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Snake Plant Growing Too Tall: How to Keep it From Falling Over

Have you ever had a snake plant grow so tall that it falls over? When growing snake plants for a long time, their leaves often become too long and weak. 

In this article, I will review the causes of excessive growth in snake plant leave and the countermeasures for those dealing with overgrown plants. Once you understand the reason, taking action is easy. 

What Causes Snake Plants to Grow Too Much?

Leggy snake plant droops due to etiolation—lack of sunlight alters its cellular growth.
Leggy snake plant droops due to etiolation—lack of sunlight alters cellular growth

Cause 1: Insufficient sunlight

When a snake plant grows long and thin, the most likely cause is “etiolation” due to insufficient sunlight. Snake plants, originating from hot and dry African regions, love sunlight.

They can grow indoors due to their shade tolerance but tend to grow weak and elongated if they lack sunlight. Learn more about how much light snake plants need.

Cause 2: Overwatering

Snake plants are heat and drought-resistant but are weak against cold and humidity. Overwatering can lead to excessive growth.

Giving too much water causes the snake plant to become swollen and grow more than necessary. Read about how much water snake plants need and how to save overwatered snake plants.

Two Solutions For Overgrown Snake Plants

Now you might want to know what you should do with the leaves of snake plants that have grown too tall. Here, I will introduce two leading solutions for overgrown snake plants.

Solution 1: Use a support stake or tie the leaves together

Bind leggy snake plant leaves; it aids stability and promotes healthier, stronger growth.
Bind leggy snake plant leaves; it aids stability and promotes healthier, stronger growth

The leaves of an overgrown snake plant will start to fall over because of etiolation. In this case, you could use a ring support stake.

Even though this may not be the best solution, slowly letting the plant get more sunlight may help the fallen leaves strengthen.

You can also tie the leaves together gently with a ribbon or twine. Move the leaves that are tied together to a sunnier spot.

It will take some time, but the plant will get smaller, and the leaves will be less likely to fall over. Give it a shot.

Solution 2: Propagate by leaf cuttings (from May to September)

Another option for dealing with overgrown snake plants is to propagate them through leaf cuttings.

Leaf cuttings involve cutting the Sansevieria leaf close to the base, trimming it to around 4 inches (10cm), and then inserting it into the soil to propagate new baby plants.

Doing this can increase the number of snake plant offspring and rejuvenate the plant. For a step-by-step guide on propagating your snake plant, check out this article on How to Propagate Sansevieria.

However, note that snake plants propagated by leaf cuttings may “revert” to their original green form, losing their variegation.

For instance, in the case of the Laurentii variety in the picture, the yellow edges of the leaves would disappear.

Also, propagating snake plants through leaf cuttings takes time – it can take around two years for the baby plants to mature.

Another option is to wait for the baby plants to grow. Snake plants spread through underground rhizomes, producing baby plants next to the mother plant.

The growth of snake plants is especially vigorous from May to September. During this time, place the plant in a warm environment with good sunlight, provide fertilizer, and maintain slightly dry conditions to promote the growth of baby plants.

I use an all-purpose fertilizer for my snake plants and to accelerate the growth of baby plants. You will typically see fast results within two weeks, as evidenced by the plant’s growth.

I like to use this water-soluble fertilizer every time I water my plant. If you are wondering how much to apply, read the dosage recommendation on the package or use ¼ teaspoon in one gallon of water when watering your snake plant.

It may be difficult to restore a withered leaf to its original state. In this case, one option is to promote the growth of baby plants and divide them later.

3 Tips to Prevent Excessive Growth of Snake Plants: Prevent Etiolation in Advance

So, how can you prevent excessive growth in snake plants due to overgrowth? Here are three tips to avoid etiolation in snake plants:

1- Manage the plant in a sunny outdoor spot from May to September

Snake plants are originally native to arid regions with intense sunlight. If you want to grow a sturdy and healthy snake plant, you may need to abandon the idea that “foliage plants = indoor plants.”

