If you happen to be a gardener, you will know that a garden is often the site of interesting anomalies. Sometimes they happen to be inexplicable, while on other occasions, you can easily explain them.
It is a natural occurrence- the plant kingdom functions in ways that are impossible to align to one universal rule.
There are several reasons why a plant, fruit, or flower may exhibit an uncharacteristic appearance or behavior- it could result from the climate, a disease, the soil quality, the quality of manure, etc.
A little research can help you figure out the cause and, almost always, a solution.
Why is my aloe vera plant turning red?
Aloe vera plants are fond of shade. An aloe vera plant turning red is a consequence of exposure to excessive sunlight and sometimes a combination of too much sun and too little water.
Aloe leaves are delicate and prone to getting burned easily. They change color slowly- going from green to red.
Bringing the plant back in the shade can reverse the effect, but only if done with immediacy. Otherwise, the leaves proceed to wilt and turn brittle.
An adaptation to light
The color-changing characteristic that aloe vera exhibits is a coping mechanism performed by the leaves of the plant in the face of excessive light. Think of it as a suntan- an exterior phenomenon that serves as an indicator depicting a change in hue.
The pigment comes from a chemical named anthocyanin that trees generate during autumn. It is a protective reagent that shields the leaf body and cell membranes from sun damage.
The shades of red acquired by the leaves can differ- sometimes it is just a light brick color while other times it is a flaming scarlet.
A tinge of red is a welcome event- it symbolizes the presence of adequate sunshine. Too much, and the leaves start to turn brown. That should sound the alarm bells on your radar.
Conversely, in the absence of enough illumination ( all plants require light), the leaves turn a paler shade of green.
A continuing state of darkness starts to turn the center of the plant whitish, while the fronds and branches start to extend towards any available source of light.
Discounting the light factor, which constitutes the primary reason why aloe vera plants turn red, other factors cause it.
A color change is essentially a response to stress, a changing environment. Once a resolution is found and implemented, the color changes back to its usual green.
Too much water is never a good thing. Overwatering causes the roots to turn soggy, the soil might not be able to drain correctly, and the leaves undergo rapid discoloration. Contrary to the discoloration caused by light, which is reversible, this kind is not.
It is, therefore, imperative to keep in mind that overwatering can damage your aloe vera plant for good.
Even when watering in response to leaves turning red or brown upon exposure to sunlight, always be judicious.
Water an aloe plant every two or four weeks during the growing season. Check to test the moisture content of the soil in the pot; only water when the soil is more than three-quarters dry.
An excellent way to ascertain if an aloe plant needs water is the leaf test.
Check to see if the edges of the leaves are wrinkling slightly. Taut leaves are indicators of cell membranes that extend as a result of adequate water content.
Note: Aloe vera plants are easily susceptible to cold weather. Remember to regulate your watering schedule during the winter months.
3. Soil specifications
Waterlogged soil is Aloe Vera kryptonite. Aloe plants grow in a natural habitat of well-drained, light soil- a requirement that allows easy absorption of water by the root system.
If the soil is non-porous, there will not be effective absorption. A lot of moisture will remain inside the soil. The latter can prove to be quite deadly and lead to mushy roots and discolored leaves.
The ideal soil for aloe vera is a store-bought cactus mix. It is light, quick-draining, just slightly alkaline.
Customization is entirely possible- depending on where you are growing the plants and how many of them you are planning to grow. Add in humus and other organic material to make the soil nutritious.
A thoughtful way to modify moisture-retaining soil is by adding to it soil finely mashed gravel and coarse pebbles. It spaces out the soil particles and deters cohesion.
4. Salt Reaction
The discoloration is often a reaction to the presence of salts in the soil. Mineral content in soil is a natural phenomenon and a necessary one.
However, too many salts, often a result of overfertilization, can alter the chemical constitution of the soil. A buildup burns the sensitive roots and eventually leads to a chemical discoloration.
An easy solution to preventing this is regular flushing. You have to water the aloe plant in a way that the toxins are flushed, leaving the soil free of substances that can potentially affect the plant’s natural color.
There are downsides to using too much fertilizer.
Aloes are accustomed to small portions of feeding and significant gaps in between. Discoloration of the leaves is a reaction often observed in cases of overfeeding.
Botanists have several theories, one of which states that the change in leaf color results from shock.
A liquid form of fertilizer makes for a more accessible application than a stable version. The liquid is wont to get absorbed more thoroughly by the soil, making for a lower chance of clogging.
Organic fertilizers are the preferable alternative, owing to the absence of harsh chemical components.
Note: Remember to water the plant and the soil well in advance of fertilization. The presence of moisture acts as a shield and works towards protecting the plant from fertilizer shock to a certain extent.
Follow a fertilization schedule, one that lines with the growing season.
As mentioned earlier, leaves changing color is often a result of stress. Displacement, or repotting, causes a shift in the plant’s immediate surroundings, even if temporarily.
Allow the plant time to settle. In the meantime, you can take some measures to make a move easier.
An absence of water-absorbent roots makes it essential to keep a watchful eye on moisture. Regulate it to the best of your ability. A shady environment is considered ideal during this time and allows the plant to heal fully.
What is Temperature Stress? Does it hold for cold weather too?
Temperature stress, in the case of aloe vera plants, is a phenomenon that causes stress in a plant- a consequence of an extremity in temperature.
And while we know that this holds for warm weather and overexposure to light, the same applies to colder climes.
A simple way to explain this is by considering the pigment anthocyanin, a protective reagent used to shield leaf bodies from temperature changes.
It turns red upon exposure to light, as it also does when the temperature dips. The reds may vary slightly, with the latter having more than a hint of purple.
As the article has elucidated clearly, aloe vera plants having leaves that turn red are not uncommon. There are several reasons why- it could be any, or, in a worst-case scenario, all.
However, this is no reason to fret. There are easy resolutions for most of the points mentioned, and a little research is sure to put this right.