Snake Plant Leaves Curling: Reasons, Solutions & Prevention

Snake Plant in White Pot
Snake Plant in White Pot (Source: Unsplash.com)

I am willing to bet that most people who have a snake plant in their home bought it for the aesthetic value of its leaves.

The same goes for me. Once I laid eyes on this plant, lying in the corner of my friend’s house, I couldn’t resist buying one for myself.

But being a complete novice during the time, it didn’t take long for my snake plant leaves to start curling and drooping.

Generally, most leaves curling problems in snake plant occurs due to overwatering or underwatering. Other key factors that can cause leaf curling are improper sunlight, temperature stress, an infestation of pests and diseases, and over-fertilizing.

Snake Plant (Source: Pixabay)

It took a whole lot of time for me to learn all I could about snake plants and prevent my baby from dying.

It can be hard to determine one specific cause why your snake plant leaves might be curling and how to solve it.

By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to identify the exact reason why your snake plant leaves are curling and how to solve them.

Is it Normal for Snake Plant Leaves to Curl? 

The short answer to this question is No.

If you provide proper care and maintain a suitable environment for your plant to grow, it won’t ever curl.

Having brown or yellow leaves might be considered normal because it can happen when the plant is aging.

But as far as curling is concerned, it is far from normal

When your snake plant leaves are curling, it tells you that there is a problem with the plant that needs to be identified and fixed as soon as possible.

Snake Plant Leaves Curling: Reasons and Solutions

Seeing the plant you love and care for starting to curl and droop can be a discouraging sight for anyone.

Most people stay under the impression that the snake plant is low maintenance and doesn’t pay attention to its needs.

Although it might not require as much care and attention as other plants, it still needs to be treated as one.

Once you start noticing your leaves starting to curl, you need to identify what the problem is with your plant. Then comes the fixing step.

1. Underwatering Issues

One can argue that the snake plant is a drought-resistant plant and need not be watered much.

But if your snake plant does not get the adequate amount of watering it needs for a long time, it can have serious consequences.

Succulents like snake plant stores water in its thick fleshy leaves. It won’t take long for the leaves to lose shape if they don’t get enough water.

Underwatering your snake plant also prevents it from performing its daily physiological functions such as transporting nutrients, making food, etc.

As a result, the plant can’t uphold itself, and the leaves start to curl inwards. It can also lead to browning of the leaf tips.

Solutions

  • Although your snake plant doesn’t require much water, you must have a regular watering schedule.
  • Water your snake plant every 2-4 weeks to maintain adequate moisture.
  • Depending upon whether it is growing season or not, you can change the frequency of watering.

With consistent watering, you will see your snake plant leaves unfurling within a month or two.

2. Overwatering Issue

While underwatering is quite easy to handle, overwatering your snake plant can be a serious issue for your plant.

If not acted upon quickly, it will be fatal for your plant, and most of the time, the plant can’t be saved.

But we’re not here to be pessimistic. We are here to identify the problem and solve it whatsoever.

Watering plants
Watering Plant (Source: Unsplash)

Overwatering can easily cause the soil to be water-logged, preventing necessary aeration and rendering the root system ineffective.

It quickly develops into root rot which then prevents the plant from accessing nutrients.

Solutions

  • Water the plant after the topsoil completely dries out.
  • Maintain a consistent watering schedule and figure out what works best for your plant.
  • If your plant is already suffering from root rot, you need to check the root system asap.
  • Gently take off your plant from the soil and wash out the root system.
  • Identify any root parts that may be decaying or dying. You will also notice a foul smell coming off from those parts.
  • Trim off the infected parts and repot the plant in fresh new soil to avoid contamination issues.

3. Improper Soil Mix and pH

Watering and soil mix goes hand in hand. Soil mix that is dense and contains too much soil content and organic matter can cause water-logging issues.

Water-logged soil causes root rot which eventually causes leaf curling.

Use a well-draining and porous potting mix having a pH value in the range of 5.5-7.5.

If the pH is low, it can result in Magnesium deficiency, ultimately hindering the production of chlorophyll which is essential for plant growth.

Solutions

  • Use a mix that contains 1 part regular potting mix, 2 part sand or perlite, and 1 part peat moss.
  • For adjusting the pH, you will have to test the soil and find out its exact pH value.
  • If the pH is low, you can add hydrated lime to the soil to increase its pH.
  • Adding lemon juice can help to decrease the pH if the problem is a high pH level.

4. Improper Lighting

Succulents like the Snake plant grows best in light that is bright and indirect. Sometimes, your indoor lighting might not be enough for your snake plant.

Tossing your plant away in a dark, gloomy corner won’t do it any good. Leaf curling is a common issue in such cases.

