Snake plant, or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) is known as a particularly hardy houseplant, tolerant of neglect of watering, feeding, and low light. This is good news if you find your snake plant hanging down, as that’s usually an easy fix.
Why is your snake plant hanging? The most common reasons are too much water, insufficient soil drainage, lack of heat, pests or diseases, poor lighting or rooting. Identifying and fixing the underlying problem will help your plant recover.
Read on and you’ll become an expert at creating the perfect conditions for your snake plant to turn over its dead leaves and ensure it never happens again. If you really want to know how to keep all your houseplants healthy, check out my book, Houseplants Made Easy.
Why is my snake plant hanging down?
There are 6 main reasons why snake plant leaves drop off. By far the most common reasons are overwatering and poor drainage, so I’ll address those first.
1. Overwatering and root rot
The snake plant is a succulent, which means its thick, rubbery leaves hold moisture exceptionally well. Most succulents require less water than a typical houseplant, and the snake plant is no exception, typically thriving in hot, arid regions of the West African tropics.
This means they can easily overwater, making them prone to root rot if they are too wet.
To restore your snake to its former glory, start with let the floor dry completely. Dig your finger deep into the soil to make sure it’s not just the surface that’s dry.
From there, let the plant dry out completely between Everybody waterings, with at least the top five inches of soil completely dry.
To kill any root fungus, irrigate only with 3% hydrogen peroxide for about three months. In severe cases of root rot, it may be necessary to repot the plant (see tip below) and remove any soft or dead roots.
Snake plants generally only need water once every two to four weeks, while plants that get more light or heat need water more often. During the winter months, they can get even less water and only need water when the leaves seem a little wilted.
Watering can be one of the most difficult skills to master when caring for houseplants. I wrote an article that will show you how to know when to water your houseplants.
2. Inadequate soil and drainage
If your watering regime seems to be under control, the soil may simply be holding too much water and not draining enough.
To solve this problem, transplant your plant into cactus or succulent soil. It is an excellent soil for your snake plant. which I have used several times with great success. You can also add about half the perlite to regular potting soil, along with a little compost for fertility.
When repotting, remove as much existing soil as possible and be sure to use a large enough pot (see below). One way to tell if the soil is not draining well is that when you water you should immediately see water coming out of the lower drainage holes.
If the soil absorbs a lot of water, even after pouring a cup or more, that’s usually a sign that it needs better drainage.
3. Root limit: requires repotting and/or root pruning
One of the most common problems with houseplants is that they take root without the occasional repotting or trimming. Although snake plants don’t need to be repotted as often as other plants and do well to some degree with their roots attached, they can become unhealthy and topple over when things get really bad.
Even snake plants need soil for their roots to get the nutrients and water they need. Tight roots can also cause girdling (roots get choked), rot and other disease problems and can prevent the plant from “breathing” properly (plant roots need air too!).
Snake plants should be repotted every three to five years, or if for some reason you cannot move the plant to a larger pot, trim the roots to make sure they are only about halfway down. three quarters of the space at the most. . in the jar
You can tell if a plant needs repotting or pruning by loosening the soil around the sides with your fingers and checking to see if the plant’s roots are thick on the sides of the pot. If there seem to be more roots than soil, it’s time to upgrade to a larger pot.
If the root ball is completely firm, you may need to spread the roots out until they form a good branching pattern rather than a clump before transplanting.
To cut the roots (to put them back in the same pot or to fix a narrow root ball before transplanting), pull the plant out and gently turn it on its side. You will need sharp scissors or even a knife, which you can use to cut the roots one by one.
Instead of just cutting the mass into a smaller piece, carefully separate the roots and cut whole root sections if necessary until the root system has room to move and branch out. The goal is to break up the root ball so that it looks more like a normal root ball. See tip above for potting soil requirements.
4. Temperature problems: lack of heat
Although it’s possible for a snake plant to get too hot, if the leaves are falling off, that’s unlikely to be your problem. You probably won’t get sufficient Heat. For a healthy plant, keep the temperature above 50°F.
Also keep in mind that even if it is warm inside the house, if it is cold outside, the temperature near the window may be cooler. In this case, find a place where you can place the plant closer to a heat source or a little further from the window.
5. Poor lighting can cause snake leaves to fall off.
It is true that snakes tolerate shade well. However, they do much better in partial shade. If your plant doesn’t get a lot of light, it can make it unhealthy and topple over.
In addition to the health reasons for providing adequate light, partial sun also tends to make snake plants look their best, with brighter leaves that display their characteristic pattern more prominently. Although they can tolerate up to 8 hours or more of light per day, direct light in a south-facing window all day may be too much for snake plants, but it also causes their leaves to drop.
Ideally, place the plant about 10 feet from a south-facing window or in a sunny west- or east-facing window. Since the western sun can be more intense, a west-facing plant will also do best a few feet from the window.
If you move the plant from an area without light to a sunnier location, be sure to gradually expose the plant to light, first in the sun for a few hours, then for about an hour a day until she is in full sun. .
You can also use curtains, stakes, or other barriers to partially block the sun, exposing the plant to more and more light each day without having to move it.
Often, if your snake plant has any of the above issues, it can weaken it and make it susceptible to pests.
For example, fungus gnats (insects similar to fruit flies that emerge from the soil as larvae) can attack your plant if it is overwatered and/or poorly drained. In this case, you may need to transplant the plant into new soil, cut off the rotten roots, and follow the watering and drainage tips above. Then water with 3% hydrogen peroxide and an insecticide.
A good homemade option is 1 tablespoon of mild or Dr. Bronner’s dish soap, 1 tablespoon of oil (eg, sunflower or olive), and 15 drops of neem oil with 1 cup of water. Extreme and persistent infestations may require treatment with pyrethrin-based insecticides.
Other rare pests of snake plants include spider mites and scale insects, although these are usually apparent before the leaves begin to drop, as the plants will show small brown spots and/or discolored spots on their leaves before to drop or completely lose their leaves. Treat by spraying an insecticide as above.
If you’re having trouble getting rid of pests on your houseplants, Read my post on some of the best ways to get rid of houseplant bugs naturally.
How to Fix Hanging Leaves on Snake Plants
Depending on the severity of your snake’s leaf drop, you may be able to revive them to some degree by following the tips above. However, if they are in poor condition, there is probably nothing you can do to fix the existing sheets. Your options are to leave them alone until new upright growth begins and then cut them off, or just leave them alone until they die back on their own as the new growth takes over.
Rotten or dead leaves should be cut just below the dead or rotten part. Note that the tips of these cut leaves will never grow back. Be careful not to cut the leaf mass too much, as this can cause the plant to die, without enough light photosynthesis to allow it to grow.
It’s best to wait for healthy new growth before cutting off old leaves, as this will ensure that your plant will be healthy again much sooner.
Follow the tips above to restore your droopy snake plant to health and never have any problems with it again.
If you’ve ever been disappointed when one of your houseplants got sick or died, and you weren’t quite sure what was going on, I can help. My book, Houseplants Made Simpleexplains how to really understand what your houseplants need and how to care for them so they will thrive.
If you want more information on snake plant care and how to fix common problems, here are some other articles you might be interested in.
- Why is my snake plant dying?
- Why do snake plants have brown tips?
- Why do snake plant leaves curl?
- A guide to caring for succulents indoors.
- How to care for a snake plant.