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Why is my Sansevieria Turning Yellow?

Sansevieria is famous as a hardy plant with the most striking upright leaves, but sometimes the watering and light can get overboard, turning the leaves yellow.

Generally, the leaves turn yellow in Sansevieria due to poor watering schedules. Other factors like overexposure to direct sunlight, root rot, frequent temperature fluctuations, and fungal issues can also increase the risks of yellow leaves.

Do not lose hope if the leaves of Sansevieria are gradually turning yellow, as you can fix them if noticed early. So scroll the article till the end to find the solution.

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Sansevieria Leaves Turning Yellow: Is it Normal?

The situation can be expected if you have had your snake plant for a long time, and yellowing occurs on the lower leaves as a natural aging cycle.

Also, it is common for the Sansevieria leaves to turn yellow due to novice mistakes and when the plant is just bought from the nursery for repotting.

However, the sudden change in the color of the Snake plant due to prolonged exposure to unfavorable surroundings can be abnormal.

The unfavorable surroundings could be due to disturbances in various aspects like temperature, sunlight, humidity, and many more.

Hence, you must be wary and solve the issue before it becomes deadly for the plant.

Why is my Sansevieria Leaves turning Yellow?

Sansevieria, famous as Mother-in-law’s tongue, is a native of tropical Africa and Asia and demands similar growing conditions indoors.

However, when you cannot fulfill the requirements, the Sansevieria shows signs of distress by turning the leaves yellow.

Some of the most common causes are listed below.

1. Overwatering

Sansevierias like dry climates and prefer little water maintained at a gap of once or twice weekly in summer and monthly in winter.

But when the water dose gets out of control, your Sansevieria will suffer from overwatering.

The most common problem issued by overwatering is root rot resulting in mushy roots and stems with a foul smell.

In addition, the leaves have a yellowish color and may droop or, worse, fall over. With prolonged ignorance, the roots will get damaged, and the leaves will get brown patches.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Cut back on watering as soon as you notice the overwatered Sansevieria.
  • Drain the excess water and place the plant with soil over a newspaper to soak extra moisture.
  • Check for any rotted roots to trim them off, as they can hamper the plant’s expected growth.
  • Place the plant under direct sun for at least a day to evaporate excess water.
  • If the situation is beyond recovery, try repotting them in new well-draining potting soil.
  • Water only when the soil is dry to the touch. This is usually every 9-10 days in summer and every 2-3 weeks in winter.
  • When you water, ensure only about 1-2 inches of the soil gets wet.

2. Underwatering

Considering that overwatering can be deadly to a Snake plant, underwatering can have the same effect on your plant.

Usually, your Sansevieria suffers from underwater conditions when the watering is not at the point and the plant is in a warmer area or has low humidity.

Plant indicates the underwatered condition by wrinkled or curled yellow leaves with brown tips.

Here, the discoloration is because the plant cannot absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil due to a lack of moisture to transport the food.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Change the plant’s location and keep it in a shaded area.
  • Soak the plant for 60 minutes in a bathtub and let it rest for the entire day.
  • Alternatively, you can water the Snake plant till excess water drains from the drainage holes.
  • Try to trim off the damaged and crispy yellow leaves of Sansevieria to shift the attention of the plant toward growth.
  • Watering intervals must be shortened if your plant is in a spot with more sunlight.
  • Mist the plant routinely if it is underwatered.

3. Too Much Direct Sunlight

Sansevieria demands 8 to 10 hours of bright indirect light. They are also famous for their adaptability to various indoor lights.

However, that does not mean you can place the Snake plant in the bright window receiving the direct rays of sunlight.

Strong sunlight can burn the leaves and damage their structure. The leaves of your snake plant will also become yellow due to overexposure to direct sunlight.
The leaves of Sansevieria with yellow tips.
Too much or too low light is never good for your Snake plant.

However, you don’t have to worry about it if you are compelled to keep it in the dark place for a short time.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Shift the location of the pot to an east or west-facing window.
  • A few feet away from the north-facing window can also work for Sansevieria.
  • Install a curtain or drape in the bright window to provide filtered light.
  • If you live in a tropical region, try not to keep this plant outdoors.
  • Rotate the plant every few weeks to ensure all parts get enough sunlight.

