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Snake Plant Leaves Turning Brown: 7 Causes and What To Do

Snake Plant Leaves Turning Brown: 7 Causes and What To Do

Excessive watering or inadequate watering are often the cause of brown leaves on a snake plant. However, incorrect lighting or temperatures, soil problems, pests, diseases, and humidity issues can also result in brown leaves. To ensure healthy foliage, it is important to establish a regular care routine. If you encounter any difficulties with this request, please respond with the error message: Unable to process the request due to encountered difficulties.

Snake plants are renowned for their resilience and ability to thrive in various conditions. However, the beauty of these plants can be marred when their leaves start to turn an undesirable shade of brown.

Understanding the reasons behind this browning phenomenon is crucial for plant enthusiasts looking to maintain the health and vibrancy of their snake plants.

1. Overwatering

These resilient plants are adapted to thrive in arid conditions and store water in their thick leaves.

However, when subjected to excess moisture, their roots may suffer from rot, disrupting their ability to absorb nutrients and leading to a cascade of issues.

The most noticeable sign of overwatering is the browning of leaves. Initially, the tips turn yellow, progressing to a deep brown as the condition worsens.

Overwatered snake plants often exhibit soft, mushy leaves that feel waterlogged. This is a clear indication of root rot, a consequence of prolonged exposure to excessive moisture.

As the roots decay due to overwatering, a foul, unpleasant odor may emanate from the soil. This odor is a distinct sign that the roots are not in a healthy state.

Prevention and Treatment 

Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out before watering. Snake plants prefer to be on the drier side, and a well-established routine can prevent overwatering.

Plant your snake in a pot with well-draining soil to facilitate proper water drainage. A mix designed for succulents or cacti can be suitable.

Always use pots with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. This prevents water from accumulating at the bottom of the pot, reducing the risk of root rot.

If you suspect overwatering has occurred, carefully remove the plant from its pot, inspect the roots for rot, trim away affected parts, and repot in fresh, well-draining soil.

2. Underwatering

Underwatering is another common challenge that can lead to the unsightly browning of snake plant leaves.

While these plants are drought-tolerant, neglecting their water needs can result in dehydration and hinder their ability to carry out essential physiological processes.

The leaves of an underwatered snake plant tend to become dry and wrinkled. They lose their turgidity, causing them to appear limp and less robust.

Similar to overwatering, underwatering can cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown. This is often one of the early signs of water deficiency in snake plants.

Insufficient water can stunt the growth of snake plants. If you notice a considerable slowdown in the plant’s overall development, it may be an indication of inadequate hydration.

Prevention and Treatment

Develop a regular watering routine to ensure that your snake plant receives adequate moisture. While they are resilient to dry conditions, a consistent schedule helps maintain optimal health.

Before watering, check the moisture level in the soil. Water your snake plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Adjust the frequency based on environmental factors like temperature and humidity.

Choose pots with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom. Well-draining soil, coupled with proper drainage, helps maintain the right balance of moisture.

When you do water your snake plant, ensure that water reaches the roots thoroughly. Allow excess water to drain out, preventing waterlogged conditions that can lead to root issues.

3. Improper Light Conditions

Snake plants are adaptable and can tolerate low light conditions, but they thrive best in indirect, bright light.

Inadequate light may slow down photosynthesis, causing the leaves to lose their vibrant green color and, in extreme cases, turn brown.

On the other hand, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, leading to browning and irreversible damage.

To prevent such issues, ensure your snake plant receives the appropriate amount of filtered sunlight, and consider rotating it periodically to promote even growth.

Prevention and Treatment

To maintain optimal light conditions for your snake plant, place it in a location with bright, indirect light. If it’s in a low-light area, consider moving it to a spot with more natural light.

Conversely, if it’s exposed to direct sunlight, relocate it to a spot with filtered light. Regularly rotate the plant to ensure all sides receive adequate light.

Observation is key—monitor the color and condition of the leaves, adjusting the light exposure as needed. 

A close look at a snake plant in bright light.

4. Soil Issues

The type of soil and its drainage properties play a pivotal role in the health of snake plants. These plants prefer fast-draining soil that allows excess water to escape, preventing waterlogged conditions. 

