5 Unforgivable Snake Plant Care Mistakes You Might Be Making

Caring for a snake plant, often known as Sansevieria or mother-in-law's tongue, seems simple, right? After all, they're celebrated for their hardiness and adaptability to less-than-ideal conditions.

A properly maintained snake plant placed on a white box pot

You're doing your best to keep your leafy friend healthy, but certain habits might do more harm than good. Overwatering? Too much direct sunlight? It's all too easy to fall into these common traps.

Let's straighten those leaves and ensure your snake plant survives and flourishes under your watch!

1. Ignoring Light Requirements

Good light is the secret to a happy snake plant, but getting it wrong can lead to big no-nos. Here's a breakdown of the must-dos for hitting the light just right.

Overexposure to Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight is kind of a frenemy to your snake plant. A little now and then works wonders, but too much is a cause for disaster, turning leaves from a vibrant green to a sad yellow or brown.

If your plant exhibits signs of dehydration, such as brittleness or leaf curling, it is advisable to relocate it to an area receiving indirect sunlight.

Neglecting Low-light Conditions

Snake plants are tough and can handle low-light situations, but let's not push their limits. If your buddy is placed in a dim corner, it might survive but won't live its best life.

Look for stunted growth or leaves stretching thin, reaching for any light they can find. Remember, bright, indirect light keeps them in good health, so find a sweet spot where they can soak up some rays without baking in them.

Uncover essential insights and tips to optimize your snake plant's health. Read our article: Can A Snake Plant Survive Direct Sunlight?

2. Watering Woes

Getting the balance right when watering your snake plant is crucial. Too much or too little can lead to various avoidable problems with some know-how.

Overwatering Issues

Overwatering is the most common issue you might encounter with your snake plant. These plants are succulents, and their thick leaves store water, enabling them to handle drought well.

When you water too often, you risk causing root rot, which is characterized by:

  • Soft, mushy leaves
  • Dark, black, or brown roots that easily pull apart

Here's a hint: only water when the topsoil is dry. This generally means watering every couple of weeks, but it will depend on your home's humidity and temperature.


If you're grappling with an overwatering crisis and worried about root rot in your snake plant, our latest article, "Overwatering Crisis: Saving Your Snake Plant From Root Rot," is a must-read for you.

Underwatering Mistakes

While underwatering is less common, it's not unheard of, especially if you're overly cautious due to the fear of overwatering. Signs of underwatering include:

  • Drooping or wilting leaves
  • Dry, crispy leaf edges
  • Slow growth

To keep your snake plant happy, establish a more consistent watering schedule that adapts to how dry your indoor environment is.

Improper Drainage

Your snake plant's pot must have adequate drainage to prevent water from collecting at the bottom. Here's what you should do to ensure proper drainage:

  • Use a pot with holes at the bottom.
  • Include a layer of gravel or similar material over the hole to prevent soil from escaping.
  • Consider a well-draining potting mix, typically used for cacti or succulents, to keep the roots dry between watering.

Remember, water should flow freely out the bottom of the pot when you water your plant. You must address the drainage issue to avoid root problems if it doesn't.

3. Temperature Tolerance

Your snake plant is usually pretty chill about temperature, but there are limits. Get to know these, and your green buddy will thank you.

Exposing to Extreme Cold

Your snake plant doesn't like to be left out in the cold. If temperatures drop below 55°F, you might see some pretty unhappy signs:

  • Wilting: Like a sad puppy, it droops.
  • Discoloration: Leaves can turn a telltale yellow or brown.

Keep your plant indoors during winter or in a cooler climate.

Overheating in Hot Conditions

While snake plants can take the heat better than a baking tray, too much isn't excellent:

  • Scorched Leaves: Direct sunlight in hot weather might fry your plant like an egg.
  • Dehydration: Let's not turn those plump leaves into prunes!

Ideally, keep your snake plant between 65-90°F and out of direct, hot sunlight.

4. Soil and Fertilization Mistake

Choosing the suitable soil and knowing how much fertilizer to use can make a difference for your snake plant.

Using the Wrong Soil Mix

You must ensure your snake plant is in the best environment possible, starting with the soil. Your plant craves a well-draining mix that keeps its roots just the right amount damp without waterlogging them. Here's what to aim for:

  • Well-draining Soil: A mix with perlite, sand, or other porous materials works wonders.
  • Slightly Acidic to Neutral pH: Sansevieria plants thrive in a soil pH range between 4.5 and 8.5. However, they show optimal growth when the soil pH is maintained within a narrower range of 5.5 to 7.5.

Avoid using heavy garden soil because it retains too much moisture and can lead to root rot.

Overfertilization Problems

Just because a bit of fertilizer can help your snake plant doesn't mean more is better.

  • Balanced Fertilizer: Look for an NPK ratio equal to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Fertilizing Schedule: During the growing season (spring to early fall), fertilize every other month. In the off-season, your snake plant is chilling and doesn't need extra food.

Too much fertilizer can harm your plant's roots and cause leaf burn. Stick to the guidelines, and your snake plant will thank you.

We've compiled a list of top-notch fertilizers to ensure your snake plant gets all the nutrients. Check here: 14 Best Fertilizers For Snake Plants.

5. Neglecting Humidity and Cleaning

Taking care of your snake plant isn't just about watering and placing it in the right spot; humidity and cleanliness play significant roles, too. Get these wrong, and you could hinder your plant's potential.

Ignoring Humidity Needs

Your snake plant is tough, but ignoring its humidity needs isn't a good idea. Ideally, aim for a room humidity of around 40%.

If the air is too dry, your plant's leaves may start to brown and lose their vitality. Conversely, too much humidity can lead to rot or fungal issues.

  • How to Maintain Ideal Humidity:

    • Use a hygrometer to measure the room's humidity.
    • Place a humidifier nearby if the air is too dry.
    • During drier months, misting the plant can provide a quick humidity fix.

Forgetting to Dust Leaves

Like your bookshelves, your snake plant's leaves can get dusty, and a layer of dust can block sunlight and reduce the plant's ability to photosynthesize. Plus, it just doesn't look great.

  • Dusting Tips:

    • Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe each leaf gently.
    • Perform a monthly leaf-cleaning session to keep your plant looking fresh and healthy.

Remember, your snake plant cares about its environment just as much as you do. Keeping humidity in check and leaves clean ensures your green buddy will brighten your space without a fuss!

Wrapping Up

In wrapping up our journey through snake plant care, remember that these resilient plants require a balance of light, water, and proper soil conditions to flourish.

 A dying snake plant inside the living room

Avoid the common pitfalls of overwatering and excessive sunlight and instead focus on creating a stable environment that mimics their natural habitat.

A well-tended snake plant not only enhances the aesthetic of your space but also purifies the air, making it a valuable addition to any home.

Embrace these tips, and watch your snake plant grow, bringing a touch of nature's resilience and beauty into your daily life!

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