Why is My Snake Plant Not Growing?


Why is my snake plant not growing

The reason for a snake plant not growing is because it is in a dormant state due to cool temperatures, low light levels and shorter day lengths. Snake plants only grow noticeably, if the room temperature is above 16 degrees and if there is enough hours of bright indirect sun.

If an individual pointed leaf tip of your snake plant becomes damaged or broken the leaf blade can stop growing.

Snake plants are naturally slow growing as is characteristic with most succulents and their leaves can reach a height of around 4 feet tall in the optimal conditions.

However there are several factors which can cause your snake plant to grow very slowly or not grow at all:

Conditions:Reason for Snake Plant not Growing:
Low light Intensity:Snake plants are tolerant of low light levels but they grow more in rooms with bright indirect light. Too much direct sun can burn the leaves yet too much shade can cause your snake plant to grow slowly.
Shorter Day Lengths:Snake plants are often in a dormant state in Winter and day lengths are a lot shorter with less light so the snake plant is not likely to be growing.
Low Temperature:Snake plants grow well in a normal room temperature range of 15° C (60° F) or more. If the snake plant is in a typically colder room in your house it is grows every slowly or not at all.
Watering:Snake plants are drought tolerant and do not require frequent watering. Water your snake plant too often and it may develop root rot and die. If the snake plant is watered with only a light watering then the plant tries to conserve resources by not growing as much.
Damage to leaf tip:If the pointed leaf tips are damaged then the leaf blade can stop growing. This can happen if the snake plant is tall and top heavy and therefore more likely to fall over.
Pot size:Snake plants actually thrive even if the roots are pot bound, however a small pot can restrict the growth of the plant.
Lack of fertilizer:Snake plants are not heavy feeders but a lack of nutrients can contribute to the snake plant not growing. A half strength feed of cactus fertilizer once per month in the growing season can help to boost growth.

Snake Plant Not Growing due to Seasonal Dormancy

Snake plants are often dormant and do not grow all through Winter. This is because the growth of your snake plant is highly dependent on factors such as light intensity, the hours of sunlight per day and the temperature.

Light intensity, hours of sunlight all have and impact on whether your snake plant leaves are growing or not.

So if you live in a cooler climate or perhaps live in a northerly latitude which has shorter day lengths in Winter, then your snake plant may not grow at all in any noticeable way for several months.

This is perfectly normal and the snake plant is simply reacting to its environment.

The snake plant should begin growing again the Spring when the temperature is consistently higher and when exposed to more hours of light so that the snake plant can photosynthesize and grow.

If your snake plant does not seem to be growing even in the warmer, Summer months of the year then consider moving the snake plant to a room with brighter light (snake plants prefer bright indirect light) and a room that is consistently warmer.

Snake plants are an adaptable house plant and can live in different temperature ranges and tolerate temperature fluctuations, but for optimal growth a warmer room is preferred, so keep snake plants in a bright room and away from cold draughts which can slow down its growth.

With the right indoor conditions the snake plant can grow (at a relatively slow rate as is typical of succulents) from early Spring to late Summer with a mature height of around 4 feet tall.

(Read my article for how often snake plants should be watered in Winter).

Snake Plant not Growing due to Lack of Light

Snake plants are excellent houseplants as they can tolerate low levels of light.

However if they are in a particularly shaded room with little to no natural light then the snake plant conserves its energy by growing very slowly.

The optimal light conditions for snake plants to promote growth is to be in bright indirect sunlight or perhaps some direct morning sun followed by shade at midday and the afternoon when the sun as at its most intense.

Full sun or several hours of intense sunshine is likely to burn the leaves of your snake plant with a shriveled and yellow appearance.

Whilst snake plants can tolerate some sunshine it is important to gradually expose snake plants to more light rather then transfer the plant form a shady spot to a sunny spot as the immediate contrast can scorch the leaves.

Leaf tip Damage Prevents Snake Plant Leaves from Growing

The snake plant has pointed leaf tips which, if they are damaged or broken significantly, this can prevent the individual leaf blade from growing, however the plant is likely to live.

This is a common problem for people growing snake plants as house plants as they are tall and top heavy.

If the plant topples over when someone bumps into it then this can cause the leaf damage that prevents the leaf blade from growing.

I recommend leaving the snake plant after it has been damaged to see if it is able to recover but if the individual leaf blade is clearly not growing and it is noticeable damaged at the tip then cut the leaf blade back to help stimulate more growth of other leaf blades.

(Read my article how to revive a dying snake plant if the leaves turn yellow or brown and have a mushy texture and are drooping).

Pot Size can Slow Growth Rate of Snake Plant

Snake plants are hardy and actually prefer their roots to be somewhat pot bound so a small pot is not necessarily detrimental to the health of your snake plant, however it can ultimately restrict growth.

Smaller pots may not necessarily be the cause of your snake plant not growing but it could be a contributing factor as smaller pots have less capacity for soil and therefore the roots have less access to nutrients.

Snake plants are actually more likely to display flowers in smaller pots as the ‘stress’ of being pot bound can cause it to flower so there is no case for urgency when it comes to re-potting the snake plant.

However re-potting a snake plant after three years in a larger pot with new potting soil is often a good idea to promote growth and to prevent your snake plant toppling over as they often become top heavy.

(If your snake plant is turning black read my article for the solution).

Lack of Fertilizer

Snake plants are not necessarily heavy feeders but if they are growing at a very slow rate then a fertilizer can help to stimulate the growth of leaves.

Snake plants that have been in the same pot for many years can exhaust the soil of nutrients which can slow the rate of growth so that the leaves do not appear to be growing.

Snake plants are succulents so it is important to give the snake plant a specialized fertilizer as ordinary house plant fertilizer may have nutrients in a concentration that is too high for the snake plant to tolerate which can lead to leaves drooping.

Use a succulent and cactus fertilizer (available online) and follow the manufacturers instructions.

Always apply the fertilizer during the growing season (Spring and Summer) and avoid applying it during Winter as they are often in a dormant state in response to cooler temperatures and less light.

Key Takeaways:

  • If your snake plant is not growing this is because there is not enough hours of bright light, the temperature is too cold or because the tip of the leaf has become damaged which can cause the individual leaf to stop growing.
  • Snake plants are dormant over winter when there is a lower intensity of light, shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures. The Snake plant usually should start growing in the Spring in response to more hours of light.
  • Damage leaf tips can stop an individual leaf of your snake plant to stop growing. Cut any damaged leaves that are not growing back to the base of the plant to help stimulate more growth.
  • If the pot size is too small then the snake plant can exhaust the available nutrients and growth can slow down and stop growing.
  • Some succulent and cacti fertilizer can help to stimulate growth of a snake plant when applied in the Spring and Summer.

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