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

Originally from dry regions of Africa and Southeast Asia, snake plants are succulents that thrive in dry conditions and dislike moisture. They’re super easy to care for and don’t require a lot of water, making them a popular choice for plant lovers. But don’t be fooled; they still need some watering.

Worrying about when to water your snake plant or if you’re doing it too late? No need to stress. Here’s how you can read the signs and find the perfect watering schedule for your snake plant.

Firstly, snake plants are more likely to suffer from overwatering than underwatering. So if you’re unsure, it’s better to err on the side of less water. Common signs of water deficiency include:

  • Leaves start to wrinkle.
  • Foliage loses its firmness.
Indoor snake plant showing signs of underwatered snake plant.

The typical watering advice of “wait until the soil is dry, then water generously” doesn’t really apply here. Snake plants can endure dry soil for quite a while, and they don’t like humid conditions. So if you water too much, you’ll do more harm than good.

Rather than checking the soil, it’s better to look at the leaves to determine when your snake plant needs water. Keep an eye on the condition of the leaves, and you’ll get the hang of your plant’s watering needs in no time!

Underwatered Snake Plant Vs. Overwatered Snake Plant

You may find differentiating between underwatered to overwatered snake plants confusing. 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 underwatered 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. 

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 plastic ones. It is for this reason that they are susceptible to root rot.

And the clay types solve this because they make the soil dry quicker. 

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 off 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, it 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.

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 a 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 with low humidity:

  • Mist the plant. Its 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’s successful recovery. 

5. Use Proper Potting Mix

Overwhelming water can make Snake Plant dying-like symptoms. . That is why they require 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 on 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 your first option 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. 


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 a heavy potting mixture also need less water.

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

Waterless 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 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 roots, discolored, and distorted foliage. 

A rotten root has a brown appearance and a 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 and soft.

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. 

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