Mother-in-law’s tongues, or snake plants, are tough houseplants that can add vibrant color to an interior space. Moreover, it is tolerant of neglecting to eat, to water, and to expose itself to low light.
Even so, you shouldn’t let the snake plant go completely unattended. A snake plant may droop and sag at some point.
Snake plants can begin to droop for a number of reasons, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways to allow them to recover.
It is always a good idea to properly educate yourself on any plant’s requirements. Plants require different things. Some plants may require more light, water, or nourishment than others.
Don’t assume anything based on general assumptions, or you may end up with a plant that is lacking something or getting too much of something else.
Snake plants may droop for a variety of reasons. The good thing about common issues is they also have common solutions.
You can restore vibrance and life to your snake plant by knowing what to look for and identifying the problems.
Overwatering is one of the most common problems when it comes to plants. As far as we are concerned, it is for the best. The plants simply need adequate water to grow, so we’re just trying to make sure they get it.
Snake plants, as well as other plants, can be harmed by too much water. Snake plants are succulents. Rubbery, thick leaves are naturally good at retaining moisture because of their natural rubberiness.
Succulents generally require less water than a standard houseplant. Given that it generally thrives in hotter, drier climates like those of the West African tropics, the snake plant is no exception.
Since snake plants are succulents, it is very easy to overwater them. Root rot can be a serious problem for plants if they are overwatered. Overwatering can be recovered, thankfully.
Allow the soil to completely dry out first. To check moisture levels, poke your finger into the soil or use a popsicle stick. It doesn’t mean that the underneath is dry just because the surface is.
Between each watering of your snake plant, make sure it has completely dried. There is no need for it to be dry from top to bottom, but the top three inches should be completely dry before adding any more water.
It is possible to kill the root fungus if root rot has already started. Water your snake plant with 3% hydrogen peroxide for the next three months. You should be able to clear away the rot and restore your snake plant to its former glory.
If the root rot is severe, it might be necessary to repot the entire plant. Any mushy or dead roots will be removed, creating room for the good roots to grow.
You should also keep in mind that snake plants typically only need to be watered every two to four weeks. Watering will be necessary a little more frequently for plants that get a lot of heat or light.
During the winter, they need less water than that, only needing it when the leaves start to wilt.
Proper potting is another major issue with houseplants, not just snake plants. Those roots can become bound if they do not have enough room to grow. As a result, the roots become tangled and unable to grow.
Snake plants don’t need repotting quite as often as most other plants. While they are fine being a little rootbound, there are times when it becomes extensive. During that time, the snake plant can become unhealthy and start drooping.
Despite requiring less water and nutrients than some other plant options, snake plants require soil for their roots to absorb water and nutrients. Girdling can result if the roots become too tightly bound.
The roots begin to strangle themselves at this point. In addition, root rot and other possible diseases can prevent the plant from being able to “breathe” properly.
Repotter your snake plant every three to five years is a good rule of thumb. You can also trim the roots if, for whatever reason, you cannot move the plant into a larger pot.
At most, the snake plant roots should occupy three-quarters of your pot. They will be able to flourish without getting tangled to a detrimental degree.
You can tell if a plant needs to be repotted or trimmed by loosening up some of the soil on the pot’s sides. Make sure the roots reach the edges of the pot. If it looks like there is more root than soil, start looking for a pot that is the next size up.
The root ball can also become solid at times. You can actually tease the roots apart when this happens. Before repotting, continue branching until you see a pattern and not that big clump.
When trimming the roots, take it out of the pot and gently place it on its side. Individually cut the roots with a pair of sharp scissors or a knife.
You should not just start cutting into the root ball to make it smaller. Once you have separated the roots, you can trim the roots where necessary without causing major damage to them.
From time to time, keep an eye on the roots. It is important to give the roots the space they need to “breathe.”
Bad Drainage or Bad Soil
If the drooping persists, you may be watering based on the guidelines above. Check to see if too much water is being absorbed by the soil next. Make sure the pot you are using has proper drainage.
Overwatering is possible without proper drainage. If the water does not drain out properly, it will stay there until the next watering. Rinse and repeat until the problem is severe enough to cause root rot.
If drainage issues are the cause, you can simply repot your plant. Plant your plant in a soil that is suitable for succulents or cacti, which require less water and nutrients.
To make the soil more fertile, you should also add half perlite to your regular potting soil.
Make sure you remove as much old soil as you can if you decide to repot. You should also ensure that the pot you use for repotting is large enough to accommodate the roots’ current structure.
If you have proper drainage, there is one way to tell. The bottom drainage holes of your snake plant should begin to leak water when you water it.
There’s a blockage somewhere and water will sit in the soil for longer than it needs to.
Most people tend to interpret “negligent-resistant” as “doesn’t need attention.” While snake plants can flourish in partial shade, they often do better when they are partially exposed to natural sunlight.
It is possible that your snake plant doesn’t get a lot of light, which could be one of the main reasons why it has become unhealthy and is beginning to droop.
There are a couple of reasons why partial sun is important. It is imperative for the overall health of snake plants, for one. Another reason is that sunlight usually makes a plant look better, resulting in brighter leaves that display the characteristic pattern of snake plants.
You should not expose your snake plant to constant direct sunlight, however. In general, they can tolerate around eight hours of direct light per day, but placing them in direct light all day can be too much for them. Yes, too much light can also make the leaves droop.
You should place your snake plant about 10 feet from a window facing south or east or west. When you keep your plant in a western-facing window, keep it a few feet away from the window so that it can withstand the intense sunlight much better.
Last but not least, don’t place the snake plant directly in the sun. Introduce the plant to light gradually, starting with a couple of hours on the first day. Adding an hour or two each day until the plant receives the full amount of sun exposure it needs.
Consider using potential obstacles to block out some of the sunlight. It can be helpful to limit how much sunlight is reaching a plant if you use things like bushes or curtains so it doesn’t have to be moved around often.
Plant pests can be a serious issue when it comes to weakening the overall health of the plant, as is the case with other plants. Obviously, each plant has its own set of pests that do more damage than others.
As a result of poor drainage or overwatering, fungus gnats can attack your snake plant in larvae form. They are very similar to fruit flies. When this happens, you will need to repot your plant into new soil and remove any rotted roots.
Check the drainage of the new pot to ensure that it drains properly. Once you are finished, repeat the hydrogen peroxide step and add a pesticide to keep the pests away.
If you want to keep the pest problem at bay, you can make some homemade remedies. Add a tablespoon of mild dish soap (if possible), a tablespoon of olive or sunflower oil, and around 15 or so drops of neem oil to one cup of water.
The most severe pest infestations can be treated with insecticides with pyrethrin bases. The presence of other pests, such as mealybugs and spider mites, is rare, but still a problem.
Plants with these pests tend to have faded dots or brown specks on their leaves before they begin to droop.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions before spraying pesticides. When insecticides are used improperly, they can harm plants and introduce chemicals into soil that shouldn’t be there.
Snake plants aren’t the most difficult plants in the world to keep healthy and vibrant, but there are a few steps to follow. Fortunately, all drooping is the result of very common issues and has very common solutions.
By knowing what signs to watch for, you will not only be able to identify potential problems with the snake plant, but also implement solutions. You can keep your snake plant looking healthy and green for a long time if you give it a little attention.