I bought my snake plant about three years ago, and over the past few months, I’ve noticed that it’s leaves are wrinkled. The leaves have even narrowed, making it look nothing like the vibrant plant it once was.
I have to admit, I’ve been neglecting it. I didn’t water it at all during the winter, and only once a month from spring to fall. And I’ve recently been forgetting to water it for months at a time.
I think it’s thirsty, but I’m not sure what to do now. I just gave it a good soaking and emptied the saucer that had collected water. What should I do next?
In this article, I’ll dive deep into the primary reasons behind the wrinkling of Snake plant leaves and how to bring them back to life.
First off, when the soil feels dry, water it generously. Fertilizers are a no-go for a struggling plant like this. Keep it in indirect sunlight, maybe behind a curtain indoors.
You must understand that plants are living beings, too. Especially if you’ve been keeping it indoors, it does not need water from November to March. However, during other times, make sure to water it when the soil is dry and occasionally give it some fertilizer (but only after it has recovered). Even if the mother plant doesn’t make it, the offsets might still grow.
If watering doesn’t help and the plant continues to wither, it might be nearing the end of its life, unfortunately.
- Why Do Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkle? Here’s How to Pinpoint the Problem and Fix It!
- How to Revive Your Wrinkled Snake plant: A Guide Based on Symptoms
- Is It Possible to Prevent Snake Plant Leaves from Wrinkling?
- Summary: Dealing with Wrinkled Snake plant Leaves
Why Do Snake Plant Leaves Wrinkle? Here’s How to Pinpoint the Problem and Fix It!
First things first, let’s dig into the main reasons why Snake plant leaves start to wrinkle.
Reason #1: Extreme Dryness
Have you noticed vertical wrinkles and slight inward curling on your Snake plant leaves? This could be a sign of severe water deprivation.
One of the key reasons for wrinkled Snake plant leaves is “extreme dryness.” The critical question is: are the leaves wrinkling because you’ve simply forgotten to water, or because the roots are damaged and can’t absorb water?
How to Determine the Cause: Dryness or Root Rot?
To figure out whether the wrinkling is due to simple neglect or a more severe issue like root rot, you need to check the soil condition.
- If the soil is dry (you forgot to water for a while): There’s a high likelihood that the leaves are wrinkled due to dryness. Start watering and watch the leaves; if it’s between spring and fall, they should perk up in a few days.
- If the soil is moist (you’ve been watering before the soil dries completely, or you’ve been watering frequently despite temperatures below 59°F [15°C]): This could indicate root rot. Hold off on watering for a bit, and only water after the soil has dried out completely. If it’s winter, cut back on watering altogether. If the roots are already rotten, reviving the plant will be tough.
Check the Weather Forecast:
If temperatures are forecasted to drop below 59°F (15°C), gradually extend the time between waterings. Specifically, water only after the soil has dried and an additional 3–4 days have passed.
Reason #2: Damage Due to Cold
If the Snake plant leaves are wrinkled and bent midway, this could be a result of damage from cold temperatures.
Originally from dry regions of Africa and South Asia, Snake plants are tolerant of heat and dry conditions but are particularly sensitive to cold.
The ideal temperature range for Snake plant growth is between 68–86°F (20–30°C). Growth slows as temperatures dip below 59°F (15°C), and the plant goes into dormancy below 50°F (10°C). During cold times, the plant doesn’t need much water at all.
Be Mindful of Cold Spots Near Windows in Winter
You may think, “It’s winter, but it’s indoors, so it should be fine, right?” However, temperatures can plummet unexpectedly, especially during early mornings and late nights after you’ve turned off the heat.
Particularly, be cautious about cold spots near windows. If your Snake plant is near a window, move it 3.3–6.6 feet (1–2 meters) away at night. This simple step can go a long way in protecting your Snake plant from the cold.
Reason #2 Cold Damage
Have you noticed that your Snake plant’s leaves are wrinkling and bending midway? If so, it’s quite possible that your plant is suffering from cold damage.
Although Snake plants are tough against heat and drought, they originate from arid regions in Africa and South Asia. This makes them particularly sensitive to cold.
Ideal growing temperatures for Snake plants range from 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 degrees Celsius). When the temperature dips below 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), you’ll notice its growth slowing down.
And if it goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), your plant will essentially go into hibernation. During cold spells, Snake plants don’t require much water.
Pay extra attention to cold drafts near windows during winter. Make sure to move your plant at least 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 meters) away from the window when night time comes.
You might think, “It’s winter, but my plant is indoors; it should be okay against the cold.” However, the temperature can drop significantly during early mornings and late evenings, especially after the heating is turned off.