Sheer-curtains
Sheer Curtains for Bright Indirect Light (Source: Unsplash)

On the other hand, you should strictly avoid direct sunlight as it can cause browning and yellowing of leaves and potentially leaf curling.

If the plant leaves are curling away from the sun and you see brown spots on the leaves, it is a symptom of too much sunlight.

Solutions

  • In either of the cases, the plant should be placed at a light source that provides shaded indirect sunlight.
  • Provide at least 7-8 hours of indirect sunlight for your plant.
  • If you place the plant near a window, you can use a sheer curtain to work as a partial shade.
  • When transferring your plant with a different environmental condition, always acclimatize it first.
  • Move the plant to the new place and provide 2-3 hours of sunlight. After each day, gradually increase the duration for the plant to receive the sunlight.
  • About a week later, your plant will be ready to be fully moved to a new location.

5. Temperature Stress

Temperature extremities are bad for every plant, including your snake plant. If you live in a place with a high temperature, your plant will start curling inwards to save itself from transpiring too much.

On the other hand, low temperature causes the water molecules inside the plant to freeze.

Avoid the temperature from dropping below 45° F. It prevents the leaves from getting sufficient water, eventually resulting in curling.

This can permanently damage the plant and should be strictly prevented from happening.

The ideal room temperature for your snake plant is around 50-85° F (10-29° C). 

Solutions

  • Regularly monitor the room temperature to maintain it.
  • Cold and drafty areas should be avoided while considering the location of your plant.
  • Although you can use heat sources to increase the room temperature, always ensure that the plant doesn’t lie in its direct line.
  • If the temperature drops too low, you can add a layer of mulch to the soil to insulate it from frost.

6. Low Humidity

Snake plant prefers to have a normal room humidity level. You can use a hygrometer to measure the humidity level.

Despite being a pretty hardy plant, it doesn’t thrive well if the humidity is not to its liking.

Most of our homes have a relative humidity of around 40-50%, which is considered ideal for succulents like snake plants to grow.

Electric Humidifier (Source: Pexels.com)

Although it can tolerate low humidity to some extent, it might not do well in high humidity.

As a general rule of thumb, if your surrounding temperature is high, it means that the humidity is also pretty high.

If your plant starts showing signs of dryness like yellowing, curling, and falling of leaves, then this case can typically be attributed to low humidity levels.

Solutions

  • The best way to deal with low humidity is to use an electric humidifier.
  • It is an efficient and foolproof method to ensure proper humidity level for your plant.
  • Grouping your plant can also do the trick but be sure that the other plants are not contaminated with pests or diseases.
  • Another effective yet cheap and simple way is to use a pebble tray.
  • It can also help drain excess water that can be used to provide additional humidity to the plants.

7. Over-Fertilizing

Snake plant doesn’t require much fertilizing to thrive as they are most likely self-sufficient.

Fertilizing more than what is necessary can cause drooping and yellowing of the plant leaves.

Root rot, stunted growth, leaf blight, and browning of the leaf tips are also some of the effects of over-fertilizing your snake plant.

However, during the growing season, fertilizing your snake plant can significantly boost its growth rate.

Fertilizing with a balanced all-purpose 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer once every one to two months is considered ideal during the growing seasons.

Southern Ag All Purpose Granular Fertilizer 10-10-10 is a good choice for your snake plant.

During fall, fertilizer application should be reduced to half. It’s best not to fertilize at all in the winter season.

There is a fine distinction between proper fertilizing and over-fertilizing.

Using fertilizer in excess can result in burned leaf tips, leaf discoloration, and curling of leaves.

Solutions

  • Using Nitrogen-rich fertilizer can help bring back the green color and repair the damage done by excess fertilization.
  • If you have just fertilized your plant, you can try removing the excess fertilizer from the top layer of the soil.
  • It’s recommended not to use more than one-half or one-fourth of the labeled dosage.
  • Using organic fertilizer like compost, manure, blood meal, vermicompost, etc., can help prevent you from over-fertilizing your snake plant.

8. Rootbound Snake Plant

Have you been growing your snake plant in the same pot for a couple of years? Then, it can certainly cause the roots to overextend and result in leaf curling.

Rootbound occurs when the plant doesn’t have enough space inside the pot to extend its roots.

Getting rootbound means that your plant is not getting the vital nutrient it needs to make food and take care of its parts.

Because of this limiting effect, it can easily cause your snake plant leaves to curl.

Repotting should be done regularly at an interval of 1-2 years, depending on the rate at which your plant is growing.

The best time to repot your snake plant is just before the growing season, which is early fall or early spring. 

