Why is my snake plant turning yellow? (11 Causes and ways to revive)

Why is my snake plant turning yellow?

The snake plant is a hardy houseplant, making it one of the favorites of new gardeners. This beautiful plant can thrive through extreme neglect and requires very little maintenance. On maturity, the leaves of the snake plant turn into dark green blades with a border of different colors depending on the variety of the plant.

However, if you find the leaves of your snake plant turning yellow, it is an indication that all is not well. You may find yourself wondering – Why is my snake plant turning yellow?

The short and most common answer to this question is overwatering. When the snake plant is overwatered, its roots get injured and cannot supply nutrients to the plant.

Some of the other reasons for snake plants turning yellow include –

  • Extreme sun exposure
  • Extended low temperature
  • Fungal disease
  • Insect attack
  • Nutrient imbalance
  • Unsuitable soil pH
  • Compact soil
  • Transplant shock
  • Overcrowding
  • Aging

Let’s dive in and learn more about why your snake plant is turning yellow and the correct treatments!

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Why is my snake plant turning yellow

Why is my snake plant turning yellow?

1.     Improper watering

You may think you are really taking care of your snake plant by watering it every day, but you may be actually killing it. Snake plants can be susceptible to watering. They need to be watered once in two weeks.

Overwatering snake plants can cause root rot. The roots become dark and infected with fungus, and the plant dies.

On the flip side, you should not forget about watering your plant altogether. If you water the snake plant too little, the leaves turn yellow, crisp, and wilt.

2.     Too much direct sunlight

Leaving the snake plant exposed to too much intense sunlight may cause its leaves to turn yellow.

The snake plant is exposed to scorching sun rays during the summer months, which turns the leaves yellow. Even intense sunlight coming through your window can turn the leaves yellow. In this case, only the leaves facing the window will turn yellow.

3.     Low temperature

Snake plants thrive in moderately high temperatures of around 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 45 degrees for an extended period, the plant may become distressed, and its leaves will turn yellow. You should never keep this plant near cold, drafty windows.

4.     Fungal disease

As mentioned earlier, if you overwater your plant, it can cause roots to rot and fungus to build up. Damaged roots of your sansevieria plant can affect nutrient and water absorption and cause the leaves to turn yellow.

To find out if your snake plant roots are damaged by fungi, unpot the plant and inspect the roots. Rotten roots will feel soft and soggy and produce a foul odor.

5.     Insect infestation

Your snake plant can be susceptible to insect infestations. Some insects suck the plant sap and drain the moisture from them. Pests like mealy bugs, aphids, and spider mites can attack your plant leaves and turn them yellow.

6.     Nutrient imbalance

Nutrient imbalance in the soil can affect the health of your snake plant, and it can turn yellow. When essential minerals like iron are depleted in the soil, it leads to chlorosis. The snake plant leaves lose their green pigment, and they turn yellow. Nitrogen insufficiency can also cause snake plant leaves to turn yellow. Magnesium insufficiency can affect the height of the plant.

Excess nutrients in the soil can be equally bad for the snake plant. The roots of the snake plant can burn if there is excess fertilizer or nutrients in the soil. This hampers the intake of water and nutrients.

Excessive fertilizing during winters enhances the sensitivity of snake plants to cold. If snake plant is fertilized during winters, it is more likely to develop yellowing in leaves.

7.     Unsuitable Soil PH

Unsuitable soil pH can affect your snake plant health. The soil’s pH level depends on the combination of positively and negatively charged ions. Elements like sodium, calcium, aluminum, iron, potassium are positively charged. Chloride, sulfate, carbonate, and bicarbonates are negatively charged.

Alkaline soil has a pH of above 7, while acidic soil has below 7. Ideally, snake plants need soil pH between 5.5 to 7.5, neutral, and slightly acidic. However, most snake plant varieties do well in soil pH ranging from 4.5 to 8.5.

