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Snake Plant Brown Tips: Causes and Fixes

The Snake plant is a unique upright houseplant with pointy leaves. Although the Snake plant demands low care, they suffer from problems like brown tips once in their cycle. 

Generally, the Snake plant having brown tips is due to an imbalance in the light intensity and watering, low humidity, fluctuating temperature aided with cold stress, and overfertilization. Amend the situation by cutting off the brown part that is primarily dried and dead.

If you have witnessed brown tips on your Snake plant and are contemplating cutting or leaving the tips, dig further into the article.

Can I Cut the Brown Tips of my Snake Plant?

Yes, you can cut the brown tips of your Snake plant, but if the browning has spread to the entire part, you might have to snip off the whole leaf.

Snipping the leaves will not be a problem for the plants as the rhizomes will continue growing the shoots and new leaves within a few months.

Moreover, you can revive the Snake plant from the yellowing stage, but once the leaves turn brown, it’s a loss, as it is permanent.

Still, look closely at the brown tips to understand the cause of the browning and treat for the same to prevent future mishaps.

What Causes the Leaves of Snake Plants to Turn Brown?

The Snake plant leaves turn brown for various reasons, and identifying them on time will let you apply the solutions as per the situation.

1. Overwatering the Plant

Overwatering the Snake plant causes the potting mix to remain mostly moist.

Too much moisture lowers root and potting media aeration, allowing anaerobic bacteria and fungus to grow and cause root rot.

When the roots are damaged, the plant can no longer absorb water and nutrients; thus, nutrient deficiency and water deficit in the leaves occurs, such as discoloration and crispy brown tips.

Also, the plant absorbs too much water, resulting in edema or blisters on the leaves, leading to bacterial or fungal illness with brown or black patches.

Snake Plant grown in soggy soil
Snake Plant is grown in soggy soil.

So, examine the plant for root rot and remove decayed/dead roots or leaves and if the condition is severe, transfer the plant into a fresh sterile potting mix.

You can prevent the browning of leaves by keeping a regular schedule for watering, generally around once a week during summer and once every 2-3 weeks during winter.

Make sure the soil is completely dry before watering the plant again, and you can even try bottom watering for better results.

2. Underwatering the Plant

Like other succulents, the Snake plant stores water in its leaves and can withstand drought with less frequent watering.

However, letting the Snake plant dry for an extended period reduces its physiological function.

As a result, the cells on the tips of the leaves suffer and perish. Because of the dead cells, the leaves of your Snake plant will have brown tips.

So, proper watering ensures soluble nutrients reach the leaves, and the leaves’ variegation remains intact.

To immediately hydrate the soil, fill a large container halfway with water and immerse the pot.

You can also correct the underwatered condition by placing the pot on a pebble tray filled with water to allow it to absorb moisture naturally from underneath.

3. Excess Sunlight or Extreme Heat

Though Snake plants can tolerate being in low light, the growth process will significantly slow down.

According to the University of Maryland, extreme sunlight or heat can cause the chlorophyll in the leaves to break down, turning the area brown.

So, if your Snake plant is near a window or a location that receives a lot of sunlight, the tips of your plant may be browning.

Also, suddenly shifting the location of the Snake plant placed in a bathroom into the terrace or balcony may result in browning leaves.

You can correct the mistake by placing the plant in a better light by taking time until it adapts to the new environment.

And if you have low light problems, you can use artificial grow lights for your plant. But remember, do not overfeed your plant with light, or you may kill it.

Snake needs nearly 8-10 hours of indirect sunlight every day. Although, it can also do good in 5-6 hours of direct sunlight.

4. Low Humidity

Although Snake plants do not have atrocious demands, they still need around 40% relative humidity.

In low-humidity conditions, the leaves lose water faster, and lack of water can lead to the browning of leaf tips.

So to prevent brown tips, shade the plant from light and heat extremities. A better option would be to group the plants to create a humidity-sharing microenvironment.
half cut snake leaves being brown
The signs other than brown tips caused by low humidity are yellow leaves with brown edges and leaves curling.

