How To Fix Snake Plant Root Rot (Step By Step)


Indoor potted snake plant showing root rot symptom

Growing plants isn’t always an easy endeavor. Sometimes problems can crop up with things like root rot. In this article, I’ll show you how to fix snake plant root rot and then go on to show you how to prevent it in the first place.

The old saying, prevention is better than treatment, is of course true but if you’re looking at this page problems have likely already appeared with your snake plant. 

To fix snake plant root rot you need to repot the infected plant in a new container with fresh new soil. Make sure the soil and pot has the drainage capacity to avoid stagnant water. Before repotting, remove the infected soft and rotten part of the root system with a sterilized garden shears. 

If you want more detail on how to deal with snake plant root rot read onwards. I’ll take you through how you can prevent root rot in the first place as well as advice on treating root rot in advanced cases.

Signs Of Snake Plant Root Rot

As with all problems, there are multiple signs of snake plant root rot that you should look out for in order to keep your snake plant alive and healthy. 

The problem with root rot and why it is so dangerous to your plant is that it’s symptoms can often go unnoticed underneath the soil. 

Root rot takes place where you won’t be able to see so it’s important to keep an eye on your snake plant if you want to look out and be careful of it.

The root system of a plant is typically full of water and so is the soil surrounding it. 

Later on, I will take you through preventing the possibility of root rot. This space under the soil is the keyspace for root rot to occur.

You may be able to see root rot if roots reach above the surface of the soil. You can check the root periodically by removing the plant from the pot.

Wilting

If your snake plant begins to wilt for unknown reasons it is a good idea to check the roots for symptoms of root rot. The snake plant leaves curling is another sign of this disease. There are many reasons why a snake plant can wilt including lack of water.

So you should ensure that you are providing your snake plant with the right amount of water in all scenarios. Overwatering can be just as deadly as forgetting to water. 

Snake Plant Turning Yellow And Soft

If your snake plants’ leaves begin to turn yellow, then this is another possible sign that there may be root rot within the plant. Yellow leaves are another problem that can arise from a lack of water.

Once you eliminate the option, it is time to check the roots. If your snake plants both wilts and has yellow leaves it is time to check for the third sign of root rot below the soil.

Due to fungal infection in snake plant roots It starts to rot. Because of the rotten roots system it becomes ineffective to supply necessary nutrients. Thus, overwatered or root rot makes the snake plant turn yellow and soft. 

Black Mushy Roots

If your snake plant is experiencing root rot it will have black, mushy roots. Normal roots may be black however they will be strong and will not feel mushy to the hands.

Roots that have rotted may disconnect from the plant immediately upon contact with your hands which is another sure sign that there is root rot at work.  Not all of the roots may be rotten. Only certain roots may show signs of damage.

Causes of Snake Root Rot

This is the part you have all been waiting for! I will take you through the causes of root rot and this will help you to prevent it from occurring. 

The good news is that although root rot can be deadly to snake plants there are many steps which you can take to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This allows you to keep your snake plant healthy and verdant. 

Overwatering

This is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to root rot in plants. Watering your plants is something that every good plant owner will instinctively want to do, after all, it’s what keeps your plant alive isn’t it?

Despite this, too much water can prove deadly for a plant and their owners should use caution when deciding to water their plants. 

Overwatering can cause root rot in snake plants when the water begins to build up in the soil around the roots of the plant. This water will build up and saturate the outside layer of the roots with water. 

This constant amount of water pressed against the plant will cause it to experience problems.

With so much water pressed against the roots, the plant will not be able to take in oxygen from the roots. The plant will then become reliant on just the stomata on its leaves for oxygen transfer.

Lack of oxygen causes the root to turn black. This will only cause the roots to rot as the roots are the part which are unable to attain oxygen as a result of the water blocking it. 

If you have overwatered your snake plant, this article covers all you need to know.

Poor Drainage

It is important that your snake plant is in a place where it has adequate drainage in order for it to survive. This means that you should use pots where your snake plant has adequate room to grow properly both in depth and width.

It is important not just that your plant has enough space on the surface, but also for its roots underneath the soil.

When a plant is in a pot that has a solid base, it may not be possible for water to drain out of the bottom when it is necessary.

This means that the water will collect inside the pot and begin to starve the plant off valuable oxygen.

Make sure that the pot has functioning holes at the bottom to drain out the excess water. This may rule out your favourite pot but it is worth it to ensure that your snake plant stays alive and healthy!

Poor Drainage Capacity Soil

When there is poor quality soil it is harder for your snake plant to grow. Even with adequate drainage at the bottom of the plant the water may still struggle to reach through the soil to leave.

Good soil should contain about a third of compost/ hummus and sometimes you can use sand to increase drainage.

Pathogenic Infection

The other main cause of root rot besides water is fungi. This pathogenic infection may spread to the plant from others in the surrounding area. 

It could occur if you use a pot that has pathogens from other plants. It could also occur if you use the infected soil.

Extra Large Pot

The use of an extra-large pot can have negative effects when trying to grow a snake plant.

Although your natural instinct may be to give each plant a large pot to give it space to grow, a too-big pot can cause root rot. A pot that is 1-2 inches (3-6 cm) bigger than necessary will typically work well for your snake plant.

The reason that extra-large pots cause root rot is that any excess water will sit in the soil.

The snake plants’ roots will be too small to reach all corners of the pot and eventually the water across the pot will build up and cause root rot within the plant.

This can be deadly for the plant and once again shows the importance of a properly sized pot for your snake plant.

Low Temperature

Whilst freezing cold temperatures may be the first thing to jump into your mind after reading that subheading, it is important to realise that some plants are more sensitive to changes in temperature than others.

You should ensure that your snake plant is located somewhere that is surrounded by the correct temperature for its growth. 

If the temperature surrounding the plant’s roots are too low then it may experience root rot.

This happens when the roots may begin to freeze and struggle to take more oxygen in through its roots.

Watering In Dormant Period

If you water your snake plant during a period in which it does not need to grow you may cause root rot. This happens as the plant is sluggish and does not need to take in lots of extra water in order to survive or grow. 

The additional water begins to build up within the pot as it is not used by the plant. You should try to only give your  plant more water when they need to grow and are receiving plenty of sunlight and nutrients.

Excess Fertilizer Application

When you use too much fertilizer a snake plant will strain itself in its attempt to extract water.

The fertilizer will serve as a sign that the plant should extend its roots and chase the extra nutrients however too much fertilizer will cause the plants’ roots to shrivel and die. 

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How To Save Snake Plant From Root Rot

In this section, I will show you how to save your snake plant from root rot in extra detail, including the process of repotting your plant. This should bring clarity to you as you decide how best to treat your plant.

Repotting Your Plant

⦾ Choose a pot that is of adequate size for the plant to grow. The pot should be 1-2 inches (3-6cm) than is required for the root and shoot space. Snake plants can grow anywhere from 8 inches to 12 feet high (20- 360cm). Their leaves are typically about two feet (60cm). 

⦾ Cover the drainage holes with a porous material. Things like coffee filter paper allow the water to drain out of the pot successfully.

⦾ Layer your soil within the pot. I will detail which soil to use in the next section.

⦾ Water the plant and the soil around it to make it easier to move.

⦾ Remove your snake plant from its old pot carefully. The root rot may cause some of the roots to detach.

⦾ Cut off roots which have been infected with root rot, and as much of the soil around them as is possible.

⦾ Try to untangle the old roots.

⦾ Place the plant in its new pot.

Using Appropriate Soil Mix

You should ensure that the soil mix has about a third of fertilizer and one-third of ordinary soil. You can use landscaping sand with the final third to increase drainage capacity. 

If you were experiencing problems with drainage beforehand, perlite may help to increase your soils’ drainage capacity. Ready made soil mix can also be a great option.

