Snake Plant Turning Yellow And Soft (Causes And Solutions)

Snake plants are a popular addition to any household.

Still, a recent (poor) decision to reclassify it from Sansevieria to Dracaena has left longtime fans scratching their heads. It has caused those new to the plant to harm or even kill their snake plant accidentally.

Yellowing Leaves of Snake PlantsPin

One of the most common problems caused by the confusion (the two genera have very different care needs) is yellow leaves.

The good news is that you can usually fix the causes before any real damage happens to the plant.

Snake Plant Turning Yellow And Soft (Causes And Solutions)

There are several reasons your snake plant’s leaves may be turning yellow. Most of which are related to care needs.

The following conditions are all known to cause yellowing leaves, and solutions are given where available.

Age

There are several reasons your snake plant’s leaves may be turning yellow. Most of which are related to care needs.

The following conditions are all known to cause yellowing leaves, and solutions are given where available.

Infection

Disease is a common catalyst for yellow leaves, especially fungal infections.

You can help reduce the risk of a fungal infection by using neem soil soaks or neem foliar sprays and not getting the leaves wet when watering the plant.

If your plant does come down with a fungal infection such as anthracnose or fungal leaf spot, you will need to treat the condition with fungicides and possibly remove some of the infected leaves.

Infestation

In a similar vein, an infestation by common pests such as aphids or mealybugs can lead to yellow spots on the leaves.

These pests are piercing insects and feed on the leaf sap.

Over time, this can not only cause the infested leaves to fade but can also invite some fungal infections such as sooty mold.

You can both treat and help prevent infestations using neem soil soaks or neem foliar sprays, although you may need to use chemical insecticides to treat advanced infestations.

Overcrowding

Rootbound plants cannot properly absorb water and nutrients from the soil.

You can usually tell if a plant is rootbound by the roots poking out of the soil surface or the drainage holes.

This issue is easiest to fix—simply transfer the snake plant to a pot one size larger using fresh potting soil.

Note that the plant may suffer some transplant stress which will last for a few days, during which you won’t see any improvement in its condition.

Poor Nutrition

Adding too much fertilizer can cause chemical burns to the plant and its roots, leading to yellow leaves.

Conversely, poor soil pH or a lack of nutrients can cause a condition called chlorosis, in which the leaves turn yellow due to a nutrient deficiency.

This can also include a buildup of toxic mineral salts in the soil, especially if you’ve been using tap water.

The good news is that all three of these conditions have the same solution: repotting.

  • Remove your snake plant from its former pot.
  • Rinse off the old dirt.
  • Put your snake plant in a clean pot with fresh potting mix.

You should do this every few years, regardless of whether the plant needs to be divided.

Poor Watering

Giving a plant too much or too little water can be devastating over time.

The soil shouldn’t be soggy or wet, nor completely dry.

In both cases, the leaves can turn yellow, with overwatered leaves becoming soft or soggy but underwatered leaves becoming hard and crispier.

Instead, use the soak-and-dry method to ensure it gets the proper water every time.

This involves sticking your finger in the soil.

Follow these tips:

  • If it feels dry 1” inch down, it’s time to water. 
  • Pour some distilled water or natural rainwater slowly around the base of the plant, making sure not to get the leaves wet.
  • You’ll know it’s time to stop when you either see moisture begin to seep from the drainage holes or the soil surface is no longer absorbing at the same rate you’re pouring.

Too Much Light

While direct sunlight is good for some plants, tropical species often grow beneath a dense rainforest or jungle canopy.

Exposing unacclimated snake plants to direct midday sun can bleach out the leaves and even scorch them.

You’ll know if your plant’s yellowing is caused by sunburn because they will often also develop brown tips or margins.

Keep the plant in bright, indirect sunlight or filtered light to avoid this problem.

You can also place it in a window where it will get direct morning or evening sun but afternoon shade.

Root Rot

This dreaded disease can be caused by either bacterial or fungal infection and is most often the result of contaminated soil or snake plant overwatering.

This disease can kill your plant if not caught quickly, so keep an eye out for soft, yellowing leaves.

Symptoms often appear on the outermost leaves first and sometimes begin on one side of the plant, depending on how the infection is introduced into the root system.

To treat, you will need to do the following:

  • Remove the plant from its container.
  • Prune away any diseased roots.
  • Dip the plant in a fungicide or a bleach solution.
  • Replant it in a new container with fresh potting mix.

Variegation

This one might sound like a no-brainer, but there are times it can still catch you off-guard.

The most common reason you might not expect yellow variegation is if you were misinformed about the plant’s cultivar.

Another common cause is if the plant’s previous owner wasn’t giving it enough light, in which case the variegation will fade until proper lighting is given.

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.