Or you can get a humidifier for your plants. Placing a wet pebble tray around the plant can maintain the humidity for an even cheaper option.

Also, you may need to mist the plant occasionally to maintain the relative humidity around it.

5. Infestation of Pests and Diseases

Although the Snake plant is highly tolerant, insects like spider mites and mealybugs infest it and feed on the fluids of leaves, making them dry and browning the tips.

To eliminate the bugs, splash the plant with a strong stream of water and dab the infested area with alcohol-dipped cotton swabs.

And keep the pests under control by spraying neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Meanwhile, the Snake plant is prone to diseases like Anthracnose caused by the fungi Colletotrichum and Gloeosporium, where the leaf tips go from yellow to tan before turning brown.

If you witness this fungal disease in your plant, you should remove the infected part of your plant and cease the misting, as moisture works in favor of this fungus.

Also, use copper-rich fungicide over the affected Snake plant and spray the fungicide once every three to four months.

6. Excessive Use of Fertilizers

Snake plants are one of the most resilient indoor plants. These plants can absorb nutrients even from less nutritious soil.

However, fertilizing your Snake plants too frequently or with a potent fertilizer can cause root damage.

And, if the leaf tips of the Snake plant turn brown and look dry within a short span of using fertilizers, we should be concerned.

When harsh chemicals damage the roots, the foliage also suffers, resulting in brown leaf tips or margins on the leaves.

According to PennState Extension, too much fertilizer can damage the tips by slowing water flow into the roots.

To save an overfertilized Snake plant, take the pot to a basin and clean the soil with running water to flush the excess chemicals.

And for optimum results, fertilize your Snake plant during its growing season and cut back on fertilization during the winter.

Use a balanced NPK 10-10-10 fertilizer, and remember to dilute the strength to 50% before applying.

7. Cold Exposure

Snake plants do exceptionally well in tropical climates but give in to the effects of cold climates with a critical temperature of 10℃ (50℉).

The temperature below this point gives tiny scars on the leaves and turns light brown, damaging the leaf permanently.

You cannot reverse the permanent damage if the leaves are mushy from the base, but you can cut off the leaves if it has a bit of a brownish patch towards the tip.

Also, keep the Snake plant away from the radiators to avoid damage. The draft created by the radiators is unsuitable for the plant.

Use a frost blanket or heating pad to protect your plant from the cold. Mulching the Snake plant with coffee grounds can also help prevent heat loss.

8. Excessive Use of Chlorinated Water

The tap water used for the plant is chlorinated or mixed with fluoride, which can accumulate in the topsoil, leading to chemical poisoning in the roots.

Furthermore, in some cases, excess chlorine can accumulate in the leaves, giving them a brown appearance.

Chlorine can kill off the beneficial microbes in the soil, and fluorine can hinder photosynthesis.

Also, the Snake plant will acquire brown tips if the water has excessive chlorine dissolved.

So try to use distilled or rainwater for a few weeks to see plant changes.

9. Physical Injury

Physical injury to the Snake plant leaves can also cause brown tips and blotches.

Moreover, if you buy the plant online, the leaves may get damaged during shipping.

On the other hand, moving a large plant from one location to another may cause some damage to the outside foliage.

If you believe the affected areas are unsightly, you can have them removed. Just be careful not to injure the plant further.

Tips to Cut the Brown Tips Properly

Better to follow the tips below to cut off the leaves without hurting the entire plant.

  • Sterilize your pruning scissors and gloves properly.
  • Trim the brown part of the plant exactly where it begins.
  • Make sure not to hurt the healthy part of the plant.
  • Cut off the entire leaf at its base on the soil if the damage has spread to the whole leaf.

From Editorial Team


Cutting dead parts will boost the healthy growth of the Snake plant and prevent the spread of the brown tips to other parts of the leaves.

However, correct the situation by maintaining the optimum surrounding for your Snake plant related to light, water, humidity, or fertilizer.

Good luck!

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