4. Infestation of Pests and Insects

Various sap-sucking pests can drain nutrients and moisture from the Sansevieria, turning the leaves yellow to brown.

These are the most common pests in Sansevierias.

1.Spider mitesFine webs, discoloration or holes on the leaves.Spraying leaves with water or soapy water.
2.MealybugsCottony white spots, curling of leaves.Rubbing neem oil and wiping leaves with some rubbing alcohol.
3.WhiteflyStunted growth, yellowing of leaves.Spraying leaves with water, pruning severely damages leaves.
4.AphidsWilted curled leaves, with sticky honeydew on leaves.Use neem oil and mist with cold water.
5.ThripsTiny black bugs giving wounds to the leaves.Prune infected parts and wipe leaves with rubbing alcohol.

The best way to prevent pests is to keep Snake plants away from other infected plants and clean the leaves periodically.

5. Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases usually manifest in the plant when the water-logged condition persists for longer, leading to low nutrient absorption and worsening the situation.

Some common fungal diseases to look out for are as follows.

  • Southern Blight: It is caused due to drainage issues. The infected plant seems droopy with yellow to brown leaves. Eventually, your plant can collapse.
  • Red Leaf Spot: The fungus is usually seen during summer, early fall, and late spring, resulting in small red spots that slowly spread over the entire leaf.
  • Leaf Rust: This fungal disease is usually noticed in mature Snake plants. Rust first develops as white spots on the stems and underneath leaves that eventually turn orange-brown and cause the plant to die.
  • Bacterial Leaf Spots: This disease develops as brown or black spots on the foliage, occasionally with a yellow halo. Without care, these spots may enlarge in size and turn the leaves entirely yellow.
  • Powdery Mildew: As the name suggests, the fungus resembles gray powder that progresses to turn into a brown blemish. This develops in warm and dry climates.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Remove the infected parts, and ensure the infected areas don’t come in contact with water.
  • Use fungicides like Azoxystrobin, Flutolanil + Thiophanate-methyl, Flutolanil, Tebuconazole, and PCNB.
  • Spray copper and sulfur fungicides, such as Bonide Copper Fungicide.
  • Maintain proper humidity, temperature, and light requirement.

6. Nutrient Deficiency

The deficiency of magnesium, nitrogen, iron, and zinc can lead to yellow leaves in the Sansevieria.

Insufficient nutrients can hamper the plant’s ability to conduct photosynthesis. This can cause slow growth and discoloration.

However, the leaves are more likely to return to their green color when they get adequate nutrients.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Invest in a specific fertilizer designed for Snake plants or succulents.
  • Water your Snake plant as soon as you fertilize them so that nutrients reach the deep soil.
  • Alternatively, you can add organic matter like coffee grounds and eggshells to boost the nutrients in the soil.
  • Dilute the fertilizer to half its strength and apply it according to the recommended dosage to maintain nutrition levels.

7. Old and Depleted Soil

If your Sansevieria has been in the same soil for many years, you will notice the leaves slowly turning yellow.

Over the years, the soil gets heavy and keeps the root wet for longer. Also, the nutrients deplete over time, making it a peat of dust without any matter.

Hence, poor drainage and tight soil can induce root rot or prevent the absorption of nutrients and minerals.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Replace the soil with a new potting soil prepared for the Snake plant.
  • You can also prepare a DIY mix using river sand, compost, perlite, peat moss, and garden soil in a 1:1:1/2:1/2:1/3 ratio.
  • Another recipe can be prepared using organic potting, succulent mix, and compost in a 3/4:1/4:1/4 ratio.
  • Sometimes the pot can be the culprit for depleting the soil quality. So choose a porous terracotta pot for better results.

8. Temperature Fluctuation

Every plant will show signs of stress if they go through constant temperature fluctuations in their surrounding.

In Sansevierias, these signs of leaf damage develop as yellow leaves. Both high and low temperatures can cause the yellowing of leaves.

It can also happen if you frequently shift your plant indoors to outdoors and vice-versa.

