Snake Plant Turning Yellow? Fix Yellow Leaves Like a Pro

Ah, the curious case of the yellowing snake plant! You might find it maddening, but fear not, my plant-loving friend, understanding the root of the problem (pun intended), can help save your cherished green companion.

But worry not! A bit of detective work can help you pinpoint the issue plaguing your snake plant. Once you’ve cracked the case, it’s time to take action and nurse your precious houseplant back to health. Then, with some tender loving care and patience, you and your snake plant can enjoy many more years of companionship.

Short Answer: Snake Plant Turning Yellow

The primary causes of a snake plant turning yellow include overwatering, root rot, exposure to excessive direct sunlight, temperature changes, fungal infections, pests, and nutrient deficiencies. To ensure your plant’s well-being, identify the specific issue and address it promptly, promoting healthy growth and preventing further yellowing.

10 Reasons For Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

two snake plants turning yellow

1. Overwatering: Plant Enemy #1

It’s not unusual for a snake plant to turn yellow from too much watering. Proper soil drainage and watering habits are essential for keeping your plant healthy. Excess water can make the roots as soggy as a wet blanket, leading to root rot and, sadly, the demise of your plant.

Here’s how to become the Sherlock Holmes of watering:

  • In the winter, water your plant less often than in the summer, as it grows slower due to reduced light levels.
  • Investigate the soil; if dry an inch below the surface, it’s time to quench your snake plant’s thirst.
  • Water just enough so it drains from the bottom of the pot, and don’t let it sit in a puddle on the tray for more than a few hours.
  • Use a clay pot: Succulents thrive best in clay, unglazed ceramic, or terracotta pots since they are porous and enable more even drying compared to plastic or glazed ceramic pots. Using these pots reduces the likelihood of moisture buildup.

In a nutshell, careful watering and excellent soil drainage are the keys to keeping your snake plant thriving and avoiding root rot.

2. Too Little Water

watering a snake plant

Believe it or not, all of the hardy snake plant varieties can experience issues when given too little water. Insufficient hydration can lead to yellow leaves, dry or crispy texture, and an overall unhappy plant.

To keep your snake plant thriving, follow these watering tips:

  • Check the soil: Before quenching your snake plant’s thirst, assess the moisture level of the potting mix. Gently press your finger about an inch into the soil; if it’s dry, it’s time to water. Remember, snake plants appreciate well-draining soil, so avoid a potting mix that clings to moisture.
  • Water generously: When watering, ensure you moisten the potting mix thoroughly. This promotes deeper, stronger root growth, making the plant more robust overall.
  • Allow for drainage: Let any excess water escape through the pot’s drainage holes after watering. This prevents soggy soil and reduces the risk of root rot. If your pot has a saucer, remember to empty it once the water has drained.
  • Stick to a rough schedule: While these houseplants are forgiving, they still benefit from proper watering. Depending on factors like temperature, humidity, and pot size, watering every 2-3 weeks may be ideal. Keep an eye on your plant and adjust your schedule as needed.
  • Watch for underwatering signs: Be vigilant for indications of underwatering, such as yellowing leaves, shriveling, or drooping. If these symptoms appear, reevaluate your watering habits and make necessary adjustments.

3. Too Much Sunlight

snake plant lighting

Ah, sunlight – the giver of life and a snake plant’s best friend, but also, at times, its nemesis. Imagine soaking up the sun’s rays on a beach, only to realize later that you’ve transformed into a lobster-red version of yourself. Well, that’s precisely what could happen to your snake plant if it gets too much sunlight.

Like all plants, snake plants need just the right amount of light to thrive. However, too much sunlight can cause their leaves to turn yellow or brown, leaving them dry and brittle like a forgotten garden hose. 

Overexposure to sunlight can even cause your houseplant to develop unsightly, mushy leaves.

So, how can we find the Goldilocks zone for our beloved plant? The secret lies in providing bright indirect sunlight. Placing your plant near a window with a sheer curtain or in a spot where the sun’s rays are filtered can give it the exposure it needs without too much direct sunlight.

4. Not Enough Sunlight

snake plant disadvantages, man holding plant

Contrary to what one might think, snake plants are not sun-worshipping houseplants. In fact, too little sunlight can leave them with a case of the “blues” – or should we say yellows. That’s right; a lack of sunlight can cause your hardy snake plant to start turning yellow, like an old Polaroid photo left in the dark for too long.

Now, you might wonder how a plant known for its resilience and survival ability can suddenly become so sensitive in most conditions. Well, even the hardiest houseplants, like our dear mother-in-law’s tongue, need a little TLC occasionally.

