Snake Plant Turning Yellow

Snake plants are a popular as pot plants because they require very little care and look good in most settings. The textured pattern on the leaves with the distinctive sharp pointed ends is so robust that the plant is often called ‘Mother-in-law’s tongue.’ When Snake Plants become unhealthy, one of the first signs is the discoloration or yellowing of the leaves.

The most common reason that a snake plant will begin to turn yellow is because of excessive watering. Other reasons could be incorrect soil or pot, low light, pest infestation, or extreme cold. Some snake plant varieties have naturally yellow-tinged leaves that may become more visible as the plant grows.

If your snake plant does begin to develop an unhealthy yellow tinge, the situation can usually be remedied if you act quickly. The more pronounced the yellowing of the leaves becomes, the more advanced the problem has become.

Potted snakeplant

Snake Plant Turning Yellow

Like all other plants, snake plants will grow and react according to the environment they are kept. There are several reasons why your snake plant may be turning yellow, and there are ways that you can stop the discoloration before it becomes too unsightly or you lose your plant.

Common causes for the yellowing of snake plant leaves are:

  • Overwatering
  • Incorrect soil
  • Being pot-bound
  • Incorrect light conditions
  • Incorrect temperature
  • Low humidity
  • Infestation of pests
  • Natural variety of the snake plant

While snake plants are resilient plants, they are not invincible. These tough succulents that originate from West Africa can adapt to many conditions, making them popular as house plants. But when faced with extreme environmental stresses, they often respond by becoming an unhealthy shade of yellow.

The most usual sign that the plant has become unhealthy is a noticeable yellowness at the tips of the leaves. After that happens, the affected part of the leaf can start to dry up and die. The plant may also start to show overall signs of ill-health, such as faded color or wilting.

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Snake Plant Turning Yellow As A Result Of Overwatering

Overwatering, or incorrect watering, is the number one cause of why your snake plant may be turning yellow. These plants do not need frequent watering, and the soil should be allowed to become quite dry out before adding more water.

Before deciding that your snake plant needs water, don’t just test the top of the soil. Check below the surface. Snake plants originate in fairly arid conditions, and they are succulents which means that they store water in their leaves. If the soil around their roots becomes too dry, they simply use moisture stored in their tough spikey leaves.

Besides not overwatering your snake plant, you also need to maintain a consistent watering regime. If the soil around your plant’s roots is completely dry, it is better to add a moderate amount of water rather than to suddenly flood it to compensate.

Snake plants are drought tolerant but not drought resistant. They can die from a total lack of water for an extended period. But they are far more likely to become sickly as a result of too much water. They do not like having ‘wet feet, ‘ which could lead to root rot and the eventual death of your plant.

Snake Plant Yellowing As A Result Of Incorrect Soil

Soil for potting Snake plant

Snake plants should be potted in soil that allows water to drain quickly. The usual potting mix for snake plants is a balanced mix that is suitable for cacti and succulents. Extra perlite can be added to help with aeration. The soil mustn’t become muddy or stodgy. Root rot can set in quickly, which will most certainly kill your snake plant.

You can increase the nutrients in the soil available to the plant by adding a good quality fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer works well as long as dilution instructions are carefully followed so that the plant’s roots do not get burned.

Snake Plant Yellowing Because Of The Pot

The available soil also needs to provide the plant with enough nutrients to remain healthy and grow. If the plant has been in the same pot for a long time, it may have used all the available nutrients in the soil. While snake plants generally don’t mind becoming pot bound, it is recommended that you re-pot your snake plant at least every two years.

Another mistake made when caring for pot plants is to keep the pot on a collection saucer. The small saucer under the plant pot collects water that drained through during the watering process. However, snake plants do not tolerate wet soil, and if the collection tray does not allow free drainage of the soil, root rot can quickly set in.

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Snake Plant Yellowing As A Result Of Light

If you are not overwatering your snake plant and have checked that the soil is draining well and the plant is losing its distinctive dark green color, check its position. Snake plants are tolerant of many lighting conditions, but they don’t do well in direct bright sunlight or extremely low light.

Snake plants prefer bright spaces where they will receive indirect light. However, they can also do well with artificial light, making them popular plants in office settings. However, if the plant does not receive enough light, the leaves may start yellowing. Move your snake plant to a position where it will receive plenty of light, and it should quickly regain its color.

Snake Plant Yellowing As A Result of Temperature

Snake plants are not tolerant of cold temperatures. Exposing them to a temperature below 55F will kill parts or even all of the plant. These plants originate in tropical conditions, so exposure to cold will certainly cause problems with the plant’s health. A reaction to cold conditions can even be noted if only one or a few snake plant leaves are touching a cold windowpane.

Snake Plant Yellowing As A Result Of Low Humidity

Humidity and temperature are not the same things. Snake plants need to always be in an environment above 55F, but they are also affected by the relative humidity of an environment. A humidity level of around 50% is ideal for your snake plant.

Snake plants are generally tough. Occasional fluctuations in humidity are unlikely to affect the plant dramatically, but if the air is constantly extremely dry, it will increase the transpiration level. Leaves will begin to turn yellow if they are drying out because of moisture in the air.

Pests That May Cause A Snake Plant To Become Yellow

It is rare for snake plants that are well cared for and not overwatered to become infected with pests as they are extremely hardy. However, if the plant is stressed or weakened, they become susceptible to scale, spider mites, and mealybugs. These small pests will drain your snake plant’s moisture, causing it to develop a yellowish tinge.

You can treat the insect infestations with a plant insecticide or neem oil, but be sure to check the underlying cause. Snake plants don’t often get sick, and if plant pests have attacked them, there is likely another far more serious problem that requires attention.

Some Varieties OF Snake Plants Have Yellow Highlights

Snake plant with yellow highlights

Don’t worry if you are doing everything right and have noticed that your snake plant is developing yellow streaks!  You may have a variety of these popular plants that have distinct yellow lines as part of their patterning. So long as the soil is draining well and the plant’s leaves look rigid and healthy, your plant might be in perfect condition.

Some varieties of snake plants have leaves that are naturally yellow or more curled than others. These include Sansevieria Trifasciata and Sansevieria Golden Hahnii, which feature leaves that have dramatic yellow edges. So if you received your snake plant as a gift and are worried about its yellow leaves, first check that you don’t have a variety that has leaves that are naturally that way.


The most common cause of snake plant leaves turning yellow is overwatering or incorrect watering habits. The plant’s roots should never remain in wet conditions for any length of time, and it is far safer to let the soil dry out completely than to add water more often than necessary. Some other considerations may be affecting the color of your snake plant, but fortunately, if you quickly address the issue as soon as you notice it, most of them can be treated, and your snake plant will soon be looking as sharp as a mother-in-law’s tongue!