Regular watering is a crucial routine to master when growing snake plants (sansevieria trifasciata). But potted snake plants are vulnerable to overwatering, which can lead to plant death.
Understanding the warning signs of overwatering snake plants will help avoid them. An overwatered snake plant has mushy leaves, drooping foliages, rotten roots, and smelly potting soil.
To fix an overwatered sansevieria plant, we need to identify the warning signs of overwatering. This article will explore the leading signs and step to save the plant from dying at home.
10 Signs of an Overwatered Snake Plant
It can be challenging for beginners to tell if they have overwatered their snake plants at home. Below are the signs of an overwatered snake plant: (Source: University of Illinois).
Snake Plant Turning Yellow and Soft
Snake plant leaves turning yellow and soft could be due to excessive watering. But yellowing snake plants can also be a symptom of ill-health caused by extreme temperature changes, incorrect lighting conditions, and nutritional deficiency.
Too much moisture in the potting soil suffocates the roots and inhibits the intake of water and other vital mineral ions. All plants need water, oxygen, and nutrients to grow or keep healthy.
Besides that, prolonged exposure to a waterlogged environment can cause root rot and brown spots on snake plant leaves. The condition can also cause plant death in the long run.
Snake Plant Drooping Leaves
Overwatering makes plant leaves turn yellow or black due to the rotting effect. Overwatered snake plant leaves become soft to the touch. The excess moisture will cause the leaves to bend or fall off under high temperatures.
Excess moisture in the potting mix will cause ammonia buildup around the snake plant leaf blades. A portion of the leaves will begin to die after drying out. Snake plant drooping leaves are another sign of excess ammonia accumulation.
Snake Plant Mushy Leaves
Mushy or squishy snake plant leaves are due to excess water intake. Overwatering can damage the leaf structure leading to a soft, mushy, and squishy appearance. Excess water intake is known to cause leaf cell bursting.
A healthy snake plant has rigid green leaves that stand upright from the base. The leaves function as water storage zones after absorption from the soil. If water intake goes beyond the optimum requirement, the leaf cells will burst and damage their structure.
Snake Plant Falling Over
Some snake plant leaves can fall over for one or two reasons. It is normal for older foliages on a snake plant to fall over. If you notice several leaves falling over within a short period, it could be a sign of overwatering.
Snake plants store water in the leaves after intake from the soil. Excess water absorption will stress the leaf cells making the entire leaf lean and fall over. Reducing watering frequency may restore your houseplant.
Soggy Soil and Molds
Overwatering will make the potting mix soggy and waterlogged. The condition later creates an environment that promotes mold growth around your snake plant. It can be challenging for beginners to get rid of molds.
Active mold growth results in white patches around the base leading to plant death. This mildew growth occurs due to a lack of heat, light, and fresh air. We recommend maintaining optimum temperature to resolve the problem.
Edema is not among the prominent signs of an overwatered snake plant. But it occurs when the snake plant absorbs excess water fast and makes the leaf cells burst. The damaged leaf cell structure results in discolored blisters underneath the leaves.
The blisters will burst if the overwatering problem is not resolved. We recommend reducing watering frequency and providing ultimate snake plant care to avoid other issues.
Snake plant leaves discolorations are due to overwatering, soil toxins, pest infestations, and incorrect lighting conditions. We recommend investigating your houseplant to identify the exact cause of leaf discoloration.
Yellow leaves or brown tips and spots on the leaves are the symptoms of watering problems on snake plants. Brown tips and spots on snake plant leaves are associated with under-watering.
Root rot is the main symptom of overwatering snake plants. A soggy condition inhibits the roots from undertaking their functions through oxygen deprivation. Your plant will begin to decompose and become smelly.
If you uproot your snake plant, it will have brown patches on the root tips. These brown patches are indicators of root rot. We recommend trimming and sterilizing them before transplanting them into a new potting mix.
An overwatered snake plant usually experiences pest infestations. These flies love the rotten smell around the plant base. We recommend covering the plant with a mosquito net and disinfecting the potting soil.
Another option for getting rid of flies is to dry the potting mix and then sprinkle a small portion of potassium permanganate. Too much potassium permanganate will burn the plant roots. Orange peels also release a strong scent that can repel the flies.
