With their upright, sword-shaped leaves and nearly indestructible nature, snake plants are hugely popular houseplants. But sometimes the edges or entire leaves turn yellow, which can be alarming. Understanding why your snake plant is turning yellow will help you restore it to vibrant green health.
The most common cause of yellowing leaves in snake plants is overwatering. Snake plants prefer infrequent but deep watering. Too much moisture causes the roots to rot and the leaves to yellow.
Signs your snake plant is overwatered:
Leaves are yellow at the base or tips
Mushy or translucent leaves
Brown, rotten roots
Standing water in pot
Mold or fungus on surface of soil
If given too much direct sun, snake plant leaves can burn and the edges or tips turn yellow. Move to a shadier spot if sunlight is too intense. Yellow sections won’t recover but new leaves will grow without sunburn damage.
Exposure to very cold or very hot temperatures can stress snake plants and cause yellowing. Keep your plant between 60-80°F. Move away from drafty windows, heat vents, or other temperature extremes.
Heavy, waterlogged soil or overly dry, nutrient deficient soil can cause yellow snake plant leaves. Repot into a well-draining potting mix amended with perlite or sand to improve drainage and aeration.
Insects that feed on snake plants can cause yellow spotting or streaks on leaves. Mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips are common culprits. Isolate and treat infested plants to eliminate pests. Remove badly damaged leaves.
Fungal or bacterial diseases usually cause leaf spotting but can also turn leaves yellow. Prevent by providing proper air circulation and not overwatering. Disinfect tools between use on different plants.
Lack of key nutrients like nitrogen causes general yellowing. Mineral imbalances within plant cells can also cause the yellowing of snake plants. Fertilize monthly in the spring and summer using a balanced houseplant fertilizer to provide missing nutrients.
Snake plants need bright, indirect light to thrive. Too little light leads to pale, yellowish leaves. Move your plant to a brighter location or use a grow light to supplement natural lighting.
How to Care for a Yellowing Snake Plant ?
If you catch yellowing early, it is often possible to restore a snake plant’s health. Here’s how:
- Assess watering habits and amend to allow soil to dry out between waterings.
- Repot in fresh, well-draining soil if current mix is compacted.
- Prune off any severely yellow or mushy leaves.
- Move to a shadier or warmer location if sun or temperature is an issue.
- Treat plant with insecticidal soap if pests are present.
- Apply fertilizer to provide missing nutrients if deficiency is suspected.
- Increase light exposure if plant is not getting enough sun.
With some extra care and attention to its needs, your snake plant should soon regain its vibrant green color!
When Should you Seek Help ?
If you are still stumped about what is causing yellowing, or if the plant continues to decline despite your best efforts, seek advice from your local nursery or plant specialist. They can help diagnose tricky problems and recommend solutions. Don’t give up too soon – yellow snake plants can often make a full recovery.
Yellowing leaves are a sign your snake plant is stressed and unhappy. By identifying and addressing the underlying cause, whether it’s overwatering, pests, or insufficient sunlight, you can nurse your snake plant back to peak condition. Pay close attention to your plant’s care needs to keep those sword-shaped leaves vibrant green.