Why Is My Snake Plant Turning Yellow?

Maybe you’ve noticed that your snake plant has been looking a little yellow lately. And you’re wondering why this is happening. Is it because you’re overwatering it? Or could it be something else entirely?

Unfortunately, this is not a question with a simple, straightforward answer. There are a few reasons why your snake plant might be turning yellow – it’s usually a warning sign that something is wrong.

In this post, we’ll answer the question, “why is my snake plant turning yellow?” We’ll take a look at the potential causes and how to fix them.

Before we get started, let me clarify that I am not talking about the varieties of snake plants with yellow edges like this one. That’s normal.  I’m talking about when the entire leaf turns yellow or when the plant develops an unhealthy yellow color.

Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’

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1. Overwatering 

Probably the most common issue that causes these indoor plants to turn yellow is too much water.

Snake plants are very tolerant of neglect and will do well in various environments (that’s one reason they are such popular houseplants).

But they can’t tolerate too much water. If you overwater your snake plant, you may notice the leaves splitting, the roots will begin to rot, and the leaves will turn yellow and eventually die. So, if you’re having problems, start by ensuring you’re not watering it too much.

A sure sign that overwatering is the problem is if the leaves also become limp or mushy. This happens when the leaf has absorbed too much water from the oversaturated soil.

If you do have an overwatered snake plant, the best thing to do is let it dry out. Once the soil is dry, you can start watering it again, but make sure not to water it too much in the future.

2. Inadequate Drainage

Poor drainage is a corollary to overwatering. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, or if the holes are clogged up, then you may be overwatering inadvertently.

When you water your snake plant, the water must be able to drain out of the pot. Otherwise, the plant just sits in wet soil and will start to rot the roots. This will cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.

To fix this problem, make sure that your pot has drainage holes and that they’re not clogged up. If you’re not sure, it’s worth repotting your plant to be on the safe side.

3. Lack of Water 

While it’s more common to overwater your plants, it’s also possible to underwater them. Snake plants are native to arid regions of Africa and can tolerate long periods of drought. However, if they are not watered regularly, their leaves will begin to turn yellow and eventually brown.

It’s confusing, I know. Yellow leaves for overwatering and underwatering? The difference is that with underwatering, the leaves will be dry rather than mushy. And the soil will also be dry.

If you suspect your snake plant is not getting enough water, then adjust your watering schedule. Try watering it deeply once a week and see if there is any improvement.

snake plant with dry, wilted leaves
Snake plant with dry and crispy yellow leaves.

4. Lack of Light 

Another possible reason for yellow leaves is that they are not getting enough light.

You may be thinking, “but I thought snake plants liked shady areas!” And you’re correct – they will survive in low light. But they actually need bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. If they are not getting enough light, especially for long periods of time, their leaves will begin to turn yellow and eventually brown.

If you’ve ruled out overwatering and underwatering, then try moving it to an area that receives a bit more light. Just be sure not to put it in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.

5. Too Much Direct Sunlight 

While lack of light can cause snake plants to turn yellow, too much sunlight can also cause problems.

Excessive exposure to sunlight, either from being outside in direct light or too close to a sunny window, can damage these lovely plants. If snake plants are exposed to direct sunlight for too long, their leaves will begin to turn yellow and eventually brown.

If you think this might be the problem, try moving it to a shadier spot. If it’s been outside, bring it back inside. If it’s been too close to a window, move it back a few feet or add a sheer curtain to filter the light.

6. Lack of Nutrients 

Another possible reason why snake plants turn yellow is that they are not getting enough nutrients. However, snake plants are not heavy feeders, so rule out other issues first.

Snake plants need a balanced diet of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to thrive. If they are not getting enough of these nutrients, their leaves will begin to turn yellow.

You can help your snake plant by giving it an occasional dose of fertilizer. Look for a balanced fertilizer and follow the instructions on the package, except cut the recommended amount in half.

It’s also a good idea to check the pH of the current potting soil. If it’s too acidic or too alkaline, that can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

This soil tester will test both moisture and pH.

VIVOSUN Soil Tester

  • 3-in-1 soil tester – can test soil moisture, light, and pH value
  • Compact size
  • Easy to use

7. Overfertilization

As I said above, snake plants are not heavy feeders. And in fact, overfertilizing can be just as bad as under-fertilizing. Overfertilizing your snake plant can cause it to become yellow due to salt burn.

If you think you may have overfertilized your plant, flush the potting soil with water to remove the excess salt.

8. Pests 

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t cope with pests. Especially indoors.

Mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects are all common pests that attack snake plants and let me tell you, you don’t want to let them go unchecked. These pests can suck the sap out of the leaves, which will cause them to turn yellow and eventually die.

If water and light levels are okay, inspect the leaves and soil for pest infestation. I use a magnifying glass for this because many of these pests are so tiny that they are hard to see with the naked eye.

If you see any pests, don’t panic! There are several easy ways to get rid of them. You can rinse the leaves in water, apply diluted rubbing alcohol or neem oil with a cotton ball, or spray with neem oil or insecticidal soap. You may need to repeat treatment for heavy infestations.

