Reasons Why My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow And How To Fix It

Reasons Why My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow And How To Fix It

Having plants in your home is a great way to improve the quality of the air and give your mental health a boost. They also provide some much-needed color and nature to your home which is super important, especially if you live in an urban area.

However, no matter how careful you are with your plants, you can sometimes come across some issues with your plants. 

One of the most common problems that people who grow snake plants encounter is yellowing leaves. This can be a concerning thing to see on your plant, but thankfully there is usually a simple solution.

If you act quickly, you can return your plants to their former glory. In this article, we are going to look at what causes your snake plant’s leaves to turn yellow and how you can prevent or treat it when it does occur. 

What Causes Snake Plant Leaves To Turn Yellow?

As with any type of issue with a plant, there are many reasons why your snake plant leaves might turn yellow.

Below, we will look at some of the most common reasons for your leaves to turn yellow and how to identify them. 

Watering Stress

One of the reasons why snake plants are such common houseplants is because they are thought to be practically indestructible. Unfortunately, this isn’t actually the case.

Despite the fact that snake plants are often recommended for people who struggle to maintain their plants, there are mistakes that you can make. 

It is important to understand that snake plants are succulents. This means that they are designed to store water within themselves for an extended period of time.

This is what allows the plant to survive for long periods of time between watering. 

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you can completely forget about watering them. Although they are incredibly drought tolerant, they do need to be watered properly.

If you notice that the leaves are beginning to turn yellow, it could be the first sign of watering distress. If this is the case, watering the plant could help perk it back up. 

Remember that your snake plant’s soil should be moist but not saturated. The soil should dry out between watering. 

Root Rot

Another common reason for snake plant leaves to turn yellow is root rot. This is the opposite problem to watering stress. Root rot is a common problem for many houseplants and potted plants.

It is an extremely serious problem for your plant and can lead to the death of your plant if you do not remedy the problem quickly enough. 

If you have been watering your snake plant regularly and suspect that root rot might be the cause of the yellowing leaves that you have noticed, you need to act fast.

To find out if root rot really is the cause, you will need to remove the plant from its pot to examine the roots. If they display a mushy consistency or are black in color it is a definitive case of root rot. 

If you find that your plant has developed root rot, you will need to take immediate action to help save the plant. The first thing you should do is trim away any affected roots.

Once you are left with healthy-looking roots, you should replant it in completely fresh potting soil. 

Remember that snake plants are succulents and won’t need to be watered as often as other houseplants.

If you discover your plant has root rot and are left with very few healthy roots after cutting away the affected ones, it might be too late to save the plant. 

Too Much Light

Although plants need light, water, and nutrients to grow properly, they can suffer if they have too much of any of these things. This includes getting too much light.

More specifically, if they have too much direct sunlight. The direct sunlight can cause the leaves to turn yellow if it is exposed for too long. 

If you know that you are watering your snake plant correctly, moving it to an area of your home that receives less direct sunlight can help to reverse the yellowing.

In most cases, the yellow leaves will begin to visibly improve in a few days. 

If you notice that the leaves aren’t improving in a few days after being moved to an area with indirect sunlight, you may need to move it somewhere else with more shade.

When the plant has been exposed to excessive amounts of direct sunlight, even indirect sunlight can be too much for the leaves. 

For the more severe cases of excessive direct light, you should move the plant away from light. Placing the plant in a cupboard or shaded area of your home can help the plant to recover.

Keep checking on the plant for a few days to see if there is any improvement. If there isn’t any improvement, excessive light may not be the cause of the yellowing leaves. 

Temperature Fluctuations

We have already mentioned that snake plants are succulents that are incredibly drought resistant. This is because they are native to tropical regions of Africa.

This means that they thrive in warmer, more humid environments. The ultimate temperature window to keep snake plants in is between 50 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Although these plants can handle most fluctuations within this range, there are a few exceptions. If the temperature of the environment drops or rises dramatically and suddenly, it can affect the color of the leaves.

This is also true if the temperature fluctuates above or below the ideal window. 

If you suspect that temperature fluctuations are the cause of the yellowing leaves on your plant, you should move it to an area that has a more consistent temperature.

It is important to make sure that the plant isn’t placed near a radiator or an air conditioner to help avoid drastic fluctuations in the temperature of the plant. 

You should also try to avoid placing your snake plant near windows or doors that are likely to be opened often.

This is because the plant doesn’t like drafts. Moving the plant to an area with a consistent temperature can help to reverse the yellowing of the leaves. 