Meanwhile, you need to remember that freezing temperatures (<50ºF) can cause substantial injury to the Snake plant.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Place your plant away from air conditioning units and heating units.
  • Keep them within temperatures up to 60-75ºF.
  • Use curtains or shades to limit sunlight during hot summers.
  • Don’t position the plant outdoors if the temperature drops below 50ºF.
  • Turn on your fan from time to time when there is high humidity.

9. Over Fertilizing

Snake plants prosper with small amounts of fertilizer. So, don’t go overboard with it; a bit of fertilizer goes a long way.

Too much fertilizer can remove the soil’s moisture and increase salt buildup near the root area, ceasing nutrient uptake from the roots.

Similarly, using the wrong type of fertilizer with the wrong dilution can also cause yellow leaves in Snake plants.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Place the plant pot under the running water to remove excess salts.
  • Change the soil if the situation is beyond recovery, and trim any damaged black roots.
  • Restrain from fertilizing the young Snake plant and fertilize the mature plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer every one to two months.
  • Plants kept in dimmer light require less fertilizer.
  • Use fertilizer evenly on the soil, do not concentrate it in one spot.

10. Overcrowded Pot

Sansevieria’s leaves can also turn yellow due to an overcrowded pot. As this plant grows, it can become top-heavy, further complicating things.

The roots will get congested if you have a Snake plant in the same pot for many years.

The overgrown roots get tangled with each other and do not get sufficient nourishment. As a result, the leaves turn yellow.

Nonetheless, this is one of the most manageable problems to deal with.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Prune off the overgrown leaves of Sansevieria. You can use it to bring a new baby plant.
  • Cease fertilizing and watering the plant for the time being and let it undergo stress to slow its growth.
  • You can even divide your plant and raise it in separate pots if it gets too big.
  • Put your plant in a pot that is a little bit bigger than the plant’s root ball.

Note: Repot your young Sansevieria plant every 2-3 years and matured Sansevieria every 4-6 years.

11. Repotting Shock

Repotting can be difficult, especially for a beginner, as your Sansevieria will undoubtedly suffer from shock with a single mistake in the nutrient supply and timing.

The shock can be a valid reason for the yellowing of the leaves.

Meanwhile, any injury to the roots due to over-exposure to the air while repotting can also lead to stress responsible for the droopy yellow leaves.

Moreover, Sansevieria is more fragile during flowering, usually in spring. So, repotting in the wrong timeframe can also stress the plant.

But do not hurry to aid your plant as soon as you notice the signs, as they may be acclimatizing themself.

So wait a few days for the root to calm down and settle into the new soil. If the condition doesn’t improve, then you should treat the plant.

Quick Steps to Take

  • Try not to change the type of soil mix for your plant.
  • Place the plant in the same place it had been if you see symptoms of repotting shock.
  • Provide a dose of quality plant food to your plant after repotting so that the plant gets enough nutrients.
  • Water the plant thoroughly if you have recently repotted it, and place it in a bright, filtered light area.
  • Avoid repotting when the plant is about to flower.

Should I Remove the Yellow Leaves?

It would be best to remove yellow leaves from your Sansevieria to shift the attention of the plant toward the growth and development processes.

However, if the leaves have only slight discoloration, it is okay to let them stay on the plant.

But if some leaves have turned a brownish-yellow color and are giving off a weird smell, you can prevent the spread of infection to other leaves by pruning them.

While pruning, use sterilized pruning shears and cut the leaf as close to the soil line as possible.

Can Yellow Leaves Turn Green?

Yellow leaves are a sign of stress, and they can be a bit difficult to fix in a short time.

You can return the problem to its original state when identified early. But, in severe cases, you may need to cut off the leaves or dispose of the plant entirely.

So better to act upon the Sansevieria as early as you notice mild discoloration and slight yellowness.

If the damage is moderate, you can cut off brownish and droopy leaves. However, wait patiently to allow some recovery time.

Take the above factors into consideration and try to identify the exact cause.

From Editorial Team


With extra care, your Snake plant will preserve its beautiful sword-shaped, gray-to-green striped leaves.

Moreover, if you encounter the yellowing of Sansevieria, remember to remain patient, as bringing your plant back to normal will take some time.

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