Snake plants are incredibly hardy and low-maintenance houseplants, but even they can become vulnerable to overwatering if you're not careful.
Knowing the symptoms, causes, and solutions to overwatering can help keep your plant healthy and vibrant, whether you're growing your snake plant outside or inside.
It's essential to take action quickly once the problem is identified. Overwatering can cause severe damage and possibly death in your plant if not addressed immediately.
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Signs of Overwatering in Snake Plants
1. Signs of Overwatering in Snake Plants
Overwatering is a common problem for plant owners and particularly for Snake plants. These plants thrive on neglect and do not need much water, especially when they're kept indoors. Unfortunately, many first-time plant owners make the mistake of giving their Snake plants too much water too frequently.
An overwatered snake plant will have the following:
droopy/ sagging leaves
yellow mushy leaves (soft to the touch)
soft, soggy stem that becomes brown at the bottom
signs of root rot
unpleasant smell/ foul odor
soil with white patches (not mold but salt crystals)
flies and fungus gnats
2. The Causes of Overwatering in Snake Plants
Watering too frequently.
After a certain point, your plant won't absorb more water. If you water it too often, the soil won't have time to dry out. When your plant's roots are wet all the time, they will start to rot.
Dense, heavy soil that doesn't filter water out.
Dense soil is packed solid, which prevents water from running through the soil. It will hold onto water, damaging the roots.
Your pot has no or too few drainage holes.
Inadequate drainage holes mean the water won't be able to drain away. As a result, your roots will stand in water, and your plant will start to drown.
Pot too large for a small plant.
Naturally, when the pot is bigger, you'll use more water to wet the soil. But when there's a small plant in a big pot, it wouldn't need all the water the soil holds onto.
Too little indirect sunlight.
Sunlight helps dry the soil between waterings. If your plant is in a low-light setting with high humidity, it needs less water. Contrarily, it needs more regular watering if it gets bright, indirect light with low humidity.
Your Snake plant needs less water in cold months. On the flip side, in warm months, more water evaporates from the soil, so your plant dries out quickly and would benefit from more frequent watering.
3. How To Save an Overwatered Snake Plant
Water the plant less often.
Stick a chopstick or your finger in the soil and only water when the soil is completely dry a few inches deep. If the soil is still wet enough, moist particles will stick to your finger or the chopstick. When it's dry, you will probably also find dirt sticking to your finger, but the particles will be dry.
Cut away any damaged leaves.
Use sharp scissors and disinfect them before you make any cuts. If you don't disinfect your tools before use, they can transfer harmful microorganisms from one surface to another, which can cause infection or contamination.
Place it in bright, indirect light.
Indirect light provides a moderate and consistent temperature, which promotes a consistent evaporation rate. A consistent evaporation rate means the soil around your plant dries fast enough for the roots not to rot and slow enough for the plant to absorb the water it needs.
Add perlite to the soil of an overwatered plant.
Perlite comprises tiny, lightweight, and porous particles. When mixed with soil, perlite helps to create pockets of air in the soil, which increases the soil's ability to hold oxygen and helps prevent water from accumulating around the roots. Perlite is also sterile and free from harmful bacteria and pathogens that can cause plant disease.
If the damage is more severe, you'll need to:
Repot your plant in a container with more drainage and ensure it has enough space to grow.
Add perlite or lightweight aeration material to your high-quality potting mix to improve drainage and allow excess water to flow freely.
A good potting mix should contain a combination of loam, coco coir, perlite, and vermiculite, which helps promote drainage and prevent overwatering permanently.
In severe cases repotting your plant might not even help.
In such cases, you can propagate your plant by:
Cutting a piece off a healthy leaf.
Lay it out in indirect light for the cut to heal (callous).
Plant the leaf in a free-draining potting mix.
4. Preventing Overwatering in Snake Plants
Snake plants should be watered when the soil is completely dry to the touch. Depending on the temperature and humidity of your indoor environment, this may be every 2-8 weeks.
Have a consistent watering schedule and only water when the soil is completely dry.
Give your Snake plant the same amount of water each time.
Let the soil dry out between waterings, do not keep it consistently moist.
Use a moisture meter to test the soil before watering.
Choose the right pot size (not too big). Generally, the pot should be at least 2 inches wider than the plant's current size.
Make sure your potting mix is well-draining.
Use a pot with enough space for future growth and good drainage.
Ensure your pot has holes in the bottom so excess water can drain.
Place your plant in a space that gets plenty of indirect sunlight.
The Bottom Line
Overwatering usually occurs when you don't have a watering schedule and assume the roots must be dry since the topsoil is dry. To avoid overwatering your plants, it's vital to water them only when necessary, ensure that the pot or container has adequate drainage, and allow the soil to dry out between watering. It's also a good idea to pay attention to environmental factors that may affect the moisture level in the soil. Luckily, with some simple adjustments, you can ensure your snake plant stays healthy and beautiful for years!