How to Save Overwatered Snake Plant (sansevieria)


A snake plant showing overwatered effect.

The Snake plant is a beautiful plant that will be a perfect addition to your space. But sure enough, beauty comes at a price! When caring for a Snake plant, one of the biggest woes of its care can be overwatering. 

It is incredibly simple to overwater your snake plant, killing off its lovely foliage and eventually the plant itself. But have no fear! This article is the perfect guide for creating a healthy environment for your snake plant.

How to Save Overwatered Snake plant

After you conclude that your Snake plant’s problem is overwatering, don’t lose hope! Try to save it and see if you can bring your plant back to life. 

Do not water daily to aid in the drowning issue and give the Snake plant proper drainage to prevent root rotting.

Assess if you need to repot the Snake plant in better soil circumstances or if you need to treat it with fungicide.

Signs of Overwatered Snake plant

When it comes to figuring out if overwatering is your issue, you need to first evaluate the state and health of your plant to see if it applies.

Overwatering is the most common Snake plant problem, but plants face a lot of mountains and hardships throughout their life cycles. And you want to avoid improperly caring for your plant-based on a poor assessment!

Here is an overview of the signs of an overwatered Snake plant:

  • Root rot
  • Browning + wilting leaves
  • Yellowing leaves
  •  Drooping leaves

Root Rot

 What is root rot? It is the appearance of soft and brown roots that have been attacked by bacteria. They are attracted to moist circumstances. 

Although some bacteria can be good for plants, the ones that thrive in wet and soggy environments. They have the potential to create a lot of damage and issues for your Snake plant.

Water fungus can also grow and thrive in these wet environments. These types of fungus latch on to your plant and are not fun to encounter. 

Aside from the bacterial and fungal issues, your roots should not look brown. Roots should only look brown from being covered in the soil! 

A healthy root system should be strong and firm with a natural white or tan color if the soil was to be washed away.

Root rot can become a common issue for Snake plants due to overwatering that creates soggy roots.

When root rot occurs, it smells like death from the decay of the root system. 

As the rotting continues and destroys your plant, it will decompose and smell horrendous!

Examining a plant with root rot may be a bit difficult given that the visuals of the matter can’t be assessed because it takes place below the soil. 

However, if you notice any discoloration in the leaves or foliage beginning to waiver, then root rot may be the problem that has branched from overwatering.

Brown and Wilting Leaves

Unlike root rot, brown and wilting leaves are visible and hard to miss! Inconsistent watering is the biggest perpetrator for brown and wilting leaves in a Snake plant. 

While other issues such as pests and diseases may be a cause, watering inconsistently should be your first assessment as a gardener and plant caretaker. Brown leaves aren’t particularly dry! 

They usually feel soggy to the touch and hold over like a rag doll as they wilt. They are soft, not dry and crunchy like leaves on the ground during autumn seasons.

This salient point should be noted so you don’t misidentify the cause of your Snake plants’ poor health.

Because a Snake plant doesn’t need a lot of water, you may find yourself skipping watering days to give your plant a break and avoid overwatering it. 

As you go to water it the next time however, you could easily be supplying it with too much water seeing that it feels dry and it’s lacking water.

 If this is what you’re doing, then stop! No, really…please stop. Brown and wilting leaves are a sign of the poor watering job you’re doing in which you drown your plant with water. 

To compensate for the anxiety you may have about giving your Snake plant just the right amount.

Later in this article, I’ll tell you the perfect way to avoid that mishap and you’ll be on your way to better days with your plant care.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves unlike browning and wilting because of the way the vegetation looks. A plant that has browning greenery may look very droopy and limp. Yellowing leaves may not have that same feel or appearance. 

A leaf does not have to wilt at all to have yellowing or yellow spotting. The stress that is placed on the plant from lack of water or too much of it, creates the yellowing on the foliage.

All parts of your snake plant work together to make it what it is. Snake plants are oh-so particular when water is involved which makes it susceptible to root rot (as previously mentioned in the above section). 

Yellowing in the leaves is a direct sign of root rotting.  This happens because the leaves can no longer get the proper nutrients or water from the soil as the roots become infected with fungus and start to decay.

Leaves Falling over

Leaves that you see falling over may be a sign of overwater. Again, all of the parts of a plant work together. Many different aspects of the plant must align to create perfect plant health. 

As the roots begin to decay and are no longer able to supply the nutrients and moisture for the plant leaves. That its roots usually receive through the soil, it starts to affect the plant leaves.

Once the plant leaves begin to yellow and start looking very different from their usual green goddess beauty. They will fall over due to improper nutrition and care. The leaves of the snake plant fall over because it is trying to preserve itself.

Causes of Leaves Falling Over

When the winter season comes around, trees and other plants have to preserve themselves throughout the season.

In autumn, as the trees sense the cold weather and the lack of abundant water supply. They begin to consider the months ahead of them and how dreadful they may be.

Life is all about survival of the fittest, so the trees allow their leaves to fall over because the foliage is all for show… and for photosynthesis.

During photosynthesis, the leaves help convert the sun to turn the water and carbon dioxide into glucose for the plant to eat.

Although the leaves help make food, it is also an extra mouth to feed and they’re disposable.

When the snake plant knows colder and less sunny times are ahead it drops the leaves to keep the trunk, or in a plant’s case the stem, with hopes of reviving itself when life gets better.

If you can not fix your Snake plant, however, it will not have any way to revive itself from the damage!

How to Save an Overwatered Snake plant

Here are 4 ways you can take steps toward saving you Snake plant:

Water Consistently

Watering consistently is important for maintaining the health of your Snake plant. Snake plants do not need a lot of water but that may create doubt of proper plant care in the mind of the plant caretaker.

Let’s face it, watering is difficult to get the hang of, even for the most experienced plant keeper watering a plant that needs a lot of water, nonetheless a plant that needs very little amounts. 

You may find yourself watering your plant once, then being unsure of when to water it again because you don’t want to give it too much water. 

Then when you give it to water the next time, you see how dry the soil appears and really pour it up to try and “save” your Snake plant.

Don’t worry, it’ll be fine from letting the soil get a bit dry. It would be better off this way in all honesty.

I’ll explain watering much more thoroughly in a later “how-to” section that will give you the rundown on watering. 

Just in case you don’t reach that far, know that you must create a watering schedule and give it a consistent amount of water.

Don’t just pour a random amount until you feel like it’s a winner. That’s exactly how you over water and kill your plant baby. Avoid that at all costs!

Create a solid drainage system

There’s no easy way to say this… but if you don’t have a solid draining system down for your Snake plant, then you are doing something wrong and have a lot of learning to do.

The easiest draining method for a plant is with the pot you plant it in. You can head over to your local hardware store or plant shop and find plant pots with holes in the bottom that are meant to aid with draining the water from the soil. 

The better the drainage, the less water that your plant has to sit in. Remember that the Snake plant is susceptible to root rot.

You want to avoid creating a damp environment for fungus to flourish and root rot to take place.

As the water falls through the potholes, you should have a plate below it to catch the runoff water. Be very sure to empty off this excess water regularly…like all the time. 

Even if your plant is draining off the excess water, if any part of the soil has access to the water that ran off it, it will surely soak it right back up. Soil can be like a dirty sponge in that it absorbs everything.

If you have a pot that does not have drainage holes, you can create your own drainage system with these household items!

Plastic Bottles-Perfect for using plastic and upcycling
– Great for filling up the bottom of the planting pot to create space
-Lets the plant roots have room to breathe without sitting in wetness
Packing Peanuts– Last a long time
– Small and easy to get a hold of
– Won’t disintegrate
– Hold on to excess water well
 Woodchips– Decompose into the soil over time to compost
– Absorb a lot of water
– Easy to purchase or find locally
Rocks– Easy to find
– Can purchase at your local landscape or hardware store
– Create a filter of drainage

With all of these methods, just be sure not to pour too much water thinking that it will dissipate or become completely absorbed by the substances. Pour small and controlled amounts of water in a consistent manner

3.  Transplanting

Try transplanting the Snake plant into a new pot with fresh soil. Sometimes a fresh start is the best thing you can give your plant. 

Any type of fungus that may have been beginning to grow in the soil will surely linger and create some predicaments. You really can’t pick off fungus because the way it has spread may be microscopic. 

You want to put your Snake plant in a fresh environment that you know won’t be able to cause any problems. When you transplant, prune off old leaves so you can better assess the health of your plant. 

You want to get rid of old signs of issues so you can clearly tell if new ones are forming. Also, when you transplant you will be able to assess the health of the roots and see if the issue is clear from there.

4.  Change the soil

Every soil is different! Some soil is meant for holding water in it for a longer period of time than other types of soil.

Well-drained soil lets water move through it quickly and doesn’t get soggy the way other soils may become a mush.

If the soil holds on to water and does not quickly drain, the plants will sit in water and that is not something you want for the Snake plant.

Soils such as clay-based soil will hold the water for a very long time and create conditions that are entirely too wet for this type of plant. 

More sand-like soils will let the water drain through it too quickly and the plant won’t be able to get any moisture before the water has entered and left the building.

Try adding materials to your soil to create the perfect mix for you and your Snake plant.

Shredded peat moss or tree bark can create an organic mix that is healthy for the soil while giving it a good draining balance.

All About Watering your Snake plant

When watering your Snake plant, keep it simple! Less is more when it comes to judging how much water to give your plant.

Pour small amounts of water until you just barely see water trickling through to the bottom. 

You do not want to oversaturate the plant. Mist the air no more than twice a week if the environmental conditions are not fitting. If it is winter or you live in a particularly dry climate then this is acceptable.

Water once a week maximum! Keep a tight schedule and make a calendar so it doesn’t slip your mind. A guessing game can create issues for your Snake plant.

  • Don’t water with tap water! Tap water contains minerals and depending on where you live, it may have high levels of fluoride or iron. Most plants don’t get too hot with minerals in the soil because it prevents water from properly absorbing up into the roots and the plant. If the water can’t absorb properly then it will sit in the soil and create the root decay issue that we are so heavily trying to avoid!
  • By using filtered or purified water, you can eliminate this problem and create better circumstances for your Snake plant. Purchase a water purifier like a Brita filter or buy purified water in jugs from your local grocery store.
  • If you decide to transplant your Snake plant into new soil, water slightly heavier than you would usually, but not enough to drown the plant. You want to allow it to establish roots into the new pot of soil, but you don’t want to damage your Snake plant. Be mindful of the amount of liquid you give it and base it off the plant size and pot size.

Common Mistakes in Watering Snake plants

MistakeHow to Avoid!
Irregular watering scheduleCreate an alarm reminder on your phone that reminds you to water on a certain date.
Watering too much at onceFind a measured amount that works for your plant and keep up with that exact amount every time.
Soggy soil from too much waterGet a good drainage system going.

As you work toward giving your plant a healthy lifestyle, consider this article to be your saving grace! I know that keeping a plant can be hard, but we all have our ups and downs as caretakers. 

If you move forward with a new mindset and a better grasp on what your Snake plant needs from you, it will all be smooth sailing.

Consider your plant and what you’re doing for it at this very moment. How can you do better?

Happy Gardening!

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.

Recent Content