that they can survive longer periods of drought unscathed. As a typical succulent, the desert lily only has a moderate water requirement. One of the most common diseases of aloe vera is root rot, also known as root smut or blackleg. The disease is life-threatening to the plant, so it’s important to take the right steps as soon as possible.

Causes & first signs

Fungi are usually responsible for the root rotting of aloe vera, but various bacteria can also be the culprit. Small amounts of these pathogens are found everywhere in garden soil and potting soil. They do not harm healthy plants. Only when the plant is weakened or the roots are damaged can fungi, bacteria and viruses penetrate the plant and spread there via the pathways. Infection is favored above all by:

  • waterlogging in the soil
  • cool temperatures (below 12 degrees)
  • wet leaf axils (watering over the leaves)

If there is a suspicion that the root is rotting, you should expose it. This is relatively easy with potted plants. Get the plant out of the container and remove as much of the soil as possible. At this point, wet soil and a musty smell can already be the first sign of waterlogging. Healthy roots are light beige in color and are firm and resilient. If the root strands are dark brown and soft, this is a clear sign of root rot. The infection spreads throughout the plant over time. Other symptoms of root damage include:

  • wilting of individual shoots
  • drooping leaves
  • Chlorosis due to lack of nutrients (discoloration of the leaves)
  • Damping-off (plant is wobbly in the pot)
  • Root tan (brown, dry root with a white tip)


Since there are so many different causes of rotting roots, it is usually difficult to identify the pathogen in each individual case. This is often only possible in a special laboratory. In addition, no agents against the harmful fungi and bacteria are approved or even available for the house and garden area.

Depending on how far the disease has progressed, there are three different methods of saving the plant from certain death:

removing the root

If the fleshy leaves are still firm and light green, you may be able to save the aloe vera by removing the root. Look closely at the roots. All mushy and brown parts must be cut out generously. Only use sharp, clean cutting tools for this. If most of the root has rotted, cut it off completely, leaving only a short piece of the root neck. Allow the interface to air dry for a few days before potting the plant in potting soil or special succulent soil with a high sand content. In any case, use a new pot and fresh soil so that you do not immediately reinfect the aloe vera with the pathogens. From now on, the succulent can only be watered sparingly.

Tip: Place the aloe vera in a sun-protected place for rooting to protect it from excessive evaporation.

Remove branch

If the root collar, i.e. the base of the plant, has already rotted, the measures described above are no longer successful. Since an aloe vera sprouts offshoots at a young age , you can use them for offspring. These offshoots usually form in the lower area on the side of the mother plant and consist of at least two to three leaves arranged in a rosette.

  • Substrate: potting soil, cactus soil
  • Alternative: all sandy substrates that drain water well
  • Planting depth: about 3 cm
  • Poke a hole with your finger or a spatula
  • Press the soil lightly
  • Location: warm and bright (without direct sun)
  • water very sparingly
  • do not fertilize

If the cutting begins to grow, this is a clear sign that roots have already formed. From this point on, you can treat the young plant like a fully grown aloe vera.

leaf cuttings

If there are no offshoots, it is still possible to take cuttings from the leaves to save the aloe. Find a firm, healthy-looking leaf and snap it off as far as possible at the base of the leaf. It is important to check whether the pathogens have already penetrated the shoot through the pathways. Healthy lines are light colored, diseased areas brown. Blot the interface with a clean cloth and let it air dry for a few days. The cutting may only be planted when a dense skin has formed over the wound. This is necessary to prevent bacteria and fungi from getting into the wound. When planting, proceed as described for the offshoots.

Note: Keep in mind that the cutting must live on the nutrients contained in the leaf until it is rooted. Therefore, it should have a minimum length of about ten centimeters.

preventive measures

In addition to an optimal location, the right watering behavior is particularly important for the health of the plant. Aloe vera is one of the succulents that can store moisture in its fleshy leaves and therefore requires relatively little water. Therefore, only water with low-lime water when the substrate feels dry. As soon as it gets colder, the desert plant goes into a dormant phase. To prevent the roots from rotting, the aloe bale should be really dry before you water it again.

  • Watering interval: about once a week during the growth phase
  • in hot weather: twice a week
  • better often a little than once too much
  • do not water the leaves
  • Check the planter for excess water
  • do not use used soil for repotting
  • only use sterile, clean pots

herbal extracts and teas

To prevent root rot, some extracts from plants show a good preventive effect. Of course, they only work if you don’t water too much at the same time.


  • ½ cup chamomile flowers or 3 tea bags
  • 1 liter of water
  • Leave for 1 day, strain
  • Use in a 1:5 dilution as irrigation water

Horsetail broth

  • 1 kg fresh field horsetail (roughly chopped)
  • 10 liters of water
  • Boil 30 minutes
  • leave for 1 day
  • Application: Pouring with 1:5 diluted broth

garlic extract

  • 300 g fresh garlic
  • 5 liters of hot water
  • leave for 1 day
  • Application: 1:3 dilution (pot dip)

frequently asked Questions

Under optimal conditions, it takes about two weeks for the first tender roots to form. A good rooting of the plant or its cuttings can be expected after about 30 to 40 days.

If after a while the cutting is able to absorb water and nutrients through a stable root system, it begins to sprout a small green shoot at the base. A new aloe vera plant then grows from this.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *