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!
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.
Here are the steps to save an overwatered snake plant:
- Hold back watering and place the snake plant pot in a sunny area.
- Remove the dirt after pulling out the plant from the pot.
- Look for the symptoms of root rot.
- Cut off infected parts with a clean scissor.
- Use a fungicide to treat the healthy roots after trimming.
- Use fresh new soil mix for repotting.
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:
- Soggy or mushy leaves
- Root rot
- Brown spots
- Wilting leaves
- Leaves turning yellow and soft
- Drooping leaves
- Brown tips
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.
Follow this article to save your root rot affected snake plant. It covers all the details you need to know.
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.
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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!
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How to Save an Overwatered Snake Plant
If you are unfortunate enough to experience snake plant root rot, it does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose your precious house plant.
What it does mean is that you are going to need to take remedial action, and you are going to need to take it quickly.
Don’t think you can ignore this matter just because you are going to be late for work or the house is on fire. This matter is far more important and needs your immediate attention.
If you catch the problem early enough it will be restricted to the rooting system.
If it has been able to establish itself more thoroughly, the rot may have spread higher up the plant and started to attack some of the leaves.
We will now look at treating both of these events.
Rot Restricted to Roots
If you see any of the symptoms of root rot then the first thing you want to do is to tip the snake plant out of its pot to get a closer look at the roots themselves.
If the soil surrounding the roots is wet and soggy that will be the first confirmation that overwatering is the cause of the problems.
Now, If the roots are brown and slimy, then you are seeing snake plant root rot itself.
- Remove the wet soil from around the roots first. I go as far as rinsing off as much soil as I can because that can harbor fungal pathogens.
- Next, cut back the brown rotting parts of each root with a pair of sterile secateurs.
- What you will need to do is cut back each root until you reach healthy white flesh. There should be no traces of brown in the root material.
- Once you have removed all of the damaged material you can give the healthy roots a slight prune as this will encourage them to grow faster and thus speed the recovery of your plant.
- At this point, it is a good idea to treat the root ball with a fungicide solution which will discourage any further root infection.
- Now, I prefer to lay the plant on a sheet of newspaper for a few hours and let the roots dry. Because snake plants are succulent this should not cause any wilting problems.
- Finally, you want to replant your snake plant into a clean pot that is just large enough to accommodate the root ball.
You should plant into a cactus mix or make up your own potting mix in the formula I have already described. Whichever version you opt for, make sure that it provides good drainage properties.
Don’t water your plant at this stage. There will probably be some moisture in the potting mix and the plant needs a little downtime before it is exposed to water again.
I suggest you let the plant stand until the soil is well and truly dry before giving it any water at all.
This may take a few days but don’t worry about that. Stand the plant in a position where it will receive bright light but not direct sunlight.
Dispose of any old potting soil as it will be harboring disease and thoroughly wash the pot that the plant was growing in.
You should also sterilize the secateurs that you used with rubbing alcohol to avoid contaminating the next plant that you prune.
Rot Spread More Widely
If you are unlucky and have not caught this problem early enough, the rot may have advanced further than just the roots.
A good way to test for this is to squeeze the leaves. If they are soft and mushy it is an indication that rot has reached that area of your snake plant. Healthy leaves will be firm.
- If the leaf is carrying rot then cut it off. If you then look at the base of the leaves you have removed, you will probably be able to clearly see the brown or black marks that are a tell-tale sign of rot.
- Cut off another inch of that same leaves and examine it again. Hopefully, the base of the leaves is now showing no signs of damage. If not, cut back again until you finally get to healthy plant material that the rot has not been able to reach.
- Don’t forget that you have been cutting with secateurs that are now infected. Disinfect them and cut off another quarter inch of plant material.
Saving Snake Plant by Propagation
If the damage is severe, then it is impossible to revive the plant to the normal state. At this point, you have to propagate to save your snake plant. Here’s how:
Cut off some healthy leaves that will propagate to start a new plant. It is safe to assume that if the roots have root rot and it has already made its way up into the leaves, the main plant is not retrievable.
You can repeat this procedure with other leaves so that you can save as much healthy plant material as possible.
What you are trying to do is take your cuttings from higher up the plant than the rot has been able to reach.
Lay your cuttings aside in indirect light until the base cuts heal. You will see when this has happened because they will develop corky scabs on them.
It normally takes several days for this to happen. Some gardeners like to dip the cuttings into powdered sulfur to speed the drying process but I don’t find this to be necessary.
When your cuttings are dry you can plant them into the same free-draining potting mix you have been using when potting on. The size of the cuttings should vary between 3-4 inches.
If you want multiple baby plants, you can plant several cuttings into one pot. If you prefer a tree-like structure then you will plant just one stem.
Whichever option you choose, plant the cuttings one to two inches deep into the potting mix keeping the base inside.
Get off to a good start by choosing a container that is not too large and which has sufficient drainage capacity.
Next, water very lightly the top of the soil and place in a position that offers indirect light.
These cuttings root very easily and now that you are aware of the plant’s requirements you should have no trouble nursing them into healthy mature plants.
How To Prevent Overwatering Snake Plant
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. If you have underwatered your snake plant, this article covers all you need to know.
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
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.
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.
Correctly Watering 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 the 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.
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Common Mistakes in Watering Snake plants
|Mistake||How to Avoid!|
|Irregular watering schedule||Create an alarm reminder on your phone that reminds you to water on a certain date.|
|Watering too much at once||Find a measured amount that works for your plant and keep up with that exact amount every time.|
|Soggy soil from too much water||Get 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 plant parents.
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.
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