Easy to maintain, yet visual stunners-snake plants!
As plant expert and founder at Beards & Daisies, Jo Lambell points out: “Don’t let the name fool you though, as there’s nothing sly about snake plants. They’re actually one of the best plants for beginners as they’re so incredibly easy to care for.”
However, even the most resilient plants can have problems from time to time- from yellowing leaves, or stunted growth to random brown spots, there are a number of issues that can crop up.
In this article, I’ll go over 7 common snake plant problems, as well as what you can do to fix them. Let’s dive in!
1. Soft and Mushy Leaves
If you touch a healthy snake plant leaf, you will notice that it’s quite stiff. This is due to the high concentration of saponins in the leaves, which act as a natural defense against predators.
However, if you notice that your snake plant leaves are soft and mushy, this is a sign that something is wrong. The most common cause of mushy leaves is too much water.
Overwatering can cause excessive moisture in the leaves, which leads to root rot and the leaves turning mushy. Eventually, the insides of the leaves will also start to disintegrate, turning them into a mushy mess.
If you think your snake plant is overwatered, the best course of action is to let the soil dry out completely before watering again. You can also remove any mushy leaves to help prevent the spread of rot.
Overwatering is not the only cause of mushy leaves. If your snake plant’s pot does not have drainage holes, this can also lead to waterlogged soil and mushy leaves. To fix this problem, simply repot your snake plant in a pot with drainage holes and make sure to only water it when the soil is completely dry.
Lastly, humidity can also be a factor in causing mushy leaves. If you live in an area with high humidity, it’s important to make sure your snake plant is getting enough air circulation. Place it near an open window or door, or use a fan to help circulate the air around it.
2. Brown Spots on Leaves
Snake plants are known for their vividly green leaves, so it can be quite a shock when you start to see brown spots forming on them.
There are a few reasons why brown spots might appear on your snake plant leaves. The most common is physical damage, which can happen if the leaves get rubbed against something or are pricked by a sharp object.
Unfortunately, once physical damage occurs, there is no way to reverse it. The best you can do is to remove any damaged leaves and make sure that your plant is not being exposed to any more potential hazards.
Another possible cause of brown spots on snake plant leaves is extreme changes in temperature. If your plant is exposed to frost, it can freeze the cells in the leaves, causing them to die and turn brown.
Again, this damage is irreversible, but you can prevent it from happening in the future by keeping your snake plant in a warm spot that is protected from drafts.
Besides physical damage and extreme temperatures, brown spots on leaves can also be caused by a fungal disease called leaf spot. This is most common in snake plants that are overwatered or grown in humid conditions.
To prevent leaf spot, make sure to water your plant only when the soil is dry and increase the air circulation around it by placing it near an open window or using a fan. If the problem is severe, you can also treat your plant with a fungicide.
3. Mushy and Brown Roots
I talked about mushy and brown leaves a few sections back, but mushy and brown roots are a whole other story. If you’re repotting your snake plant and notice that the roots are mushy or brown, that’s definitely something you shouldn’t ignore.
There are a few possible reasons why your plant’s roots might be in bad shape. One possibility is that you’re overwatering your plant. As I explained before, snake plants don’t like to sit in wet soil. If the roots are sitting in water for too long, they will start to rot.
To fix this problem, be sure to use a pot with drainage holes and only water your plant when the soil is dry. You may also need to repot your plant into fresh, dry soil.
Another possibility is that your plant is suffering from a disease or pest infestation. If the roots are mushy and brown, it’s possible that they’ve been infected with a fungal disease or attacked by pests. This is usually caused by using soil straight from the garden.
If you think your plant might be diseased or infested, the best thing to do is to repot it into fresh, sterile potting mix. This will help get rid of any pests or diseases that might be present.
You should also trim off the affected areas of the roots. This will help prevent the disease or infestation from spreading to the rest of the plant.
4. Stunted Growth
Snake plants aren’t exactly the fastest growers out there, but if you notice that your plant’s growth has suddenly slowed down or stopped altogether, this is definitely a cause for concern.
If your snake plant’s leaves haven’t grown in the past few days or weeks, that’s normal. However, if it’s been more than 1.5-2 months since your plant has put out any new growth, something is definitely wrong.