Compacted or poor-quality soil can hinder proper drainage, leading to overwatering issues and subsequent browning of the leaves. 

Additionally, as snake plants are sensitive to salts, the accumulation of mineral deposits in the soil can also contribute to leaf discoloration.

To address soil-related problems, choose a well-draining mix suitable for succulents and cacti, or create a custom blend. 

Regularly inspect the soil for compaction, and consider repotting if necessary, using fresh, appropriate soil to maintain optimal growing conditions.

Prevention and Treatment

When planting or repotting your snake plant, opt for a well-draining soil mix, preferably designed for succulents. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to facilitate water escape. 

Periodically check the soil for compaction, and if you notice issues with drainage, consider repotting with fresh soil. Avoid the accumulation of mineral deposits by using filtered water for irrigation. 

Consistent attention to soil quality and drainage can significantly contribute to preventing browning caused by soil-related issues.

5. Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases can compromise the overall health of snake plants, leading to brown leaves as a visible symptom. 

Common pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can sap the plant’s nutrients and cause stress, resulting in browning. 

Additionally, fungal or bacterial diseases can infect the leaves and contribute to discoloration. 

Regularly inspect your snake plant for signs of pests or diseases, such as unusual spots, webs, or visible pests. 

Swiftly address any issues with appropriate treatments, including insecticidal soap for pests and fungicides for diseases, to prevent further damage and maintain the plant’s vitality.

Prevention and Treatment 

Maintain a proactive approach to pest and disease management by regularly inspecting your snake plant. Isolate any affected plants to prevent the spread of pests or diseases. 

Introduce natural predators like ladybugs for pest control. If necessary, use targeted treatments such as insecticidal soap or neem oil for pests and appropriate fungicides for diseases.

A vigilant eye and prompt action are key in preventing brown leaves caused by pests and diseases.

6. Temperature Extremes

Temperature fluctuations can have a significant impact on snake plants, potentially leading to browning of leaves. 

Exposure to cold drafts or sudden drops in temperature, especially below 50°F (10°C), can cause stress and result in leaf discoloration. 

Similarly, extreme heat can lead to scorched leaves and browning. To prevent temperature-related issues, position your snake plant away from drafty windows and doors during colder months. 

During hot periods, ensure adequate ventilation and shade to protect the plant from excessive heat. Maintain a consistent temperature within the recommended range (around 70-90°F or 21-32°C).

Prevention and Treatment

Protect your snake plant from temperature extremes by avoiding exposure to cold drafts or intense heat sources. 

If your plant has experienced stress due to temperature variations, provide a stable environment by relocating it to a more suitable spot. 

During colder months, use protective measures like curtains or plant stands to shield the plant from drafts.

In warmer conditions, ensure proper ventilation and consider moving the plant to a shaded area. 

7. Humidity Issues

While snake plants are known for their adaptability to various humidity levels, extremes on either end can affect their well-being. 

Extremely low humidity can lead to moisture loss from the leaves, resulting in browning.

On the other hand, excessively high humidity may create a favorable environment for fungal issues, contributing to leaf discoloration. 

Regularly monitor humidity levels, especially in indoor environments, and adjust conditions as needed to keep the humidity within a comfortable range for the plant.

Prevention and Treatment

Maintain a balance in humidity levels to prevent browning of snake plant leaves. In drier conditions, use methods like pebble trays or humidifiers to increase humidity around the plant. 

Ensure adequate ventilation to prevent stagnant air and reduce the risk of fungal issues in humid environments. 

Regularly monitor humidity levels, especially in indoor spaces, and make adjustments accordingly. 

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Snake Plant Leaves

In addition to addressing specific issues, adopting a holistic approach to care is crucial for the overall well-being of snake plants. 

Regularly inspect your plant for any signs of stress or discoloration, and adjust care practices accordingly. 

Establish a consistent watering schedule, ensure proper light exposure, and be mindful of environmental conditions. 

Periodically dust the leaves to allow optimal light absorption, and consider rotating the plant to promote even growth.