Snake plants turning yellow can be alarming, you should take this as a sign that they might face problems like sunburn, inadequate watering, overwatering, bad soil conditions, insect attacks, and diseases.

Saving Your Snake Plant from Yellowing

Want to know a complete explanation of these causes and how you can fix them? Then continue reading.

What Are the Reasons Behind Snake Plants Turning Yellow?

When a Snake Plant turns yellow, it means it is facing problems like watering stress, diseases, insects, nutrient deficiency, and toxicity. In addition, environmental stresses like sunburn, cold temperatures, low humidity, weeds, and poor soil also cause plants to become yellow.

– Sunburn

We all know that sunlight is critical for plants for proper photosynthesis. They get their energy from this process, which lets them thrive. But if this light’s intensity increases, plants face complications, and a snake plant is no different.

The snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata) is sensitive to extreme direct sunlight exposure. Light conditions cause great damage because they can lead to dehydration. It’s simple.

When the temperature is high, moisture evaporates from the soil mix and within the plants. This impacts nutrient absorption as well, so plants start to get wrinkly. Continuous and direct sunlight exposure will eventually lead to cell death, changing the color to yellow.

– Adding Less Water Than Needed 

The snake plant leaves turning yellow problem can also arise when you don’t add enough water. Everyone knows that water is essential for plants to carry out physiological functions properly. It is also important to take nutrients from the soil to different parts of plants. Furthermore, the photosynthesis process also can only be completed with water.

So, when you don’t water plants adequately, every internal function in them will be disrupted. As a result, yellow spots will emerge on the leaves of an underwatered snake plant. If the watering stress continues, the leaves will curl up and eventually die. 

However, it is unusual for snake plants to face water stress. It is because they are drought tolerant and can store water in their leaves for a long time. But it does not mean that they can stay alive without water. You will have to provide one watering every week for smooth plant growth. If you don’t, expect to see the plant have yellow spots.

– Adding More Water Than Required

The Snake plant’s pale leaves may also become yellow because of the overwatered conditions. Overwatering does more damage to this plant than underwatering. It is because the Snake plant is susceptible to extra water as it is a succulent, so it needs less moisture to survive. In the winter season, the water requirement is even less.

Therefore, you must first look at soil conditions before applying water. If you see moisture, wait for the soil mix to dry. The roots’ oxygen availability will be affected if you still add water. Furthermore, wet conditions invite fungal diseases as well. Each of these factors has the potential to turn your overwatered Snake Plant yellow.

– Lack of Nutrients in Soil

Another reason snake plant leaves may become yellow is nutrient deficiency. There is no denying that nutrients play a vital role in plants’ growth and development. They aid in various physiological functions, which leads to better vigor.

Out of all the nutrients, nitrogen is the most important one. It is an integral component of photosynthesis, so its availability increases plant food production. If the soil lacks nitrogen, the photosynthesis process takes a hit, and leaves start to discolor. That is why nitrogen-deficient plants either have pale green or yellow leaves.

Another nutrient that is important to maintain a plant’s color is magnesium. It is a micronutrient that plants in low quantities require. You will see yellowing near the leaf veins if it is not in the soil. If you don’t add magnesium, this yellowing will spread to the whole leaf.

– Adding Too Many Doses of Fertilizers

Adding too many doses of fertilizers is not a smart thing to do. It is because “too stuffed” nutrients in the soil can cause the pH to change. When this pH changes, nutrient lock can happen, a nightmare for plants and their growers. In this condition, roots cannot take up the nutrients despite being available. As a result, the snake plant’s leaves will change to yellow.

So, nutrient deficiency will still occur even if you add fertilizer applications. That is why it is advised to conduct a soil test using home testing kits to know the nutrient availability. After this test, choose the fertilizers and their quantities to avoid the nutrient lock. This will also save you money as you won’t waste fertilizers.

– Poor Soil Drainage

Like every other plant, a snake plant needs properly drained soil for seamless growth. If they don’t get it, a lot of complications will arise. In poorly drained soil, the water stays around the roots for a long time, which can cause oxygen stress. This can lead to suffocation, which makes leaves turn greenish brown. In some cases, plant death can also occur.

Moreover, poor potting soil can also lead to fungal attacks because of excessive moisture. So, you will most likely end up with a yellow snake plant if you don’t do anything to improve the soil drainage.