To keep your snake plant from taking on a yellowish hue, ensure it receives enough indirect sunlight. As much as these plants can tolerate lower light conditions, they still need their daily dose of sunshine – but not too much, mind you. 

Direct sunlight can be too harsh for their delicate leaves, causing them to scorch and turn yellow. It’s all about finding the right balance, like a well-choreographed dance. Here’s a article to go deeper into snake plants sunlight needs.

5. Nutrient Deficiencies

snake plant soil

To help your snake plant overcome nutrient deficiencies and reclaim its verdant splendor, consider the following steps:

  1. Reassess your potting mix: If you suspect that the potting soil lacks nutrients, it’s time to reevaluate your choice. Opt for a well-draining potting mix that caters to the needs of succulents, as these are more suitable for your snake plant. Adding perlite, coarse sand, or even small pieces of clay can improve the soil’s drainage and aeration.
  2. Fertilize with care: Less is often more when fertilizing your snake plant. Instead of overloading your plant with a nutrient-rich concoction, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer designed explicitly for succulents, and follow the instructions carefully. Remember, moderation is key.
  3. Avoid a strict watering schedule: Overwatering is a common cause of nutrient deficiencies, as it can lead to root rot and create unfavorable conditions for nutrient absorption. To avoid this, devise a watering schedule considering the humidity, temperature, and plant growth cycle. But don’t stick to it blindly; instead, always test the soil moisture, as you should allow the soil to dry out between waterings and reduce the frequency during winter.
  4. Monitor for pests and fungal diseases: Pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites, as well as fungal diseases, can also contribute to yellowing leaves. Look for any signs of infestation or infection, and treat with neem oil or other appropriate remedies if needed.
  5. Prune yellow leaves: As a final touch, prune any yellow leaves that may still be clinging to your plant. This will improve its appearance and redirect its energy toward producing healthy new foliage.

By addressing these factors, you’ll be well on your way to restoring your houseplant’s health and vibrancy.

6. Temperature Stress

snake plant outside

To keep your snake plant comfortable and shield it from temperature stress, consider implementing the following tips:

  • Select an ideal location: Choose a spot in your home where the temperature remains consistent and falls within the ideal range for snake plants. Avoid cold drafts, heating vents, air conditioning units, and direct sunlight, as these can contribute to temperature fluctuations and stress. These plants are native to South Africa so they like warm temperatures.
  • Monitor temperature: Keep a watchful eye on the temperature in your plant’s environment. If you notice significant changes, take action to correct the issue. Investing in a simple indoor thermometer can help you monitor conditions and ensure the temperature remains stable.
  • Provide insulation: If you live in a particularly chilly climate or your home tends to be drafty, consider placing your snake plant on an insulated surface, such as a cork mat, to help protect its roots from the cold. Alternatively, you can use a heat mat designed for houseplants to provide gentle, consistent warmth.
  • Consider humidity: While they can tolerate a range of humidity levels, they prefer moderate humidity. If your home is particularly dry or humid, use a humidifier or dehumidifier to maintain a more comfortable environment for your plant.
  • Adjust your watering schedule: Be mindful of how temperature and humidity affect your plant’s water needs. In cooler temperatures, reduce the watering frequency to avoid soggy soil and the risk of root rot. Conversely, your plant may need more frequent watering in warmer environments to stay hydrated.

7. Overfertilization Woes

making the best snake plant soil and placing it in a pot

When caring for your snake plant, a little too much love in the form of fertilizer can lead to unwanted consequences, such as the snake plant turning yellow and stunted growth. 

To keep your beloved houseplant in tip-top shape, striking the right balance of nutrients is crucial.

Follow these steps to avoid overfertilization issues:

  • Select a suitable fertilizer: Choose a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically designed for houseplants. A fertilizer containing equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is an excellent choice for snake plants.
  • Dilute with care: Mixing your fertilizer too strongly can harm your plant, so adhere to the package’s dilution recommendations. When in doubt, a slightly weaker solution is always better than a stronger one.
  • Go easy on feeding: These plants aren’t gluttons, so a little fertilizer goes a long way. Feed your plant only during the growing season (spring to fall), and aim for once every 6-8 weeks.
  • Keep an eye out: Be vigilant for signs of overfertilization, such as yellowing leaves, scorched leaf tips, or slow growth. If you spot any of these symptoms, consider reducing the frequency or concentration of your fertilizer applications.
  • Rinse and repeat: If you think your snake plant has been overfertilized, flush the soil with clean water to wash away excess nutrients. This can help restore balance to the potting mix and minimize potential damage.

8. the Drainage Dilemma

repotting a snake plant

Poor drainage can severely impact a snake plant’s health, resulting in soggy soil, root rot, and those yellow leaves. To keep your houseplant happy, ensuring its roots aren’t swimming in excess water is crucial.

