When we grow plants we want them to thrive. Hence if we see anything atypical on the leaves of our Aloe, for example white spots (that haven’t been there before), we wonder what’s going on, and whether we should take any action. The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems, since white spots can appear on your Aloe Plant from several reasons. In this post we will analyze three main causes, responsible for vast majority of “white spots incidents” with Aloes.
Before we dive into details, let me give you a quick answer. White spots may appear on your Aloe from the following three reasons: Lack of sunlight (especially if the plant was used to certain amount of sunlight and doesn’t get it anymore), lack of certain nutrients (this happen most often after you repot the plant, and use a different soil, but it can be also a result of prolonged over-watering), natural changes in the color of Aloe (more on it in a second).
I will analyze each cause, helping you to identify the culprit, and take the right action. Before that, however, I want to emphasize one thing: Each plant is unique (just as each human being). Pay attention to your plant, and try to understand it. It will help you not only to identify the root of the problem, but also to take care of it as well as possible.
White spots are natural for certain species of Aloe plant family
When thinking about Aloe, most people imagine Aloe Vera, the famous medicinal plant, renowned for its use in skin-care and wellness industry. However, you should realize that we know more than 500 plant species belonging to Aloe plant family, and many plants branded as “Aloe” in your favorite brick and mortar store, or even online, are not Aloe Vera.
Many of Aloe species actually have whites spots on their leaves. So the first thing you should do is inspecting the label on the pot (if there’s any), and identifying the exact type of Aloe you have at home. Then you can Google the exact Latin name, and check the pictures, ideally from respectable botanist websites. You may end up surprised that the Aloe you have at home is actually one of the Aloes with white spots :).
What may confuse some people is that with some Aloe species, the white spots do not appear on the plant immediately, from a very young age. They develop just later, as your plant gets a bit older, which can create some wrinkles on your face, because we people are always afraid of changes. As I said though, in this case the white spots can be completely natural, and you do not need to take any action. Just enjoy the spectacle…
Lack of light as the most common reason for white spots on Aloe plant
If you rule out the first cause (natural coloring of the plant), or are 100% sure you have Aloe Vera, then you should think about the amount of light you give to your plant. Aloes are native to semi-desert areas, and they grow in places with strong sun, and lack of clouds. Of course, Aloe from the store is not the same as some wild Aloe, but the genetics does not differ that much. Now two things can happen. First, you generally give your plant little light over an extended period, for example keeping it in a bathroom or in an office with no windows. In such a case, white spots on leaves will appear.
The second case is a bit more tricky to comprehend, since it relates to relative changes of sunlight your Aloe gets. Let me explain it. Maybe you bought your Aloe and have it in a room where it gets decent 6 hours of indirect sunlight, placed near a window. It may seem that’s enough, and no reason for white spots. However, the following thing can be the case: In the shop where they had the Aloe before you bought it, they placed it in the courtyard, exposed to full sun, for entire days. The plant “got accustomed” to such generous amount of sunlight, and do not find the six hours of indirect light it gets in your house satisfactory. As a result white spots appear on the plant.
Luckily for you the remedy is quite simple here. You just need to place your Aloe to a different location in the house (or outside of it), treating it with more sun. If you do so, the white spots will disappear.
Lack of nutrients as the most tricky cause of white spots on Aloe plant
In a certain way plants do not differ much from us humans. Just as we do need certain nutrients to feel good and look healthy, so do plants. When we humans lack Calcium and Zinc, for example, white spots will appear on our nails. And when Aloe lacks certain nutrients, white spots may appear on the leaves. But how is that possible, and what causes this?
Lack of nutrients can happen for several reasons. All of them are quite common, and they happen mostly to inexperienced succulent growers (we all need to learn the hard way after all :)). Let me cite the main reasons:
- Bad soil mix. Aloe is a succulent, and you should not plant it in typical garden soil or even some substrate for tomatoes or lettuce. Go with soil for succulents instead (you can get it on Amazon for example), for optimal nutrients content for succulents.
- Repotting the plant insensitively. Changing the pot without cleaning the roots of the Aloe of excessive dirt, or placing it from one type of soil to another, or including some strange substance in the soil mix can result in either lack of nutrients or plant’s inability to gather them from the soil.
- Prolonged over-watering. If you drown your Aloe in water for too long, the roots will rot, and they will lose their ability to transport water and nutrients to the body of the plant. In such a case it doesn’t matter what soil you have, or even if you fertilize the plant (which I do not recommend). The amount of nutrients in the soil doesn’t matter in this case, since the roots cannot transfer them to the plant anymore, and it will suffer from lack of nutrients.
How to deal with white spots on Aloe die to lack of nutrients
Obviously each of the three causes is different, and needs a different remedy. The first one (bad soil) is the easiest one to address. Just repot the plant. You can even use the same pot, the key is to just get the right soil mix this time, the one for succulents, or even for Aloes in particular (I’ve seen once a soil mix branded as ideal for Aloes, but maybe it was just a marketing trick).
The second cause–insensitive repotting, may be a bit harder to address, depending on the damage done to the plant and its roots in the process. But you can again try to repot it afresh, this time cleaning the roots, and cutting away any damaged parts, giving the plant a fresh start. This time around make sure you do not experiment with strange materials in the soil.
The third cause of lack of nutrients, over-watering, is the hardest to address. If it’s been going on for too long and the entire root system has rotten, your only option may be throwing the plant away and starting with a new one. With over-watering, prevention is the best cure. Make sure to plant your new Aloe in a pot with a drainage hole, using the right soil. And observe the right watering schedule for your Aloe. If you stick to these three rules, you should not lose your new Aloe to over-watering.
As you can see now, white spots can appear on your Aloe plant for a variety of reasons. Some of them are easy to address and some are not, and in some cases the white spots are completely natural and you should not worry. The key is to keep an eye of your plant, spot the problems early, and act on them. I hope it helps, and wish you good luck with your Aloe!
May also interest you: