Signs of Underwatered Snake Plant (And How To Revive It)


Indoor snake plant showing signs of underwatered snake plant.

Underwatered Snake Plant usually has several symptoms. To bring back their flourished look, you have to confirm the problem and take countermeasures.

This article will guide you in identifying signs of an underwatered Snake Plant and show some steps to fix them.

An underwatered Snake Plant results in the malformation of foliage and stunted growth. You may find the leaves wrinkling, drooping, and curling. Browning that varies from tips, edges, to entire leaf also results from lack of water. Dry soil may also indicate that the Snake Plant is in great thirst. 

Read on and this article will further describe these signs. You will also learn several techniques on how to save the Snake Plant from underwatering. 

Signs of Underwatered Snake Plant

Plants usually manifest their extreme dehydration through the changes in their appearance.

This includes the discoloration and distortion of the leaves and shallow growth. You will find out more about these in the following lines. 

Snake Plant Wrinkling

The signs of utmost thirst usually appear first in the leaves of the plants. Such gestures of Snake Plant include wrinkling.

Wrinkles for plants are similar to humans. These are lines that appear on the surfaces of the leaves. They come in short and long sizes with varying depths. 

Snake Plant Drooping

If your snake plant sits in a desert-like environment for a long time, it will weaken. Their vibrant leaves will start to droop and look lifeless.

This happens because of underwatering. Lack of water interrupts the process of giving the requirements to the entire plant. Thus, this makes the leaves hang and bend down. 

Snake Plant Have Brown Tips

You will also know that it is an underwatered Snake Plant if the tip of the leaves discolored. 

A tip that is turning brown is just a normal response in this incident. It occurs because there is not enough moisture to deliver nutrients. 

Thus, it will not reach some areas, especially the farthest part of the leaves. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to make those affected parts green again. 

Brown and Dry Leaf Edges

The reason behind the browning tips is a similar culprit to the discoloration sides of the leaves. An inadequate amount of water cannot supply every part with important substances.

Thus, the color of the edges will gradually become yellow to brown. These also seem dry and crispy. From just edges, browning can further slowly spread throughout the entire leaf. 

Snake Plant Leaves Curling

It is unpleasant to see the blades of the Snake Plant fold and twist in curves and circles. 

If this happens, check if your Snake Plant is receiving a sufficient amount of water. While curling can mean many things, underwatering is also a possible reason to look out for.  This article covers more details about the causes of curling and how to fix the problem.

Such malformation is a technique for structural stiffness. It is their way to cope with several issues including water stress. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Leaves Turning Brown

Completely brown and crunchy leaves are peculiar sights. If your Snake Plant has the same symptoms, you probably left them in drought for a long time.

This means they are not concurrently receiving moisture and important substances. Thus, this makes their foliage almost entirely or fully brown. 

Underwatering can not only damage the leaves but also the roots. If the roots become heavily and significantly damaged, it can lose normal functionality. 

Potting Soil is Dry

Though Snake Plant is drought-tolerant, you must water it from time to time. Too dry potting soil is a possible sign of underwatering. 

It is a definite nay because it interrupts the supply of nutrients from coming up to the plant. It is because the plant is missing the means of nutrient supply, which is the water. 

Slow Growth

If you notice that your Snake Plant is growing too slowly, you should suspect that there is a problem. 

Shallow growth of plants is a result of either lacking in moisture or nutrients. Such deficiency will hinder the progress of plant growth and development.

Signs of Underwatered Snake Plant Vs. Overwatered Snake Plant

You may find differentiating of underwatered to overwatered plants confusing.  This article goes into more detail about Saving Overwatered Snake Plant and explains some of the best ways to revive the plant and avoid the watering mistakes.

While some symptoms are similar, you can confirm the problem through a careful examination.

The table below points out notable differences between the two problems. 

Signs of Underwatered Snake PlantSigns of Overwatered Snake Plant
The lower leaves are usually the first to curl and wilt. All leaves whether new or old will start to droop. 
The leaves are dry and brittle. The leaves seem mushy and squashy. 
An under watered plant has no rotten roots. It is because it lacks water. Waterlogging leads to a rotten root. Roots are brown, soft, and wet roots. A foul scent usually accompanies it as well. 
Either on soil or plant, there is no formation of adverse organisms in this case. Overwatering results in the formation of mold and visible fungi. You can find it both on the soil and plant.
The soil surrounding the plant is severely dry. It appears hard with very compacted particles. An overwatered soil is soggy, soupy, and wet. Worse cases even have water that is still sitting in the pot. 

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How to Revive Underwatered Snake Plant

1. Choose The Right Container 

It is important to pick the right container that will suit your Snake Plant. Upon choosing one, always consider pot requirements such as size, type, and structure.

Pot Size

Go for the storage that is one size larger than your Snake Plant. Get a pot that is around two inches bigger in diameter than the root ball.

Always ditch the smaller or larger ones. Too small pots will constrict the roots from growing. While too large containers might cause waterlogging, leading to root rot. 

Damaged roots will not properly function.These compromise the supply of essentials to the plants. 

Pot Type

Choose pots that are porous to allow both the moisture and air to easily move through them. The best example that has this characteristic is the clay pot. 

Clay pots are usually better to use for Snake Plant than the plastic ones. It is for the reason that they are susceptible to root rot.

And the clay types solve this because they make the soil dry quicker.  (Source: University of Vermont, Department of Plant and Soil ScienceOpens in a new tab.)

Aside from that, clay pots also give additional protection to the plant when left outside.

Its thick walls prevent rapid temperature changes from shocking or damaging the plant. They also do not tip easily.

Pot Structure

Because Snake Plant is an upright plant, check if the pot is proportional to the plant’s height. Snake Plant commonly grows up to four to five feet. 

Additionally, make sure that there are plenty of holes in the base of the pot. This is for good drainage. Add a few holes by drilling the container, if needed. 

Do not forget to also place a tray below the pot. This will catch the excess water and prevent mess indoors. Remove its content from time to time to prevent overflowing. 

2. Proper Watering Practice 

Water the Snake Plant moderately. Though they do not need a lot of care, they fret of the desert- or pool-like environments like most plants. 

Too dry soil equates to the ineffective supply of essential substances to the plants. It is because the means of transportation is lacking, which is water. 

Meanwhile, excessive amounts of water can lead to root rotting. A damaged root can no longer functionally deliver nutrients to the plants. 

These tips will help you determine if it is already the time to water your plant. 

  • Check the moisture of the soil by touching it. Do it by sticking out your finger deep down or through a moisture meter. Around one to two inches from the surface should dry out before watering again. 
  • Listen to the sound of the soil. Gently tap the pot. It will sound dull if it is still damp, otherwise hollow. 
  • Feel the weight of the pot. You can do it by lifting the storage. Dry soil is usually lighter. 
  • Inspect the color of the potting mix. Potting mixes transition from dark to light color if they are starting to dry. 

Check out this in-depth article about how much water you should use for a snake plant.

3. Use Quality Water

Proper watering techniques are not enough to revive the thirsty Snake Plants. They should also receive filtered water that is free of adverse chemicals. 

Getting these harmful substances will eventually accumulate and build up. This will result in the inhibition of certain plant processes like photosynthesis.

Tap water can cause brown spots on your snake plant leaves. Here is an article about the causes of brown spots and how you can fix the problem.

If the plant fails to make sufficient food, they will not succeed in thriving again. 

Here are the measures to prevent such cases from happening:

  • Immediately stop using tap water. Chemicals like fluorine naturally occur in this fluid. 
  • Get a water purification system. This is a significant investment that will benefit both of you and the plants. 
  • Collect rainwater or melted snow. You can also buy or manually distill the water with the DIY approach.
  • Give them lukewarm water, ideally ranging from 62°F to 72°F (17°C to 22°C). Too cold or hot fluid might shock the Snake Plant. 

4. Create the right environment 

The right environment will support the growth of the Snake Plant. Make sure that the plant is living somewhere with sufficient light, correct temperature, and humidity. Ideal places are also free from extreme external conditions.

a. Sufficient Light

You can place Snake Plants in places with moderate to bright light. Their leaves will just develop light cross-bands in a brighter area. And become solid dark green under low light conditions. 

Though they can withstand full sun, they can still get a sunburn. They might develop dark and crispy spots. This happens when you leave them out in scorching summer with intensive rays. 

To fix these, do the following:

  • If there are brown spots, it is better to just cut the entire leaf. Trim it in the part that is the closest to the ground. Do not worry, a new shoot will eventually replace it. 
  • If you are planning to grow the Snake Plant outdoors, give it a shade. You can do this by adding a cloth or a taller plant as a blockage to the sun. 
  • Periodically rotate the pot of the Snake Plant for even light distribution. This procedure helps the plant keep growing vertically. This will also avoid the bending of the plant in just one direction. (Source: University of Florida, IFASOpens in a new tab.)

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b. Correct Temperature 

The temperature of the environment where the Snake Plant grows is also crucial. Snake Plant thrives well in conditions that are ranging from 55°F to 85°F (13°C to 30°C). 

Too high or too low temperatures can both compromise their health. Extremely high temperatures will make certain plant processes abnormal. While severely low temperatures can cause chill damage to the plant. 

To avoid these risky events, here are the few things you can do:

  • Check if your Snake Plant is in areas where temperature can drastically change. Such areas are those that are fantastic for hot weather but get drafty during the cold season. Spots near doors and windows are a few examples. 
  • Bring back the temperature to the acceptable range by using some devices. A thermostat can bring extra warmth to the place. And a fan can cool the environment.

c. Accurate Humidity

Though Snake Plants tolerate neglect, they still need accurate humidity to thrive. Give them moisture if they are sitting in a warm environment with low humidity.

A too dry environment leads to rapid transpiration. If this happens, moisture will escape from the leaves faster, which can further lead to water loss. This abrupt deprivation can affect the overall health of the plant. 

Check out these ways to help your Snake Plant cope from low humidity:

  • Mist the plant. It’s short-term effectiveness greatly suits the Snake Plant. It is because it does not like overwhelming moisture. 
  • Place the Snake Plant together with other plants. This procedure will mimic an environment with increased humidity. 
  • A humidifier is a great way to increase humidity around plants.

d. Stress-free Conditions

While Snake Plants are tough plants, they are also vulnerable to extreme external events. 

Intensive wind can intensively yank the Snake Plant and tear each leaf away from the roots. Scorching hot seasons can dehydrate them rapidly. Rubbish and dirty surroundings also invite harmful pests.

Do not let your Snake Plant sit in this kind of environment. These will make the plant prone to risks and stress. Such cases will reduce the chance of the plant successful recovery. 

5. Use Proper Potting Mix

Overwhelming water is an enemy of the Snake Plant. That is why they require a soil that easily drains but keeps nutrients and moisture at the same time.

The standard potting mix is widely available in the commercial market. You just have to carefully follow the instructions written in the package.

You can also make one on your own. It is commonly made with three main components.

These are. vermiculite, composts, and builder sand or peat moss. The only drawback is you might spend much more on these.

Take note that with different potting mixes comes various watering techniques as well. Heavy potting media does not dry out rapidly.

While loose and porous mixes need more frequent watering. It is because they do not hold moisture for a long time. 

6. Ensure Nutrient Supply

Commonly, plants require additional plant food to recover again. The fertilizer will compensate for such insufficiency the soil, water, and light cannot provide. 

Feed your Snake Plant with fertilizer every few weeks, depending on their needs. Sometimes, not fertilizing them at all is better than overfertilizing them. 

Overfertilization can result in the formation of excess chemicals in the soil’s surface.

Such incidents will alter the pH level and hurt good microorganisms in the soil. These will further make the nutrients less accessible to the plant. 

Moreover, make the organic ones as your first options when choosing a fertilizer.

Natural fertilizers like vermicompost and cured manures enhance the state of the soil. They also improve the ability of the soil to keep air, nutrients, and soil.

You can purchase these fertilizers in the market. Or you can make one on your own, you just need to allot time and energy. 

FAQs

How often should you water an indoor snake plant? 

The frequency of watering an indoor Snake Plant depends on various factors. Assess it by using your judgment.

Snake Plants in bright spots require more periodic watering than those in darker areas. It’s because they dry out much quicker.

Snake Plants that sit in clay pots with heavy potting mixture also need less water.

Moderately water your Snake Plant during the hot season when the topmost part of the soil dries.

Water less frequently during winter, just to prevent the soil from drying out.

Can I cut the brown tips of my Snake Plant? 

If you find the brown tips as an aesthetic issue, you can trim them. Get a blade that is sharp enough to cut it once.

Do it carefully to avoid cutting the edges as well because these can become new scars to heal. 

How do you know if your Snake Plant is dying? 

A dying Snake Plant has multiple symptoms. It includes rotten root, discolored, and distorted foliage. 

A rotten root has a brown appearance and mushy texture. It also has a pungent smell coming from deep down.

The damaged root consequently affects the leaves. The leaves will start to droop, wilt, and turn yellow to brown. 

Final Words

You can now distinguish whether the problem of your Snake Plant is under watering or not. You can also fix this issue to help your Snake Plant thrive again. 

Which factors of underwatering did your Snake Plant show? Which among the tricks will you do first? 

Share your insights in the comment section below. 

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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