Fungal Diseases

A common reason for changes in the appearance of plant leaves is disease. If you notice that your snake plant leaves are turning yellow, a common cause can be fungal diseases.

These can be caused by several different environmental factors, including poor drainage, overwatering, and excessively humid conditions. 

If you suspect that a fungal disease is affecting the color of your snake plant’s leaves, the first thing you should do is alter the growing conditions of the plant.

This can be as simple as changing the soil or replanting. You should make sure that the soil is kept moist but not sodden. There should also be adequate drainage and airflow around the plant. 

If you want to clear the disease from the plant as quickly as possible, or you think that the disease is particularly bad, you can use fungicides to heal the plant.

These can be purchased from almost any plant nursery. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the product and purchase the correct product for use on a snake plant.

Reasons Why My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow And How To Fix It

Pests

Another, less savory, cause of yellowing leaves on your snake plant can be an infestation of pests.

There are a few common types of pest that can affect snake plants, these include spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. In order to deal with a pest infestation, you need to identify the specific pest. 

Spider mites are tiny insects that feed on the leaves of the plant. They are incredibly difficult to spot thanks to their tiny size.

They also tend to live on the underside of the leaves. Feasting on the leaves can cause them to turn yellow in a short period of time. There are oils and soaps that can remove these pests. 

Aphids are small insects that are green in color. These pests also feed on the leaves of the plant in clusters.

If you think that the yellowing of your leaves is being caused by aphids, you can try using horticultural oils and soaps to clean the plant. You can also try to squish the pests with your fingers or blast them off with a hose. 

Finally, mealybugs are small and white in color. These pests feed on the sap that the snake plant produces. If mealybugs are left untreated, it can be fatal for the plant.

For a mealybug infestation, you can try insecticidal soap or oil to remove the bugs. You can also individually rub the leaves with a small amount of alcohol. 

Nutrient Deficiency

A common cause of yellowing leaves on any plant is nutrient deficiencies. There are many different nutrients that plants need to thrive and grow in their environment.

These nutrients are absorbed through the soil that the plant is potted in. The most common nutrient for a plant to be lacking is nitrogen.

Not only will this cause the leaves of the snake plant to turn yellow but it can also stunt the growth of the plant. To keep your plant healthy in the long-run it is important to correct a nutrient deficiency as soon as possible.

The easiest way to do this is to add a fertilizer to the soil that is rich in nitrogen. This will help to boost the nutrients that your plant is getting and allow it to grow properly. 

It is important to monitor the pH of the soil to help avoid nutrient deficiencies from occurring. If the soil becomes too acidic or too alkaline, it can cause your plant to suffer from inadequate nutrients.

Taking these steps can help to ensure that your snake plant is as healthy as possible and thriving. 

Rootbound

Another cause of yellowing leaves that can be linked to the roots of your plant is rootbound. Rootbound is essentially a term used to describe your plant becoming overcrowded in its pot.

If a plant is becoming too big for its pot, the roots will begin to circle the inside of the pot. This leads to them becoming entangled in each other. 

Rootbound can cause multiple problems for your snake plant. The growth of the plant will be stunted by the pot and the rootbound, the leaves will turn yellow, and the plant can end up dying if the problem is left untreated. 

To check for rootbound in your plant you should gently remove it from its pot so that you can examine the roots.

If you find that the roots are tightly packed and entangled, you should transfer the plant to a new, bigger pot. Before you replant in the new pot, make sure that you loosen the roots.

This should be done very gently to avoid causing further damage. Water the plant thoroughly once you have replanted it. You are likely to need to replant a few times as your snake plant grows. 

Inadequate Drainage

We have already mentioned the importance of drainage to keep your snake plant healthy. It can be a common cause of yellowing leaves on the plant.

Because it is a succulent, your snake plant needs to be potted in soil that has good drainage. This helps to avoid other issues, such as root rot, developing. 

If you think that inadequate drainage might be causing your snake plant leaves to turn yellow, you should replant it in a pot that provides better drainage.

Adding small stones to the bottom of your pot can help to improve the drainage. You can also change the type of soil that you use.

Adding some sand to the soil can also help to improve drainage. With better drainage, your snake plant should make a full recovery. 

Over-Fertilizing

We mentioned above that fertilizing your soil can help to avoid nutrient deficiencies that can cause yellowing of the leaves. However, over-fertilizing can also be a cause of yellow leaves.

When you fertilize your plants, you aren’t just supplying them with the nutrients they need, you are giving concentrated doses of nutrients that the soil isn’t providing. 

Over-fertilizing the soil that your snake plant is growing in can throw the plant off balance just as much as a lack of nutrients can.

If over-fertilization isn’t treated properly, it can lead to the loss of leaves and eventually the death of the plant.

It is important to note that snake plants don’t actually need a lot of feeding, and you should avoid fertilizing your plant at all during the winter. 

If you think you may have over-fertilized, you should stop any further fertilization and flush the soil with plenty of water to remove as much excess as possible.

You can also try repotting the plant in fresh soil. As long as you refrain from adding more fertilizer to the soil, your plant should make a full recovery.

Natural Aging

Another reason why your plant leaves might be turning yellow is because it is aging. This is something that affects all plants in different ways.

With snake plants, their leaves can gradually begin to turn yellow as they age. The leaves will eventually turn from yellow to brown. 

This change in the color of the leaves is a completely natural part of the plant’s life cycle. There is nothing to be worried about with your plant and it isn’t something that can be prevented.

When the leaves turn brown, they will eventually fall off. New leaves will then be produced that are a healthy green color. 

If you have been looking after your plant well and nothing has changed to cause the yellowing leaves, it could just be a natural part of the plant’s life. You can just let it do its thing. 

Reasons Why My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow And How To Fix It

How To Prevent Snake Plant Leaves From Turning Yellow

Now that you know what can cause the leaves on your snake plant to turn yellow, it is important to understand how you can fix it or prevent it.

Prevention is always better than cure, but sometimes mistakes happen. Below are some tips to help you prevent your snake plant leaves from turning yellow. 

Plant In Well-Draining Soil

When you get your snake plant or when you are repotting the plant, make sure that you are using well-draining soil.

Purchasing a soil that is specifically designed for succulent plants can be useful. If you cannot get succulent soil, mixing some sand with the soil can be a good alternative.

You can also place some small stones in the bottom of the pot to provide extra drainage. 

Don’t Over-Water

Again, snake plants are succulents. This means that they are incredibly drought tolerant and do not need to be watered as often as other houseplants.

In order to avoid overwatering your snake plant, make sure that the soil is dry to the touch before you water again. Overwatering can lead to the roots of the plant rotting. 

Don’t Over-Fertilize

This has already been mentioned but it doesn’t hurt to drive it home. Snake plants are notoriously easy to maintain and keep alive. Because of this, they don’t need much fertilizer.

Adding too much fertilizer to the soil can cause more harm than good. If you do want to fertilize your snake plant, you should only do so once a month during the growing season.

You should dilute the fertilizer that you are using. 

Make Sure It Gets The Right Light

Snake plants are native to the tropical regions of Africa, they enjoy plenty of sunlight. However, if the sunlight is too direct or too intense, it can have negative effects on the health of the plant.

It is important to make sure that your plant is positioned to get enough sunlight without being scorched. 

Maintain Temperature

We touched on this above, but it is worth mentioning again. The ideal temperature for a snake plant to thrive is between 50 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature is consistently above or below this range, it can affect the health of the plant. The plant can also be affected by sudden changes in the temperature.

Make sure that your plant is positioned away from radiators, air conditioning units, and drafts to help protect it. 

Final Thoughts

There are so many reasons why the leaves on your snake plant may be turning yellow. Some of the reasons are a natural part of the plant’s life cycle. However, others are indicative of a problem with your plant.

Thankfully, yellowing leaves are one of the first signs of a problem which means that it can be easily rectified before it becomes fatal for your plant. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should Yellow Leaves Be Removed?

Not only do yellow leaves on your snake plant not look very nice, you may also be concerned about them taking nutrients and water from healthy leaves and causing further problems.

If you are concerned about this, you can remove the yellowing leaves from the plant entirely. 

You can also opt to just remove the yellow part of the leaves. If you choose this option, the leaf will continue to grow, but it won’t return to its original, pointy shape.

If this is important to you, you can remove the entire leaf from the base. 

Can Yellow Leaves Return To Green?

Before you dive into removing the leaves that are turning yellow, you might want to know whether the leaves can return to their original green color.

The answer to this is yes, they can. If you catch the yellowing and rectify the issue quickly enough, the leaves can regain their beautiful green color within a few weeks. 

If the yellowing is severe and covers the majority of the affected leaves, there is a chance that the leaves will never recover their color and it can be best to remove them.


About The Author

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Gina Harper grew up dreaming about farms and growing her own food. She began an urban garden to feed herself and turned it into an incredible hobby. Gina is here to teach you everything from raised beds to container gardening, how to keep plants alive and well in a smoggy city, and the works. It’s time that we carve our own piece of green earth and reap what we sow—she’s here to help you with that.

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