One possible reason for stunted growth is the size of the pot. If your snake plant is pot bound (i.e., the roots are filling up the pot and have nowhere to go), it will stop growing.
To fix this problem, you’ll need to repot your plant into a larger pot. Be sure to use a pot that has drainage holes to prevent overwatering.
If the size of the pot isn’t the issue, then it’s possible that your plant isn’t getting enough light. Snake plants need bright, indirect light to thrive. If your plant is in a dark corner or isn’t getting enough sunlight, it will stop growing.
Move your plant to a brighter spot and see if that helps. You may also need to supplement with artificial light if there’s not enough natural light available.
Finally, stunted growth can be caused by a lack of nutrients. If your plant isn’t getting enough nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, it will stop growing. Fertilize your plant with a balanced fertilizer containing all three of these nutrients and see if that helps.
5. Bending or Drooping Leaves
The upright and stiff leaves of snake plants are one of the things that make them so unique. So, it can be concerning when you notice that the previously proud and erect leaves are starting to bend or droop.
There are a few different reasons why this might be happening. One possibility is that the plant is not getting enough light. Snake plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight, so if yours is not getting enough light, it will start to stretch out in an attempt to reach the sun.
Overwatering can also cause snake plant leaves to droop. If the roots of the plant are sitting in water, they will start to rot, which will make it difficult for the plant to absorb nutrients and water from the soil. This can cause the leaves to droop and eventually die.
If you think your snake plant’s leaves are drooping due to a lack of light, move it to a brighter location. If you think it’s due to overwatering, let the soil dry out completely before watering again.
6. Yellow Leaves
While some yellowing of snake plant leaves is normal, especially as the plant gets older, if all of the leaves are turning yellow, this is a sign that something is wrong.
One possible reason for yellow leaves is a lack of nutrients. If your plant is not getting enough nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, the leaves will start to turn yellow.
To fix this problem, fertilize your snake plant with a balanced fertilizer that contains all three of these nutrients.
Another possible reason for yellow leaves is – you guessed it – overwatering. If the roots of your plant are sitting in water, they will start to rot, thus blocking the flow of nutrients to the leaves. This will cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.
Pests can also be the culprits behind yellow leaves. Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites are all common pests that can infest snake plants and cause the leaves to turn yellow.
If you think pests are the problem, inspect your plant carefully and look for any small insects or webs. Prune off any affected leaves and treat the plant with an insecticide.
7. Curling Leaves
As I’m sure you know, snake plants typically have stiff, upright leaves that stand tall and proud. So, if you notice that the leaves of your snake plant are curling or twisting, this is definitely a cause for concern.
There are a few different reasons why curling leaves might occur. One possibility is overfertilization. Snake plants aren’t really the demanding type and don’t need a lot of fertilizer (or any fertilizer, really) to thrive.
If you’ve been fertilizing your snake plant regularly, it’s possible that you’ve been giving it too much fertilizer, which can cause the leaves to curl. Cut back on fertilizing and see if that helps.
Too much or too little water can also cause snake plant leaves to curl. If you’re underwatering your plant, the leaves will start to curl in an effort to conserve water. On the other hand, if you’re overwatering your plant, the leaves may curl as a result of water stress.
The best way to determine whether you’re watering your plant too much or too little is to check the soil. The soil should be moist but not soggy. If it feels dry, water your plant. If it feels wet or mushy, wait a few days before watering again.
How Much Light Does a Snake Plant Need?
Snake plants are pretty tough plants that can tolerate a wide range of light conditions. However, they do best in bright, indirect light.
If you live in a colder climate, your snake plant can probably handle direct sunlight for a few hours each day. However, if you live in a hotter climate or if your plant is getting too much direct sunlight, the leaves will start to bleach out and turn yellow.
If this happens, simply move your plant to a spot that gets indirect/indoor light. Your plant will soon recover and start to look green and healthy again.
Snake plants are a dream come true for busy, forgetful plant parents. These tough plants can survive everything, from low light to infrequent watering. However, even the toughest plant can run into problems from time to time.
If you notice any of the seven problems I’ve listed above, don’t ignore them! These problems can quickly kill your plant if they’re left untreated. By addressing the problem early, you can save your plant and get it back to good health in no time.