Aside from the cold season, put your snake plant outside on a balcony or under the eaves to let it soak up plenty of sunlight, preventing excessive growth due to etiolation.

To better understand the light requirements of snake plants, read my article How Much Light Does Snake Plant Need?

Don’t expose the plant to strong sunlight suddenly!

However, exposing the plant to direct sunlight suddenly when moving it from indoors can cause sunburn on the leaves. Gradually acclimating the plant to outdoor sunlight can prevent sunburn.

Start by moving the plant near a window, then gradually move it outside. Adequate sunlight is essential for growing a healthy and straight snake plant.

*Avoid direct sunlight during the midsummer and afternoon sun from the west.

2- Move the plant indoors when the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C)

Snake plants are sensitive to cold temperatures and grow slowly, if not above 60°F (15°C). Therefore, if you are growing your snake plant outdoors or on a balcony, move it indoors when the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C).

Remember that when the temperature goes below 50°F (10°C), the snake plant enters a “dormant period” when growth stops. During dormancy, water the plant sparingly.

Also, the risk of the plant dying increases when the temperature drops below 41°F (5°C). Learn more about Snake Plant Temperature Tolerance.

Pay extra attention when you keep a snake plant by the window

Be cautious when managing snake plants by the window. Although windows may be warm and sunny during the day, they can become much colder in the evenings and mornings.

Therefore, moving the plant at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from the window at night is a good idea.

Overwatering in winter can cause snake plant leaves to droop

Snake plant leaves tend to droop during their dormancy period in winter and spring.

In such cases, you might be giving the plant too much water. During winter, growth is minimal, and the plant doesn’t require much water. However, the excess water in the pot can cause root rot, so be careful.

3- Keep Them on The Dry Side

Snake plants are very tolerant of dry conditions. As a result, it’s a good idea to keep them a bit drier than other houseplants.

During the growing seasons in spring and fall, water the plant once the soil is arid and then wait for another 2-3 days. When watering, provide enough water to drain from the bottom of the pot.

Be careful not to leave standing water in the saucer, as high humidity can lead to root rot. Dispose of any water in the saucer regularly. For more information on proper watering techniques, read How Much Water Do Snake Plants Need?

Growth slows below 60°F (15°C), so almost no water is needed

If the indoor temperature is above 50°F (10°C), you can water the plant about once a month while observing its condition. Then, start watering again when the minimum temperature goes above 60°F (15°C).

If you’re wondering when to water your snake plant, don’t worry—it’s straightforward, and you don’t need any sophisticated tools to determine the moisture level in the potting mix.

Simply touch the surface of the soil and feel if it’s moist. If it is, then you can postpone watering for a bit longer.

However, sometimes the soil surface can be dry even if there is still enough moisture in the soil deeper down.

To be sure, simply insert your fingers into the ground. But if you can’t feel any dryness within the top 1-2 inches of soil, it’s time to water your plant.

Key Takeaways

In this article, I have detailed the causes and solutions for snake plants growing too tall. Adequate sunlight is essential to prevent excessive growth due to etiolation.

Consider repotting the plant if the pot is filled with leaves, as shown in the above photo. Repotting is more than resolving root-bound issues; old soil can become compacted over time and impede drainage.

Additionally, replenishing the soil through repotting provides necessary nutrients for the plant. Use this information to observe your snake plant and identify the causes and solutions for its excessive growth.

Two leading causes of excessive growth in snake plants:

  • Etiolation or legginess due to insufficient sunlight
  • Overwatering

Two solutions for excessively tall snake plants:

  • Use a ring support or tie the leaves together, then gradually move the plant to a sunnier location and monitor it until it becomes self-supporting (avoid temperatures below 60°F (15°C)
  • Cut off only the excessively tall leaves and try propagating them through leaf cuttings.

It’s challenging to thicken etiolated leaves that have become elongated, thin, and weak. So instead, adjust the plant’s location and wait for healthier leaves to grow.

Tips to prevent excessive growth in snake plants:

  • Place them in a sunny outdoor location.
  • Bring them indoors if the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C).
  • Keep them dry (only water once the soil is arid).

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