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What Causes Brown Spots on Snake Plant? (And How to Fix It)

The most common cause of brown spots on snake plants is a fungal infection. This problem can be magnified by insect infestation, excessive fertilizer application, cold stress, and excessive sunlight exposure. Brown spots are curable and preventable with proper treatment.

If there was a prize for the toughest houseplant, the snake plant would be a strong contender. Snake plants can withstand drought, insects, and low light.

Even the most disease-resistant plant, however, can become infected with diseases that wreak havoc on its growth and appearance. One of the most common diseases on snake plant leaves is brown spots.

In this article, I’ll go over all of the causes of brown spots as well as effective yet simple remedies. You’ll also learn how to keep your snake plant disease-free by taking preventative measures.

Indoor potted snake showing brown spots symptom.

Causes of Brown Spots on Snake Plant

Brown spots on your snake plant can occur for several reasons. Inappropriate watering or fungal issues all boil down to poor treatment.

Fungal Diseases

Snake plants are prone to fungal problems such as southern blight and red leaf spots that cause reddish-brown lesions, and other infections like rust and bacterial leaf spots that cause brown wet spots to their leaves.

Snake plant showing brown spots symptoms due to fungal infection.

Now, let’s know a bit about the three types of fungal diseases potentially causing brown spots on your snake plant leaves.

Red leaf spot

If you find red or brownish-red spots on your snake plant then it is no doubt that red leaf spot is the culprit.

Warm and wet condition is the favorable condition for this disease to thrive and spread.

Southern Blight

This is a soil born disease. Sclerotium rolfsii fungus is the causal agent for this disease. This fungus also thrives in wet and hot environments. So drainage problems or overwatering can encourage this disease.

As it attacks the root system the snake plant will start turning yellow and brown. If you do not take any action you may lose your snake plant.


Though it is not very common with snake plants when happens it can cause rust-like brown spots on the leaves.

If the spots on snake plant leaves are similar to rusts then you can be sure that it is caused by fungal agents, not mites or other pests.

The fungal infection may cause yellow and soft leaves of your snake plant. Read this article to learn more.

How to Prevent Fungal Problems

In order to prevent fungal problems in snake plants, you have to maintain adequate airflow around your plants and inspect all new ones for infection when they are brought home.

The most common treatments for these fungal problems are as follows:

Treating Southern Blight

You can use heat treatment and fungicides to control southern blights as it may lead to the rotting of its blades if left untreated.

Cut it off at least an inch or 2 below the rot. it’s a type of fungus/bacteria that Sansevieria is prone to … It’s spread when the leaves get wet. Water the soil only and try to avoid getting any water on the leaves.

Red Leaf Spot Treatment

To treat these reddish-brown spots, you can cut the infected leaves to avoid spreading to other areas.

It can also be treated by spraying fungicides with copper and sulfur properties.

For the treatment of fungal diseases. Here are the fungicides I recommend:

Name of The FungicideAmountAmount of Water
Bonide 811 Copper 4E Fungicide1-4 tablespoons (.05-2.0 fl oz)1 gallon of water
Garden Safe Brand Fungicide32 tablespoons (1 fl oz) 1 gallon of water
Southern Ag – Liquid Copper Fungicide3-4 tablespoons1 gallon of water

Rust Treatment

Similar to the treatment of red leaf spots, rusts can be treated by eliminating the contaminated part.

You should also remove any remnants from other infected leaves and limit water contact to prevent rust from spreading.

Bacterial Leaf Spot Treatment

This fungal problem can be treated by removing the infected area as soon as it shows some symptoms.

It is also recommended to cut the entire leaf if possible then treating the remains with copper fungicide.

When it is already inevitable, the best remedy for brown spots on snake plants is as follows:

  • Watering is crucial for the well-being of your snake plant so make sure to water your plant adequately.
  • Cut the infected leaves to avoid infestation and to initiate new growth.
  • Spray fungicides or pesticides to kill fungi or pests.
  • Follow proper humidity, lighting, and temperature requirements.

Pest Infestation

Snake plants are susceptible to infestations of mealybugs and spider mites. These pests suck sap from their leaves which leads to stress that results in the occurrence of brown spots.

How to Prevent Pest Infestation

The best way to avoid pests is to always check the leaves for any chance of infestation.

If the plant is already heavily infested, it is best to discard it in order to avoid the possibility of contamination of surrounding plants.

Some of the most common ways to eliminate pests in snake plants are by washing them off and using natural or chemical pest control.

Some organic methods of controlling pests are readily available in your own home like the following:

Soapy Water

This mixture of dish soap and water can dehydrate spider mites and aphids. To produce this solution, combine 5 tablespoons of dish soap with 4 cups of water and spray it onto the infected plant.

Neem Oil Spray

This natural insecticide and fungicide, are produced from the seeds of neem trees that are native to India. It can get rid of mites, scale, aphids, and other tiny insects.

This article goes into more detail about How to Get Rid of Bugs on Your Snake Plant (With Pictures) and shares some best tips to avoid pest infestation.

Alcohol Spray

This solution can effectively repel insects from houseplants. To create this solution, you can mix 1 or 2 cups of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol with a quarter of water.

Inconsistent Watering

Inconsistent watering causes brown tips or brown spots on the snake plant leaves. It includes both overwatering and underwatering.

You may know that overwatering is one of the known issues when taking care of snake plants. It can cause rotting roots and plant decay.

You can treat root rot by transplanting your snake plant if you can identify it early. Here are the things you can do:

  • Repot the plant and use a mixture of perlite, grit, peat moss, or coarse sand as the new dry soil.
  • Simply cut the rotten ends of your leaves but try to save as many healthy leaves as you can.
  • Gently press the cut leaves into the new soil and give it bright but indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

In addition, underwatering is an equally common problem for this type of plant due to its known water conservation properties, almost similar to cacti.

When underwatered, snake plants can get extremely dehydrated and show symptoms like the browning of leaves. If you have underwatered your snake plant, this article covers all you need to know.

How To Fix Inconsistent Watering Issues

One of the easiest ways to water your snake plant properly is to have a routine and monitoring to see if they need watering or have any other issues emerging.

When watering your snake plant, it is essential to only water the soil but not the leaves.

Spilling water on the leaves might make them vulnerable to fungal infection. And fungal infection is the main reason for brown spots on snake plants.

If you are not sure how much water your snake plant needs. Then check out this in-depth guide on how much to water your snake plant.

You May Also Enjoy: How Much Water Do Snake Plants Need? In-Depth Guide

Unfiltered Water

Snake plants are sensitive to the type of water you are using when watering them.

Tap water is known to have chlorine which ensures that water is safe for human consumption. 

Snake plants show signs of stress due to sensitivity to this chemical. Chlorine accumulation in the soil will affect nutrient availability.

Potassium(K) deficiency can cause brown spots on the snake plant. So it is very important to use filtered or chlorine-free water for your snake plant.

How To Fix Unfiltered Water Issues

The most common fix to this is filtering the water with any regular water filtration system you have available.

You can also leave the water you intend to water your plant in sunlight for a day before using it.

You may know that sunlight is very effective in eliminating chlorine. Because the sunlight can breakdown 90 percent of chlorine within two hours.

You May Also Enjoy: How to Save Overwatered Snake Plant (sansevieria)

Excessive Sunlight

Snake plants can thrive even without too much exposure to sunlight. That’s another reason why it’s one of the best indoor plant options.

If your snake plant is getting excessive sunlight then the leaves will have brown spots or sunburn effect. Lets say your snake plant is thriving in a room with indirect light. Now all of a sudden you decided to bring it to a place where it gets direct sunlight without acclimatization.

In this case, your snake plant absorbs excess energy which it can not handle. Eventually, it harms the leaves tissue and brown spots symptoms appear.

How To Fix Excessive Sunlight Issues

If your snake plant is not used to a certain degree of light exposure, make sure to gradually adjust the light and heat levels to make it easier for your plant to adapt.

So keep your snake plant away from direct sun exposure. It thrives well in indirect sunlight without any issues.

Finding out the optimal lighting condition for your plant is still the best way to ensure a healthy snake plant without brown spots.

Cold Damage

Snake plants are less tolerant of low weather conditions. Leaving them in a place where the temperature can go below 55°F (12°C) can be stressful.

If your snake is exposed to chilly temperatures then the cell sap (liquids within the snake plant leaf cells) will freeze. As you know when water turns into ice it expands in volume.

So, the cell membrane ruptures and eventually dies. This situation is vulnerable to be infected with fungal and bacterial diseases. Consequently, your snake plant leaves will show brown spots on the damaged portion.

Extreme cold also damages the root system as the water may freeze to ice. That is why the roots are unable to take up enough nutrients and result in the appearance of brown spots on leaves.

How To Prevent Cold Damage Issues

Remember to avoid exposing your snake plants in temperatures below 55°F(12°C) to prevent the risk of cold damage.

Keep them between 65- 80°F (18- 27°C)  at daytime, and 55 -70°F(12-21°C) at night time.

Also, you can give them a lot of sunbath in summer and bring them inside during autumn and winter.

You May Also Enjoy: Snake Plant Leaves Curling (11 Causes and Solutions)

Excess Fertilizer

Due to its resilience, snake plants can survive even without fertilization. But excess fertilizer can harm your snake plant and you will see brown spots or fertilizer burn on leaves.

Due to excess fertilizer nitrogen and salt level may rise and it will cause the fertilizer burn effect.

How To Fix Excess Fertilizer Issues

You should fertilize your snake plant in spring and summer. A potted snake plant needs only a small amount of fertilizer during the growing season.

Make sure you do not overdo it. You can apply a little bit of worm compost to your snake plant pot soil. 

Another easy to use fertilizer for the snake plant is Shake ‘N Feed. You can use this fertilizer for your other house plants also.

Winter is a dormant period for snake plants, so fertilization during this period can be harmful.

Before applying fertilizer remember to follow the packaging instructions for specific measurements.

If you have put a little too much fertilizer, you can flush it by running loads of water through it.

Organic or compost fertilizers are slow-release fertilizers that provide more natural plant nutrients essential to growing a healthy houseplant.

It gradually breaks down into small amounts in a longer time span. Most of these fertilizers can last up to four months in just a single application.

Low Humidity

As snake plants require minimal watering, they also do not require high humidity levels.

Low humidity causes the leaves to lose excess water and is a very common cause of brown spots on snake plants.

How to Prevent Low Humidity Issues

To meet sufficient humidity requirements, keep relative humidity at about 40 percent.

You can also use gadgets, such as a digital hygrometer or a humidifier, to regularly check the humidity of the air around your plants.

You can also create your own humidifier by making a pebble tray. To create one, you would need a tray, some pebbles, and purified water.

Put the pebbles into the tray then fill it with water. Put just enough water to moisten the rocks.

You can now put the plant on top of your pebble tray. This will boost humidity by slowly evaporating the water around the plant.

Final Words

As you can see, most causes of brown spots on snake plants very closely correspond to proper care of these plants.

With proper care and nourishment, your beloved snake plant will be thriving in no time. After all, they’re the easiest house plants to take care of. Would you agree?

(Source: University of Florida, University of Maryland Extension)