Solutions

  • If you notice that your plant is getting rootbound, use a pot or container one size bigger than your current one.
  • You can use either a ceramic pot or a terracotta pot, depending on what you prefer.
  • Try not to damage the roots while repotting your plant as it can only cause further problems.
  • You can trim down the roots coming from the drainage holes or on the surface gently.
  • You can also use a pruning saw to shave off the sides of the root mass.

9. Transplanting Stress

We just talked about how repotting can be a life savior for your Snake plant.

Likewise, haphazard handling of snake plants during repotting can also result in transplant stress.

How you treat your plant while repotting says a lot about you and tells how your plant will keep up later.

Repotting snake plant
Repotting a Snake Plant (Source: Pexels)

Succulents are a bit sensitive when handling stress and can result in various plant-related troubles, including wilting, drooping, and leaf curling.

Repotting your plant at the wrong time, using the wrong potting mix, and failing to acclimatize your plant can result in transplant stress.

Solutions

Repotting should always be done before the plant starts to bloom to prevent transplant stress.

If you think that the plant is finding it hard to adjust to the new environment, then replace your plant in the same location where you used to place it.

If you think the problem lies in the potting mix, then replace the potting mix with the one suitable for your plant.

Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix is a good choice for a potting mix.

You can add a bit of fertilizer to give that extra boost of nutrients for proper growth.

For detailed information on repotting, check :How to Repot a Snake Plant? [Steps Explained]

10. Incidence of Pests and Insects

Despite being hardy to a wide range of environmental conditions, your snake plant is still vulnerable to pests.

A pest attack can easily cause your spider plant leaves to start curling and lose their upright position.

Pests can also act as a carrier for viruses causing stunted growth.

The most common pests that attract snake plants are listed below:

1. Thrips

Among the most notorious of pests that affect snake plants, thrips tops the list. This minutely tiny little black bug can spread to the entire plant from the stem, buds to the leaves.

They are extremely active and found in large numbers at once. As they thrive in a moist environment, your snake plant is a perfect candidate for thrips infestation.

One way of identifying if thrips infect your plant is to shake the leaves over a white sheet of paper. If you see tiny little black bugs, then it’s a sign of thrips infestation.

Not only does it cause leaf curling, but it also leaves black or brown spots on the leaves.

Symptoms
  • Black specks on leaves
  • Silver white or yellow spots
  • Loss of leaves thickness

2. Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, white, hairy bugs with flat, waxy bodies. These pests penetrate the leaves of the plants and suck their sap which results in wilting and curling of the leaves.

It can be hard to locate this bug as it tends to hide in the cracks and crevasses of plants. It loves succulents like snake plants and lays eggs as soon as 6 to 8 days.

Mealybug infestation can cause the plant to have stunted growth. It also shows signs like black sooty mold and a waxy deposit on the plant.

Symptoms
  • White Cotton-like substance on the underside
  • Stunted Growth of Plant
  • Chlorosis and curling of leaves

3. Spider Mites

Spider mites are rounded-shaped black or red-colored mites that are smaller than a pin-head. It is hard to even locate this pest without the aid of a magnifying glass.

They mostly live on the underside of the leaves and feed on the sap of the snake plant through the stem. Not only does it make the plant look stunted, but it also causes leaf drooping and curling.

You can identify this pest in the same way that you identify thrips. Since it is hard to see, a heavy infestation can build up unnoticed, which can be hard to control.

At late stages of heavy infestation, leaves start falling off, and the plant eventually dies.

Symptoms
  • White or Yellow spots on leaves
  • Silky Webs around plants
  • Yellow and Brown appearance of leaves

Treatment for Pest Incidence

  • Use a blast of water to knock off mites
  • Use Neem Oil or Insecticidal Soap
  • Dip cotton balls in alcohol and dab the bugs
  • Wipe each leaf with a damp cloth
  • Hose the plant under the sink

Preventive Measures for Pest incidence

  • Isolate infested plants
  • Do not allow weed to grow near the plant
  • Sterilize tools before pruning and propagating
  • Water and mulch soil regularly
  • Avoid overfertilizing the plant
  • Periodically check  plant
  • Prune infected plants as soon as possible

11. Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases like Southern blight and Red Spot disease are also notorious for causing leaves curling.

In addition to the curling of leaves, you need to look out for other symptoms like red spots and white web-like growth.

As the disease progresses, you will notice falling off of leaves, and eventually, the plant dies off.

Wiping Plant leaves
Wiping Plant leaves (Source: Pexels)

Most snake plant-related disease starts with improper watering techniques.

It’s important to use well-draining soil to ensure that no excess water remains on the soil.

Another thing to remember is to avoid the accumulation of water on the leaves’ surface.