– Soil PH Is Not Optimal

Soil pH has to be in optimal ranges if you want your plants to thrive. It is because such soil provides a better-growing medium that supports plant growth throughout the season. So, you must ensure a snake plant gets the soil it deserves.

Reason for Snake Plants Turning Yellow

Snake plants need an optimal pH of 6.1-6.5 for proper growth and development. To know about the current pH, use a pH meter. If it is lower than the range, the plant soil is acidic. If it is higher, then the soil is basic/alkaline.

– Temperature Is Not Ideal

Snake plants are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. They like moderate temperatures (not too high, not too low). Too much heat from the warm temperature may cause sunburn to the leaves, and their leaves become yellow. Cold temperatures may damage the cell wall, leading to yellow and brown spots.

– Insect/Pest Attack

Another main reason the snake plant leaves turn brown and yellow is the insect pest attack. Insects/pests suck juice from their leaves, which makes the leaves weak. In addition, they might leave mold on the leaf they attack, which can also impact photosynthesis.

The major pests of snake plants are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. It is very hard to spot them as most of them are found on the underside of leaves. You will see many yellow spots on the plant if they continue to feed.

– Low Humidity

The low humidity may be one of the reasons behind the yellowing snake plants. These plants need a relative 40 percent humidity level at room temperature for proper growth. If it is higher, the chances of fungus attack go way up. If it is lower, plants might face dehydration and heat stress, which can cause them to discolor.

– Old Plant Age

Snake plants may also turn yellow because of the natural aging process. As we all know, aging is a natural phenomenon, and we cannot control it. So, when the life span of these plants is completed, they will change their color.

– Root Bound

It would be best if you always grew snake plants in proper pots. They should be manageable because many problems can arise from the wrong pot size. When you grow the plants in a smaller container/pot, the roots only have a little space to grow. They will make circles, which will cause overcrowding and tangling. As a result, they get bound, which impacts the whole plant.

At first, the yellowing will start from the leaves. It will then spread to other parts, weakening the plants. Yellow leaves will then cause stunted growth, and the plant will look like it is affected by diseases. 

– Bacterial Leaf Spot

Bacteria is one of the main organisms that can harm your snake plant. However, you will first have to confirm their presence before you try any solution. The key to detecting a bacterial infection is observing leaf appearance. If you notice Sage-green wet spots on the snake plants’ leaves, take it as a sign of bacterial disease. 

If the condition gets severe, the disease can rot the whole leaf, which causes a bad smell, and the leaf ultimately falls off. If you don’t do anything about the bacteria attack, a time will come when the whole plant will die. So, take sage green spots on plants seriously.

– Root Rot

Root rot is a fungal disease due to overwater conditions, contaminated soils, and poor drainage. Roots affected by this disease won’t be able to absorb nutrients and water, which will make plants fragile.

The impact of root rot is visible on the leaves. The yellowing will disfigure the whole leaf. In addition to this color change, leaves will be distorted and wilt. So, the whole plant will look bad due to root rot.

– Transplanting Shock

When you re-pot plants, they show slow growth. It is because of transplant shock. It is just a phase in which younger plants take measures to acclimatize to the new environment and surroundings. In doing so, the performance gets affected, which can cause yellow leaves.

– Weeds

Weeds are the enemies of growers because they take up most of the water and nutrients from the soil and leave very little for the main plants. When the main plant does not get proper water and nutrients, the internal process will be impacted, leading to yellow patches on the leaves. 

That’s not it. Weeds harbor harmful insect pests as well. Therefore, if you don’t uproot them, the chances of pest attack will shoot up. So, how do you save yellowing snake plants? It’s time to find out!

How Do You Fix the Snake Plants Turning Yellow Problem?

To fix the yellowing of a snake plant, you should make sure it receives proper light and water. Also, add nutrients and balance the soil pH to deal with nutrient insufficiency. You should also apply insecticides and follow appropriate growing practices to prevent leaves from getting yellow. 

– Place in Proper Light

If you have placed snake plants in such a location where sunlight falls for more than 10 hours, then change their spot immediately. Six hours of sunlight is enough for these plants. If they are exposed to more light, sunburn can occur. If changing their location is impossible, use some covers to cast shade on them.

Fixing light problems is easier for indoor gardeners. If you are also growing these plants indoors with grow lights, ensure they are placed at an ideal distance. Placing the pots near these lights can cause stress, impacting indoor plants. Similarly, there needs to be better lighting for plants too. So, you should decide the locations of these plants even before you grow them to avoid any frustration later.

