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Snake Plant Leaves Curling: Reasons & Solutions

Snake plant is prized for their sturdy nature but are not immune to consistent care mishaps and often show curling leaves as a cry for help.

In most occasions, too much or too low water causes curling leaves in the Snake plant. Besides that, other care mishaps like improper sunlight, temperature stress, pests and diseases, and over-fertilization can also cause curling Snake plant leaves.

Remember, the curling leaves can uncurl to their prime green state with the proper diagnosis.

Thus, read until the end to learn how to revive or uncurl curling leaves and amend the ideal care routine for the Snake plant.

Is it Normal for Snake Plant Leaves to Curl?

In a healthy state, the Snake plant features flat, swordlike leaves with sharp pointy leaves.

So, curling leaves are not normal for Snake plants and always signify underlying care mishaps.

snake plant leaves curling
The swordlike flat leaves of the Snake plant curl whenever the plant is provided with excess or no water.

But do not get startled if you notice curling leaves, and refrain from snipping off the curling leaves without any other issues.

That said, yellowing and curling of the lower part of Snake plant leaves could be normal and signify natural aging signs.

Thus, other than that, curling always entails a problem that you must treat promptly to avoid unpleasant events.

Types of Leaf Curling

Depending upon the care mishaps, the swordlike flat leaves of the Snake plant curl differently.

Thus, with keen eyes, you can make an informed guess about the culprit and diagnose the situation accordingly.

  • Leaf Margin Curling: Caused by dysfunctional roots, mainly from excess water, too much fertilizer and cold stress.
  • Leaf Curling Downwards: Due to overwatering and overfertilization.
  • Leaf Curling Upwards: Extreme humidity level, direct sunlight, exposure to cold air and compact soil.
  • Leaf Curling Inwards: Nitrogen deficiency

Snake Plant Leaves Curling: Reasons and Solutions

The wrinkled, curling leaves of the Snake plant are unpleasant and heart-wrenching to look at.

Thus, let us identify the culprit behind curling Snake plant leaves and respective solutions without further ado.

1. Poor Watering Habits

Being a common succulent, the Snake plant is drought-resistant as they store water in its thick fleshy leaves.

Aim to fetch the Snake plant with rainwater every fortnight or allow the topsoil to dry before watering them.

However, the plant suffers when neglected without water for a long time. Underwatered Snake plants often have brown, crispy, yellowing and curling leaves.

Consequently, overwatered Snake plants have drooping, curling, mushy leaves that bend over due to excess water storage.

Moreover, excess water for a prolonged time can invite root rot and other fungal diseases.

Solution: Variable Watering Routine

  • Place the underwatered plant in a water-filled tub and let it soak in water for an hour.
  • Relocate the plant to somewhere shady until it bounces back entirely.
  • For overwatered plants, strategically position the plant in a sunny spot to dry out but avoid direct sun.
  • Inspect the plant for potential root rots, and if present, proceed to repot using fresh well-draining cacti mix.
  • Ensure to prune off damaged, decaying leaves and rotten roots and apply proper fungicides to cut ends.
  • Use a moisture meter to measure moisture content before watering.
  • Lower watering frequency to almost once a month in winter to avoid overwatering issues.

Pro Tip: Ensure the pot has drain holes to remove excess water from the soil and regularly clear them to keep them unclogged.

2. Lighting Problems

Although Snake plants tolerate a wide range of light intensity, they prefer 8-10 hours of bright indirect sunlight daily.

Snake plants will protest when kept in the dark corner for too long by showing droopy, curling, pale leaves with stunted growth.

Meanwhile, they may seem to bask fine in direct sunlight for a couple of hours only.

The extended period of the direct sun results in scorched, yellow leaves that begin to curl inwards with crispy dry leaf edges.

Solution: Invest in Sheer Curtains

  • Do not haphazardly move out light deprived Snake plant to a brighter location.
  • Gradually acclimatize the plant by gradually exposing them to sunlight.
  • Relocate the Snake plant and snip off all scorched, yellow leaves with large brown spots.
  • Aim for sheer curtains to tone down the light intensity in a south window.
  • Keep the plant 3-5 feet away from the window and use the east window to facilitate 2-3 hours of morning sunlight.
  • Adjust the watering routine on sunny, hot days to ensure the plant does not dehydrate.
  • Use grow lights for 12 to 14 hours in winter to avoid light deprivation.

3. Poor Choice of Soilmix

Regardless of how excellent, flexible watering routine you opt for, poor choice of soil will make it go in vain.

The wrong choice of soilmix often invites water logging issues that cause root rot, which results in yellow, curling Snake plant leaves.

Snake plants thrive in well-draining, porous soil with medium water retention capacity and a pH of 5.5-7.5.

Alongside the curling leaves, other signs of improper use of soil are a foul smell coming off the soil, water remaining above the soil and hindering growth.

Solution: Adding More Organic Matter

  • If you are unsure of preparing Snake plant soilmix at home, aim to buy commercial cacti soil mix.
  • Otherwise, blend in regular potting mix, sand or perlite, peat moss, perlite and sterilized compost.
  • Ensure to repot the Snake plant every 2 to 5 years so the soil stays airy and suitable for plant growth.
  • Occasionally aerate the soil by poking it using a sturdy straw or chopstick and moving it in circular motions.
  • Avoid placing heavy objects on top of the soil surface to avoid soil compaction.

4. Temperature Stress

Snake plants are not fond of sudden temperature fluctuations and prefer to sit in consistent temperatures of 60-75°F.

