While a snake plant is one of the easiest indoor plants to grow, it can be susceptible to disease and other issues. One common issue being the yellowing of the leaves on the plant. What causes a snake plant's leaves to turn yellow? We've researched the most common reasons for this. In this post, we will answer this for you.
The leaves of a snake plant can turn yellow for several reasons. The most common reason is over-watering. Other reasons include bad soil drainage, lack of proper lighting, nutritional deficiency, cold temperatures, and pest infestation. Here are the steps to take to restore your snake plant back to optimal health:
- Identify water stress
- Check for pest infestations
- Try a little light
- Check the temperature of the room
- Do a pH test on the soil
It's common to want to water an indoor plant either daily or every other day. However, this isn't necessary for snake plants because they are succulent plants, meaning that they can go days and even weeks without a drop of water and still thrive. Continue reading to learn how to treat a snake plant with yellow leaves and how to properly water and maintain it.
Steps To Treat Yellowing Snake Plant Leaves
1. Identify water stress
Yellowing leaves is one of the biggest signs of moisture stress. This means that the plant is either overwatered or under-watered. To check your plant's moisture level, place a single finger about an inch or two deep into its soil. If the soil feels extremely dry and crumbly, your snake plant may be under-watered and need a watering session.
In which case, grab your watering can and pour water over the soil until it completely covers the soil. If the soil feels damp and mushy, take a quick whiff to see if you notice any mildew or moldy smell coming from the soil. If so, your snake plant may have developed root rot due to overwatering.
Check the drainage on the plant's container, and there is standing water, move the plant to a better base. Skip the water and sessions for the next week or so to give your plant time to recover. Perform the finger test every few days to check the moisture level of the soil. If it feels only mildly damp, the plant may be suffering from another issue.
2. Check for pest infestations
If the snake plant's moisture level seems fine, check the plant's leaves for infestation. Note that you may not be able to see pests immediately on the surface of the plant, so that you may need a microscope. When inspecting the leaves, look for small holes in the leaves or white dots on them--this may be the larvae of spider mites or mealybugs.
To eradicate the pests, rinse the plant off in water or apply rubbing alcohol or neem oil to the leaves. You can also buy any commercial insecticide spray as well.
3. Try a little light
It's also possible that your snake plant needs more sunlight. Snake plants, like most indoor plants, thrive in sunlight. When they don't receive enough of it, their leaves may turn yellow as they starve from their inability to initiate photosynthesis. If your home or apartment doesn't receive a fair amount of natural light during the day, it is time to move your plan to a better area.
Take into consideration how much direct or indirect sunlight your snake plant receives a day. And if it is less than 2 hours of light, then this may be the cause of the leaves' yellowing. Move the plant to a new location for about two weeks. If the snake plant seems to thrive after the move, then this was your issue, and the plant should make a full recovery, depending on its state before the move.
4. Check the temperature of the room
Your snake plant's leaves can also yellow from exposure to cold temperature conditions. Is the plant located in a drafty room or by a window? Is the planet located near an air conditioner or vent? Remember, snake plants prefer dry, warm conditions over cold ones, so if the plant is located near a drafty window or an AC unit, it may be more prone to health issues.
Grab a hygrometer to test determine the average temperature in the room as well as the humidity. The best temperature range for the snake plant is between 60 degrees and 88 degrees Fahrenheit, while the ideal humidity level is around 50%. It's also important to note that if the room temperature is colder, you won't need to water your snake plant as often.
5. Do a pH test on the soil
The last thing that you'll want to check is the pH of the plant's soil. A nutrient deficiency can also be why the leaves turn yellow, as it interferes with photosynthesis. Without the photosynthesis process, the snake plant can't regenerate and grow.
If you notice that the new leaves on your snake plant are very light green, but the older leaves are starting to turn yellow, this could mean that your plant lacks nitrogen. To counter this, find a snake plant or succulent fertilizer high in nitrogen and apply it to the plant every couple of weeks.
Be sure to follow the recommended dosage for the fertilizer, as you don't want to create another problem with the plant's nutrient levels. Consider purchasing a pH testing kit to monitor the soil levels for the next few weeks until the snake plant has made a full recovery.
