Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled? (Causes And Solutions)


Indoor potted snake plant leaves wrinkling

I love my snake plants because they marry well with pretty much any décor and add stunning architectural appeal to any space. For the most part, Sansevieria is a tough houseplant and does well indoors.

But their leaves can sometimes become wrinkled, curled, or otherwise shriveled.

You may be wondering what caused the leaves to get wrinkled. Wonder no more – we’re here to help get to the bottom of the problem.

Many environmental and physiological conditions can be responsible for  snake plant leaves wrinkling.

Snake plant leaves wrinkling mainly due to under watering or cold drafts. It can also occur because of overwatering, low humidity, diseases and insect infestation. The least possible causes may be lack of nutrition, low light exposure or excess fertilizer application.

You’d better know the real cause before attempting to revive your precious houseplants.

Keep reading to learn more about these common causes of wrinkled snake plant leaves and what you can do to restore your houseplant to health.

Causes of Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled

Underwatering

As with most plants, snake plant leaves are usually the first victims of extreme dehydration.

When you don’t water your houseplants as needed, the leaves will develop deep wrinkles as a sign of thirst. These lines may vary in length and depth.

In addition to wrinkling, you may notice that taller leaves become floppy, droopy, and leggy.

They may also look lifeless and develop brown tips or edges. This is generally not much of a problem and can be rectified by immediate watering.

The last thing you want is for your snake plant leaves to fold & twist in unsightly circles and curves. But that can also result from underwatering.

Other signs of underwatered snake plant include dry potting soil, stunted growth, and dry edges.

Dehydrated leaves may also become brittle, curl up, turn brown, or wilt. The lower leaves usually show these telltale signs of dehydration first before progressing upwards.

If underwatering is the culprit, root rot will be absent due to the lack of moisture.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Under Watering

Snake plants are generally hardy houseplants. They don’t require too much water to resurge from a case of dehydration. Making sure to water your plants at least once in 14-28 days will do the trick.

The amount and frequency of watering will vary from plant to plant. You must also want to factor in pot size, potting soil mix quality, and season.

For instance, your plants will need frequent watering during the hot summer months.

If the potting mix has compacted, you’ll have to loosen the soil before watering the plant.

Water your plant frequently at first then reduce the frequency gradually until you hit the sweet spot.

The leaves of your snake plants will unfurl within a few days of proper watering.

The foliage will also become vibrant, blemish-free, and upright. Just make sure not to overwater them as it’ll do more harm than good.

Overwatering

Overwatering can be detrimental to your snake plants. As with most succulents, their leaves store water, so they’re typically fleshy, lush, and thick. However, there can be too much of a good thing.

If you overwater your snake plant, they’ll become waterlogged, making it hard for them to get adequate oxygen and nutrients.

This is normally a common problem in winter when succulents are supposed to be watered sparsely.

If snake plants are watered too frequently, they become prone to edema, a condition in which the leaf cells get too engorged and eventually rupture.

Leaves usually become corky brown, get wrinkled, and eventually turn yellow.

Even more concerning is that waterlogged snake plants can easily develop root rot.

A fungal disease, root rot diminishes the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients, water, and function properly.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Overwatering

Check the potting mix and roots. If the soil is waterlogged (feels soggy to the touch), stop watering until the top inch of the soil has dried out a bit. You can pop out any large plants to inspect the roots for rot.

If the roots are rotten, they’ll be soft, blackish, and often give off a foul smell. Trim off any damaged roots and disinfect the rest with an antifungal agent.

If all the roots are soft and look completely black, your snake plant may be a goner.

You may temporarily repot your plant in a fast-draining cactus mix. Again, don’t resume watering until the top layer of soil (about an inch) has dried out.

Root Rot

Waterlogging or excessive watering can cause or exacerbate root rot in snake plants. The common signs of root rot include yellowing and wrinkling in the leaves.

That often means the potting mix is waterlogged, so the roots can’t absorb enough nutrients, water (funny, right?), and oxygen.

You may have to pop out the plant to inspect the roots for the fungal disease.

If the entire root system looks black and feels almost jelly soft, the snake plant is likely not going to make it.

But if you still notice some sturdy, white roots, you can still nurse your precious  snake plant back to health.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Root Rot

Root rot may go unnoticed for long, especially if the plant was initially large and healthy. Early signs of root rot are either absent or negligible.

If you suspect that it’s the cause of leaf wrinkling, stop watering the plant immediately.

Get rid of diseased roots and treat healthy ones with charcoal powder or antifungal formula.

