Dry Aloe Tips
Carol Bradford of the Syracuse Post-Standard makes a good point. We often get people asking if they’re overwatering or underwatering when succulent leaves fall off, and it can be caused by either! It’s hard to explain that to people, but Carol does a good job.
Dear Carol: I have a large (Aloe vera). How do I keep the ends of the leaves from turning brown and shriveling up? — N.C., Camillus.
A: …When the leaf tips turn brown, either too much water is being lost or not enough water is being pulled up. The tips are affected first because they are the farthest from the roots and are supplied last.
The possible causes are air that is too dry, soil that is too dry or an inadequate root system. The root system may be too small, especially in a container. The roots of succulents normally spread widely. The root system may be damaged by too much water or by too much fertilizer….
Too much water can cause the roots to rot off and then the plant is not getting enough water to the leaf ends, even though you’ve over-watered. Try explaining this to someone without seeing the plant. Now I know how.
On the other hand if they bring the plant in for us to see, usually we can tell the difference, since leaftip damage from underwater will look brown and crispy while from overwater it will look black and rotty.