Talking about indoor plants, we can all agree that the snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is a classic favorite.
In fact, it can survive a lot of unfavorable conditions and thrives even in unsuitable growing environments.
It doesn’t require so much attention and can definitely survive for a long time. However, one common problem we face in raising snake plants is the splitting of its leaves.
Why are my snake plant leaves splitting? The splitting of leaves is mainly due to mechanical or physical damage. This is possible when you have pets, when you mishandle them during transfers or when the plant is located in a spot where there is a high movement going on. Additionally, factors like extreme temperature, overwatering, boron deficiency, and the presence of pests can also do the same harm.
Causes of Snake Plant Leaves Splitting and How to Fix It
The leaves of the snake plant are its main attraction. I know that it’s a huge turn off whenever you see your snake plants get damaged leaves.
Splitting would break its variegated look and will make the plant look ugly. But, hey, there’s no need to throw into panic.
There are ways in which you can fix them. Let’s take a look at how we can find solutions to this problem.
Mechanical or Physical Damage
Although I hate to mention that your cute dogs or cats might be the suspect, and yeah, they probably caused the splitting.
Pets are definitely one of the enemies of indoor plants. They love playing with them without realizing that they are actually ruining it.
Plants have cooling effect so they love hanging around them.
What to Do?
- Place the plant in a safe location where your roaming pets could not reach. Also take note that snake plants are mildly toxic to pets so better keep them away.
- Surround them with a barricade-like structure or makeshift indoor fence for protection.
- Use large pots and/or plant holders that will elevate the plant from the floor.
- Train your pets not to mess around with your other “babies”.
Don’t get frustrated whenever you experience your pets causing damage to your plants. You’ll definitely learn the balance in taking care of both of them. Just keep on trying!
If you move around your snake plants and are not careful enough, you’ll cause them physical harm. So, before you try to rearrange and relocate them from one place to another, make a plan first.
Your goal is to minimize the movement to prevent them from getting scratches, splits, or spills.
What to Do?
- Make a mental note of the arrangement you want to have.
- Remove all the plants starting with the small potted ones to the biggest and place them outside the room.
- Rearrange your interior and carefully bring back the plants one by one to its new location.
- Avoid overcrowding around your snake plant especially if you have a lot of other plants placed indoors (I understand the obsession but please be extra careful).
There are proper ways and techniques of handling your plants. You’ll learn them as you move along with your planting spree.
High Traffic Location
When the snake plant’s location has high traffic, chances are big that it will experience splitting. High traffic spots include doorways and stairs, those places where people are mostly passing through.
They may have unconsciously touched the leaves with their feet as they move in or out. Their bags would probably have bumped into it. There are numerous possibilities, right?
What to Do?
- Place them somewhere in the house where there’s less movement (i.e. corners, windowsill, tabletops).
- Put a designated cabinet display for your snake plant so that there’s enough space for them.
- Let your folks know how important your plants are to you. Encourage them to treat your plants with care and respect.
- Minimize the number of plants if your indoor space is limited.
I know that we can get overly excited when putting our plants on display. But, make sure their location is also conducive for their growth. You wouldn’t want to see your plants in bad shape, would you?
Although I’ve mentioned earlier that snake plants are very tolerant, but anything in excess would be a harm. Extreme temperature can generally cause stress among plants.
Ideally, snake plants tolerate a temperature ranging from 60 to 80 Fahrenheit (15- 27 °C). If the temperature gets extremely low or high, they will be scarred.
Particularly, snake plants hate very cold environments, less than 50 Fahrenheit (15°C). This concern becomes crucial during winter periods so better keep an eye to your plant.
What to Do?
- Never leave them in a place where there’s a prolonged exposure to extremely low and high temperatures like heaters or air conditions
- Put a shade to serve as insulator if the plants are in the windowsill
- Shift them in a new location whenever necessary especially when it’s too cold or too hot
Varying temperatures can ruin your plants in an instant but if you’re wary, you can save them from the possible harm. Make it a habit to check on them once in a while.
Snake plants aren’t happy with so much water. If you overdo your watering that’s probably the reason why its leaves are splitting. Remember that your plant is a succulent which loves a dry environment.
Too much water intake will cause the leaves to expand rapidly. When temperature rises and transpiration rate is high, water will be used up causing the leaves to shrink.
The sudden change in swelling and shrinking can damage the cells of the snake plant. Thus, splitting happens.
What to Do?
- Do not water your snake plant every day. Twice a month is enough.
- Repot and use a more suitable soil-mix, one with good drainage.
- Leave it in a place with a dry environment.
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Boron is a micronutrient that plants need for cell wall formation, stability, and maintenance of structural membranes. Once deficient, the snake plant will have a weaker general structure including its leaves.
What to do?
- Check your soil’s pH. Too acidic or too alkaline soil inhibits the availability of Boron.
- Add more organic matter to the soil to improve the availability of essential nutrients.
Presence of Pests
Snake plants have sturdy leaves but believe it or not, they also suffer from pests such as mealybugs and spider mites.
They tend to suck the sap from its leaves leaving tiny marks on the surface that may later worsen to big scars and splits.
What to Do?
- Check on your plants regularly and look for the presence of pests.
- Manually remove any foreign organisms you see in the plants.
- Cut off plant parts that are severely infected and dispose properly.
Pests may reappear once in a while depending on the season. So, you need to be vigilant in spotting them before they cause too much harm. It’s hard to recover a heavily infested plant.
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How to Prevent Snake Plant’s Leaves From Splitting
Now let’s talk about how you can prevent your snake plants leaves from splitting. Good care and ensuring the requirements of the snake plant will help you prevent this problem.
Good Potting Mix
Your soil will play a huge part in the success of your planting. Make sure that it’s rich in organic matter, well-drained, free from fungus and has ideal pH (5 to 6.5).
Put effort in mixing up the right amount of soil amendments before potting.
Create an environment with favourable conditions for your snake plants. Choose the place that is partially shaded.
Also, make sure that it is not overcrowded and that plant have stable placement to avoid mechanical damages. Opt for a dry environment.
Less Frequent Watering Schedule
Schedule would vary depending on the season. If the season is dry, do it twice a week. If it’s winter and cold, even once a month will do.
Always let the soil become dry first before watering again.
Constant Check Up
Remember that you’re taking care of living organisms that require attention. Being hands-on with your plants is always the key.
Observe their behavior and responses to the changing environment. It’s best to diagnose a problem early to avoid further setbacks in the future.
Always Do Your Research
You’ll be surprised at the amount of knowledge you’ll learn once you start learning the ins and outs of planting snake plants.
Make it a habit to get to know your plant better. There are a lot of resources you can tap and most of them offer solutions.
Source: University of Arkansas System
Are Snake Plants Worth Another Try?
Yes! It’s normal to experience heartbreaks when you’re gardening. Just don’t give up. By now, you’ve probably learned the reasons why your snake plant’s leaves are splitting.
You can now release that breath of relief because most of the causes of such damage are actually easy to manage and preventable.
Follow the tips given above and see how it fixes the problem. Are you ready to give it another shot?