Temperature above 90°F results in rapid transpiration, and as a defense mechanism, Snake plant leaves curl inwards to save moisture.

Likewise, cold temperatures below 45°F can cause the plant’s water molecules to freeze, eventually resulting in curling leaves.

Moreover, the Snake plant suffering from improper temperature shows signs like stunted growth, leaf discoloration and brown spots.

Solution: Nowhere Near Heating Appliances

  • Relocate the plant somewhere warm and avoid keeping them on the cold windowsill.
  • That said, do not keep the plants near the heating appliance to keep them warm, as large temperature swings stress the plant.
  • Invest in frost blankets and heat pads to warm the Snake plant soil.
  • Other than USDA zones 9 to 11, move in outdoor Snake plants to keep them safe from dipping temperatures.
  • Incorporate organic mulches and straws on top of the soil as heat insulation.

5. Low Humidity

Snake plant thrives in an average room humidity level, i.e., 40-60%, with regular misting in the morning hours.

When the humidity is too low, the Snake plant exhibits telltale signs like yellowing, drooping or curling leaves with brown edges.

But remember, these signs also align with overwatering or underwatering issues, so carefully inspect the surrounding before passing a verdict on humidity.

Solution: Huddling Houseplants Together

  • Invest in an electric humidifier to maintain humidity at an optimal level at all times.
  • Group your houseplants together to facilitate a natural humidity boost.
  • Use a pebble tray filled with water underneath the plant pot to keep plants hydrated.
  • Mist Snake plants in the morning hours using a spray bottle.
  • Relocate the plant to a well-lit kitchen or bathroom.

6. Overfertilization

Snake plant is not heavy feeder and does not require much fertilization to thrive but prefers a little push in spring.

Once a month or two of fertilization using balanced fertilizer in active season is ideal for flawless Snake plant growth.

During fall, fertilizer application should be reduced to half, and best not to fertilize in winter to avoid overfertilization issues.

Excess fertilizer in the soil results in the salt buildup, which chokes the root and results in a chemical burn, root rot and brown spots on curling leaves.

So, if you notice burned Snake plant leaf tips with progressive leaf discoloration, mind the fertilization.

Solution: Leaching Out Excess Fertilizer

  • Manually remove the whitish salt buildup on the soil.
  • Thoroughly run water to flush out the excess fertilizer from the soil and repeat it 3-4 times.
  • Proceed to repot the plant if the burn is severe and the soil has become toxic.
  • Rinse off the burnt roots before repotting to lower the chemical stress.
  • Aim for safe organic fertilizers that do not choke or burn the roots.
  • Always dilute the fertilizer to half-strength before feeding it to the plant.

7. Rootbound Snake Plant

Despite proper care, if your Snake plant has been sitting in the same pot for years, curling leaves could be a sign of rootbound.

Besides curling leaves, rootbound Snake plant often has roots lurking out from the drain holes. They also do not retain water for long.

rootbound snake plant
The rootbound condition also introduces curling leaves in the Snake plant that you can make uncurl with proper repot.

Repotting should be done every 2-5 years in early spring before the active growth season kicks in for optimal growth.

While repotting, use a terracotta or clay pot one size bigger than the current one.

8. Transplant Stress

Like Monstera, Snake plants also despise new, unfamiliar surroundings, so they tend to make a fuss after repotting.

The plant often shows signs of distress through sudden wilting, curling leaves with brown leaf tips.

Transplant shock is mainly caused by haphazard handling during repot, snipping off large chunks of roots and using an entirely different soil mix.

Do not panic! The Snake plant will recover within a month or so from transplant shock.

Solution: Preplan & Remember to be Gentle

  • Thoroughly water the plant before repotting to avoid major damage to the roots.
  • Snip off rotten, damaged or decaying roots only.
  • Avoid placing freshly repotted Snake plants in direct sunlight.
  • Aim to use the same or similar soil type and pot just 2″ bigger.
  • Refrain from fertilizing the plant for about a month after the repot.
  • Thoroughly water the plant after repotting to lower transplant shock.

9. Pests and Fungal Infections

Despite being a hardy houseplant, the Snake plant is not immune to pests and fungal infections.

Some common pests like thrips, spider mites and mealybugs result in curling Snake plant leaves.
ThripsSmall, slender insects that may appear on the fronds or in the soil
MealybugsSmall, white, cotton-like insects that may appear on the fronds or in the soil
Spider mitesTiny, spider-like insects that may appear on the fronds or in the soil

On the other hand, fungal infections like southern blight and red spot disease can also make Snake plant leaves to curl.

In both scenarios, immediate treatment is essential to control and salvage the plant.

Solution: Immediate Isolation & Treatment

  • Quarantine the plant and snip off pest-infested or damaged parts using a sterilized pruner.
  • Use a blast of water or manually pick off visible pests and eggs.
  • Apply neem oil, insecticides and fungicides to control the spreading.
  • If the infestation and infection are severe, repot or propagate the Snake plant using healthy leftover parts.
  • Regularly clean the Snake plant leaves using a soapy solution as a preventive measure.
  • Aim for an ideal soil mix that facilitates drainage with medium water retention.

From Editorial Team

Say No to Wet Snake Leaves!

Alongside the overwatering issues, the Snake plant with constantly wet leaves acts like an open invitation to fungal diseases and pests, resulting in curling leaves.

Thus, incorporate a bottom-watering approach with occasional overhead watering to keep your Snake plant healthy.

All The Best!

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