Causes and Solutions: Why Your Snake Plant Is Turning Yellow

Understanding Yellowing in Snake Plants

Snake plants, or Sansevieria, are hardy, low-maintenance houseplants known for their resilience and air-purifying qualities. Despite their reputation for being nearly indestructible, snake plants can still experience issues, one of which is the yellowing of leaves. Understanding the causes behind the yellowing leaves can help you take corrective action to restore the health of your snake plant.

Causes of Yellowing Leaves in Snake Plants


One of the most common reasons for a snake plant’s leaves turning yellow is overwatering. Snake plants are succulent-like and store water in their leaves, so they do not need frequent watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which causes leaves to turn yellow as they begin to decay from the excess moisture.


While snake plants can tolerate some drought, extreme underwatering can also cause stress and lead to yellow leaves. Without adequate water, the leaves can become dehydrated and lose their healthy, green color.

Poor Drainage

Even if you’re not overwatering, poor drainage can create similar problems. A pot without proper drainage holes or using soil that doesn’t allow water to pass through easily can lead to water buildup and root issues.

Lighting Issues

Snake plants prefer indirect but steady light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, leading to a yellowish appearance, while too little light can cause the leaves to lose their color.

Nutrient Deficiency

A lack of essential nutrients, like nitrogen, can lead to a process called chlorosis, where the leaves turn yellow due to insufficient chlorophyll. This can happen if the soil is of poor quality or if the plant has been in the same potting mix for too long without fertilization.

Pests and Diseases

Pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, or thrips can stress the plant and lead to yellowing. Diseases caused by fungi or bacteria, especially those that affect the roots, can also manifest as yellow leaves.

Environmental Stress

Sharp changes in temperature, humidity, or drafts can cause stress to snake plants, leading to yellow leaves. It’s important the plant is situated in an environment with relatively stable conditions.

Solutions to Prevent and Treat Yellow Leaves

Correct Watering Practices

To prevent overwatering, ensure you are only watering your snake plant when the top inch of soil feels dry. Water less frequently in the winter months when the plant is not actively growing. Additionally, using pots with drainage holes and well-draining soil can protect against water accumulation.

Appropriate Lighting

Keep your snake plant in a location where it will receive bright, indirect light. If natural light is limited, consider using grow lights to supplement. Be cautious of too much direct sun, which can be mitigated by sheers or blinds.

Regular Fertilization

Feed your snake plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer). Avoid fertilizing in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant.

Pest and Disease Management

Inspect your plant regularly for signs of pests or diseases. If you notice any, isolate the affected plant and treat it promptly with an appropriate insecticide or fungicide. Keeping your plant healthy with proper care reduces the risk of infestations and diseases.

Optimal Environmental Conditions

Provide a stable environment with temperatures between 55-85°F (13-29°C) and moderate humidity. Avoid placing your snake plant near drafty windows or heat sources that can cause temperature fluctuations.

Repotting When Necessary

If your snake plant has outgrown its pot or the soil has degraded, repot it into fresh soil with better nutrient content. Choose a pot that’s slightly larger than the current one to allow for growth.

By addressing these issues, you can usually reverse the yellowing of your snake plant’s leaves. Consistent care tailored to the plant’s needs is key to maintaining its vibrant color and overall health. If you continue to struggle with yellowing leaves, consider reaching out to a local nursery or a plant expert for additional assistance.

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