The snake plant turning white can be happening due to a number of reasons. These can be as varied as getting direct sunshine, overwatering, fungal diseases, and pest attacks to name just a few.

Green Snake Plant in Brown Woven Basket

Go with us through all these reasons in detail to find the one that’s causing your plant to turn white. 

Why Is Your Snake Plant Turning White?

Your snake plant might be turning white in various forms due to a lack of basic care requirements like giving it too much sun or water.

Alternatively, the plant could be under external attacks by disease or parasitic pests. Some other reasons that are often overlooked include ozone damage, potassium deficiency, and hard water.

You can read up on all these potential reasons in more detail in the upcoming section.

– Too Much Sunlight

Exposing this plant to direct sunlight will lead to the bleaching of its leaves. These leaves will lose their green color and assume a washed-out appearance. If this exposure is carried out for long periods of time, it will cause a full-out sunburn. 

How can you tell whether your plant is turning white due to too much sunlight? Its leaves will appear dry and wrinkly as well. They might also be turning brown at the edges. In severe cases, your leaves might actually begin to drop dangerously.

– Overwatering

Overwatering is another common reason why your plant might be turning white. Overwatering, when coupled with poor drainage of the soil and the pot, can be disastrous for your snake plant roots and leaves. 

Along with an overall white appearance, yellow and white spots develop all over the plant. Prolonged overwatering then ends up developing into fungal root rot. This is quite a dangerous and fatal condition and very difficult to save your plant from.

– Powdery Mildew Infection

This fungal infection is often found affecting spider plants and turning them white. It is not a very lethal disease in itself, but a prolonged infection does weaken and will end up damaging the plant adversely. It manifests in various forms by showing a wide range of symptoms.

Read the list below to find what some of the most commonly presented symptoms are.

  • In most cases, a mildew infection begins with the appearance of very small white dots on the leaves and stem. These continue to get bigger and merge with one another. Eventually, the whole plant is seen covered by large white patches.
  • In other cases, the affected plant appears to have flour powder thrown all over it. It is covered by a superficial layer of mold all over. You can even wipe this layer using a towel.
  • Sometimes, proper mushroom-shaped growths erupt over the stems and leaf petioles.
  • The mildew itself causes no harm to your plant. The white layer of fungal hyphae covering the leaves, however, severely impairs the food-making abilities of the leaves. The plant becomes starved and begins to die over a long period of time.

– Potassium Deficiency

Your snake plant leaves will also turn whitish or yellowish-white whenever there is a deficiency of certain nutrients in the soil. Potassium is the most commonly implicated nutrient in this scenario.

It isn’t exactly easy to diagnose a potassium deficiency. Collect a sample of your soil and have it analyzed by a laboratory. This way, you can be sure of the problem and can then solve it accordingly.

– Ozone Damage

Ozone damage is a lesser-known but often ignored reason behind snake plant leaves turning white. Sometimes, it only manifests as the appearance of white and yellow spots on the leaves. At other times, the whole upper surface of the leaves turns white.

This all happens because ozone is a common air pollutant. Some plants, like this one, are particularly sensitive to it. It enters through the breathing pores of the leaves and causes them to suffer chemical burns. 

– Temperature Fluctuations

Sudden changes in the surrounding temperatures cause snake plants to go into shock. This is true whether the temperatures go above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Round white discolorations appear over the leaves. The plant loses its overall color and vibrancy.

You will often see this condition when the plants are kept outdoors. A very hot, scorching summer day or a night of freezing frost might be enough to cause such a shock. Other symptoms that occur besides whitening are leaf drop and growth stunting.

motive for snake plant dying

– Mealybugs

If your healthy snake plant appears to be tuning white, look closely under its leaves. If you spot small, white cotton-like bugs scurrying about, then you are under attack by a mealybug infestation. 

These bugs are sap-sucking parasites that will steal the nutrients away from the leaves of the affected plant. You will begin to see leaves curling and dropping soon enough. Over time, the growth of the plant is so severely affected that it stops its growth completely.

