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Snake Plant Temperature Tolerance (5 Signs of Temperature Stress)

The snake plant is a favorite houseplant for newbies because it is easy to care for and almost impossible to kill.

It’s designed to withstand extreme heat and abrasive conditions, but it can’t withstand freezing temperatures.

The ideal temperature range for snake plants is 70-90°F (21-32°C). It will, however, suffer from cold injury if exposed to temperatures below 50°F (10°C) for an extended period. In addition, inappropriate temperatures can cause leaf curling, sunscald, dry brown edges, blackened foliage, and wrinkled leaves.

What Temperature is Too Cold for Snake Plants?

Snake plants are barely tolerant of cold temperatures. Any temperature below 50°F (10°C) is considered too cold for a Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.

So if you’re growing it indoors, you should never allow the ambient temperatures in your house to fall to 40-45°F (4-7°C), as these will kill your snake plant. 

Most cultivars and species of Sansevieria, including snake plants, thrive in warm conditions.

They will most definitely suffer if you expose them to temp below 50°F (10°C).

You should set your Dracaena trifasciata in a spot where they will be sheltered from cold drafts.

That means areas near windows, doors, and air ducts are a no-go during winter.

If you consistently expose your plant to temperatures below this point, the leaves will develop dark brown or black spots.

In addition to that, the leaf growth will slow, and your plant may enter dormancy.

What Temperatures do Snake Plants Prefer?

Snake plants prefer temperatures between 70°F and 90°F (21-32°C).

However, remember that this West African native plant has a very low cold tolerance, and it will begin to react aggressively when the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C).

Despite this, snake plants have a remarkable ability to withstand extreme heat and temperatures.

They can thrive in environments where most houseplants succumb to heat and wilt. Temperatures up to 100°F (37°C) are no problem for them at all.

Even though snake plants can tolerate cold temperatures, the winter months are particularly difficult for them.

It can die if the temperature consistently falls below the threshold mentioned above or if it is affected by winter frost.

If you want to keep your snake plant alive through the winter, bring it inside before the temperatures drop.

Maintaining a dry growing medium and keeping your plant in a warm, dry location will help keep root rot at bay.

Furthermore, your plant will stop growing if it goes into dormancy over the winter.

Finally, reduce the watering frequency and use grow lights if your snake plant doesn’t get enough sunlight.

How to Tell a Snake Plant Has Been Exposed to Improper Temperatures

Low temperatures, cold drafts, or heat stress can significantly impact snake plants.

Signs that you’ve been exposed to a temperature that’s too high include the following:

[1] Wrinkled Leaves

Snake plants can show signs of distress if severely dehydrated and exposed to high temperatures.

If the soil dries out too much, it can result in curled or wrinkled leaves.

Additionally, the evaporation and respiration of your snake plant will lead to a more significant loss of water.

Overwatering can cause wilting and drooping, but wrinkling and curling leaves signify a severe lack of moisture.

Either you ignored the watering can for too long, or the leaves dried out due to excessively high temperatures.

[2] Leaves Splitting or Cracking

If you notice cracks or splits in the leaves of your snake plant, it’s likely due to high temperatures.

High temperatures can cause a decrease in humidity, which causes your plant to use more water. This causes the entire plant to become dehydrated.

Excessive heat from extremely high temperatures can also dry out snake plant leaves. Dry leaves are more susceptible to splitting or cracking due to physical or cell damage.

Remember that leaf splitting can be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Overwatering 
  • Underwatering 
  • Low humidity
  • Deficiency of micronutrients like boron
  • Severe pest infestations
  • Sudden, extreme environmental changes

[3] Blackened Foliage

Variations of yellow and silver can be seen in the green foliage of a healthy snake plant.

If these otherwise green leaves appear to have black spots on their surface, they may be suffering from extreme heat.

Root rot, pests, and overwatering are all possible causes of blackened leaves.

If temperatures are too hot or cold, the leaves dry out and turn a darker shade of brown.

Make sure your plant isn’t getting too much direct sunlight or being blown around by a hot draft.

Alternatively, it could be in front of a roaring fire, a heating vent, or a radiator.

If the leaves are near a window, they are likely to develop black patches on the surface facing the sun.

Similarly, the leaves on the side of the plant closest to the hot draft will darken the fastest.

You should remove and dispose of any leaves that have turned black to death. However, only remove the blackened areas on leaves that are partially affected.

[4] Dry or Brown Leaf Tips and Edges

Dry or crispy leaves with brown tips or edges indicate incorrect temperatures for your snake plant. Brown spots on your plant are most likely the leaf apex or tip.

Both under and over-watering can lead to brown tips, but improper temperatures are also a contributing factor.

These include a sensitivity to the cold, frost, low temperatures, cold drafts, and excessive exposure to the sun’s direct heat.

Leaf margins that are dry and brown can also signify fertilizer burn, chlorinated city water use, lack of humidity, and excessive light.

You’ll notice that the tips and edges burn and crisp if your snake plant is in direct sunlight. 

[5] Sunscald

Snake plants exposed to direct sunlight have a high risk of sunscald. At first, the affected leaves will turn brown and become sun-scorched on the upper surfaces.

Then, the foliage will appear brown and papery due to severe sunburn.

Finally, when touched, they may be scorched and crisp, and they tend to appear on the side of the plant most exposed to sunlight.

Other common symptoms and signs of sunscald include:

If your snake plant is sunburned, it’s time to move it indoors or to a shady spot. Moving it a few feet away from the blazing window is often all that is necessary.

Can Snake Plants Be Left Outside?

Snake plants can be left outside or grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 – 11.

However, I strongly advise against leaving these succulents outside when the weather drops below 50°F (10°C) in the fall or winter.

These suggestions are most relevant to gardeners who live in the northern hemisphere, where winter temperatures can fall well below freezing.

The ideal temperature range for snake plants is 70-90°F (21-32°C). However, if the overnight temperature is forecast to fall below 50°F (10°C), you must bring your plant indoors. 

How Do You Take Care of a Snake Plant During Winter?

Temperatures below 50°F (10°C) will kill a snake plant native to Nigeria and other Western African regions if your plant is exposed to cold drafts or wintry frost.

If the temperature drops below freezing, the first thing you should do is bring your snake plant indoors. Here are some other important winter care tips for snake plants:

  • Provide warmth: You should place your snake plant in a warm room where temperatures will stay between 70-90°F (21-32°C).
  • Avoid drafts: You should protect your snake plants from hot and cold drafts. That means keeping far away from air ducts, cold window panes, radiators, open doors, etc.
  • Reduce watering: Your snake plant will likely go dormant during winter. You’ll have to reduce watering to about once every six weeks. If you’re in doubt, it is best to keep the soil on the drier side.
  • Don’t fertilize: Snake plants don’t need too much feeding. Applying fertilizer during winter will likely cause root damage and leaf burn.