How Often Should You Water A Snake Plant?
The great thing about owning a snake plant is that it is one of the easiest plants to maintain and care for. A large reason for this is that these plants require very little water to thrive. You can go weeks without watering your snake plant and still find it in excellent condition. Ideally, you'll want to water the plant every one to two weeks to keep it healthy and thriving. However, it's best to conduct a soil test every one to two weeks to make sure that you are watering it properly.
If you notice the leaves turning yellow, the first thing you'll want to check is the plant's soil, as this is the most common sign of moisture issues. During the winter months, your snake plant may require less watering due to temperature changes. This can also be if your plant environment is more on the cool side, let's say below 70° Fahrenheit on average.
When watering your try to use spring water or rainwater, as they don't contain the harmful substances that tap water may. You can also use distilled water as well, though it may not contain some of the nutrients as the spring water and rainwater do.
Another thing to know when setting up your snake plant watering schedule is the plant's pot drainage. If your snake plant's pot does not have sufficient drainage, the roots will become soaked in standing water and quickly develop root rot. If left untreated, this disease can completely kill your snake plant in a matter of weeks.
Be sure that your drainage pot can drain water from your soil an hour after the watering session. If you have a vinyl or aluminum pot, you can also create your own holes in the bottom of the pot by puncturing it with a knife or a pair of shears. Another way to improve the snake plants' drainage is to add a bit of sand to the plant's soil.
How Do You Fix An Overwatered Snake Plant?
If you have overwatered your snake plant, the plant will let you know rather quickly. The first sign of over-watering will be the snake plant's tips turning brown or dropping a bit. Next, you will notice the leaves of the snake plant turning yellow. If you touch the snake plant and the leaves feel soft and mushy, you've definitely overwatered the plant as opposed to hard and stiff.
The best way to help your snake plant make a full recovery is to pause the watering sessions and check the soil levels every few days. Let the soil dry out completely before watering it again. This may take a week or two, as it will need to evaporate as the plant revives itself.
If your snake plant has developed root rot from overwatering, you will need to re-pot the plant and get rid of the current soil. Typically, you only need two re-pot a snake plant about every two to six years. However, if root rot has developed, it must be removed immediately for the plant to recover and thrive. To re-pot your plant, gently remove it from its current pot and shake off as much of the plants of soil as possible.
Remember, snake plants prefer to be root bound. Ensure that the plant's new pot is the same size as the previous pot or a little more significant if the roots were starting to become too crowded. Fill the pot halfway with the fresh soil, and then place the snake plant in the pot.
Next, finish pouring in the fresh soil until it reaches the plant's base about an inch above the old soil. Give your snake plant a few days to adjust to the new pot before you water it again. And when you do water it, do so minimally, as you only want to water it so that the roots can establish themselves in the new soil.
Can A Snake Plant's Yellow Leaves Turn Green Again?
It depends on why the leaf has turned yellow. If a nutritional deficiency caused the yellowing, the chances are that it could return to its green hue once the deficiency has been rectified. However, if over-watering caused the yellowing, the chances are that it may not turn back green again, unfortunately.
What Do You Do With Dead Snake Plant Leaves?
If you have noticed dead leaves on your snake plant, you'll first want to determine if the leaves have died because they were simply old or if they've died from bad health conditions. You'll want to remove the leaves to keep them from sucking energy from the rest of the plant. Cut the leaves at a point so that they still have a shape to them, or cut them straight across to keep things easy. It's important to note that after you cut the leaves, they may continue to grow, but the further you cut up the leaf, the less likely it is to grow back.
Wrapping Things Up
Proper watering of your snake plant is essential to its health and growth. Though watering sessions are often not required, it's always a good idea to check your plant's moisture levels weekly to ensure that it's not receiving too much or too little moisture. Yes, succulents are known for being strong hardy plants that can go for weeks without water, and the snake plant is no exception.
However, they still will require some water from time to time to stay healthy and grow strong roots. Even if you only water your snake plant once a month, the chances are that you won't kill it. However, watering your snake plan daily will surely cause it to develop moisture issues. Remember, when it comes to watering snake plants, less is more.
Interested in more growth tips for your new snake plant? Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts: