Sansevieria Trifasciata, more commonly known as snake plant, is a popularly seen house plant among all plant lovers. There are multiple names by which it is known across different regions, like mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, etc. These hardy green houseplants have lustrous green leaves, and their impressive heights are the main attraction. They also act as a beautiful décor if maintained properly. While snake plants are quite effortless to maintain, one of the main problems most owners face is overwatering the plants. These plants are quite sensitive to soil and moisture issues. This article will discuss the problems of an overwatered snake plant and how to save it.
How do I know if my snake plant is overwatered?
You will know your snake plant is overwatered when it shows certain signs like yellow leaves, mushy soil, and roots if you can smell rot in the roots and the soil, if there is drooping or if the leaves start to fall. If you see these symptoms in your snake plant, your plant has been severely overwatered.
Overwatering a plant does not mean you have poured on too much water at once. It takes time and several days and weeks for a plant to get overwatered. It is when the soil is left wet for too long, or in other words, the soil has not dried before pouring water again. Since snake plants are sensitive to soil and moisture, root rot is certain if you make them sit in water for a long time.
What does an overwatered snake plant look like?
If your snake plant is getting too much water, certain signs will be visible to the eyes that will help you identify an overwatered plant. However, you should be careful as sometimes, the same signal turns out to be a signal for any issue other than root rot. For instance, sometimes signs of overwatering and underwatering might overlap, like yellowing of leaves is visible in both cases.
Anyhow, these are some of the symptoms you should notice if your snake plant is overwatered.
The Leaves will look different
Another most noticeable symptom of overwatering is visible in the leaves. Snake plant is succulent; therefore, its leaves, roots, and rhizomes store water to save themselves from drought. Naturally, when a plant gets excessive water, it stores them in its leaves. When this keeps happening over some time, the leaves droop down and become soggy and mushy. Eventually, the leaves started turning yellow and shriveled in places. Yellowish green patches start to form in the leaves, and after a point, the leaves turn yellow completely.
Your snake plants will look droopy if they are overwatered. However, there are several reasons why the leaves might look yellow, but in snake plants, yellow leaves which are soft and pulpy are accurate identifiers of overwatering. The oldest leaves are most likely to turn yellow before the others. With the water weighting the leaves, it bends and flops over. If the plant has too much water for too long, the leaves will start to decay, causing a bad smell.
The soil will be consistently wet and soggy
Checking the dampness of the soil is the first thing you need to do to diagnose if your plant is overwatered. You have to do this for around 4 to 5 days after watering the plant or before you usually water your plant. The finger dipping method is an easy way to find out the dampness of the soil. Take your index finger and put it inside the soil at least 1 to 2 inches and see if it is wet. If the top layer of soil is damp, your plant is overwatered.
Another way to check your plant’s moisture is by a moisture meter. This device will give you the exact moisture measure of your plant so that you know how much water content you need to remove from the plant. If you are watering the plant with its usual schedule, it indicates that you water the plant too frequently, causing dampness in the soil. If the soil gets soggy and smelly, you need to immediately take it out and transplant it into fresh soil.
Presence of root rot
Root Rot is the most severe indicator of overwatered snake plants. Snake plants are susceptible to root rots and sogginess like all other succulents. To assess this condition, the best way to confirm is to take the roots out of the soil and check every individual nodule. With this, you will also understand the level of damage caused in the root system. Symptoms of root rot start with browning of the plant, drooping, bad odor coming out of the soil, and most importantly, the roots will be mushy to the touch. Root rot also invites fungus and bacteria, which can potentially kill your plant.
Healthy roots are yellow or creamy white. They have a stinking bad smell which is a primary indicator of root rot due to overwatering. If your roots are rotting, there will be dark brown parts on the roots, and they will clump together. A decaying root system is also soft and mushy when you touch them.
Occurrence of Mold and Fungus
Overwatering a snake plant causes multiple problems, including soil with mold and fungus. Wet foliage is more prone to molding than dry leaves. If you notice mold on the soil of your snake plant, it has been infected due to overwatering. Fungal infections are another major problem that affects young leaves. If your plant has fungi, the center of the rosette is likely the first place where the infection will spread. If the infection spreads severely, it will also affect the stem and the soil surface of the plant.
Red leaf spot and southern plight are the most faced fungal problems in snake plants. You can identify them as the red leaf spot will cause a cottony web on the soil, and you will also see red spots and patches on the leaves.
These are the most common symptoms you will notice if your snake plant is overwatered.
What are the signs of an overwatered snake plant?
As snake plants are tall and have long leaves, it is normal for one or two leaves to bend or fall over. However, it is a probable sign of overwatering if numerous leaves are bending together. Being succulents, snake plants tend to store water in their leaves. When there is too much water, the leaves get stressed and bend over.
Yellowing of Leaves
Healthy snake plants have a bright green color with variations of different shades of green, depending upon species and varieties. Yellowing leaves in snake plants is a sign of overwatering, stress caused by a change in the environment, inadequate sunlight, and excess fertilizer.
The cause behind the leaves turning yellow is that the roots are suffocating due to too much water and, therefore, are unable to absorb nutrients, water, and the required amount of oxygen to keep the plant healthy. If you notice browning at the tip of your snake plant, it is because of prolonged water stress.
Drooping leaves indicate that your snake plant is unhealthy. Even though underwatering and nutrient deficiency can cause the leaf to droop, the most common reason for a drooping snake plant is overwatering.
These are the things you need to do if you notice your snake plant leaves drooping:
Wet soil is a symptom of an overwatered plant, which can potentially cause the leaves to droop.
If the soil is dry, you can find the reason behind dropping by evaluating other factors such as the temperature, stress, potting medium, or even underwatering in the snake plant.
Soft, mushy, and squishy leaves
Snake plants or Sansevieria leaves become soft, mushy, and squishy when overwatered. When succulents like snake plant leaves take up excess water, a great amount of damage is caused to the cell structure of the leaves. Eventually, the leaves burst as the water intake is excessive.
In healthy snake plants, the leaves are rigid green and stand upright from the plant’s base. The leaves function by holding water that has been absorbed from the soil and the base of the leaf as water storage surfaces.
Rotting roots and smelly soil
Root rot is a very serious condition where a fungal or bacterial infestation attacks the root of the plant. One of the most common causes of root rot is overwatering, where the root is kept in water for extended periods. Wet soils make a suitable environment for the development of fungus, bacteria, and worms, which damage the roots, making the plant wilt and rot gradually.
You can diagnose root rot in your plant if it gives out a bad odor. Smelly soil is a sign of fungi that is a result of dampness. Dig out a little portion of the soil and smell it, keeping close to the nostrils.
Fungal infection on Sansevieria caused by overwatering
Snake plants are prone to suffer from fungal infections. If you see fungus infestation on the surface of the plant, ensure to check the soil and the roots to see if there is root rot.
Healthy plants have white, crisp roots. If you see sections of the roots turning brown (or black), it is evident of root rot. You must discard the affected roots to save the plant, rinse the plant with water, and transplant it into a new potting medium to save the snake plant from overwatering.
Is it possible to Save an Overwatered Snake plant?
The comforting thing to know is, yes, it is possible to recover Snake plants that have been overwatered. However, at a severe stage, the chances of saving the plant are much less, so you have to catch it early. When the plant is left in a waterlogged condition for too long, it is prone to root rot and develop fungal diseases that can kill the plant.
Firstly, you have to move the plant to a sunny place. You need to place the plant in an ideal setting with the optimum amount of sunlight, humidity, air, and water. However, make sure to not put it under direct sunlight for too long as it might cause additional problems like burning the plant.
How to save an overwatered snake plant?
To save an overwatered snake plant, you must take good care of it. Treating the plant from an early stage will have higher chances of its revival. Take a look at the step-by-step guide below to recover your snake plant from an overwatered condition. Here’s what you should do to save your overwatered snake plant:
Place the snake plant in a sunny spot
A sunny spot will help the heavy droopy leaves with excessive water to dry the extra water. This will lessen the weight of the plant. However, be careful not to make the plant sit in excess sunlight for too long as that might cause the leaves to burn.
Move the plant to a different pot.
Gently tap both sides of the pot and loosen up the soil. Then, carefully remove the plant from the pot. Once the soil is loose enough to handle, pull the snake plant out of its pot with gentle hands and place it in a different pot.
Treat root rot
Check thoroughly through the leaves to see if there are any root rots. Root rots can be identified by browning mushy, slimy leaves that have a bad odor. If you find any, treat it by removing the rotten parts. Rinse the roots thoroughly with water to remove all the soil, and use a pair of clean shears to discard the rotten roots.
Repot the snake plant
Prepare a new potting mix for your snake plant and repot it into a new container.
Situate the plant at a window site
Check the humidity of the plant to ensure it doesn’t dry out or get too wet. Also, make sure not to expose the plant to too much sunlight. The last step is to place the plant near a window where there is an adequate amount of light and air.
In conclusion, this article elaborates on an overwatered snake plant’s signs, causes, and symptoms. If you just take care of the watering situation, having these plants is a treat as these are absolutely low maintenance. If you experience overwatering in your snake plant, use these methods to revive your plant and make it as healthy as new.