8.     Compact soil

Poor soil that retains water for too long can cause your snake plant roots to rot even if you don’t water it regularly. So it is essential to choose the right kind of soil for your plant. A readymade mix of potting soil for succulents or cactus that contains soil, sand, peat, and pumice is a good choice.

Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.

9.     Transplant shock

When plants are removed from the container they are grown in and planted in the ground or another pot, they undergo transplant shock. When plants are transplanted, they need some time to adjust to the new place, and the roots take some time to get settled. It is typical for snake plant leaves to turn yellow during this time, but this is temporary.

10.  Overcrowding in pot

If numerous snake plants are in one pot, their leaves can turn yellow. The soil does not have sufficient nutrients for all the plants, which can affect your plant’s growth. Transplant a few of these plants to another plant to help them grow well.

11.  Aging

If some of the leaves of your snake plant are turning yellow, it may be due to the natural process of aging. This does not mean that your plant is dying. As with all plants, the snake plant leaves turn yellow and fall off, and new leaves will replace them.

How to save a yellowing snake plant?

1.     Adequate watering

Since both overwatering and underwatering can turn the snake plant leaves yellow, make sure you give your plant just the right amount of water. Generally, watering them once in two weeks is enough. You will also need to keep an eye on the weather conditions. Keep an eye on the soil in the pot and decide accordingly.

2.     Repot the plant with the correct soil mix

It is time to repot if the leaves turn yellow due to compacted soil or inadequate nutrition. Use a fast-draining mix that contains perlite and coarse sand. Ensure that there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

3.     Fertilize properly

Fertilize your snake plant to provide the proper nutrients in the correct amount and ensure even distribution in the soil. You can hurt your plant if you overfertilize it.  

Fertilize your snake plant every few weeks during summer or spring. Do not give any fertilizer during winter.

how to save a yellowing snake plant?

4.     Treat root rot

If you suspect root rot is why your snake plant leaves are turning yellow, remove the snake plant from the soil and wash the roots under running water. Trim away all the affected parts with sterilized sheers. Dip the remaining roots in a fungicide. Repot the plant in fresh well-draining soil.

5.     Treat insect infestation

Check your snake plant regularly for any signs of insect infestation. You can control pests on your snake plant by spritzing the plant with some water. You can also dilute some neem oil in water and use that on the plant to get rid of pests.

6.     Right temperature and sunlight

Too much sunlight can scorch your snake plant and turn its leaves yellow. Keep your snake plant in indirect sunlight for it to thrive. Snake plant needs warm temperature to develop well. So ensure that it is not exposed to cold temperature.

Some FAQs about snake plants

Is it common for snake plant leaves to turn yellow?

No, it is not common for snake plant leaves to turn yellow. Snake plants are very sturdy; they turn yellow only if all is not well with the plant.

Can yellow snake plant leaves turn green again?

Yes, yellow snake plant leaves can recover with the proper care. If the leaves turn yellow, it doesn’t mean that they are dead. You can revive them if you can identify the cause and rectify the situation.

Should I remove yellow leaves from my snake plant?

Yes, removing yellow leaves from the snake plant is fine if you feel they are beyond repair. You can use your hands when possible but don’t pull too hard as you may damage the healthy part of the plant. For tougher leaves or to remove yellowed parts of the leaf, use pruning shears.

Why are my snake plant leaves curling?

Snake plant’s leaves can curl if you are underwatering the plant. Check the soil and water it when you notice any leaf curling.

Final thoughts on how to take care of yellowing snake plant

There are be many reasons why your snake plant is turning yellow. Look at your plant closely and identify the cause. Once you know the answer to the question – ‘why is my snake plant turning yellow?’, You can use one of the above methods to save your plant. With the right potting mix, nutrition, temperature, and watering, your plant will be thriving again in no time.

I hope you have found the answer to your problem in this post. If you have a snake plant problem that has not been addressed here, comment below. I will help you with that snake plant issue in my next post.

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Why is my snake plant turning yellow?