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Watering After Repotting

You should heavily water a snake plant after a repot. This is because the soil at the bottom will not have enough water for the plant to survive. Ensure a moderate watering so that the plant can settle on the new soil.

The water at the top of the layer should mostly evaporate and the remainder should sink down through the soil assuming that the soil structure allows for proper drainage.

This is an important step as otherwise, the snake plant will not take in enough water to survive in its new environment.

Follow this article to save your root rot affected snake plant. It covers all the details you need to know.

Care After Repotting

You should place the Snake plant in a slightly cooler environment after repot. This allows the plant’s roots to heal best. You should also ensure that there is enough fertilizer for the plant.

Propagation

If your snake plant severely damaged with root rot, then you should try propagating a new plant from the old one.

You can do it by taking a cutting from the old plant and replanting it in an environment where it will be capable of growth. Dividing a snake plant is an easy way to propagate it.

Chemical Treatment

You can opt for a chemical treatment to treat snake plants with root rot. The most important thing is to disinfecting the roots with a fungicide killing powder before repotting.

Without this step, the root rot will simply spread alongside the plants into the new pot and continue to do damage.

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Natural Remedies For Snake Plant Root Rot

If you want to get rid of root rot with folk remedies you should try to do it straight away. Folk remedies only work at the initial stages of root rot.

Apply the prepared solutions on the lower part of the plant and the surface layer of the soil. You can use a range of solutions for this:

Potassium permanganate. Prepare a solution of pale pink potassium permanganate and water the plant at and around the base of its stem. You should make sure that there is a large amount of water in the solution otherwise the permanganate will be too strong and may burn your snake plant. 

Chalk and copper sulfate-based paste. You should mix 3 tablespoons of crushed chalk, 1 teaspoon of copper sulfate, and 0.5 liters of water. You should have a creamy liquid once you have added and mixed all the ingredients. Rub the lower part of the stem, the root collar, and the affected roots with the liquid. Then, dry the roots slightly and replant your snake plant. 

Wood ash and chalk. Mix the two items equally. Use the powder to the roots of your snake plant. Then your plant is ready to go.

You should replace all the old soil with new soil if you discover root rot. You need to disinfect the soil with a solution of potassium permanganate or boiling water.

Allow one week’s time between applying the solution to allow microorganisms to return to the soil.  This will also mean you will need to water your snake plant slightly less in the future. 

How To Prevent And Control Snake Plant Root Rot

1. Sterilize the Cuttings: Do this with one of the chemical solutions shown above.

2. Disinfect pots: You should disinfect old pots if you intend on placing new plants into it. Make sure you also disinfect the roots of the plant.

3. Sterilized the soil with chemicals as prescribed above.

4. Disinfect the tools you use.

5. Maintaining Humidity and Temperature: If your snake plant is indoor then is easy to maintain the temperature and humidity.

6. Avoid waterlogging.

7. Loosen the soil to allow excess water to drain out.

9. Avoid Overfertilization (You should apply fertilizer should in doses since an excess of minerals can provoke the growth of pathogenic microflora)

10. Ensuring that the plant consistently receives enough water and fertilizer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you revive a dying snake plant?

The best way to revive your snake plant is to cut off the root rot and allow the plant to grow properly. The plant should then be replanted somewhere where the conditions are correct for it to grow and further away from the root rot.

Why does my snake plant have no roots?

If your snake plant has no roots the root rot may have completely finished its course and destroyed the roots entirely. In this case, the best chance is to take a cutting of your current plant and replant it to allow a new plant to grow.

Does hydrogen peroxide kill root rot?

You can use hydrogen peroxide to kill fungus on plants. Hydrogen peroxide will be useful in treating root rot which occurred as a result of fungal infection. It eliminates the fungus and bacteria also release oxygen after breakdown within the soil. This way hydrogen peroxide acts as a remedy for root rot disease.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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