9. Diseases 

Several fungal diseases can cause snake plant leaves to turn yellow. Common conditions include root rot, leaf spot, and Southern Blight. These diseases can kill the plant if left untreated, so getting rid of them as soon as possible is imperative.

If you suspect a fungal infection, take action immediately. Many fungicides available on the market can help you get rid of these fungus problems. I recommend starting with neem oil. You’ll want to spray the leaves and pour the neem oil into the soil.

If you can’t get rid of the disease, then you might have to throw out the plant and start over. I know it’s sad, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In the case of severe root rot, you may want to prune off a few healthy leaves and use them to propagate a new plant.

snake plant leaves rooting in soil mix

Remember, it is always better to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place. The best way to do this is by ensuring that you water your plants properly

Excessive watering is one of the main reasons why fungal infections occur in Snake Plants, so be sure to avoid overwatering in the future. High humidity and poor air circulation (usually due to overcrowding) can also contribute to fungal growth.

10. Temperature Stress 

Temperature stress can also cause snake plants to turn yellow. Snake plants prefer warm temperatures and will experience stress if exposed to cold temperatures (e.g., below 50 degrees Fahrenheit). This stress can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.

So, if you take your houseplants outside for the summer, be sure to bring them in before the nighttime temperature drops below 50F.

Sudden temperature fluctuations can also cause stress. If you’re moving your plant around, keep in mind the different temps to avoid any problems.

The best thing to do is to slowly acclimate it to the new temperature. So if you’re moving it from a low to a high temperature, or vice versa, make sure to do it gradually so the plant can adjust. 

11. Plant Age

Finally, consider the age of your plant. It’s normal for older leaves to turn yellow or brown as the plant matures. Old leaves will be replaced with new growth.

You can trim off the old leaves with a pair of clean, sharp pruning shears if you choose. That way, the plant can devote its energy to the healthy leaves. Just make sure to sterilize the blades with rubbing alcohol before and after use.

How Do You Fix a Yellow Snake Plant?

First up, you need to identify the problem. To do that, go through the potential causes listed above one by one.

Start with improper watering, specifically overwatering, because it’s the most likely cause of yellow leaves. If that’s not the problem, then move on to the next potential cause on the list.

Once you’ve identified the problem, you can take steps to fix it. I’ve listed some solutions to common problems below.

If you find the plant overwatered, stop watering it immediately. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. You might also want to consider repotting it into fresh, dry soil.

If you go the repotting route, examine the root ball for signs of rot and prune away any damaged roots before adding the fresh soil. And make sure that you choose a pot with holes to allow proper drainage. Then only water when the top few inches of soil are dry.

If the soil is too dry, water the plant thoroughly. Make sure the soil is evenly moistened, and drain any excess water from the saucer.

Move it to a shadier spot if it’s getting too much sun. If it’s not getting enough light, move it to a sunnier location or try using a grow light.

For pest infestations, start by treating it with neem oil or insecticidal soap. If that doesn’t work, you might need to use a stronger pesticide.

Neem Oil

  • Controls Black spot, powdery mildew, rust, spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and other insect pests
  • 3 in 1 fungicide, miticide, and insectice
  • Ideal for organic gardening

If there is a fungal infection, start by treating it with neem oil or another fungicide. If that doesn’t work, you might need to throw out the plant and start over.

If the plant is experiencing temperature stress, try to acclimate it gradually to the new temperature. If that’s not possible, move it back to its original location.

You also might want to repot the plant in a new, slightly larger container with fresh potting mix. This will give it a boost and help it recover from any stress it’s been under.

Wrapping Up

You see your beautiful snake plant, and it’s looking a little yellow. You start to panic, thinking you’ll have to throw it away.

But don’t fret! A number of things can cause this problem, and most of them are fixable.

Start by examining the plant carefully to see if you can identify the problem. For example, is it getting enough light? Too much water? Not enough nutrients? Once you’ve identified the cause, you can take steps to fix it.

You can grow a healthy snake plant with a little care and attention. And you’ll be rewarded with beautiful green leaves.


Why is my snake plant losing color?

There are several reasons why a snake plant might lose color. The most common is lack of light. If the plant isn’t getting enough light, the leaves will start to turn yellow or brown. Other potential causes include overwatering, under-watering, insect infestations, and disease.

Does snake plant need sunlight?

Snake plants do best in bright, indirect light. However, they can also tolerate low light conditions, although they won’t do as well. To avoid shocking your plant, gradually move it from a low-light location to indirect sunlight.

How do you fix yellow leaves?

The best way to fix yellow leaves is to figure out what’s causing the problem. Once you know the cause, you can take steps to fix it. Some common causes of yellow leaves include overwatering, under-watering, lack of light, pests, and disease.

How do I know if my snake plant has root rot?

One of the signs of root rot is yellow leaves. Other signs include wilting, brown or black roots, and a foul smell coming from the roots. If you think your plant has root rot, it’s best to remove it from the pot and examine the roots. The plant has root rot if they are brown or black and/or if they smell bad. You may be able to trim the diseased roots away from the root ball and salvage the plant.

How often should you water a snake plant?

The best way to water a snake plant is to let the soil dry out completely between watering. You can test this by sticking your finger into the soil two to three inches deep. If it feels dry, water thoroughly and allow the excess water to drain away.

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