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Root Rot In Snake Plant? (Signs, Causes & Fix)

Under some extreme conditions, your snake plant is likely to develop root rot. We need to act immediately to save our snake plant; else they are unlikely to make through. I know it can be a challenge for most of us who haven’t faced this problem. So, in this guide, we will learn all about root rot in the snake plant.

Overwatering is the primary cause of root rot in the snake plant. Root rot takes over the roots due to the deprivation of oxygen in the growing medium. Being a succulent, the snake plant prefers dry and well-draining soil. A heavy soil mix and inadequate drainage can also lead to the rotting of roots.

The snake plant is most prone to being overwatered easily, and because of this, it can develop root rot. Whenever the plant is overwatered, it should not be neglected.

In this guide, we will deal with such other situations that cause root rot issues and how we can prevent them.

You need not worry as we are here to simplify your problems in this guide. Let us learn about root rot in snake plants, including its signs, causes, and treatment.

Also read: Why is my snake plant dying?

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Root rot

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

Please note: Simplify Plants is reader-supported. Some links in the post are affiliate links and I get a commission from purchases made through links in the post.

Signs of root rot in snake plant

Any problems with the roots are hard to tell because the symptoms are common for various other problems.

However, we need to analyze the situation and list all the options before concluding that it is with the roots.

The snake plant sends us some signs and signals to tell us that the problem is with the roots.

If we want our plant to thrive and grow healthy, then we must react quickly because if neglected, then it might be too difficult to get back our lovely plants.

Let us look at the signs of root rot in snake plants.

  1. Foul Smell from the soil or roots
  2. Yellow leaves or Brown leaves
  3. Snake plants not growing
  4. Brown, mushy and flaky roots
  5. Droopy or wilted leaves
  6. Brown tips

Let us check the identification of the signs in depth.

Foul smell from the soil or roots

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Soil mix 2

Is your potting soil smelling, or have you been getting the foul stench from the roots of your snake plants?

If the answer to the above question is yes, then the plant is mostly suffering from a root rot situation.

This smell is the indicator of the root rot situation, and one must act quickly from here onwards.

The soil has a foul smell, and you should be able to identify this very quickly.

Also, check the color of the leaves. If the leaves seem familiar, then you have a chance.

Also read: Why does my potting soil smells bad?

Yellow or brown leaves

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Pruning dead leaves

The leaves are accurate indicators and let us know whether the plant is suffering from any disease or if it has a problem.

What happens in the case of Snake plants?

When the plant is overwatered or has a root rot situation, the snake plant leaves turn yellow to brown and start shedding.

Check if the color of the leaves is yellow.

This could also be a pest situation, and because these pests feed upon the newest leaves, the color of the leaves changes to yellow.

Rule out the possibilities of the pest situation first. Then check the soil. If the soil is wet and not on the dry side, then it could be that the plant has been overwatered and has root rot.

Also read: Why is my snake plant leaves turning yellow?

Snake plants not growing

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata checking the soil

The growing season for the snake plant is during the spring and summer. Winter is the state of dormancy for the snake plants.

If the plant is not growing during the dormancy period, then it is normal for the houseplant.

If you have just received the plant from the garden or nursery, and it is not showing any signs of growth, give the plant some time.

New plants need some time to adapt to environmental situations.

However, if you have provided the plants with feed during the growing season and still the plant is not growing, then it could be stunted growth.

The snake plant is stressed, and it could be that the plant has either been overfertilized or has a root rot situation.

Also read: Why is my snake plant not growing?

Brown, mushy and flaky roots

The roots of the snake plants are white and crusty when they are healthy. One must check the stock of the snake plants to ensure a root rot situation.

If the roots show any sign of a rotting situation, then the color of the roots changes to brown or black if the situation worsens for a while.

When you feel the roots, then the roots would be mushy and not crusty in case of root rot.

We know that you might have to dig the soil a bit, and it could be a hassle. But, what would be more joyous, Saving the plant or going through the hassle?

The answer to the question is the solution and the key.

If we leave the condition as it is, then the rotted roots will send an invitation to the pests, which will destroy your houseplant even more.

Droopy or wilted leaves

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata turning black due to overwatering

The droopy and wilting leaves of the snake plant are mostly because of stress and the environmental condition.

When the snake plant is stressed, then the leaves of the snake plant start drooping.

Also, if we have moved the plant from one extreme to another, then it could lead to the wilting of the leaves.