You can also transplant your plant into a fast-draining pot mix. Don’t resume watering until the top inch of soil has dried out.

Fertilizer Application Mistake

Improper fertilizer application can also cause the leaves of your snake plant to curl and gradually dry up.

Like most succulents, snake plants are a self-reliant species that doesn’t require regular application of fertilizer.

During the fast-growth period or summer months, application of fertilizer once every one to two months should be OK. Watch out for the yellowing of leaves though.

If that happens, you can apply a houseplant fertilizer as needed for the supplementation of zinc, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

Excessive application of fertilizer, however, can cause leave and root damage.

This usually manifests in the form of wrinkled leaves, brown tips, or yellowing. Leaves can also appear burnt and curl inwards.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled DueTo Fertilizer Application Mistake

If your snake plant leaves wrinkled because of applying too much fertilizer, you can get rid of the excess by flushing the potting mix with lots of water. Repot the plant once the soil is no longer mushy or waterlogged.

Use proper organic, all-purpose fertilizer designed for houseplants. You should get a quality bag from most home improvement stores or gardening shops.

Apply fertilizer during growth boom seasons (aka spring and summer). You should apply once in early spring and one more time during summer.

If feasible, you should always use all-natural alternatives (well-drained compost will suffice).

It’s not only environmentally-friendly but also slow-releasing, so it protects the root system.

Temperature Stress

Plants respond to too much heat, just like you and I. Just like you tend to sweat a lot in sweltering weather, snake plants rev up transpiration. This helps the plant “cool off” and prevents the denaturation of cells.

So, if your snake plant leaves start wrinkling, falling over, or wilting, that could mean that they’re under temperature stress.

In a lot of cases of high temperature, the leaves curl inwards to reduce exposure. As such, your snake plant becomes dehydrated.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Temperature Stress

If you reside in a blistering hot area, make sure your snake plant is shaded indoors. You can park it where a soft breeze from your air condition reaches it.

Whatever you do, see to it that your plant isn’t exposed to direct heat or extremely high temperatures.

Similarly, if the temperatures fall below 60°F (15.6°C), your plant should be taken indoors for warmth.

You ensure that it’s parked in a warm area inside your house where the temp ranges between 60°F (15.°C) and 80°F (26°C) during the day. At night, maintain temperatures of between 55°F (12°C) and 70°F (21°C).

In this way, your snake plant will comfortably and efficiently resurrect from any temperature stress. The leaves should unfurl when it reaches optimum temperatures.

Low Humidity

The leaves of snake plants (pretty much any succulent, really) absorb a significant amount of water from the atmosphere through leaves.

Low humidity not only slows down this process but can actually cause your snake plant to lose moisture. It’s no different from high temperatures.

When your snake plant leaves lose moisture, they become flaccid and wrinkle.

This may be accompanied by brown/black tips. In some cases, the leaves may look lifeless and fall over.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Low Humidity

Low humidity is a big deal during the winter months. Because of this, you should mist your houseplants regularly during the colder weather.

Placing your snake plant in a moisture-rich room, like the bathroom, can also provide additional humidity.

Alternatively, you can use a humidity tray or a humidifier to boost humidity around the plant.

Even though snake plants don’t require too much humidity, they can benefit from misting from time to time.

Grouping several houseplants closer together will also boost the humidity level.

A snake plant will thrive best if you maintain relative humidity at around 40%. The leaves will look vibrant and become lush.

Cold Drafts

The snake plant is a plant species built for survival in drought-prone areas. It’s more likely to survive desert-like conditions than extreme cold.

Although it is a predictably tough plant, the snake plant may struggle in temperatures below 60°F (15.6°C).

If you notice that your snake plant leaves curling or wrinkling, it could be the effects of a cold draft.

This is commonly seen during the winter months when the cold craft can cause frostbite.

In extreme cases, the water stored in the succulent leaves may start to freeze. This may be detrimental to your plant.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Cold Drafts

It’s thought that snake plants start to self-destruct when they are confronted by extreme cold in a bid to conserve energy.

You can think of it as a way of hibernating. Some experts also think cold weather compromises the plant’s immunity and therefore invites fungal infections.

In either case, you should keep your snake plants away from cold drafts. The best option is to move it to a warmer area.

Again, snake plants are happiest when temperatures are kept within 60°F(15.6°C)-80°F (26.7°C) range during the day and 55°F (12.8°C)-70°F (21°C) range at night.

