Snake Plant Leaves Curling, Falling, Turning Yellow or Brown - Reasons & Solutions

By: Matt Slaymaker
November 29, 2023
Snake Plant Leaves Curling, Drooping or Turning Yellow and Brown
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In the intricate world of snake plants, leaves speak volumes, revealing hints of distress or delight. If you’ve noticed your snake plant leaves turning yellow, curling, or drooping, fear not - you’re not alone.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into common leaf issues, such as yellowing, browning, curling, and drooping.

Unravel the mysteries, understand the signals, and empower yourself with the knowledge to restore your snake plant’s vibrancy. 

From identifying the causes to implementing solutions, let’s embark on a journey to decode the language of your snake plant’s leaves and foster a thriving indoor garden. 

What Is the Life Cycle of a Snake Plant?

In this section, we’ll help you understand the snake plant’s life cycle, exploring various stages from a single leaf cutting to a flourishing green companion. Discover the secrets behind its growth, propagation, and the cycles that make the snake plant a resilient and enduring presence in your home green space.

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Understanding Snake Plant Growth and Maturity

Snake plants are slow-growing plants that can grow between 4 and 24 inches per year, depending on the sub-species and the conditions. They can reach their mature size in 5 to 10 years.

Under optimal conditions, Sansevierias can grow up to 2-3 feet high or 2-3 inches wide per year.  

Snake plants can be propagated from cuttings, which take 3 to 4 weeks to root and 4 to 6 weeks to start growing. 

Here are some growth and maturity examples of different snake plant varieties:

  • Futura Robusta Snake Plant: You can expect Futura Robusta to grow to be about 24 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. 
  • Futura Superba Snake Plant: This will grow to be about 12 to 18 inches tall, but can reach a maximum height of around 24 inches. 
  • Zeylanica Snake Plant: This plant can reach a maximum height of around 3 feet, but is more commonly found at heights ranging from 1 to 2 feet. 
  • Laurentii Snake Plant: Leaves of a variegated Laurentii snake plant can grow from 3 to 4 feet tall. It grows around 4 to 12 inches per year. 
  • Sansevieria Moonshine: The broad leaves of Moonshine snake plant typically reach an ultimate height of up to 2 feet and 3 to 4 inches wide. 
  • Black Coral Snake Plant: Black Coral is another slow-growing snake plant and typically reaches 30 to 40 inches.  

The Importance of Distinguishing Natural Snake Plant Aging from Problems

Differentiating between natural aging and potential problems in your snake plant is essential for providing optimal care. As snake plants mature, older leaves naturally yellow and may eventually wither, making it crucial to recognize these signs as a part of your plant’s life cycle. 

By discerning between normal aging and issues like disease or stress, you can tailor your snake plant care routine appropriately, ensuring a thriving and resilient Sansevieria plant that adds enduring greenery to your indoor space. Your understanding of the difference allows you to respond effectively, promoting the longevity and vitality of your beloved snake plant.

Snake Plant Leaves Issues: Reasons & Solutions

Let's delve into the intricate world of snake plant leaf issues, deciphering the reasons behind common concerns like yellowing, browning, curling, and drooping leaves.

Equip yourself with some insightful solutions, empowering you to address these leafy quirks and ensure your snake plant thrives with vibrant, resilient foliage.

Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

 

When your snake plant’s leaves start to turn yellow, it is usually an indication that there is an imbalance of water or nutrients in the plant. 

Nutritional Deficiencies & Overfertilizing in Winter

Snake plants are pretty tough, but they do require fertilization during the growing season to remain healthy. 

If your plant is suffering from nutrient deficiencies, you can use a magnesium-rich fertilizer or apply Epsom salt to the potting mix. However, it is a fine balance you need to find as snake plants can also suffer when overfertilized.  

You should only feed your snake plant at the beginning of the growing season, early spring to late summer. When it receives too much fertilizer, it might suffer from fertilizer toxicity, also known as fertilizer burn.  

The solution is to: 

  • Remove any infected roots using sterilized scissors or a knife.
  • Remove affected leaves to help your plant direct energy to new, healthy growth.
  • Repot the snake plant in fresh, well-draining soil suitable for succulents.  