However, leaving the stress apart, the drooping of the leaves is mostly because of the watering issues.

Underwatering or overwatering of the snake plant can lead to the drooping of the leaves, but the overwatering of the snake plant leads to root rot.

To understand this, we must feel the soil, and if the soil is wet, then the plant has been overwatered and could develop root rot.

Also read: Why is my snake plant drooping?

Brown Tips

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata tips turning brown

Snake plants develop brown tips for a few reasons, like leaves burning because of too much direct sunlight.

Another reason that could lead to a root rot situation is the snake plant being overfertilized.

It is one rookie mistake that even professionals could end up with.

Snake plants require a very minute dosage of feed, and that too on the growing season only. If we add extra to feed, the tips of the leaves will turn brown.

If neglected, the excess feed could do more damage and will result in the leggy growth, stunted growth of the plant.

Furthermore neglected, the snake plant might get root rot.
Hence, remember to cut down on the dosage.

Also read: Why is my snake plant turning brown?

What causes root rot in snake plant?

The snake plants are drought tolerant and absorb water in its foliage. They are prone to very few issues and hence gaining popularity amongst the beginners.

However, as it is a succulent plant, this plant does not like excess water and excess feed. They develop root rot easily.

The reasons behind the root rot are many, and we will list some common issues faced by the hobbyist.

Let us check the issues that could cause root rot.


Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Watering 2

The snake plant hates being overwatered and can last without water for three weeks or more. During the winter, they might not require water for up to 2 months.

That is how sensitive the snake plant is with water.

When we water the snake plant, we must be cautious because the soil needs to be dried out completely before being watered.

For this, we should always feel the soil before watering the snake plant.

When the snake plant is overwatered, the excess water causes the soil to be moist all the time. This might form a mold on the top-soil.

This mold blocks the plant from taking the desired amount of nutrients from the soil.

Not only the nutrients but a mold also invites a root rot along with uninvited guests like fungi and microbial diseases to the plant.
These pests could cause a root rot situation.

So, follow a watering regime and feel the soil.

Also read: How much water do snake plant need?

Inadequate drainage

Calathea drainage holes

As we are still with the watering issues, we need to take one more thing in mind.

The snake plant should not sit on idle water that has been collected on the tray. This idle water is enough for overwatering issues.

Also, please check the drainage holes to confirm that they are not blocked. If the drainage holes are blocked, then the pot will not ooze out the excess water.

You might be very sure not to overwater your plant, but one might never know if the holes are blocked.

That is another professional mistake anyone could end up with.

The reason behind the soil staying moist all the time could be your drainage holes. Constant soggy soil will overwater the plant, and the same cycle of root rot situation will begin.


fertilizer dosage

We already know the signs of overfertilization is brown tips, leggy growth, and stunted growth. Have you been noticing such signs?

If the answer to the question is yes, then the plant has been overfertilized.

The snake plants need fertilizer for healthy growth.

But, the feed should be a very minute and diluted dosage. Never fertilize the snake plants during the dormancy period.

Overfertilization or fertilization spike can cause an increase in the level of salt that is present in the soil and will boost the growth of the plant.

This excess feed will cause stress to the plant and might lead to root rot.

Also read: Do snake plant need fertilizer?

Size of the pot

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata pot types

Often we overlook the size of the pot that we keep our plants in.
What happens if we keep oversized pots?

The oversized pots will result in overwatering of the plant because a larger pot means more water required for the plant.

Hence, it becomes difficult for the plant to ooze out the excess water, and the soil remains moist all the time.

The size of the plant is directly related to the size of the plant.

If our snake plant is 1 foot in length, then an ideal size of the pot should be a 2-gallon pot.

If we make any mistake in the pot’s size, then the roots will find it difficult to absorb the right amount of nutrients from the soil resulting in slower growth.

Also read: What happens if you grow a plant in too big of a pot

Type of potting soil

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Dividing for propagation

A well-aerated potting soil with a mixture of cactus soil and compost is best for the snake plant’s growth.

Well-aerated potting soil will provide a good drainage system and will prevent overwatering of the snake plant.

If the soil that we are using has been contaminated, then it is wise to repot the snake plant with a fresh mixture of potting soil, cactus soil, and compost.

Soil is the most crucial factor for any plant’s growth because they will need to absorb the right amount of minerals and nutrients from the soil.

Also, check if there is any pungent smell coming from the soil.

Also read: What kind of soil do snake plant needs?

