Snake plants, also known as Mother-In-Laws Tongue, are typically low-maintenance and known for their resiliency as is embodied by their strong upright shape.
However, like all house plants, they can be highly sensitive to their surroundings. Sometimes the perfect spot for your home décor is not the perfect spot for your plant.
The three most important factors to maintain the health of your snake plant are watering, sunlight, and the environment.
If you are unsure how your plant is doing, don’t worry, if it is unhappy, it will find a way to let you know.
If you should happen to notice your snake plant is droopy or doesn’t look as perky as it once did, here are some tips and tricks to bringing your plant back to its once-perky life.
What to Do if your Snake Plant is Drooping
1. Check your Watering Schedule
The most likely source of your droopy problem is the watering schedule. There are one of two things you are doing wrong: underwatering or overwatering.
The most common problem of drooping leaves is overwatering, which if left untreated can lead to bigger problems like root rot. Typically snake plants only need to be watered once every two weeks.
You might feel tempted when you are watering your other plants to give your snake plant a little hydration but think again.
Snake plants are in the succulent family, which means that a little water goes a long way.
A sign that you are over-watering your plant is if you start to see your plant droop, or the leaves become yellow.
If you are watering your snake plant too much, the solution is easy, simply wait for the plant to dry completely out before you water it again.
It may seem unnerving to leave your plant for an entire month without water, but keep in mind that these plants are resilient plants native to the tropics, which means they thrive in hot and dry environments.
Once you let your plant dry out you will find that it begins to perk up over the next week or so.
On the opposite side, underwatering can also cause leaves to droop. When the plant cells are dried up without water, there is no longer anything in them to keep them full and upright.
If you have gone too long without watering your snake plant or haven’t watered it enough during its watering day, the leaves will begin to droop with de-hydration.
Also, when you underwater your snake plant it cannot get the essential nutrients it needs and the water won’t be able to travel the length of the leaves, which will cause them to turn yellow.
If you are guilty of underwatering, the remedy to your problem is quite simple. All you need to do is increase your frequency of watering.
If your snake plant lives in a bright room that gets a decent amount of direct sunlight (more than two hours), you will need to increase the frequency of your watering schedule.
If your plant lives most of the time in indirect sunlight, with little or no direct throughout the day, you will want to decrease the watering schedule.
The key to maintaining a happy plant is to check in with it and see what it needs. If you don’t have a handy app reminding you of watering day, follow this tip:
TIP: The way you can test to see if your plant is ready for some water is by putting your pointer finger directly into the soil, about 2-4 inches to check to see if it is bone dry. If it is completely dry, your plant is ready for some water.
Since the perfect watering schedule is dependent upon a variety of factors, including the time of year, sunlight exposure, and temperature of the environment, you must adjust the watering schedule throughout the year.
Once you have adjusted your watering schedule to fit your plant’s needs it will take up to a week to notice your plant perking back up again.
If the issue persists, please read below to understand what other issues your plant might be facing.
2. Check your Drainage
If you are confident that you are not under-watering and you are not overwatering your snake plant, you will want to look at the drainage of the pot your plant lives in.
There must be proper drainage, otherwise, you will have consistently over-wet soil. The best kind of pot for your plant is a terracotta pot with drainage holes.
The material of terracotta pots can absorb some of the water, keeping a prolonged moist environment without having the plant sit in a pool of water.
Unfortunately, most terracotta pots don’t come with drainage holes for any excess water to escape.
So, if you love your pot and don’t have the tools to make holes you can line the bottom of your pot with 2-4 inches of pebbles or gravel.
You might think you can avoid pools of water at the bottom of your pot by watering your plant less, however, if there are no drainage holes in your plant ANY leftover water will have nowhere to go, which could lead to more severe problems like root rot.
3. Check your Soil
Soil choice is key for the health and longevity of your snake plant. Snake plants prefer well-aerated soils, like succulent soil, which will help assist with proper drainage and nutrient supply.
There must be a mixture of dirt, rocks, and other minerals that offer nutrients to your snake plant to keep it healthy.
If you are not using the correct type of soil, you will want to strongly consider repotting your snake plant.
While you are repotting this is a good opportunity to check the roots of your snake plant to make sure they are not tangled together, which can lead to other problems.
4. Check your Plant-to-Pot Ratio
The rule of thumb is that your plant should only occupy about 3/4th the space of the pot it is in.
A possible source of the problem of your droopy snake plant could be that it has simply overgrown its pot.
Oftentimes, the snake plants’ roots can become tangled. If they become too tangled, it will cause the plant to droop, letting you know it is time for a bigger pot.
Also, if you have had your snake plant for more than three years, chances are, it is time or almost time to go out and find your snake plant a larger pot home.
If you can’t or don’t want to get your plant a new pot, you will want to take the plant out of the pot and trim the roots so they don’t get tangled together (if they aren’t already).
To do this, first, take your plant out of it’s pot and lay it gently on its side. Using sharp gardening shears, cut the roots one at a time. Make sure they only take up about half of the space of the pot.
5. Check your Light Source
Snake plants are resilient plants. They thrive best in prolonged indirect sunlight, but also enjoy some brief direct sunlight and can even enjoy a little shade.
Some exposure to partial sunlight is great for making your snake plant healthy and perky. If you are unsure of the best place for your snake plant, opt for a bright room (even if it doesn’t get direct sunlight) as it will be the most consistent for your plant.
No matter where you decide to put your plant just keep in mind, you will just need to adjust its watering schedule accordingly.
Keep in mind, if your snake plant isn’t getting enough light, it will let you know, become stagnate, sad, and eventually droop.
Also, if your snake plant is getting too much direct sunlight it will cause it to droop. If you have large windows and can’t avoid sunlight from coming in (lucky you), put your snake plant farther away from the window.
- The more sun= the more water
- The more shade= the less water.
6. Check for Bugs
Unfortunately, like all plants bound to a life in the soil, there is always the possibility of pests coming into contact with your plant.
Pests will weaken your plant’s health and can lead to droopiness. Snake plants are susceptible to a specific kind of pest called fungus gnats.
How do I know if I have fungus gnat?
Fungus gnats are tiny black bugs (similar to fruit flies) that tend to hop around on your plant in groups.
You might notice a little swarm of them when you water your plants. They are not strong flyers, so they won’t go far from the plants. Oftentimes, this is a result of over-watering, lack of drainage, or poor soil.
How did I get fungus gnats?
The most common reason for fungus gnats in your plant is that it was brought into your house from another plant and made contact with your snake plant.
Typically, the fungus gnat eggs will go undetected in soil for weeks before they become little hopping pesky adults.
How do I get rid of fungus gnats?
Keep your soil clear from any decaying plant leaves that may have fallen off.
Make sure you are using the right kind of potting mix.
Succulent potting mixtures are the best for snake plants because they contain a lot of organic material.
Since fungus gnats only live on the top layer of soil, you can also cover up the top layer of the soil with coarse sand or gravel to prevent them from getting into the rest of your plants’ pot.
Also, you can try watering your snake plant using a little bit of 3% hydrogen peroxide that will kill any remaining fungus gnat eggs that might be living in your soil.
A good natural option is using Dr. Bronners mild dish soap. Mix about 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronners and half a tablespoon of neem oil into one cup of water and pour over your soil
7. Check the Environment
Although an unlikely reason for your plants’ droopiness, it is important to make sure your plant remains in a warm and comfortable environment.
Since snake plants are tropical, they thrive in warm dry environments. Any long-term exposure to cold can threaten the health of your snake plant.
If your plant has been exposed to cold temperatures, keep an eye on your plant since it often takes a few weeks for it to react to the cold environment and it might droop as a result.
Avoid exposing your plant to vastly different temperature changes, aim to keep the air around it consistently warm between 65 degrees and 90 degrees.
TIP: If you are cold, your snake plant is probably too.
8. Last Resort: Cutting your Snake Plant
If your leaves are in bad shape you might have to trim or cut your snake plant. This is a last resort because if you cut off the tips of your snake plant or any part they will NOT regrow.
Be patient and allow your plant to become upright on its own again. Only resort to cutting leaves if you have adjusted the watering schedule, looked for signs of pests, repotted, and changed the position of the plant for more efficient light.
Use caution when cutting your snake plant.
Will your plant recover?
Depending on the severity of the plant’s droopiness and how long it has been left this way will determine your plant’s chance of recovery.
Providing that you rectify the issues your plant is facing and be patient in the recovery process, your plant could recover.
Like our human friends, our plant friends need to be checked in on regularly. It is important to recognize all factors that might be affecting your plant and make small adjustments to find what works exactly for your plant.
(This can take several weeks for new plants to adjust and find their thriving place)
In ideal conditions, snake plants can live up to twenty-five years with proper care and maintenance.