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Why Is My Snake Plant Dying?

Snake plant or Sansevieria is a mother in law tongue plant, it is an easy growing indoor plant and is able to thrive in many climatic conditions. It is also very popular among gardeners and plant lovers. It has sharp pointed leaves that look like the skin of a snake. This one grows in USDA zone 10 to 12 and tolerates drought and doesn’t get much impact on environment change. But Sometimes with less care you might see its leaves curling , turning yellow and brown. There are other problems, some leaves of the snake plant dying or the whole plant showing unknown signs of scratch or looking very drained. So I will discuss how to fix snake plant problems.

So why is my snake plant dying? The most common reason is due to root rot, fungal infections, pest infestation, change in temperature, or low exposure to light can cause your snake plant to start dying. To fix these problems there is a straightforward approach that can be done and your plant will become healthy if the problem is in only 2-3 leaves. I can also tell you what to do if the whole snake plant is dying.

Each Problem requires different treatment and for that you need to understand what problem you are facing and we will make sure after reading this it will not happen again with your snake plant. I have written another article where I explained in detail if the problem is connected with snake plant leaves that becomes yellow then Read & learn from my experience.

Also Read : Snake Plant Leaves Turning YellowLearn(with My Experience)

Common Snake plant problems :

Snake plant is my most favorite and easy to grow plant , but as a beginner you might see some problems and without knowing the real problem you can’t find the solution so Read On.

1. Spider mites

These are the tiny little bugs that sit on the leaves and If they are indoors then it may increase the webs on the house.  They do eat the sap juice present inside the leaves and make it weak , you may see wounds spots after that. If spider mites are in large populations then it can become a big problem. Result in damage of leaves and weakening of the whole plant.

Symptoms include yellowing of leaves , loss of green pigment, wounds can be seen. Spider webs all over the leaves and section making it look dusty.

How to Treat this problem: You can use insecticidal soap and spray on the leaves section or use a clean cloth and one by one start wiping the leaves carefully to make sure no damage to the leaves. Remove all the webs made by the spider and clean the area where the pot is located. Using water pressure on leaves gets rid of some spider mites. If infestation is heavy then you may need to cut some leaves.

Why Is My Snake Plant Dying
Why Is My Snake Plant Dying

Prevent it from Happening: Check for the places where spider mites are hiding , remove all the webs they have made nearby the pot area. Dusting can be done to clean the snake plant and its adjacent sides. Keep the leaves and soil be moist by spraying , spider mites mostly live in drought area.

2. Root Damage

The most common problem you see in snake plant is roots getting damaged because of rotting. It happens when the roots constantly sit on damp soil which leads to less air circulation inside the soil with that fungal growth starts to develop & root getting spoiled.

This wet soil encourages the growth of other big fungal problems like Rhizoctonia, pythium rot, phytophthora or funsarium which attack on roots and infect the whole plant.

Root will turn brown or soft and then it will be unable to absorb any further nutrients.

The main challenge is that you can’t tell if its roots are rotted because the roots stay inside the soil and it can’t be seen outside of the plant. In winters this problem can kill the plant and sometimes it occurs because of drainage holes being blocked and the whole plant getting affected.

Choosing a perfect pot can make things right but if drainage holes are the culprit then the snake plant has very minimal chances of survival. There are solutions which I will explain in a minute here.

First Snake plant soil needs to be well drained and the pot should have sufficient drainage holes to drain out water. You can also choose decorative pots as you also want to add beauty inside your house but remember to check if they are not having drainage problems.

Symptoms like browning of leaves or leaf turns pulpy is a sign that the roots have rotted quite hard. Root damage can also include yellowing of leaves , wilting , some might droop. Once you are aware of this issue you can start to counter root rot and try to solve it by following the solution I will be providing just below.

How to Treat this problem: The first thing to do is to repot your snake plant and replace the old soil with new one. You also also cut some of the portion of root which has been infected only if the damage is big. Also Remove those leaves that turn brown as they are not going to be normal and die soon so it’s good to prune them. you can also take healthy leaf cuttings and plant it in a new pot so it starts the root development & you get a new snake plant as backup.

How to Prevent it from happening: As you know snake plant can handle drought conditions so even if they don’t get water so some days it will still survive, but only in case of overwatering it will result in root rot. So before watering plants, always check 1-2 inch of soil at the top if it’s dry to verify if they need water or not.

In winters you don’t need to pour water often as with high humidity it takes water from air but you can still give them water every month or in 20 days. Snake plants main variety is not attractive when it’s young but variegated one is sure eye catchy that is why mostly you won’t give them much attention. But still you need to better care for them and provide them every requirement they want.

3. Blight Problems

Sclerotium rolfsii is the name of a parasite that causes Southern blight. This fungus can infect other houseplants that live indoors and grow in the balcony. They mostly thrive in moist climates and it has a record of infecting many plant species about 450 and more. It takes 7-10 days for symptoms to appear but it quickly infests the whole plant and leaves are mostly damaged and it spreads in stem sections also.

Symptoms : white layer appears on the leaves once fungus starts to infect it and then the leaf turns brown. In snake plant you may notice some leaves wilting and seems wet with white spots. Plant leaves will and slowly the whole plant will die if not resolved.

What to do? Southern blight can be treated with fungicide and in the market there are methyl bromides that are recommended but you can use any fungicide mostly. For like if only a leaf is damaged then remove that leaf only and then you don’t need chemicals to test your plant.

Prevent it from happening? Using the same old infected potting mix can affect your plant so always use fresh well draining soil which is free from any fungal disease.

4. Temperature change



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Snake plant loves warm climates and it is native to African region where hot places exist and it is also a location for many of the succulent first born. With high humid winters you plant may encourage leaves getting damaged and its cell walls breaking from inside. This result in blockage of nutrients flow which helps the green color to be more green and plant to be more healthy. It also block the water path and it will lead to loss in moisture at the top which again lead to leaves wilting.

Symptoms are common like mushy , or scar on the leaves yellowing wilting or things that we see when plants are not watered well for days.

What to do now? You can just trim the leaves that are damaged and change the location of your snake plant to a healthy low to mid humid temperature area that may help it to recover. You can also cut half part of leaves which is infected (if scar is in top section), I generally don’t care about the beauty but care about the leaves that help to clean the indoor air. 

how to prevent it from happening?  Changing the location and providing them warm temperature in winters if it’s cold there. Also Don’t prune much, only trim those leaves that are infected.

Sansevieria Snake plant
Sansevieria Snake plant

5. Red Leaf Spots

It is a fungal infection named Drechslera erythrospila that is responsible for red leaf spots that happen on the leaves of snake plants. This problem occurs in summer or spring months when there is hot sun above the head, with warm temperature but it can also happen in other seasons.

Symptoms like red spots or small dotted redness can be seen in the leaf, tan at the center also seen with this type of problem.

What to do? Only thing that is applicable here is removing the leaf by pruning it , it will just stop the spread but for heavy infestation you can also use fungicide which is copper or sulfur based. first you can try removing the leaves if it didn’t work then try chemical treatment which will basically prevent any further spores.

Prevent it from happening? Snake plant leaves shouldn’t have water on the leaves for long; it should go inside the soil , avoiding any standing water. If your plant is outdoors for a while check them for any infection before taking them inside the house. It should get indirect light and not direct sun.

6. Mealybugs

They are pests that attack the snake plant , it came from the Pseudococcidae family that looks pink with a soft body and they have covered with white cotton type of material and this same thing prevents any damage to their body from hot climate. They are generally found in leaves that are curling to the soil top and they make big colonies.

Unarmored scale is also similar to this bug and they don’t have any protection which they have but have legs that help them roam freely. Citrus is also a mealybug type which happens to be found in this plant. This white cotton thing that has tiny eggs of an army of mealys that wake after some days.

Symptoms mostly appear on leaves and the leaves become weak as they eat the juice inside of the leaf. Mealybugs produce liquid that is the same as honeydew. If it was on a healthy snake plant then our plant would tolerate these tiny bugs but if infection is heavy then you need to treat it otherwise yellowing ,m doping or even curling of leaves can happen. It will reduce the nutrient and energy of the whole plant.

What to do? The best way to get rid of mealybugs are using a cotton ball and that needs to be dip in alcohol solution and starting cleaning the areas and removing the mealys but also you can remove it hand or wiping them with a water cloth (it works if infestation is in 1-2 leaves). Using alcohol sometimes damages the leaf and makes spots and holes on the leafy area. But in the case of snake plants they are strong enough to tolerate this rubbing alcohol but one uses this in one of the leaves. If it works then do it on other leaves.

You can also spray this in plants and this can be done every 7 to 10 days until there is no mealybug left.

How to prevent it from happening? You can check your snake plant daily and find if there is any pest infestation. If you find any of the on leaves first then remove that leaf or separate it out and apply a solution.






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Also Read : Is Snake Plant Poisonous to Dogs?

Snake Plant Care

Light

Sansevieria loves bright indirect light and they thrive in partial shade best. Even Morning sunlight is also good for its leaf growth.

Soil 

You can use well draining soil for Sansevieria and change the pot after 

if it becomes root bound. As you need to change the pot after a year or 2 so it can grow more tall.

Watering

I suggest less watering and don’t make it soggy , they like moist soil but not that constant damp soil. once a week is best to water them. Avoid overwatering and always check the top soil for its dryness.

FAQ’s

What is wrong with my snake plant?

Snake plant behaving wrong means it has been effective with some sort of problem, First check if the soil is overwatered and your plant root is damaged It mostly happens in Winters but with less care it can happen more often. Secondly you can also check for any leaf that has changed color there may be nutrients deficiency or roots don’t have space. Repot it to a larger pot for more space for rooting.

What does an overwatered snake plant look like?

When a Snake plant is overwatered it may be shrivelling or the leaves turn yellow.  This Yellowing can be in the middle or top center portion that will spread to the whole leaf if not solved. Overwatered snake plant leaves look like fluid has been filled & it has fully died back and seems dropped. Also Old leaves sometimes show yellowing but in case of overwatering it will show on old and new leaves also.

Why does my snake plant have holes?

Holes in snake plants seem to have some sort of disease or pest infestation that can be solved otherwise there are other problems like temperature change, too much watering, underwatering, too much light damages the snake plant more. For this problem check above and if it has spots like brown then either trim that part to get rid of it. Or you can remove the leaf if the infection is not reached to other leaves.

Is snake plant good for bedroom?

Yes it is good to keep snake plant in the bedroom as this plant can clean indoor air that exists inside the house. As all succulent this plant gives oxygen at night by converting CO^2. This process is called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism(CAM) and a report shows that if oxygen level is high in the bedroom it can give good and deep sleep.

Also Read :

When to Water Snake Plant?

Why Is it Called mother-in-law’s tongue Plant?

When to Repot Snake Plant?

Amelia Clark

I have over 10 years experience in gardening and here I try to answer every question about plants and how you as a beginner gardener can able to solve various problems. Also If you would like to check our Designed Plant T-Shirts. Please do so.

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