Window areas are particularly prone to becoming cold from night to morning. So, if you’ve been keeping your Snake plant near a window, do it a favor and move it away when the sun goes down.
It may seem like a bit of a hassle, but this small effort can go a long way in protecting your Snake plant from the cold.
How to Revive Your Wrinkled Snake plant: A Guide Based on Symptoms
If you notice that your Snake plant’s leaves are wrinkled, the first thing to do is take a good look at the plant.
The condition of the plant, as well as the season, can influence how you should treat it. The symptoms you might see are:
- Leaves are wrinkled but still standing upright
- Leaves are wrinkled and bending midway
- The base is soft and the leaves have fallen over (more mushy than wrinkled)
Case 1: Leaves are Wrinkled but Still Standing Upright
If the leaves of your Snake plant are wrinkled but still standing, it likely means they’re suffering from “excessive dryness.”
Spring/Fall Growth Period If the soil is dry as a bone, give it a generous watering and observe.
Winter Dormant Period During dormancy, the plant needs little water. When temperatures rise to about 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), resume watering.
If you keep the plant indoors where it’s warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), and the soil is completely dry, give it just enough water to dampen the soil surface (about once a month).
Case 2: Leaves are Wrinkled and Bending Midway
If the leaves are wrinkled and bending midway, it’s likely due to “frostbite from cold” or “root rot from waterlogging.”
Spring/Fall Growth Period Water only when the soil has completely dried out. Remove any brown, rotten areas and hold off on watering while monitoring the plant. If the base is rotting, you might be able to save it by propagating the leaves.
Winter Dormant Period If you’re keeping it in a warm room above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), water sparingly every three days after the soil has thoroughly dried.
During dormancy, withhold water until it gets warmer (for temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius).
Case 3: Leaves are Mushy and Soft, and the Plant Has Fallen Over
If the temperature is between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 degrees Celsius) and this is happening, you’re probably overwatering, causing root rot.
If the leaves are more mushy than wrinkled, and they’re falling over from the base, that’s a sign of decay.
Action Steps for Decaying Snake plant Leaves If you leave the decayed parts, it will only spread. Remove any soft, rotten parts immediately.
If the base is still hard, you can likely revive the plant by withholding water and letting it dry out. If the removed leaf is still firm, you might be able to revive it using a method called “leaf propagation”.
For more details on leaf propagation for Snake plants, check out this article.
Is It Possible to Prevent Snake Plant Leaves from Wrinkling?
The short answer is, there’s almost no foolproof way to keep Snake plant leaves from wrinkling. The cold winters are particularly challenging for this plant.
Winter Care Tips
During the winter, the plant’s growth slows down, and it’s not a good idea to water your Snake plant just because the leaves are wrinkling.
The best practice for helping it survive the winter is to keep it a bit on the dry side. The plant will naturally develop wrinkles due to the cold weather and reduced water absorption.
Continuing to water it during this time can lead to root rot because the stagnant water won’t be absorbed. So while you might see wrinkles, keeping it on the dry side is crucial for winter care.
The key to watering Snake plants is waiting until the soil is completely dry. To check the dryness:
- Lift the pot; if it feels light, it’s dry. (Knowing the weight of the pot after watering can be helpful.)
- Stick your finger into the soil up to about 1.2 inches (3 cm) and make sure it feels dry.
In both the height of summer and dead of winter, wait an additional three days after the soil has dried. This will help prevent root rot and damage due to cold temperatures.
Summary: Dealing with Wrinkled Snake plant Leaves
Today, I’ve walked you through the main causes and solutions for wrinkled Snake plant leaves.
From my own experience, wrinkles caused by dryness are usually easy to fix by watering at the right time. However, wrinkles due to root rot can be trickier to handle.
Snake plant leaves tend to wrinkle more easily in winter because we tend to water them less. But be careful—watering too much during this time can easily lead to root rot.
Seasonal Tips from My Experience
- Spring & Fall Wrinkles (When it’s above 59°F [15°C]): Easy to fix with watering.
- Late Fall to Winter Wrinkles (As temperatures start to drop): Often due to root rot caused by too much humidity.
- Summer & Winter Wrinkles (When it’s below 59°F [15°C]): Wrinkles are likely because you’re keeping it on the drier side. Once the growing season kicks in, watering usually solves the problem.
So, that’s the gist of it.
The key to reviving a wrinkled Snake plant is understanding the current state of your plant. Use the insights from this article to find the best course of action for your situation and give it a try.