Reviving a Dying Snake Plant: Tips and Tricks

Do you have a snake plant that’s seen better days? Don’t worry! There are ways to revive your dying snake plant and bring it back to its former glory. While overwatering and slow draining soils are common culprits for a dying snake plant, there are other factors to consider as well. In this article, we’ll explore the potential causes of a dying snake plant and provide you with valuable insights on how to save it.

Understanding the Causes

Snake Plant Turning Yellow or Brown and Drooping

If your snake plant has yellow or brown leaves that are drooping, it’s a clear sign that something is amiss. Overwatering, slow draining soils, and lacking proper drainage in pots can cause these symptoms. Snake plants, native to tropical Africa, thrive in arid climates with gritty soil, infrequent rainfall, and low humidity. When they’re exposed to too much moisture, their roots suffer, resulting in yellow or brown mushy leaves.

To prevent your snake plant from turning yellow or brown, it’s crucial to water it less often than most houseplants. Use a well-draining potting mix that mimics their natural habitat and ensure the soil has completely dried out before each watering.

Snake Plant Leaves Curling

Another common issue is snake plant leaves curling inwards. This can be a sign of underwatering, soil that has become hydrophobic, or even cold damage. Snake plants store water in their leaves, so when they’re under drought stress, the leaves curl inwards. Wrinkled or split leaves can also indicate dehydration.

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To address this, give your snake plant a generous soak by submerging the root ball in water for about 10 minutes. This helps the roots draw up the much-needed moisture. Always water generously, ensuring excess water drains out of the pot’s drainage holes. If water runs off the surface and the soil feels dry, consider replacing it with a succulent and cacti soil mix for better water infiltration.

Snake Plants With Brown Spots

Snake plants thrive in bright indirect light, but they can adapt to full sun or considerable shade. However, sudden exposure to direct sunlight can result in sunburn, leading to brown spots on the leaves. While these spots don’t usually recover, they don’t necessarily kill the plant either.

If your snake plant has brown spots, consider cutting back the damaged leaf blades to encourage the growth of healthy leaves. Additionally, using pots with a larger base can prevent the plant from toppling over and suffering bruising.

How to Revive a Dying Snake Plant

Now that you know the potential causes, let’s dive into some actionable steps to revive your dying snake plant.

  1. Scale back the watering: If you’ve been watering your snake plant more than once a week, you’re overwatering it. Typically, snake plants should be watered every two to three weeks. Allow the soil to dry out completely when the leaves turn yellow or brown.

  2. Replace the soil: Even if you’re watering your snake plant correctly, the soil may be the culprit. If the soil is slow draining and moisture retentive, replace it with a succulent and cacti soil mix. This type of soil replicates the well-draining characteristics of the snake plant’s natural habitat.

  3. Plant in pots with drainage holes: Ensure that excess water can escape freely from the base of the pot to prevent the roots from being in damp soil for too long. Larger pots can contain more soil and hold more moisture, increasing the risk of yellow or brown leaves.

  4. Address curling leaves: For drought-stressed snake plants with curling leaves, submerge the root ball in water for 10 minutes. This allows the roots to draw up the water they need. Remember to always water with a generous soak and replace soil that repels water.

  5. Reviving cold-damaged snake plants: If your snake plant has been exposed to temperatures lower than 50°F, relocate it to a room with a consistent temperature above this threshold. Unfortunately, leaves with white mushy areas are unlikely to recover, so it’s best to remove them from the plant.

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Remember, if all else fails and your snake plant continues to decline, taking cuttings from healthy leaves for propagation may be the best option.

A gritty succulent soil mix is perfect for growing snake plants.
Image Source: Ames Farm Center

Gritty succulent and cacti soil (on the left) compared with ordinary potting soil.
Image Source: Ames Farm Center

Taking care of your snake plant and providing it with the right growing conditions will help it thrive. Remember to replicate its native environment by considering factors like watering frequency, soil type, and exposure to sunlight. By following these tips and tricks, you can bring your dying snake plant back to life.

Ames Farm Center is your go-to resource for all your snake plant care needs.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Always consult a plant care specialist for specific guidance tailored to your individual plant’s needs.