The snake plant, also called mother-in-law’s tongue, is a typical house plant thanks to its low care needs and attractive appearance.
A member of the succulent family, it has sword-shaped green leaves that stick straight up, almost looking like artificial foliage. However, unlike plastic, the snake plant can filter dust and other pollutants from the air in your home and improve your mental and physical health.
Although it is a resilient plant that is relatively easy to care for, you may sometimes notice the tips of the vibrant green leaves turning brown. Don’t panic—this doesn’t mean your plant is dying! You’re about to find out why.
Quick Answer: Snake Plant Brown Tips- Causes and Solutions
Brown tips on snake plants typically arise from inconsistent watering, excessive direct sunlight, or over-fertilization. While many plants rebound, extreme cases can be fatal. Regular care checks ensure a thriving snake plant.
11 Causes For Brown Tips on Snake Plant and Solutions
There are eleven potential underlying causes with quick, inexpensive solutions.
1. You’re Not Watering It Enough
Snake plants generally don’t require much water to survive or thrive. However, they are not altogether immune from drying out.
If you leave it for several weeks to go on vacation without enlisting someone to drop by and water it or forget to water it yourself for long enough, your plant will start to suffer from dehydration.
The first place you’ll notice the effects are the tips of the leaves, which may become brown and brittle.
Start watering more frequently! During the summer, you’ll want to water whenever the top 3” of the soil feels dry.
In the winter, you can water even less frequently—just as often as it takes to keep your leaves looking healthy.
Try setting a daily reminder to check the soil’s moisture levels. If you’re going on vacation, ask someone to stop by once a week and check for you.
2. You’re Watering It Too Much
It’s far more common to overwater your snake plant than underwater it.
Since your snake plant keeps good water reserves on its own, it doesn’t need to absorb too much from the soil. That means the soil will stay wet if you keep watering your plant.
Damp environments can rot the root system, which kills your plant.
Stop watering your plant! Wait at least ten days for the soil to dry out completely. Then, you can start watering again according to the schedule described above.
3. You’re Watering It With Overly Chlorinated Water
Your tap water could contain chemicals like chlorine to kill pathogens and make it safe to drink. However, your snake plant may be more sensitive to chlorine than you are.
Depending on where you live and how your municipal water treatment system works, tap water might have more or less chlorine.
Too much chlorine can cause your snake plant to develop brown spots or tips.
You can collect rainwater to water your plants or use distilled water from a bottle or jug. You can also let an open container of tap water sit out for 24 hours or more to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
4. You Don’t Have the Right Pot
If you’ve cut back on watering but still notice that your soil is too moist and your snake plant is developing brown tips, your pot might be to blame.
Some pots cause soil to retain more moisture than others. The right pot can make all the difference for a hosueplant as sensitive to root rot as the snake plant.
Not only should it be made of suitable materials, but it must also be big enough for the root system.
Terra cotta pots are considered the best pots for snake plants. Terra cotta is a porous material that can absorb the excess water from the soil and direct it away from your plant’s root system.
Whatever pot you choose should have drainage holes in the bottom. You want a pot as wide as your snake plant is tall and a few inches deeper.
5. You Have the Wrong Soil in Your Pot
Like pots, some soils and potting mixes are designed to hold more water than others. This can prevent drainage and increase the risk of your snake plant developing root rot.
If you tried to cut back on watering and repotting your snake plant, the problem may be the soil.
Find a potting mix formulated to promote drainage, then repot your plant. Here a complete guide on creating the best soil for snake plants.
You can also add a layer of course material like pebbles or gravel to the bottom of the pot. These materials let air and water pass more quickly, creating drier conditions for the roots.
6. It’s Too Hot and Sunny
All plants need the sun to grow, and the snake plant’s drought-resistant qualities make it well-suited for hot environments. However, too much direct sunlight can increase the risk of dehydration, causing the tips of your snake plant’s leaves to turn brown.
Glass traps heat, so if your snake plant is directly under or next to a window, it could be subject to some pretty intense heat, especially during warmer months.
Move your snake plant away from windows that get several hours of direct sunlight, especially when the sun is most intense in the middle of the day.
Choose a spot that only gets sun in the early morning and late afternoon or evening.
If you are moving your snake plant outside for the summer, slowly transition it to a brighter environment to help it acclimate.
7. It’s Too Cold
Snake plants are not known for being a cold hardy species. Generally, they don’t do well in temperatures less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overly cold conditions can stress your snake plant, and you might see the tips of the leaves start to turn brown.
Snake plants are usually kept indoors, so keeping them at an appropriate temperature shouldn’t be too hard. However, if you did bring it outside for the summer, get it back inside before temperatures drop too low.
8. the Air Is Too Dry
The snake plant thrives in moderate humidity levels. 40% humidity is ideal, but they can tolerate a little lower or slightly higher.
If the air is too dry, your plant might lose moisture more quickly than usual. This can lead to dehydration and brown leaves.
If you live in a particularly arid climate or the air inside your house is dry, you can use a humidifier to add moisture back into the air.
9. You’ve Added Too Much Fertilizer
As succulents, snake plants are designed to survive in nutrient-deficient soils.
Too many nutrients can damage the root system and cause the leaves to turn brown. This condition is also known as fertilizer burn.
Though we usually don’t recommend overwatering your snake plant, you’ll want to flush the soil with water if you overfertilize your plant (here’s how to fertilize correctly).
Move the pot to a tub or sink, saturate the soil with water, and allow it to drain freely.
10. You Have a Fungus Problem
Too much moisture or humidity can cause mold, mildew, and other fungal diseases like red leaf spot and southern blight.
These fungal infections can affect the leaves directly or attack the root systems, preventing them from carrying enough nutrients to the leaves. Either way, the leaves may develop brown spots or become brown and wilted.
Remove the affected leaves, let the soil dry out, and adjust the humidity levels in your home.
If caught early enough, you can use fungicides to treat the problem.
Consider quarantining your plant if you have other house plants to prevent the infection from spreading.
11. You Have a Pest Problem
Brown spots on your leaves can indicate that pests like spider mites and mealybugs have been feeding on your plants. If left untreated, pests can cause significant damage to your plants and spread to other plants.
To prevent pests in the first place, try spraying your plants with neem oil. This organic pesticide repels and kills many insects.
If you notice bugs on your plant, you can spray the leaves down with a generous water coating to drown and flush them off. Don’t forget to check the soil and replace it if necessary.
No matter what is causing brown spots or tips on your plants, you should start to see fresh, healthy leaves grow once you resolve the problem. However, existing brown spots won’t heal, so you might want to prune them.
If the leaf is severely damaged, prune it at the soil level. You can also remove the tip by itself if the rest of the leaf is healthy, but keep in mind that it won’t grow back, so you should be careful to trim it attractively.
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.