Causes of Overwatering Snake Plants
An overwatered snake plant will show the above signs and symptoms. The next step is to identify the exact cause of overwatering and fix it. Below are the reasons that can lead to overwatering snake plants:
Watering Too Frequently
Watering your snake plant too often could lead to overwatering. The problem occurs since you watered the plant before it needed water. Snake plants are drought-tolerant houseplants and do not need a frequent watering routine.
We recommend watering your snake plants every two weeks during the spring and summer. Reduce the watering frequency during the colder months to avoid overwatering your plant.
The golden rule is to dip 2-3 inches of your index finger in the potting soil to test moisture content level before watering. If the topsoil is dry, consider watering your snake plant to avoid wilting.
Rich and Heavy Soil
Dense soil has higher water retention ability since it does not filter out adequate water in the pot. Snake plants thrive in a fertile and well-draining potting mix. Regular garden soil with compost is the worst option for growing sansevieria plants.
We recommend buying potting mix for succulents to grow your snake plants. Rich and heavy soils take a long time for the water to pass through. High water retention increases the risk of overwatering.
Large Pot Size
Plant the mother-in-law’s tongue in an appropriate-sized container since large pots require extra soil and moisture. Small snake plants grown in large pots have a higher risk of experiencing overwatering. Exposing the plant roots to prolong moisture will cause rotting.
Too Little Sunlight Exposure
A snake plant receiving adequate sunshine will require an occasional drink. The sunlight will help evaporate excess water from the soil surface and porous pots. Low-light conditions mean less water intake is needed. Watering your snake plant more often in dim light can cause overwatering.
Snake plants do not require more water during cold temperature months. These houseplants experience a dormancy effect during winter and do not require much water or feeding. We recommend reducing watering frequency to avoid overwatering.
How to Save an Overwatered Snake Plant
Fixing an overwatered snake plant depends on how long the roots were left in wet soil and how badly rotted the roots are. Note that not all plants can be saved, but early intervention can help them. Below are steps to save overwatered snake plants:
Relocate the Plant to Sunny Spot
Relocate your snake plant to a spot that receives bright indirect sunlight to lose excess moisture from the potting mix. Do not place your snake plant to direct sunlight since it will scorch the leaves and stress the plant.
Remove the Plant from the Pot
Tap the sides of the pot to loosen up the soil and reduce the hassle of removing the plant from the container. Pull the snake plant from the container gently to expose the roots. Shake the plant to remove the dirt around the root ball.
Treat the Root Rot
Examine the roots to identify parts with brown patches. Root rot regions are slimy and smelly, with brown patches inside the root structure. Trim these parts and sterilize them to eliminate the fungal disease.
Repot the Snake Plant
Prepare a new potting mix with well-draining characteristics and fill a container with drainage holes at the bottom. Transplant your snake plant to save it from the overwatering symptoms. Do not water your plant for a few days to avoid worsening overwatering effects.
Snake Plant Propagation
The step is ideal for those roots that are beyond repair. Choose 2-3 healthy snake plant leaves and cut them off. Discard the remaining plant and place the leaf cuts in the moist potting mix. It will take a couple of months to grow roots and transplant them into different pots.
How to Prevent Overwatering Sansevieria
- Water your snake plant when 2-3 inches of topsoil is dry. Water the plant more during warmer months and reduce watering frequency during winter.
- Plant your snake plant into a potting mix with well-draining characteristics. It will help facilitate faster filtration and avoid water accumulation in the soil.
- Use a container with drainage holes at the bottom to help get rid of excess water after watering.
- Transplant your snake plant to fresh potting mix every two years since old soil has a poor drainage system.
My Final Thoughts
Snake plants are drought-resistant houseplant species. They are also low-maintenance plants that require a minimal watering routine. The snake plant is also called mother-in-law’s tongue due to the leaf-like blades.
An overwatered snake plant is marked by yellow leaves, drooping leaves, rotten roots, smelly soil, and mushy or squishy leaves. Reviving an overwatered plant depends on how much the roots stay in wet soil and the root rot effect.
We hope this article has meaningful insight into resolving the snake plant problem. Feel free to share with your friends or family and let us know your views or suggestions in the comment section.
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