Snake Plant Leaves Curling? Main Causes And Solutions

Help! Your beautiful snake plant’s leaves no longer resemble the proud, flat sword blades they did when you first bought it. Don’t despair; snake plants are hardy and don’t die that easily, but you will have to uncover the source of the problem to determine what action to take.

A snake plant’s leaves may curl for several different reasons or a combination of them. Overwatering and underwatering are the most common, but temperature stress, poor, nutrient-deficient substrate, overfeeding, and pests such as thrips can also cause curling. The lighting may also be inadequate.

A snake plant’s leaves are supposed to stand tall, upright, and straight. When something is wrong, their leaves will curl in different ways depending on the nature of the problem. In this article, we discuss how to identify the cause and what you can do to remedy the situation.

Different Ways A Snake Plant’s Leaves May Curl

Snake Plant Curling

How the leaves are curling will give you a clue as to what the plant needs. Although Sansevierias, the botanical name for snake plants, are easy to keep and recommended for beginners, you can sometimes make mistakes. While it is normal for the leaves to curl and twist slightly, pronounced curling signifies they are unhappy.

Do The leaves Curl Inwards?

If the leaves are curling inward, this can be a sign of a nitrogen deficiency. The lower leaves are most noticeably affected as they turn yellow and soft and curl into themselves. Nitrogen is a crucial nutrient usually found in the potting soil.

If your plant has lived in its pot for a long time without a soil change, it may have depleted the nitrogen stores, especially if you haven’t been feeding it.

Are The Tips Of The Leaves Curling Downwards?

Downward curling leaf tips are an indication of overfeeding or overwatering. Snake plants are very efficient at processing the water and nutrients in their growth medium and originate from dry regions where there is not much rain.

They are water conservation experts, and the tiny pores under the leaves only open up at night to lose as little water as possible to evaporation. Overwatering and overfeeding are hazardous to their health.

Are The Leaf Tips Curling Upwards?

If the leaf tips are curling upwards, the plant could be getting too much or too little light, or it is stressed by limited air circulation, temperature or humidity extremes, or wind. Assess the environment to see which it could be.

Has the wind been blowing more on the plant lately because it is near an open window or door? Has it been subjected to unusually cold or hot temperatures? Has it been left in harsh, direct sunlight for an extended period, or have you changed the plant’s location recently?

Are The Leaves Curling At The Margins?

Curling at the margins can signify stress, a root problem, or a thrips infestation. The latter are tiny, fringed-winged insects that don’t fly very well. They have thin little bodies, about one-twentieth of an inch in size, and rasping mouthparts they use to feed on the plant’s juices.

You can be fooled into thinking that the damage you are seeing is due to disease or a lack of nutrients. If you see one thrips, there are probably more because they are social insects and operate in groups.

Thrips-infested leaves curl up and become distorted and exhibit silvery, greyish scarring or calloused areas where the insects have been feeding. Overfeeding and thrips infestation are two of the most common causes for the leaves to curl at the margins, but it can also be due to inadequate root oxygenation.

 Related: Sansevieria Zeylanica: Complete Plant Guide

Are The Leaves Drooping Or Flopping Over?

If the leaves flop over as though they are trying to halve their height, this can be another sign of overwatering, or it could be caused by a poor potting substrate that doesn’t drain well. Too little light may also cause drooping.

Although snake plants tolerate low lighting and can be grown in shade, they do need some light. Floppy or curling leaves can also be a sign of underwatering. The leaf tips may also start to go brown if you’ve been underwatering.

Because snake plants don’t need to be watered all that frequently, it is easy to forget when you last watered them. If the soil in the pot is parched, water thoroughly, and you should see the plant start to revive within a few hours.

What To Do If You Have Been Overwatering

Snake Plant watering

Snake plants are highly drought tolerant and can go for weeks without water, so overwatering is a common mistake. The leaves may go yellow and curl downwards if you overwater. However, the problem runs deeper than just the leaves.

Root rot is the result of overwatering and can kill your snake plant. If the substrate smells terrible, this is a sign of root rot so give it a sniff. Take the plant from the pot and inspect the roots. If there are still some healthy roots, cut off those that feel soft and mushy or look dead, diseased, and brown.

Replant the Sansevieria in a fresh, slightly damp substrate after removing all of the dying tissue. If the roots are dead, you can propagate new plants from cuttings taken from healthy leaves.

What To Do If You Have Been Overfeeding

If you have been overfeeding your snake plant, the best thing to do is repot it because you need to get rid of the over-enriched substrate. You don’t have to transplant into a bigger pot as Sanseverieria likes being slightly pot-bound and needs a snug-fitting container. The fertilizer may have burned some of the roots, so inspect them before repotting and remove damaged or dead ones.

Snake plants only need to be fertilized once a month in the spring and summer. You should use a mild, well-balanced fertilizer that is designed for cacti to avoid burning the roots. A nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizer in a ratio of 3:5:5 will also work.

Do not fertilize your Sansevieria in winter, and make sure that you dilute the liquid fertilizer to half the recommended strength.

What To Do If Light Levels Are Too Low

You can move your plant to a brighter spot if you think that low light levels are causing the problem. If moving it is not feasible, install some LED lights or plant lights in the plant area.

Sansevierias do not need intense, bright light, so don’t buy a one-hundred-watt spotlight. A moderate increase in light levels is all that’s necessary, and harsh direct afternoon sunlight should be avoided. If the plant is placed in soft natural morning sunlight for three hours, this may be enough to revive it.

What To Do If Your Plant Has Temperature Stress

Excessive heat can cause the leaves to curl because water evaporates much faster when it is hot. If the temperatures get too cold, the water molecules inside the leaves can freeze and cause chill damage, weakening the leaves.

Snake plants prefer a temperature range between seventy and ninety degrees Fahrenheit, but they can tolerate as low as fifty-five and as high as eighty-five. Remember that air conditioners and radiators can also cause temperature fluctuations, so it is best to keep the plant away from them.

Relocate your plant to a draught-free, warmer or cooler area if you think temperature stress could be the problem and cut off dead or damaged leaves. If the direct sun is catching the leaves for any time, they will curl and go brown.

Snake Plant

What To Do If The Soil Is Deficient?

If the pH of the soil is too high or too low, the snake plants leaves may curl because they cannot absorb sufficient nutrients from the substrate. The best pH range is between 5.5 to 7.5.

If the pH is too low, add hydrated lime to the potting soil or repot using a proper mix of fresh substrate. If the pH is a bit high, add a little lemon juice to the water in your watering can. A soil test kit will show soil humidity, pH, and sunlight levels.

Low nitrogen levels can be raised by feeding the plant with a well-balanced fertilizer, but if your snake plant has been standing in the same pot for years, it is probably better to just repot it in fresh substrate.

Also Check: Why Is My Snake Plant Drooping?

What To Do About Thrips And Other Pests

If you see any insects or worms on the leaves, pick them off and wipe the leaves with neem oil. Remove brown, injured, or dead-looking parts of the leaves and dispose of them in the bin. You can also wash the leaves with insecticidal soap. Don’t remove curling but otherwise healthy-looking leaves.

Conclusions

The leaves of a snake plant may curl due to over or under watering, overfeeding, temperature stress, or a sap-sucking insect infestation. While they do well in low light conditions, if they are not getting enough light, this can also cause the leaves to curl.  

References:

https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/foliage/folnotes/sansevie.htm

https://www.thespruce.com/snake-plant-care-overview-1902772#common-problems-with-snake-plant

https://gardenine.com/snake-plant-leaves-curling/

https://dengarden.com/gardening/Caring-for-Sanseveria-Snake-Plant-Mother-in-Laws-Tongue