To accomplish proper drainage for your plant, consider the following:

  1. Select an appropriate pot: Choose a container with sufficient drainage holes, allowing excess water to escape. Clay pots are popular, as they’re porous and help circulate air around the roots.
  2. Get the right potting mix: A well-draining potting mix is vital to prevent waterlogged soil. Combine standard potting soil with perlite or coarse sand to enhance drainage and aeration. Alternatively, a premixed succulent or cactus mix works well for snake plants.
  3. Lift it up: Place a tray or saucer beneath your pot to catch draining water. Elevating the pot with small feet or a riser can stop water from being reabsorbed into the potting mix.
  4. Resist overwatering: As succulents, snake plants store water in their leaves and don’t require constant hydration
  5. Monitor moisture levels: Check the potting mix’s moisture levels. Insert a finger about an inch into the soil—if it’s dry, it’s time to water your snake plant.

9. a Pesky Problem: Pests and Your Snake Plant

pesticide for houseplants

When it comes to the health of your Sansevieria trifasciata plant, pests can be unwelcome visitors. These tiny troublemakers can cause various issues, including the disheartening sight of snake plant leaves turning yellow. 

Let’s delve into some common pest infestations that can bother your houseplant and how to send them packing.

  • Spider mites: These minuscule mischief-makers can be challenging to see, but their damage is hard to miss. They feed on your snake plant’s sap, leaving small yellow spots and wispy webs behind. Keep the leaves dust-free and increase humidity to discourage spider mites. Treat the plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap if they continue to be a problem.
  • Mealybugs: Looking like small cotton puffs, mealybugs also have a taste for plant sap, causing leaves to yellow and eventually fall. Remove visible mealybugs with a damp cloth or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Consider using insecticides, neem oil, or insecticidal soap for more severe infestations.
  • Aphids: These tiny, soft insects gather on new growth, sipping sap and causing leaves to turn yellow and curl. Eliminate them with a strong water spray or insecticidal soap or neem oil as needed.
  • Thrips: Slim-bodied and sporting fringed wings, thrips can lead to yellow spots and deformed growth. To tackle thrips, trim away affected leaves and use insecticidal soap or neem oil on the plant.

10. Time Marches on: the Age Of Your Plant

dog with toxic snake plant

As your snake plant gracefully matures, it may show signs of age, such as yellow leaves or other changes in appearance. 

Much like humans, plants can’t evade the passage of time, but with proper care, they can continue to thrive as they grow older.

  1. Natural aging: As your snake plant ages, it’s entirely natural for some older leaves to turn yellow and eventually die off. This is simply the plant’s way of shedding older foliage to make room for new growth. Carefully remove the yellowed leaves with clean, sharp pruning shears to maintain your plant’s beauty and health.
  2. Rejuvenating an older plant: Over time, your snake plant might begin to look a bit crowded in its pot. When this happens, consider dividing the plant to give it some breathing room and encourage new growth. Gently separate the plant into smaller sections, ensuring each division has a healthy root system, and repot them into pots filled with well-draining potting mix. This can give your aging snake plant a new lease on life.
  3. Continuing care: As your snake plant grows older, it’s essential to maintain a consistent care routine. This includes providing adequate indirect sunlight, monitoring the watering schedule, and fertilizing sparingly. By keeping up with your plant’s needs, you can help ensure it remains healthy and robust for years to come.

Embrace the age of your plant and enjoy the beauty it brings to your space. Understanding the natural aging process and providing proper care can support your plant’s longevity and maintain its lush, vibrant appearance.


Could yellow snake plant leaves turn green again?

Further yellowing can be prevented by identifying and resolving the cause of your snake plant’s yellow leaves. However, yellow leaves won’t turn green again. To improve your plant’s health, trim off yellow leaves at the base using clean, sharp tools, allowing the plant to focus on new growth.

How can I fix my snake plants’ yellow leaves?

To fix yellow leaves on your snake plant, first check for overwatering. If the soil is soggy, stop watering and let it dry out completely. Once dry, resume watering as usual. Other possible causes include low light, pests, nutrient deficiencies, and temperature stress, so it’s crucial to identify and address the root cause to prevent further yellowing. Finally, prune off any severely damaged leaves to redirect energy to healthy ones.

Should you cut the yellow off my snake plant?

If you notice yellow leaves on your snake plant, removing them is advisable to allow the plant to focus its energy on healthy leaves. To remove the discolored leaves, use sharp, sanitized pruners or scissors and cut at the base of the plant. It’s also essential to identify and address the underlying issue that caused the yellowing, such as overwatering or inadequate light, to prevent more leaves from turning yellow in the future.

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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.