– Spider Mites

Do you see brownish-red colored tiny bugs in large numbers under the leaves of your snake plant? If yes, then a mites infestation is happening. It begins with the appearance of white spots on the leaves. These mites also weave fine web-like bugs over the leaves, especially on the lower side.

These webs prevent photosynthesis from happening properly. Combine this with the loss of nutrients to these sap-eating bugs, and the leaves lose chlorophyll and start turning white. 

– Too Much Salt in Water

If you use tap water for the purpose of watering the snake plants, then it just might be responsible for those white crystal-like spots on their leaves. Tap water is often hard water that is rich in salts of calcium and magnesium. These salts build up in the soil over time and are absorbed by the roots.

This makes it very difficult for the roots to absorb the important nutrients that the plant needs in order to grow. The plants begin to lose their green color due to a lack of food. This whitish appearance is further compounded by the precipitation of salt crystals on the surface of the leaves.

– Southern Blight

This is a fungal infection that occurs when the plant is being watered too much. It also results from waterlogged conditions in the soil. Warm and humid conditions are also pretty big contributors.

White-colored patches and spots will cover most of your leaves. Swollen and mushy leaves soon start falling off. The disease then spreads all over the plant. In a short span of time, the plant will completely die.

 

7 Tips To Fix The Problem

Is your snake plant turning yellow or white? Fix it by identifying the cause first and then solving it accordingly. Keep the plant in partial light, stable temperatures, and properly watered. Treat any fungal diseases or bugs infestation by using a variety of time-tested natural methods or go for chemical fungicides.

Carry on reading below to learn all of these treatment options in detail.

– Provide Shade or Partial Light

Snake plants are indoor plants through and through. They need bright light to grow, but this light needs to be indirect only. If you see your plants becoming white due to excessive sunlight, then move them to a shaded position as soon as possible.

Indoors, the windows that are the most suitable for these plants are the northern and the eastern-facing windows. These windows provide just the right amount of dappled, partial light that your plants need. The southern and the western-facing windows provide light that is too harsh and direct for them.

The leaves that have already turned white will not turn back to their original color. Eventually, they will fall off with time. However, the rest of your plant will be saved from developing a severe sunburn.

– Water Only When the Soil Thoroughly Dries Out

Take a critical look at your watering habits as well as the drainage abilities of your soil. This plant is pretty drought-resistant. You should only water it once its soil has dried all the way through and not more than this. In line with this, make sure that your soil and pot are draining water adequately enough.

Always check the soil first to confirm that it has dried absolutely. You can put a stick through it in order to make sure. You will need to water the plant only once every two weeks in the summer, even less in the winter.

If you see your snake plant falling apart due to root rot, then it might be difficult to save it. You must repot it immediately in new soil, then resume a regular antifungal regime for the next two to three months at least.

– Fertilize in Case of Potassium Deficiency

Once you have confirmed that the reason why your snake plant looks dull is because of a potassium deficiency, then it’s time to remedy this problem. Go to your nearby store and purchase a balanced liquid fertilizer. This fertilizer needs to have an NPK value of 5:5:5 or 10:10:10.

Take clean water and use it to dilute the fertilizer to at least half of its recommended strength, then water the roots of the plant copiously as a preventative measure against root burn. Only then should you pour the fertilizer by directing it towards the soil. 

Technically, this plant doesn’t need to be fertilized at all. Even in the case of a deficiency, fertilize no more than twice per year. 

– Maintain a Constant Range of Temperature

The plant care for snake plants entails a temperature range of 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They must not be exposed to temperatures higher or lower than this. In fact, they are pretty sensitive to rapid changes in temperature within this range as well. 

When these plants start to turn white due to this, move them indoors. Even inside the house, don’t keep them near an open window or vents. The leaves that have turned white will not get better, but others will be saved from a similar fate.

– Get Rid of Powdery Mildew as Soon as Possible

Fortunately, as terrible as mildew looks, it is super easy to get rid of. There are multiple home remedies you can try before you go for fungicides made commercially. Below are some of our favorite methods to treat mildew

– Baking Soda

Baking soda is so good at getting rid of mildew. Just take one tablespoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of liquid dishwater in as much as one gallon of water. Start rubbing the mildew hyphae off the leaves using this water. 

Don’t apply it more than once a week. Keep on applying this remedy week after week until you begin to see some improvement.

– Milk Solution

For some reason, a solution of milk with water seems to be really effective at killing this fungus. Mix one part milk with two parts water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray generously on the affected plant. It will definitely take some time, but the disease will go away.

reinforce your snake plant

– Neem Oil

Neem oil is obtained from the seeds of the neem plant. It is a natural anti-fungal and anti-insecticide and a must-have item in your gardening supply pantry. You can either apply nee oil directly on the leaves of your snake plant, or you can mix it with water and then use it as a kind of foliar spray.

– Fungicides

Fungicides are, of course, the best when it comes to getting rid of fungal diseases as soon as possible. Make sure you buy one which has the best reviews by users. Follow the instructions given by the manufacturing company closely. 

These are harsh chemicals and not good for your skin too. Wear protective clothing whenever you use fungicides on plants.

– Treat Pest Infestations the Smart Way

It’s best to go for natural options first like neem oil and washing the pests off before moving on to chemical insecticides.

Read more regarding this ahead.

– Isolate the Infested Plant

The first thing you must do is to remove the plant under attack from the rest of the plants. Most of the bugs responsible for the snake plant turning brown or white are very quick at jumping from one plant to the next.

Unless you quarantine this plant, you will soon have all of your precious house plants under attack by these same bugs. An important aspect of quarantining a plant is to make sure that the gardening tools used on it are properly washed and cleaned before use on any other plant. 

– Physically Remove Bugs

The second most important part of getting rid of bugs is to remove as many of them as possible. This would reduce the intensity of the infestation and make sure fewer larvae are produced over time.

The best and the most commonly used method in this regard is a good old bath. Take the plant of your snake plant to a sink. Have water mixed with liquid soap run through it. Use a soft towel or bristle brush to scrape the more stubbornly attached bugs off.

– Apply Neem Oil

You just read how effective neem is against fungal diseases like mildew. It is equally fruitful against insects like mealybugs and mites. Dab the end of a Q-tip in pure neem oil and then put it on the bug colonies and the white patches of the plant. 

Another option is to mix one tablespoon of neem oil in a bucket of water. Add in a teaspoon of liquid dishwater and spray this all over the plant once every week. Spray especially under the leaves where most of these bugs usually hide out.

– Use Alcohol

Use a mild concentration of alcohol like 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for this task. It is best to dilute it further just to be on the safe side. You can use it as a Foliar spray every other day to kill insects.

– Spray With a Good Insecticide

A good insecticide spray will solve all your pest problems within a span of a few days. They might also cause collateral damage to the plant in the process, so only use this option as the last resort.

– Treat Fungal Blight

A plant suffering from this fungal infection needs instant intervention. You don’t want your plant turning yellow after white and eventually dying. Remove the plant from its old potting mix and pot. If the roots have brown spots of rot, you should cut these off as conservatively as possible.

Next, you need to repot the snake plant in brand new soil filled in a new pot. Buy a liquid copper fungicide and spray it generously according to a set schedule. Protect your eyes and skin when using this fungicide because it is toxic for humans.

Make sure to improve your watering habits for this plant. Add pieces of perlite or chunk cuts of bark to prevent water collection in the soil.

Sansevieria or snake plant in pot

Conclusion

That was quite a lot of information regarding the snake plant becoming white. That is why it’s time for a brief recap:

  • First of all, check why your snake plant is turning white. this can be due to a lapse in care or an attack by diseases and pests.
  • Keep this plant away from direct sunshine and fluctuations in temperatures. It is best to use filtered water to prevent salt build-up caused by ordinary tap water.
  • In cases of fungal disease or pest attacks, natural treatment options are baking soda, neem oil, alcohol, etc. 
  • You can also try fungicides and insecticides for a faster response to a fungal disease.

We’re happy to announce that after reading our advice given above, you are ready to solve all your problems and grow the best snake plants ever.

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