Snake Plant Leaves Falling Over or Leaning? Causes & Prevention

Sansevieria trifasciata, and other varieties more popularly known as the snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, and Viper’s bowstring hemp, are low-maintenance, highly-tolerant succulents regarded as one of the most favorite houseplants. 

This member of the Asparagaceae family is native to West Africa tropics and grows readily in the USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11.

tall viper's bowstring hemp with man looking through it

This decorative plant is often the first choice of the majority of the home-owners for their living rooms as it purifies the air and beautifies a modern house or apartment with its dark green, sword-like foliage. 

The thick, upright leaves hold the moisture and allow Sanseviera to outshine other houseplants even during droughts and low light conditions.

While it’s particularly hard to damage this versatile plant, some conditions cause its beautiful green and yellow strappy leaves to curl, droop, or fall over.

Why Do Snake Plant Leaves Fall Or Lean Over?

A striking feature of snake plants is its pointy, erect leaves which grow from 8” inches to 5’ feet tall. 

Home gardeners often complain about the leaves falling over or bending randomly. 

This condition is caused by overwatering, lighting issues, or incorrect repotting practices.

Like all types of succulent plants, the snake plant traps water in its leaves. 

This makes it flourish in its native dry, rocky environment. 

Snake plant dislikes wet feet and suffers from root rot if overwatered or the soil is poorly-drained.

Another reason is placing the snake plant in areas without any light for prolonged time periods. 

Although the plant is extremely hardy and grows well without being exposed to direct sunlight, extended absence from bright light or exposure to intense direct light cause leaves to fall over.

If there are no watering or lighting issues with the snake plant, the reason for the droopy leaves might be the rootbound caused by improper repotting. 

Repotting more frequently than 3 to 5 years or placing it in a pot too large for it also leads to rotting roots.

What Damage Does It Cause?

Sansevieria plant leaves falling over is an indication of an underlying problem with the plant. 

The roots of the plant, when over-watering, become soggy and thirsty for the much-needed oxygen and nutrients from the soil. 

Rotten roots affect the overall health of the plant, spreading to the healthier roots as well. 

Fungus in the poorly-drained soil develops due to over-watering and kills the roots.

Roots are normally firm and black or pale in color, whereas rotten roots are soggy, mushy, and blackish-brown in color. 

While the roots remain buried, the leaves falling over is a tell-tale sign of the rot.

Mother-in-law’s tongue also undergoes a damaging root condition called root bound. 

As the name suggests, the problem arises when the roots are restricted or “bound” by a barrier. Sansevieria plants are very forgiving of being pot or rooot-bound

Tall snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) doing well being pot bound - Alligator farm St. Augustine Florida 2019
Sansevieria growing in a crowded pot – St Augustine, Florida 2019

When the container of the plant is too small for it and starts to inhibit healthy growth. 

If grown outdoors, walls, footer, or piping can act as a barrier. 

Consequently, the leaves will fall over to indicate stunted growth.

How To Prevent Snake Plant Leaves From Falling Over?

Keep the soil, in which the snake plant grows, moist but not wet. 

Extra caution in watering the plant would go a long way. 

Start watering mother-in-law’s tongue only when 2“ – 3” inches of the soil is dry to touch.

A plant exposed to the partial sun would need more frequent watering. 

Water the plant once after 2-3 weeks and stop watering once the water runs through the drainage hole of the container. 

Water the plant once a month during winter months. 

Ensure the presence of a drainage hole at the base of the plant.

Snake plant care routine also includes a fast-draining potting mix or a regular potting soil combined with coarse sand or perlite added to a pot one size larger.

Expose the indoor plant to the southern window during winter and an east-facing window is suitable for the rest of the year. 

If the plant has developed root rot, wash and trim the rotten roots and place in a new pot to allow redevelopment. 

Prune the drooping leaves. 

Avoid adding any fertilizer to the pot until the roots have restored their health.