Poor Water Quality

Tap water can sometimes contain too much chlorine. This usually destroys the root system, may cause root rot, or ruin the quality of potting soil.

The result is not pretty: your plant will start to wilt, falter, and the leaves will be wrinkled because of a lack of proper nutrients.

If you use tap water, you may see that your snake plant will experience slow growth.

They are not as strong as they should be, too. Softened tap water also contains salts that can accumulate in potted soil over time and ultimately cause issues for your snake plant.

Tap water in cities, in particular, differs in quality from one city to the next. In fact, tap water in some cities can be significantly high in additive chlorine and low quality.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Poor Water Quality

If you must use tap water, let it sit still for at least 24 hours before using it to water your houseplants.

This allows chlorine and other softening salts to dissipate. Make sure to decant your water before using it.

Ideally, you should use filtered water. Charcoal filtered water is highly recommended for this, but can also try fridge filters, filter pitchers, and faucet filters. Rainwater is also much better for your snake plant than tap water.

Regardless of the water source, make sure it’s room temperature when watering. Either too cold or too warm water isn’t suitable for your snake plant.

Insufficient Light

A snake plant can naturally thrive in most indoor lighting conditions. However, if the light is insufficient, the leaves will show signs of wrinkling, yellowing, and brown tips.

As with any plant, the snake plant requires some light for photosynthesis. It’s the primary source of nutrition.

Without a conducive environment for photosynthesis, the plant can’t thrive and show wrinkling symptoms.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Insufficient Light

Port your snake plant adjacent or close to the window, where it can receive enough light.

You can use artificial lighting if you live in an apartment without windows. It should induce photosynthesis without much hassle.

Insect Infestation

While it isn’t a common occurrence, wrinkled leaves all over your snake plant can also point to an insect infestation.

Bacteria disease and pests like mealy bugs, spider mites, and other insects can be to blame.

These pestering insects suck the succulent juices out of the thick, fleshy leaves. This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and become wrinkled.

How to Fix Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkled Due To Insect Infestation

If insects have invaded your snake plant, place it in the tub or shower and use water to spray the bugs off of the leaves.

From here you can treat the plant with insecticidal soap, horticultural oils, or other treatments you can get from your local garden shop.

If the bugs are persistent, continue the spraying routine once every week until the insects are eliminated.

Don’t forget to wipe the leaves initially with alcohol-soaked cotton balls. Neem oil is another effective way to curb insect infestation. It’s organic and eco-friendly, too.

Read this article to know how to get rid of bugs on snake plant in details.

How Do You Revive a Wrinkled Snake Plant Leaves?

Inspect Your Snake Plant for Disease and Infestation

The first course of action is to eliminate any disease or insect infestation that may be causing the wrinkling symptoms.

If there are bugs, spray off the insects in your shower and use horticultural oils/insecticidal soaps.

If there’s a sign of root rot, eliminate diseased roots promptly to prevent further spread.

All white and firm roots should remain. Treat them with charcoal powder and other horticultural antifungals.

Water Carefully

If the cause was overwatering, you should stop until the top inch of the soil has dried out a bit. Only water your snake plant once every 2-4 weeks.

Swap out extremely waterlogged soil for a new batch. Loosen the soil before watering if the potting mix is too compact.

Use Proper Soil Mix

As noted earlier, snake plants don’t fancy too much water, so the potting mix is a huge factor in reviving them.  Make sure the soil is well-drained with large participles.

Also, use proper fertilizer rich in nitrogen, but don’t apply too much or too frequently.

Choose the Right Spot

Park your snake plant in a spot that receives ample light (artificial lighting can also do).

Steer clear of high temperature, cold drafts, and other areas of low humidity. A shaded area is important during the hot summer weather.

Care for Your Plant

If low humidity has something to do with wrinkling, consider misting your plant regularly.

Key Takeaways

If your snake plant leaves have become wrinkled, you should stay calm and try to diagnose the cause.

It can be due to overwatering, underwatering, insect infestation, insufficient light, cold drafts, temperature stress, low humidity, or root rot.

Improper fertilizer application and lack of nutrition can also cause the leaves to curl.

You may notice that the leaves droop, turn yellowish, or look sulky. Start by inspecting your plant for root rot, insect infestation, or waterlogging. 

If too much watering is the cause, stop until the topsoil has dried out then ease back into it, making sure to water once every 2-4 weeks. 

Areas affected by root rot should be trimmed off immediately and any infestation should be eliminated & treated. Ensure your plant is not exposed to too much heat, cold drafts, or low humidity.

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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