– Water Plants Properly

You need to give adequate water to your snake plant to keep it safe from yellowing. Apply water only when the soil is bone dry with no hints of any moisture. Similarly, stop the water application if you think it is enough to moisten the root ball.

For better watering, use a moisture meter. It will tell you the moisture situation around the root, which will help you decide how much water to apply. If you accidentally water the plant, remove the stagnant water as much as possible.

– Add Nutrients Intelligently

Nutrient deficiency and nutrient lock are two of the most undesirable conditions due to careless fertilization. So, you must add fertilizers in the best way possible. The experts suggest a soil test and then deciding which nutrients to add.

Solution for Snake Plants Turning Yellow

After doing all this, please choose organic fertilizers as they are the safest and do not damage the soil. However, if there is severe nutrient deficiency, go for chemical fertilizers, as they instantly release nutrients into the soil.

Also, apply fertilizers only when it is spring or early summer. Do not apply them in winter as plants go under the dormant stage this season. As a result, the growth is stopped, so there is no need for fertilizers.

– Adjust Soil PH

As mentioned above, optimal soil pH is critical for proper plant growth. Use a pH meter to know whether the main reason behind the snake plant changing color is pH or not. If it gives a lower rating, it means the soil is acidic. In this situation, apply lime or any alkaline substance. If it gives a higher rating, it means the soil is alkaline. In this case, add sulfur to bring the pH to the optimal range.

– Transplant Plants Into a Bigger Pot

If the roots of your snake plants come out of the drainage holes, circle around, or come out, you need to transplant them to another bigger pot for their proper growth. It may look like a lot of work, but everything will be worth it.

It is also a good thing to sterilize the new container/pot to prevent any disease or insect attack. Make sure you also handle the plant with care during the whole transplanting, or else, roots won’t grow, which will again lead to leaves turning yellow.

– Remove Affected Leaves

People often ask, “should I remove yellow leaves from snake plants?” Yes, you should. One of the biggest reasons why snake plant leaves turn yellow is due to diseases. So, to prevent their spread, you must remove the affected ones and dispose of them carefully. If the whole plant starts to turn yellow, then change the soil or re-pot the plant.

– Get Rid of Weeds

Weeds can use the soil’s nutrients and water so fast that it can damage the snake plant. So, you need to remove all of them. First, try to pull them up manually. If that doesn’t work, use a shovel and start hitting the root region. This will uproot them, and hopefully, they won’t harm the plants again.

– Apply Insecticides

If you see insecticidal infestation on your snake plant, you must take action against it to stop the yellowing. The optimal way to deal with them is to use organic sprays; the best is neem oil. You can also try insecticidal soap to get rid of pest infestation

If you see many insects even after applying organic insecticides, go for chemical ones. They are fast acting and will kill all the insects near your plants. However, these can damage your health as well (if you are not super careful with the application). To avoid any harmful situation, wear gloves, glasses, and a mask when you apply chemical insecticides.

– Do Something About Soil Drainage

Soil should have proper drainage if you don’t want to see your snake plant turning yellow. First, check whether the pothole is clogged or not. If it is clogged, remove whatever is stuck so the excess water can pass through.

If the problem is not a pothole, you should add compost or manure to the soil to improve drainage capability. You can also dig up the top layer of over compact soil to loosen it. Doing little things like these will greatly impact the plant’s growth.

– Treat Fungal and Bacterial Diseases

You must take immediate action if your snake plant gets a fungal or bacterial disease. First, let the plant completely dry up to control the fungus attack. Then, you will need to remove the yellow leaves to stop spreading the disease.

If the disease does not stop by pruning infected mushy leaves, you will have to apply some fungicides or bactericidal spray to treat the disease. After this, place the plant in a ventilated spot so that wet conditions get dried up quickly. Follow these plant care tips to make your plants healthier again.

Mystery Behind Snake Plant Color Change


So, now you know all the reasons behind the snake plant turning yellow and how to deal with this problem.

Here are the key takeaways from the whole article:

  • Apply water properly, as both underwatered and overwatered plants can get yellow.
  • Make sure you place the snake plants in an ideal spot where enough sunlight falls.
  • If you see insect infestation, apply essential oil spray immediately. If this doesn’t work, then go for chemical sprays.
  • To stop the disease from spreading, prune off infected parts and apply suitable remedies as soon as you can.

You can now save your snake plant and enjoy its full beauty!

5/5 - (5 votes)
Evergreen Seeds