24 Common Snake Plant Problems & Solutions

Snake plants, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, are popular houseplants known for their durability and low maintenance requirements.

However, like any plant, they can still encounter problems and pose questions for their owners.

In this comprehensive guide, we will address 24 common snake plant problems and provide solutions to help you keep your plants healthy and thriving.

Understanding Snake Plants

Previously classified under the Sansevieria genus, snake plants are now classified under the Dracaena genus.

These plants are native to tropical Africa and are known for their long, upright leaves that resemble snake tongues.

Snake plants are favored for their air-purifying properties and ability to tolerate low-light conditions.

Soil, Pots, and Repotting

1. Choosing the Best Soil

The choice of soil is crucial for the health of your snake plant. While various potting mixes can work, it is essential to ensure proper drainage.

A recommended potting mix for snake plants consists of 2-3 parts cactus/succulent mix and 1 part 1/4″ pumice. The addition of pumice, a volcanic rock, improves drainage and prevents waterlogged soil.

2. Selecting the Right Pot

When it comes to pots for snake plants, there are several options. Terra cotta pots are a popular choice due to their breathability, but they tend to dry out quickly.

Alternatively, plastic nursery pots can be used, with the option to slip them into more decorative pots. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent water accumulation, which can lead to root rot.

3. Importance of Drainage Holes

All plants, including snake plants, require pots with drainage holes. Without proper drainage, the risk of root rot increases significantly.

Ensure that your pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape and prevent waterlogged soil.

4. Repotting Timing

Snake plants prefer to be root-bound and can remain in the same pot for several years. However, if the plant becomes extremely root-bound or starts breaking the pot, it is time to consider repotting.

Late winter or early spring is generally the best time to repot, as many plants are entering their active growth phase. However, repotting can be done at any time of the year if necessary.

Fertilizing Snake Plants

5. Importance of Fertilization

Fertilizing snake plants is crucial for their growth and overall health. While they naturally grow in areas with poor soil conditions, providing them with proper nutrients will result in a healthier plant.

Although snake plants do not require excessive amounts of fertilizer, regular fertilization will promote optimal growth.

6. Choosing the Right Fertilizer

When selecting a fertilizer for your snake plant, opt for an all-purpose fertilizer formulated for houseplants, especially those designed for succulents.

Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content, as this can result in weak and floppy new growth. Instead, choose a balanced fertilizer that provides essential nutrients without promoting excessive foliage growth.

7. Avoiding Excessive Nitrogen

Standard all-purpose fertilizers like Miracle Gro, which have high nitrogen content, should be avoided for snake plants. The excessive nitrogen can lead to weak and floppy growth.

However, Miracle Gro offers a specific Succulent Plant Food that is suitable for snake plants, with a lower nitrogen content that won’t harm the plant.

Watering Snake Plants

8. Watering Frequency

Determining the ideal watering frequency for your snake plant is essential. Rather than watering on a set schedule, it is best to water when the plant needs it. Snake plants prefer their potting mix to dry out completely before watering again.

Check the moisture level by feeling the soil with your finger, as moisture meters can be unreliable.

9. Watering Amount

When watering your snake plant, it is unnecessary to measure the water amount precisely. Various watering myths exist, but the key is to thoroughly moisten the potting mix and allow any excess water to drain away.

Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other issues.

Humidity Requirements

10. Humidity

Snake plants do not require any special attention to humidity levels. They can tolerate a wide range of humidity conditions, making them suitable for various environments.

Whether your home is dry or humid, snake plants will thrive as long as their other care requirements are met.

Light Requirements

11. Optimal Light Levels

While snake plants are often considered low-light plants, they still require a sufficient amount of light to grow and maintain their form.

Dim light conditions can result in poor growth and, over time, weaken and distort the plant. For optimal results, place your snake plant directly in front of a window with at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight.

While they can tolerate low-light conditions, their growth will be significantly slower.

12. Issues with Dim Light

Growing snake plants in dim conditions can lead to various problems. The potting mix takes longer to dry out, increasing the risk of root rot.

Additionally, the plant’s overall form can be affected, with leaves becoming weak and bending. To prevent these issues, provide adequate light to your snake plant to ensure healthy growth.

Propagation Methods

13. Propagation by Division

Snake plants can be propagated through various methods, including division. Dividing the plant involves separating the rhizomes and planting them individually.

This method is ideal when the plant has grown too large for its pot or when you want to create new plants.

14. Leaf Cuttings

Another propagation method for snake plants is leaf cuttings. This involves taking a healthy leaf and placing it in water or soil until it develops roots.

Leaf cuttings can be an effective way to propagate snake plants and produce new plants.

15. Rhizome Cuttings

Rhizome cuttings involve taking a portion of the rhizome, the thick underground stem, and planting it to grow a new plant.

This method requires careful handling to ensure successful propagation.

16. Seed Propagation

While less common, snake plants can also be propagated from seeds.

However, this method requires more time and patience, as it takes longer for the plants to develop and mature.

Common Problems and Solutions

17. Leaf Curling

Leaf curling in snake plants is often a sign of the potting mix drying out too much. If you notice leaf curling, check the soil moisture and ensure it hasn’t been dry for an extended period.

Soak the plant thoroughly if the soil has become completely dry to prevent further issues.

18. Drooping Leaves

Drooping leaves can be caused by dry soil conditions, similar to leaf curling. Ensure that your snake plant’s potting mix is adequately moistened and hasn’t been dry for too long.

19. Mushy Leaves

Mushy leaves can be a result of exposure to cold temperatures or prolonged wet conditions. If your snake plant’s leaves have turned mushy, it is essential to identify the cause and take appropriate action.

Avoid exposing the plant to cold temperatures and ensure proper drainage to prevent water accumulation.

20. Brown and Mushy Roots

Overwatering can lead to brown and mushy roots in snake plants. If you notice this issue, carefully trim away any affected roots and repot the plant in well-draining soil.

Avoid overwatering in the future to prevent root rot.

21. Stunted Growth

Insufficient light is a common cause of stunted growth in snake plants. These plants require a moderate amount of direct sunlight to thrive.

If your snake plant is not growing properly, consider adjusting its light exposure to provide adequate brightness.

22. Outdoor Conditions

Snake plants can be kept outdoors, but it is essential to consider the temperature and light conditions.

Ensure that the temperatures do not drop below 55°F (13°C) and provide partial shade when moving the plant from indoors to outdoors.

Gradually expose the plant to more sunlight over time to prevent burning.

23. Companion Planting

Snake plants can be paired with other plants as long as their light and soil moisture preferences align.

Many succulents make excellent companion plants for snake plants, creating an aesthetically pleasing display.

24. Winter Care

Winter care for snake plants requires adjusting their care routine to accommodate lower light levels and cooler temperatures.

Avoid watering on a schedule and instead check the moisture level of the potting mix to determine when to water.

Additionally, be mindful of cold and wet conditions, as they can lead to root rot.


By addressing common snake plant problems and providing solutions, you can ensure the health and vitality of your plants. Remember to consider the specific needs of snake plants, including their soil, potting, watering, and light requirements. With proper care, your snake plants will thrive and bring beauty to your indoor or outdoor space.

Leave a Comment