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Even though snake plants are hardy and can survive in the most negligent environments, it doesn't mean that they are completely disease and pest-proof. So what are the most common diseases and pests that encumber snake plants? We've looked into this, and in this post, we will discuss them with you.
Here are the most common snake plant diseases and pests:
- Root Rot
- Spider Mites
- Southern Blight
- Red Leaf Spot
The first step to eradicating a disease or pest issue with your snake plant is recognizing its symptoms. The faster you're able to spot the first signs of trouble, the greater the chance that you'll be able to save your snake plant. Continue reading to learn how to spot these common issues.
5 Common Snake Plant Diseases & Pests
1. Root Rot
A widespread problem with snake plants is root rot. This results from over-watering the soil of the plant and is most common in the colder months of the year. When room rot occurs, the plant roots can die due to a lack of oxygen and an overgrowth of fungus within the soil. If the snake plant's soil is soggy, certain microorganisms such as Rhizoctonia and Pythium can begin to populate and multiply, spreading disease throughout the roots.
Once these fungi spread throughout the plant, the roots will begin to turn mushy and brown as they slowly deteriorate. During this time, the roots will be unable to nutrients throughout the plant's base into the foliage.
The biggest issue with root rot is that it can often go unnoticed due to its location beneath the soil's surface. Sometimes you can smell root rot, as it gives off a moldy and pungent odor around the plant's base. In extreme cases, root rot can kill your entire snake plant within 8 to 10 days.
If your snake plant pot does not have sufficient drainage holes, it will likely develop root rot rather quickly. If you cannot purchase a new pot immediately, you can take a pair of needle-nose pliers or sharp shears and create your own drainage holes. You can also buy inexpensive planters with drainage holes on Amazon. Remember, snake plants thrive on neglect, so it's always best that the soil is on the drier side instead of being moist or overwatered. Root rot can be especially difficult to get rid of once it spreads up to the plant itself.
The most common sign of root rot is brown and mushy roots on the base of the plant. As the disease progresses, you will notice your snake plant leaves begin to turn yellow, droop, or wilt over the next few days. The leaves may also become mushy to the touch as they become flooded with water.
How to get rid of it
The most effective and efficient way to stop root rot at its core is to simply re-pot the snake plant. When repotting the plant, you need to break away as much of the infected soil as much as possible before you add in the fresh soil. It's also helpful to add a good root treatment that contains mycorrhizal species, as it creates a hostile environment for unwanted fungi and bacteria within the plant's soil.
You can also add sulfur powder to the new soil to help prevent further infection of the plant. Sulfur works by making the soil more acidic and limiting the number of nutrients available to harmful pathogens and bacteria. If root rot has spread throughout your entire plant, try separating the plant's leaves and keeping the sections that are still healthy. You can re-pot the sections with healthy soil and use the cuttings to start an entirely new plant.
How to prevent it
The best way to prevent root rot is to let the soil of your snake plant dry out completely before watering it again. In some cases, this may mean only watering the snake plant once every 30-60 days, and maybe even less during the winter months.
Mealybugs are one of the most common plants, not only to snake plants particularly but to many indoor and outdoor household plants. These small, pink-colored insects are covered in a waxy white substance that helps protect them from excess heat and moisture loss, making them a very common issue with snake plants due to their dry texture.
Once mealybugs populate a snake plant, they form colonies around the plant base and on the leaves. Mealybugs love succulent plants and will begin laying microscopic larvae as soon as 5 to 8 days.
If you notice that your snake plant's leaves are starting to look deformed or have small white spots on them, this may be a sign of a mealybug infection. If a mealybug infection is left untreated, you will notice the leaves of your snake plant beginning to curl up, turn yellow, and eventually drop.
Mealybugs inject an acidic toxin on the leaves of snake plants which causes the plant's leaves to weaken. They feed on the fluid within the plant's leaves and can grow in large numbers in a very short period of time.
How to get rid of them
One of the best ways to treat a mealybug infection on your snake plant is to rub neem oil on the plant's leaves or rinse it in warm water. You can also take a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and apply it to each of the plant's leaves as well. You should notice a pink waxy substance appear on the cotton balls when removing the pests. It's always best to do a quick test when treating your snake plant with rubbing alcohol to ensure that it does not damage the leaves.
How to prevent them
To help keep your snake plant free of mealybugs, be sure to inspect your new plant when bringing it home from the nursery, as these pests can easily crawl from one indoor plant to another. It's also best to quarantine your snake plant if it is infected to prevent other plants from being infected. Constant monitoring is the best way to ensure that your snake plant stays free of mealybug infections.
3. Spider Mites
Spider mites are another pest common on snake plants. These pests are usually spotted on the plant's leaves' underside, and they feed on the water inside of the leaves, leaving them weak with holes and bite marks. What makes spider mites especially burdensome is their discrete nature. They will often go unnoticed for days or even weeks before you can see signs of their damage.
The most common signs of a spider mite infestation are leaves that are yellow or discolored with holes throughout them. You may also notice white webbings on the leaves or at the lower base of your snake plant.
How to get rid of it
Misting your snake plant with neem oil or an effective insecticidal soap can quickly eliminate spider mites. You can also use cotton swabs to rub the leaves down individually. Be sure to get the underside of the leaves where spider mites are known to populate. Another way to get rid of them is to run the snake plant under tepid water to rinse the pests from the leaves completely. If the infestation is severe, you may need to prune your snake plant to keep it alive.
How to prevent them
The best way to keep your plants free of spider mites is to dust the plant periodically. This prevents spider mites from infiltrating the plant and laying eggs on the leaves.
4. Southern Blight
Southern Blight is a common fungus on snake plants that is caused by Sclerotium rolfsii. This fungus attacks the snake plant by penetrating its stems and eating away at them over a period of days. Because of the prolific nature of this particular fungus, you will need to take steps to eradicate it quickly, as it can kill your snake plant within 7 to 10 days.
Common signs of this infection include white areas on the surface of the plant's leaves. You may also notice that these leaves turn a deep brown color over the next few days. It's also common for the leaves to begin to wilt and soften as the fungus breaks down the plant tissue causing them to appear wet and soggy.
How to get rid of it
Any good fungicide can get rid of Southern blight. One commonly used one is methyl bromide which can be applied to the plant weekly to eradicate the fungus within a period of days.
How to prevent it
The best way to prevent this fungus is by avoiding using pots and containers that carry it. Always use new or disinfected pots for your new snake plant. You'll also want to make sure that your snake plant has good airflow to keep the fungus from developing at the root of the plant.
5. Red Leaf Spot
Snake plants can also develop a case of red leaf spot. This disease is caused by the fungus Drechslera erythrospila. A red leaf spot is more commonly seen during the warmer months of the year when the fungus spores look for damp surfaces on the leaves to stick to.
Common signs of red leaf spots include brownish-red dots on the leaves. The spot may expand over a period of days and create large liquid lesions on the leaves of the plant.
How to get rid of it
To eradicate this fungus, you'll need to cut away any leaves that have been affected by it and then spray the rest of the plant with copper or sulfur-containing fungicide. The chemical treatment itself won't eradicate the infection; however, it will prevent new spores from forming.
How to prevent it
Red leaf spot is best prevented by keeping the snake plant out of standing water. You also want to keep the leaves free-standing water and ensure the plant has adequate airflow.
What Does An Unhealthy Snake Plant Look Like?
An unhealthy snake plant will reveal itself within a matter of days or a couple of weeks. The most notable signs will be on the leaves of the plant. For example, if you notice that your snake plant leaves are falling over, curled, or turning brownish-yellow, the chances are that the plant is in a high state of stress. If the plant is overwatered, the leaves may appear soggy or feel mushy to the touch. Snake plant leaves should be erect and shiny with a bright green hue.
What Does It Mean When A Snake Plant Flowers?
A snake plant that begins to flower is nothing to be concerned about, though it's a rarity. In optimal flowering conditions, some snake plants have been known to sprout flowers during the spring and summer months of the year. Optimal flowering conditions include the plant being in a well-aerated soil mixture that is not overwatered and containing pot-bound roots.
Snake plant s need little watering, and you can go anywhere from four to eight weeks without having to water the plant at all--which will not hinder its ability to grow flowers.
How Do You Know If Your Snake Plant Has Root Rot?
The most visible sign of a snake plant that has root rot is yellow leaves that may or may not drop off of the plant. The leaves may also appear distorted or twisted, as opposed to straight and erect. Also, if your snake plant's leaves suddenly appear reddish-brown or darker than normal, it may be a sign of root rot. Another sign, though more inconspicuous, is the smell of root rot coming from the base of the plant. Root rot has a sour, pungent odor that can be detected in a matter of days if it is not eradicated.
What Is The Best Natural Pesticide?
There are several natural pesticides available for snake plants and other indoor plants. Let's take a look at the most common ones.
Neem oil has been used for centuries for its culinary and medicinal purposes. It's one of the best pest deterrents that you can use for your indoor plants.
Onion & Garlic Solution
You can also use a mixture of onion and garlic to keep pets away from your indoor plants--pests loathe the strong smell of this solution. To create this mixture, take a single clove of garlic and mix it with a medium-sized onion. Next, crush the vegetables and add them into a spray bottle with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Spray the solution on your plants to keep pests away.
The sharp, strong smell of eucalyptus oil is another all-natural way to keep your indoor plants free of bugs and insects. Spray the oil on your plants weekly to keep pests at bay. It's best to dilute the oil with water before applying it to your plants.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope that this post has provided you with all of the information you were looking for regarding the most common pests and plant diseases found in snake plants. The best way to prevent issues with your snake plant is to make sure that you don't overwater it and inspect the plant's leaves weekly, at least ensure that it is free of pests.
Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts: