How to Save a Snake Plant With Drooping Leaves

why is my snake plant drooping

Are your snake plant leaves drooping despite watering? This happened to a snake plant that I rescued from a friend, and I was able to nurse the plant back to full health. I have distilled the tips, tricks, and know-how into this article, detailing steps that I took to save my snake plant with drooping leaves…

Often, drooping snake plant leaves indicate the soil is too damp from overwatering and slow-draining soils. Snake plants are drought-resistant and need the soil to dry out completely between bouts of watering. Consistently damp soil promotes the conditions for root rot, which causes droopy leaves that turn yellow and mushy.

However, your snake plant can also droop due to a lack of light.

Here are the most common reasons that I see for snake plant (Dracaena, aka mother in laws tongue) leaves to droop in appearance:

Symptoms:Reasons for Drooping Snake Plant Leaves:
Snake plant leaves drooping, potentially turning yellow and mushy:Overwatering, slow-draining soils, pots without drainage holes in the base, planting snake plants in large pots, and cold temperatures all promote the conditions for root rot and drooping leaves.
Snake plant leaves drooping in Winter:Snake plants are dormant during Winter, which reduces their demand for water. Overwatering in Winter is the most common reason for drooping leaves.
Snake plant leaves drooping or leaning in one direction:Snake plants grow best in bright, indirect light. Too much shade causes leaves to droop or lean towards the strongest source of light.
Leaves curling and drooping:Snake plant leaves curl and droop if they are watered too lightly.

Keep reading to learn how I saved my snake plant…

Why is My Snake Plant Drooping? (Overwatering)

  • Symptoms. Snake plant leaves drooping and potentially turning yellow with a mushy texture.
  • Causes. Overwatering, slow-draining soils, poor drainage, and cold temperatures.

For us to save our snake plants, it is important to understand how they grow in the wild…

Snake plants are native to the hot and dry tropical regions of Western Africa, where they are adapted to growing in gritty soil that does not hold much moisture and with infrequent rainfall.

If snake plants are watered too often and planted in a normal potting medium, then the soil stays too damp for this drought-adapted plant to tolerate.

One of the first symptoms that you see of an overwatered snake plant is that the leaves droop down and begin to turn yellow, and parts of the plant may have a mushy, soft texture.

Top tip: Snake plants should be watered far less often the regular houseplants and should be planted in well draining soil that does not hold onto moisture for too long.

If the soil is damp for too long, then this can cause the roots and leaves to rot with a soft texture, which causes the overwatered snake plant leaves to lose their structural integrity and droop under their own weight. (This is what happened to my friend’s snake. plant).

To grow a snake plant successfully indoors and prevent it from drooping, we need to recreate some of the watering and drainage conditions of its native environment in our homes by allowing the soil to dry out between bouts of watering and by using a well-draining potting medium that mimics the aerated, porous gritty soil structure of its preferred native environment.

It is also important for you to consider that the snake plant is native to warm, dry climates and prefers a temperature range of 65°F (18°C) and 80°F (26°C) and does not do well in temperatures lower than 55°F (13°C).

At lower temperatures, the snake plant enters a state of dormancy, slowing growth and reducing its demand for Water.

With a lower demand for water, the potting medium can stay moist for too long, promoting the conditions for root rot and drooping leaves. Therefore, it is vital to scale back how often you water the snake plant accordingly.

Cooler indoor temperatures are obviously a problem in Winter, but consider colder areas of the house that can cause a problem, such as draughty window sills, etc., that can lower the temperature, reduce the demand for moisture, and increase the risk of drooping leaves due to root rot.

How I Save an Overwatered Drooping Snake Plant

  • I Scaled back how often you water the snake plant to mimic the preferred dryer conditions of its native environment. Snake plants are exceptionally tolerant of draught and should only be watered when the potting soil has dried out around the roots. Typically, during active growth, I water every 2 or 3 weeks. However, this can depend on climate, the pot’s size, and the snake plant’s maturity.

Important tip: To test whether your snake plant needs watering I feel the soil at the bottom of the pot, through the drainage hole in the base. If the soil feels damp then I delay watering. If the soil feels as though it is drying out, this is the perfect time to water your snake plant with a generous soak.

  • Reduce watering in Winter and keep it in a room with a temperature above 55°F (13°C). Remember that in the Fall and Winter, the snake plant requires watering less often. Typically, I water my snake plant once every 4 weeks in the Winter. Snake plants can tolerate drought far better than overwatering, so if in any doubt, I recommend delaying watering for another week.
  • Use a gritty, well-draining potting mix to prevent root rot. The combination of the right frequency of watering and a good well-draining potting soil is critical to the success of growing snake plants and preventing drooping leaves. I use specially formulated succulent and cacti potting soil when repotting my snake plants, as this specifically replicates the gritty soil type of the snake plant’s natural habitat to prevent root rot.
Succulent and cacti soil (on the left) compared to potting soil. The succulent and cacti soil mimics the gritty well draining soil conditions of the snake plant's natural habitat.
Succulent and cacti soil (on the left) compared to potting soil. The succulent and cacti soil mimics the gritty, well-draining soil conditions of the snake plant’s natural habitat.
  • Ensure that the snake plant is planted in a pot with drainage holes in the base and empty saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots of excess water regularly. Good drainage is essential for snake plants. Any excess water pooling around the pot’s base inevitably leads to root rot and drooping leaves.
  • When repotting snake plants, I always recommend choosing a pot that is just one size up. Large pots contain more soil and retain more moisture, promoting the conditions for root rot. A slightly larger pot should dry out at a similar rate, reducing the risk of root rot. I prefer a terracotta or unglazed clay pot (rather than plastic or ceramic) as they are porous, allowing the soil to dry out more evenly.

Once the snake plant’s soil has had a chance to dry out and you have adjusted the watering frequency to imitate the conditions of its native environment, then the snake plant can begin to recover.

(To learn about more reasons why snake plant leaves can turn yellow, read my article, how to save a snake plant with yellow leaves).

Should I cut off Drooping Snake Plant Leaves?

Feel each of the leaves and if any have turned mushy in texture then cut these leaves back to the base of the plant with a pair of pruners to prevent the rot from spreading and reduce stress on the plant.

If any of the snake plant’s leaves have drooped right down to the point they have completely flopped I would then cut these individual leaves back as they do not stand up again, even if you create the optimal conditions.

If the snake plant has sat in boggy soil for too long then it’s likely most if not all the roots have begun to rot at which point I findit can be very difficult to save the plant.

In this case I recommend propagating the snake plant from leaf cuttings.

Snake plants (like most succulents) propagate readily from cutting and even the leaves that have drooped can be propagated as long as they haven’t turned yellow, brown, or mushy.

Watch this helpful YouTube video for a great visual guide to propagating snake plants from leaf cuttings:

(To learn more about how much and how often to water snake plants to avoid root rot, read my article on how to water snake plants).

Snake Plant Drooping Due to Not Enough Sunlight

  • Symptoms. Snake plant leaves drooping or leaning in one direction.
  • Causes. Not turning the plant often enough.

Snake plants are native to dry tropical forests in West Africa, growing in bright dappled light.

Therefore, your snake plants should be grown in bright, indirect light indoors (direct sunlight can scorch the leaves).

Snake plants can tolerate some shade, but if the snake plant is in particularly poor light, then the leaves can droop as they weaken and grow leggy, looking for more light, and they often grow towards the strongest source of light.

Useful tip: The key to fixing the drooping plant is to move the snake plant to a brighter room and rotate the snake plant’s pot by 90 degrees each time you water it to ensure each side of the plant has good access to light which should address the leaning, drooping leaves.

If the leaves have drooped to the point they have completely flopped, then I would cut these leaves back to the base with a pair of pruners as these individual leaves do not recover their appearance.

When I lived in New York, my succulents would suffer in the Winter due to a lack of light. To remedy this, I bought a special grow light to supplement their hours of sunlight. Not only did my succulents look better, but this also prevented my snake plant from drooping.

Why are My Snake Plant Leaves Curling and Drooping? (Underwatering)

  • Symptoms. Snake plant leaves curl inwards and droop.
  • Causes. Not watering often enough or watering the soil too lightly.

If the snake plant’s leaves are simultaneously curling and drooping, then this indicates your potting soil is too dry.

Usually, the cause of a snake plant’s drooping leaves is overwatering due to its intolerance of consistently damp soil.

However, if the soil has been watered too lightly or not often enough, then I have seen snake plant’s leaves curl inwards as the plant depletes its moisture reserves that are stored in the leaves, which also results in the drooping appearance.

I find that people occasionally misinterpret the advice that ‘snake plants do not need much water’ to mean that the snake plant does not need a great quantity of water and can be sated with just a dribble of water.

However snake plants require a generous soak each time you water to ensure that the potting medium is evenly moist, then they soil should be allowed to dry before watering again.

This schedule of watering mimics the -deluge or rainfall, followed by a drought- cycle of watering that the snake plant typically experiences in their native environment.

To solve this, I recommend giving the snake plant a really thorough watering so that excess water trickles from the drain holes in the base. This allows the snake plant’s roots to draw up the moisture they need.

The snake plant draws up the moisture and stores it in its usually plump leaves as a survival strategy to cope with drought in its natural habitat.

This should alleviate the curling and drooping appearance.

However, if the leaves have flopped completely, then you may need to propagate any healthy remaining leaves, as the floppy leaves may not stand up again, even with sufficient water.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Drooping leaves indicate that the snake plant is overwatered. Snake plants are drought-resistant plants that require the soil to dry between bouts of watering. If the soil is consistently saturated, the snake plant develops root rot, which causes the leaves to turn yellow and mushy with a drooping appearance.
  • The reason for snake plant leaves drooping in Winter is usually root rot from overwatering. Snake plants are dormant in Winter and require watering much less often. If the soil is damp around the roots during Winter dormancy, the leaves droop and turn yellow.
  • If the Snake plant is in deep shade, then the leaves often lean or droop towards the strongest source of light.
  • Curling and drooping leaves indicate that the snake plant is not being watered enough. Snake plants need a soak followed by a period of drought. If the soil is being watered too lightly, the plant draws upon the moisture reserves stored in the leaves, which causes the leaf to curl and droop down.
  • If the snake plant’s leaf has drooped to the point it has flopped down completely then it does not recover stand up again even if you have addressed the initial environmental problem that caused the drooping leaf. Cut drooping leaves back to the base of the plant.

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