Overwatering & Poor Soil Drainage

Overwatering is the most common cause of yellowing leaves and can lead to root rot and bacterial infection. The quickest path to recovery is to replace the soggy soil with fresh potting mix. However, if root rot has set in, you’ll need to treat the plant with a fungicide 

Snake plants require effective drainage to prevent issues like root rot and salt buildup. To improve your plant’s drainage, you should: 

  • Choose a terracotta pot as these allow water to drain from the bottom, as well as absorb moisture and temperature changes.
  • Find a suitable soil composition. Adding additional perlite to a peat-based potting mixture improves drainage. Alternatively, opt for a well-draining soil mix designed for succulents.
  • Your snake plant’s pot should have at least one drainage hole, but preferably multiple ones depending on the size of the pot. 
  • Sand, peat, or vermiculite can also be added to the soil to improve drainage.     

Light Levels: Overexposure to Bright Light

If your snake plant has too much or not enough exposure to natural light, it will be weak, and compromised, and its leaves may turn yellow.  

Your snake plant will grow best somewhere with moderate lighting so that they can continue with photosynthesis undisturbed.

Pest Issues

Pests, like spider mites and mealybugs, could harm your snake plant by sucking the sap from the leaves. This deprives the plant of its vital nutrients and results in a snake plant with yellow leaves.  

At the first sign of an infestation, you should apply the right insecticide to protect the plant’s health. 

Snake Plant Leaves Turning Brown

Snake Plant Leaves Turning Brown
Source: Reddit

Causes of Brown Tips and Edges on Snake Plants

Brown tips or edges on your snake plants' leaves are most often due to:

  • Inconsistent or improper watering
  • Over-chlorinated water
  • Excessive direct sunlight and heat
  • Cold stress
  • Excess fertilizer
  • Low humidity
  • Pest infestation

Brown Spots on a Snake Plant

The most common causes of brown spots on snake plants are improper watering, pests, and fungal diseases. 

Solution: What to Do When a Snake Plant Turns Brown?

While snake plants can cope with the stress of imperfect growing conditions, they do have their limit. Brown tips and edges on a snake plant are common responses to stress. The trick is to find out what is causing the stress and fix it. This means that you should step up your snake plant care efforts, whether you need to adjust the plant's watering schedule or light exposure levels.

Why Do Snake Plant Leaves Curl?

Snake Plant Curled Leaves
Source: Reddit

A snake plant with curled leaves is a sign there’s something wrong and needs fixing quickly if you want to save your plant. The problem can be anything from water problems, pest diseases, and too much sunlight to root disease, or something else.  

Can Too Much Direct Sunlight Cause My Snake Plant Leaves to Curl?

Yes, too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves of your snake plant to curl. Snake plants that regularly receive too much sunlight can experience an increase in the speed of photosynthesis and transpiration, which can deplete and dehydrate the plant. This dehydration can result in curling leaves.

Solution: How Do You Fix Curling Snake Plant Leaves?

Finding the right solution depends on you pinpointing the underlying reason for the curling. Once you know the cause, there are several solutions:

  • Water your snake plant every 2-4 weeks
  • Provide bright indirect light for your plant
  • Utilize fertilizer sparingly
  • Keep the temperature at 55 to 85°F
  • Replant the snake plant using fresh potting soil
  • Adjust the pH of the soil to 5.5 to 7.5
  • Eliminate pests 

Snake Plant Leaves Drooping: Reasons

Snake Plant Drooping Leaves
Source: Greg

There are several reasons why your snake plant leaves are drooping:

  • Overwatering and root rot: Like most succulents, Sansevierias are low-water plants that require less watering than a typical houseplant. This means they can be easily overwatered by accident, and become susceptible to root rot. 
  • Inadequate soil and drainage: You may be using the incorrect type of soil or not providing sufficient drainage. This means the soil is holding too much water. 
  • Root bound: Snake plants don’t require repotting as often as many other indoor plants, but when they overgrow their pot,  the plants may become unhealthy and droop. 
  • Lack of heat: Snake plants can get too hot, but drooping leaves are more likely a sign that your plant is not receiving enough heat.
  • Poor lighting: Your snake plant can handle shade well, but they do much better in partial sun. 
  • Pests: Any of the problems previously mentioned can weaken your plant and make it more susceptible to pests. 

Solution: What to Do About a Drooping Snake Plant?

The solutions mentioned previously all apply to a snake plant with drooping leaves. However, if your plant is in bad shape, you probably can’t fix the existing leaves. Your best option is to leave them alone until new, upright growth begins, and then cut off the drooping leaves or let them be until they die on their own.

Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Falling Over?

The number one cause of snake plant leaves falling over is too much water. Overwatering your plant makes its soil soggy, keeps roots from breathing, and causes them to rot and die. 

Additionally, the leaves, roots, and rhizomes all store water, and when overwatered, they will start to “mush out” at the base, crease, and then fall over.  

Solution: What to Do if Snake Plant Leaves Are Falling Over?

The solution for overwatering is to let your plant dry out before watering again. Also, be sure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent pooling water and root rot. 

Snake Plant Skinny Leaves: Possible Causes

Your snake plant’s leaves may be skinny due to low light, lack of nutrition, overcrowding, lack of water, unhealthy roots, pests, or fungal infections. 

Solution: Easy Fixes to Skinny Snake Plant Leaves

To fix these issues, you can ensure your snake plant gets enough water, move it to a brighter area, provide it with proper nutrition, and repot it whenever it outgrows its previous container. 

Snake Plant Leaves Problems: Prevention and Care

Snake Plant Prevention and Care

In this section, we unveil preventative measures and essential care tips to ensure your snake plant boasts a lush and vibrant canopy, free from common problems like yellowing, browning, or curling leaves. 

The Right Pot: Size, Material, and Drainage Considerations

Choosing the correct pot for your snake plant is crucial. Opt for a pot with proper drainage, ensuring excess water escapes, and select a size that accommodates your plant’s growth. The material should be sturdy, promoting stability and optimal root health. The best material is terracotta. 

Soil Secrets: Best Soil Mixes for Optimal Health of Snake Plants

Crafting the ideal soil mix for your snake plant involves combining well-draining materials like perlite or sand with a quality potting mix. Ensuring good aeration and drainage is key for preventing root rot and promoting overall plant health.

Thirst Cycles: Mastering the Art of Watering Snake Plants

Understanding your snake plant's watering needs is paramount. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, avoiding overwatering that can lead to root rot. Adjust your watering frequency based on environmental conditions and the plant's growth stage.

Sun, Shade, and Snake Plants: Ideal Lighting Conditions

Strike the right balance between sunlight and shade for your snake plant. While they tolerate low light, providing moderate indirect sunlight enhances growth. In other words, make sure to meet your snake plant's light requirements. Avoid prolonged exposure to harsh sunlight, which can scorch the leaves.

Pruning with Purpose: When and How to Trim Your Snake Plant

Pruning snake plants involves removing damaged or discolored leaves. Trim at the base with clean, sharp shears, encouraging new growth. Regular pruning maintains the plant's aesthetic and ensures energy is directed towards healthy foliage.

Related: Snake Plants Toxicity to Cats, Dogs and Safe Alternatives

Snake Plant Leaf Damage: FAQs (about 250 words)

Q: Will a yellow snake plant turn green again?

A: Yellow snake plant leaves can turn green again with proper care. Identify the cause, adjust watering to prevent overwatering or underwatering, and trim damaged leaves. Ensure the plant is in optimal light conditions. However, if the yellowing is due to severe issues like diseases or root rot, addressing the underlying problem is crucial for recovery.

Q: Can a snake plant recover from browning leaves?

A: Yes, a snake plant can recover from browning leaves. Trim away the affected parts, address the cause (often overwatering or underwatering), and ensure proper care practices. New growth will emerge with time. Identifying and rectifying the underlying issue is key to promoting the overall health and vitality of the plant.

Q: How often should I water my snake plant?

A: The best watering schedule for your snake plant is every 3-4 weeks, however, this can vary depending on the conditions.  

Q: Should I cut drooping snake plant leaves?

A: Yes, you can cut drooping leaves, and there are several benefits if you do so. It helps to promote new healthy growth, reduces the risk of disease spreading, and means you have a better-looking plant in your home.  

Q: What type of fertilizer is best for snake plants?

A: Snake plants require a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. A 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 NPK ratio is generally recommended. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, achieving optimal health for your snake plant involves a holistic approach. From selecting the right pot and soil mix to mastering watering cycles, sunlight conditions, and purposeful pruning, each aspect contributes to a thriving green companion. 

By understanding and implementing these considerations, you create a balanced environment that fosters resilience and vitality in your snake plant, ensuring it remains a resilient and vibrant addition to your indoor oasis.