Treatment of Fungal Diseases

  • If the disease has not spread, then the first thing you can do is wipe the affected area with rubbing alcohol.
  • In case of severe infestation, there is no choice but to discard the plant completely.
  • If you find a healthy stem, then you can save it for propagation. But, first, cut the stem and wash it thoroughly before propagating.
  •  Chemical fungicides can be used to control the disease from spreading, but it’s not essentially going to treat the plant from fungus.

Prevention of Fungal Diseases

  • The best way to prevent fungal disease is by a proper watering schedule.
  • Make sure that you don’t let the leaves stay wet for a long amount of time.
  • You should place the plant in a well-aerated space.
  • Avoid the use of pots that may contain contaminants.

Here is a detailed article about fungal diseases on snake plants:How to Save Snake Plant from Fungus

Types of Leaf Curling

If you are observant, you will realize that your snake plants will be curling differently depending upon the cause.

By observing the type of leaf curl, you can eventually find out why your plant leaves are curling.

Following are the types of leaf curling that can take place.

1. Leaf Margin Curling

This mainly occurs when the problem lies on the roots. Water-logged soil, over-fertilizing, and cold stress are common reasons for leaf margin curling.

2. Leaf Curling Downwards

Downwards curling leaf is a sign that you are either overwatering or overfeeding the plant. Snake plant leaves curl downwards to prevent transpiration from taking place.

3. Leaf Curling Upwards

Leaf curling upwards mainly occurs due to improper environmental factors. For example, if your plant is exposed to too much air or draft, it starts to curl upwards. Extreme humidity levels, direct light, and lack of aeration are some other causes.

4. Leaf Curling Inwards

If your snake plant leaves are curling inwards, it’s a sign of Nitrogen deficiency in the plant. Symptoms start occurring from the lower part of the plant. Yellowing of the leaves is also possible.

Tips to Prevent Snake Plant Leaves from Curling

The best way to prevent snake plant leaves from curling is to follow a proper care routine.

If you have already followed the regimen mentioned above, your snake plant is starting to recuperate and gain its health.

Here is a summary of how to take care of your Snake plants.

Care Factors Best Practices
Watering Requirements
  • Once every 2-4 weeks.

  • Water after top-soil dries off
  • Soil Mix and pH
  • Well-draining Porous soil

  • pH of 5.5-7.5
  • Lighting and Location
  • 7-8 hours of bright indirect sunlight
  • Temperature
  • 50-85° F (10-29° C)

  • Avoid dropping below 45° F
  • Fertilizer
  • Once every 2-3 months

  • Use a balanced all purpose fertilizer
  • Humidity
  • Around 40-50%
  • Potting and Repotting
  • 1 size bigger pot

  • early fall or early spring.

  • Repot in interval of 1-2 years
  • Pests
  • Vulnerable to Pests

  • Check regularly for pests
  • Fungal Diseases
  • Southern Blight and Red Spot are common

  • If infestation is heavy, discard the plant
  • As we all know, prevention is better than cure; you should stay safe beforehand by following these tips.

    • Every snake plant is a bit different. So while a general rule is applied for every one of them, it’s still best that you take some time to know what watering and fertilizing schedule works best for your plant.
    • Always remember to keep your plant away from direct sources of light. Keep in partial shade and use a sheer curtain if you want to place it near the windowsill.
    • Avoid places with cold draft air and direct sources of heat and air conditioners.
    • Occasional pruning will help to prevent the nutrients from being leached out by dead leaves and stems.
    • In case of pest attack and disease, follow an organic route like using herbal oils, cleaning with warm water, etc. Avoid using chemical substitutes as much as possible.
    • Don’t allow humidity to be extremely high or extremely low. Investing in a hygrometer can save you a lot of money in the long term.
    • Although mulching can help in winter, it would be best if you didn’t mulch your plant in winter. This is because the snake plant does not need to retain much water.
    • If you plan to repot your plant in your old pot or container, wash it thoroughly before use.
    • Misting your snake plant leaves and washing them with wet cloth occasionally can help to keep the pests away.

    Check this article to know about Snake plant propagation:How to Propagate Snake Plant at Home?

    Potted Snake Plant
    Snake Plant In Ceramic Pot (Source: Unsplash)

    Conclusion

    As with every other plant, your snake plant also requires some love and attention.

    Although it does not require much attention, some initial requirements still need to be met.

    If you set aside some time once a week only to nurture your snake plant, you won’t have to face the problems of leaves curling at all.

    Small efforts over a long period will save you from spending your time and energy curing and treating your snake plant.

    Did you know that Snake plant can be toxic to pets?

    How Toxic Are Snake Plants To Dogs?

    How Toxic Is Snake Plant To Cats?

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