Other causes

Always inspect the plant whenever we purchase it. It could be that we have selected a plant that is already suffering.

If we have ordered online, then the travel will cause stress to the plant, and if we have tried to stress the plant more, it could lead to a root rot situation.

Right after purchase, sometimes we tend to fertilize the plant.

Beware here!

We say this because the owner could have fertilized the snake plant just a few days before, and adding extra feed will act as a catalyst.

So inspect before fertilizing.

Another critical factor we tend to ignore is disinfecting the pruners/scissors/clippers while pruning.

We might transfer the pests from one plant to another if we are using infected scissors. Hence, always sterilize them before use.

Finally, never try and achieve all the issues at one go. Give the plant some time to handle and adapt to the changes.

How to fix root rot in snake plant?

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Leaning to a side

When we come to a root rot issue, then repotting the plant in a new pot is the best solution. If the situation has worsened, then propagating the plant could help.

However, at an early stage, we can still save the plant. Thanks for repotting as an option.

To perform the repotting of a snake plant, we will need a few things in hand;

Let us begin with the repotting of the snake plant.

  1. Pull the snake plant out of the container gently. Try to be extra gentle here because we don’t want any harm to the roots.
  2. Remove the soil that is wrapped around the roots.
  3. We can also put the snake plant under running water to flush out the soil.
  4. Using disinfectant, clean the scissors, and remove the infected roots, which are brown and mushy.
  5. Along with the roots, inspect the leaves of the plant.
  6. If the leaves are yellow or brown, we will need to discard the leaves because they are now an extra load for the plant and will do no good.
  7. If we are using a new pot, then we need not require the bleach solution.
  8. However, if we use the same pot, clean the pot with bleach solution thoroughly to remove the fungi and bacteria.
  9. Leave the pot to dry out for about 2 hours.
  10. Place some stones at the bottom of the pot. This will help drainage holes and prevent blocking it and add the mixture of potting soil, cactus soil in the ratio of 1:1, and some compost to the pot.
  11. Place the snake plant in the middle and add another layer of soil above it. Do not exert excess pressure during this process; we want the roots intact.
  12. Gently tap the pot so that there are no air pockets in the soil.
  13. Provide the newly repotted snake plant with some water. Make sure to get the watering right and check if the drainage holes are working.
  14. Do not fertilize the snake plant after repotting. It should be fine without any feed for a month.
  15. Allow the plant to adapt to the situation.
  16. If the root rot was at its early stages, then the snake plant will thrive and be healthy again in no time with all your love and nurture.
  17. Do not stress the plant after repotting and place the snake plant in a place with enough bright light.

How to prevent root rot in snake plant?

Snake PlantDracaena trifasciata Dying

As stated, the snake plant is one of the easiest plants to care for as they require minimal attention. It is the best choice for forgetful growers.

However, we can prevent root rot by following some guidelines. These include:

  1. Never overwater your snake plant.
  2. Make a watering regime.
  3. Always feel the soil before watering.
  4. No extra feed and no feed during the winter.
  5. Use of fresh potting soil and cactus soil.
  6. Check for the drainage holes.
  7. Getting the temperature and the humidity right.
  8. Misting during the winter to maintain humidity
  9. Right-sized pot.
  10. Never move your snake plant from one extreme to another.
  11. Never allow the snake plant to stand on still water.

Getting the things mentioned above right will keep our snake plants thriving and will show healthy growth.

Though the plant is very sturdy, do we need to test its strength?

Always look for the signs and the signals that your plant is sending. They might need your love once in a while.

The mother-in-law’s tongue has no complaints and no demands that we cannot fulfill.

How can I make my snake plant grow faster?

Root Rot In Snake Plant Signs Causes Fix Simplify Plants

Few tips that could help your snake plants to grow healthy:

  • Providing the snake plant with bright sunlight
  • Getting the watering right and always feel the soil before watering. The soil should stay on the dry side.
  • Prune the snake plant once in a while using disinfected scissors/pruners
  • Whenever we choose to propagate the snake plant using any method, only select healthy cuttings from the snake plant
  • During the winter, never add fertilizer to your snake plant, and regular misting to maintain the humidity.
  • Avoid cold draft hitting your snake plant as they might suffer stunted growth.

These tips will ensure that your snake plant is thriving and is healthy.

Let us know about your experience with the Snake plants.

Also read: How to save a dying snake plant?

Source: The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, Snake plant profile, Lighting Indoor Houseplants

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