Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow: 8 Reasons & Fixes

Snake plant leaves turning yellow is a common problem reported by many gardeners. As its name suggests, a snake plant is a resilient and carefree houseplant with tall and sword-like leaves that mimic the patterns of a snake. The plant has stiff, pointed green leaves with wavy greyish patterns and yellow edges. It is also effortless to grow, with minimal requirements.

While snake plants make bold architectural statements, their charm can quickly vanish without proper care. And one of the secrets to ensuring that your plants have the best-growing conditions and overall health is knowing how to spot and mitigate various problems. Snake plant yellowing leaves are common signs of issues you should address.

The Top Reasons for Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

While snake plant yellow leaf tips are generally typical, you should be alarmed when the entire leaf surfaces start to show yellowish patches. Sometimes, you may also notice snake plant leaves turning yellow and brown. Nevertheless, such situations ignite a series of questions, like, why is the tip of my snake plant turning yellow? You may also be wondering, how do you save yellowing snake plant?

Yellowing snake plant leaves usually point to different types of issues with its overall health. And those problems also require unique snake plant yellow leaves cure strategies, mainly based on the specific causes and severity of the effects.

The following article highlights the primary yellow snake plant leaves causes and the most effective ways to address the snake plant leaves turning yellow problem. It also provides more information about yellow leaves on snake plant care to help you understand the problem, its remedies better, and how to keep your plants strong and healthy over time.

1. Watering Stress

Also called “mother-in-law’s tongue” by some people, the snake plant is among the most resilient plants. Unlike most houseplants, it can remain strong and healthy without watering. The snake plant is a succulent that adsorbs and stores water in its leaves for longer durations, making it highly drought-tolerant. However, many people need help understanding that notion and overwater the plants. Snake plant leaves turning yellow usually signifies excessive watering.

The snake plant requires just enough water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Therefore, always allow the water to dry out between watering schedules. The plants are susceptible to too much water, making their leaves yellow.

You can lift the container to feel the weight or stick your finger into the potting mix to know if the plant is receiving too much water. Sometimes, the waterlogging may be due to poor soil type or the need for proper drainage. Nonetheless, the best way to address snake plant leaves turning yellow due to excessive water is to stop watering immediately. Allow the soil to dry out entirely before resuming the regular watering cycles.

Although overwatering is the main reason behind snake plant leaves yellowing, you should also be careful not to underwater the plants. The lack of proper watering can also result in snake plant leaves turning pale and drooping. Underwatering usually occurs when snake plants are grown in pots, and the temperatures have been warmer. That makes the soil and potting mix dry out faster, hindering the plants from absorbing enough water.

The most effective way to mitigate yellow snake plant leaves that result from underwatering is to increase the watering frequency. That should revive the bold green and greyish colors on the leaves in a short time. If the yellowing persists and the leaves still look wilted after increasing the watering frequency, the problem has spread to other parts of the plant and may not recover.

Watering stress mainly results from growing snake plants in soil and potting mixes with poor drainage. That means you should also know the suitable soil and potting mix for snake plants and how to ensure proper drainage. A soil mix with perlite or compost and coarse sand is usually the best because of its fast-draining qualities. Your growing pots should also have drainage holes at the base, so the water stays in the soil for a short time.

2. Root Rot

Root rot is also a common cause of snake plant leaves turning yellow. The roots of snake plants usually start to rot due to exposure to excessive water. Too much water makes the soil remain wet and soggy for extended periods and could even kill the plant if you don’t address the issue. The best way to identify root rot is to remove the plant from the container and examine the rooting system. Root rot on snake plants mainly manifests through mushy or soft black roots with a foul smell.

You can contain root rot and prevent its spread by trimming away the affected roots and replanting your snake plant in a new potting mix and container. However, you may have to dispose of the whole plant if the rot is extensive and has already damaged most of the roots.

3. Fungal Diseases

Snake plants are susceptible to various fungal diseases that can cause the snake plant leaves turning yellow and pale problem. Different elements can cause fungal infections, including high humidity levels, poor drainage, and overwatering. Although Furasium and Pythium are the common fungi that cause root rot, the snake plants in your home may still be susceptible to other fungal infections.

You can take various measures when wondering how to fix yellow snake plant leaves caused by fungal infections. The first step you should take is to improve the plant’s growing conditions. Ensure the plant has the right soil type and keep it moist but not soggy. You should also provide proper airflow around the plant to maintain appropriate temperatures and humidity.

Applying fungicides can also be an effective way to eradicate fungal infections from your snake plants. However, some chemical fungicides can also harm plants, so read and follow the instructions on the labels carefully when using them.

4. Temperature Fluctuations

Snake plants are native to tropical climates and thrive in warmer temperatures. They mainly flourish in temperatures ranging from about 50 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, any temperature fluctuations that go far below or above those levels could potentially result in snake plant leaves turning yellow. If you notice parts of your home where you have placed the plants experience shifting temperatures that affect their health, you may need to move them to sections with more consistent temperatures.

Areas near AC vents, doorways, and windows that open and close have frequent exposure to fluctuating temperatures that could harm your snake plants. So, if your plants have been hanging or sitting in those sections, and you’ve noticed snake plant leaves turning yellow, you should transfer them to warmer areas with proper airflow.

5. Constant Exposure to Direct Sunlight

Unlike some houseplants, snake plants do not do well under too much direct sunlight. Instead, they prefer bright, indirect sunlight. You will quickly notice snake plant leaves turning yellow if you expose the plant to direct sunlight for more extended periods. The first step to addressing the problem is to move the plants to a spot in your home without direct sunlight.

Monitor the leaves for a few days after moving the plants to see if the yellow color disappears. If you still notice the snake plant leaves turning yellow, move the plant to another area with more shade and watch for the results. Sometimes, you may have to try a few rooms before finding the right spot to keep snake plants in your home. Apart from relocating the plants, you can install window drapes or place the pots near taller or bushy plants to cushion them from direct sunlight.

6. Pest Infestation

Pest infestations can also lead to snake plant leaves turning yellow. Snake plants usually attract pests, including spider mites, aphids, and mealy bugs.

Spider mites are tiny insects that eat plant leaves and are typically very hard to detect due to their smaller sizes and ability to hide on the leaf undersides. However, snake plant yellowing leaves can help tell when they infest your plants. Applying horticultural oil or insecticidal soap is the most effective remedy for spider mite infestation.

Mealybugs are also small insects but have white bodies and feed on plant sap, which may be the reason for snake plant leaves turning yellow. Unlike most insects, mealybugs are invasive and could quickly kill your snake plant if left unchecked. The white insects are easy to spot, and you can eradicate them in a few easy ways. You can treat the plants with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. Rubbing alcohol on the leaf undersides can also help when you have no option for reviving yellow snake plant leaves and eradicating mealybugs.

Aphids also feed on sap and tend to form clusters that can make snake plant leaves turn yellow. Carefully examine the plant to check for insects on the undersides of the leaves. First, blast them with a hose since aphids can quickly disperse in the wind. Then, treat your snake plants with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to destroy the insects’ feeding grounds.

7. Nutrient Deficiencies

Snake plant leaves turning yellow can also be due to the lack of essential nutrients. Many gardeners often want to know how to maintain an adequate nutrient supply for their houseplants. Although the yellowing of snake plant leaves could be related to the deficiency of various nutrients, the lack of nitrogen is the most common issue. Besides the leaves turning yellow, nitrogen deficiency in the soil can also stunt your snake plants’ overall growth. Iron deficiency can also make the leaves of snake plants turn yellow. Thus, adding nitrogen and iron-rich fertilizers to the soil can effectively boost nutrient levels.

Follow the given instructions for fertilization to avoid any common mistakes that could harm the health of your plants. Remember, too much fertilization under freezing temperatures can also result in snake plant leaves turning yellow.

Apart from applying fertilizers, using a cactus or succulent soil mix can help alleviate yellowing snake plant leaves caused by nutrient deficiencies. Besides, it is advisable to monitor the soil pH frequently since too high or low acidity levels can cause nutrient deficiencies.

8. Rootbound

Although many houseplants are rootbound, snake plants can experience problems if their roots are overcrowded in the growing container. Rootbound occurs when the plant roots circle and get entangled inside the pot. That can cause various issues, including snake plant leaves turning yellow, stunted growth, and even death of the plants. The first step in addressing the problem is removing the plant gently from its container to examine the roots.

If you notice intertwining roots of your snake plant, the best action is to relocate it to a larger pot. Try to untangle and loosen the roots before repotting, then water the soil properly upon completion. You can repot the plants in one larger container if they are still small and you’ve noticed snake plant leaves turning yellow. However, you should divide snake plants into multiple plants and replant them in different pots if they have overgrown the current container.

You may also wonder, should I remove yellow leaves from snake plants during repotting? Regardless of the specific reasons behind your snake plant leaves turning yellow, the discolored leaves are already damaged and will eventually fall off. However, cutting off the yellow tips at once will address issues such as pest infestations and diseases and improve the plant’s overall health. Pruning off pale and yellow leaves will also allow the plant better nutrient absorption and airflow. You will soon notice new growth sprouting if you adequately water the plant and keep it under optimal temperatures and lighting conditions.

Final Word

Snake plant leaves turning yellow and pale can be due to various causes requiring specific measures. Nonetheless, using fast-draining soil, applying fertilizers, proper pest and disease control, and observing optimal temperature, humidity, and sunlight conditions are the main remedies to snake plant leaves turning yellow.


Why are snake plant leaves turning yellow?

There are various reasons why snake plant leaves turn yellow and pale. The top causes of snake plant leaves turning yellow include watering stress, root rot, temperature fluctuations, too much direct sunlight, nutrient deficiencies, pests, fungal infections, and rootbound.

Should I cut the yellow off my snake plant?

Generally, various remedies exist for alleviating yellow snake plant leaves. However, pruning the discolored leaves can also effectively mitigate the problems and prevent further damage to the plant.

What does an overwatered snake plant look like?

Besides yellow patches on the leaves, overwatered snake plants also spot squishy leaves that are soft to the touch. Excessive water breaks the leaves’ cellular structure, making them mushy and soft, eventually dropping.

How often do you water a snake plant?

Snake plants are highly resilient and do not need regular watering like most houseplants. Instead, you should water your snake plant fortnightly to allow the soil to dry out entirely between cycles. In winter, when the temperatures are freezing, you should keep the watering cycle to once a month since the plants often collect humidity from the atmosphere.

How do I fix yellow leaves on my snake plant?

There are different ways to fix yellow leaves on snake plants, based on the causes. The standard remedies include:

  • Observing optimal watering cycles
  • Keeping the plants in bright indirect sunlight
  • Fertilizer application
  • Applying horticultural oils or insecticidal soap

Repotting can also fix snake leaves turning yellow due to rootbound and root rot.

Henry Mugambi

Henry Mugambi

Take a look at this guy. He's almost in his 40s, but he looks like he could be in his 20s. That's because he's a gardener—and a damn good one, too. He's been gardening since he was a little kid, and he loves nothing more than sharing his tips with others. He started blogging a few years ago, and his blog has since become a go-to source for gardening information. His audience trusts him because he knows his stuff, and he always offers sound advice that helps people get the most out of their gardens.

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