Snake Plant Turning Yellow and Soft: 7 Causes and Solutions

Healthy snake plants stand proud and tall under the right conditions. However, if you have recently discovered the ornamental snake plant turning yellow and soft, you might be a tad bit frustrated.

Fret not. There are several common reasons for a succulent plant, such as a snake plant, to lose its glory to yellowing spots and soggy leaves.

Here you will find a list of the causes, along with viable solutions to revive and keep your snake plant healthy and beautiful.

snake plant turning yellow and soft

Why Is My Snake Plant Turning Yellow and Soft?

A healthy snake plant’s leaves have yellow edges. However, it is a cause for concern when this color mars the entire surface of the leaf. The yellowing of leaves indicates that your plant is under stress due to some misstep in its care-related needs.

The good news is that once you figure out the problem, you can fix it. Take a look at the causes below.

1. Overwatering

Succulents like snake plants draw in water from the soil and store them in their leaves. When the level of water exceeds in the soil due to overwatering, the plants end up drawing in excess water.

As excess water is taken in by the cells, the leaves begin to change colors and become soggy. The excess moisture-laden leaves lose their rigidity and start to wilt.

If this watering habit is not rectified, the yellowing of the leaves will continue until your plant turns varying shades of brown and black.

In order to figure out the main cause of yellowing leaves, extract your snake plant from the soil and probe the roots. If the roots are soggy and emit a nasty smell, you have a problem. Root rot also presents with yellowing leaves in snake plants.

2. Excess Light Exposure

The yellow discoloration of your snake plant leaves can be because of too much exposure to direct sunlight. This usually happens during the summer months due to the scorching sun rays. When exposed to excess direct sunlight, the edges of the leaves will begin to curl and wrinkle up.

If photodamage is the reason for a yellowing snake plant, then you will notice that only the leaves on the window-facing side turn yellow.

3. Poor Drainage

snake plant turning yellow and soft

Even if the houseplant is on a proper watering schedule, the leaves can still turn yellow if the soil they are potted in does not offer proper drainage. Compact soil will lead to the retention of water, which will ultimately result in the plant absorbing excess water.

Your plant will end up being overwatered due to compact soil and lack of proper drainage.

4. Nutrient Deficiencies

Sufficient nutrients are important for the healthy growth of a snake plant. If your soil is not rich in the necessary nutrients, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies in the plant. This mineral imbalance is yet another not-so-common cause that leads to the leaves turning shades of yellow.

When essential nutrients like nitrogen, iron, magnesium, etc., are lacking in the soil, it can affect the color of the leaves. It will trigger the outbreak of chlorosis and cause the loss of green pigmentation in the leaves, which ultimately turns them pale yellow.

5. Lower Temperatures

Snake plants thrive in warmer temperatures, between 70 and 90°Fahrenheit. If they are exposed to temperatures lower than 50°Fahrenheit over a prolonged period, it will put the plant under stress and trigger yellowing.

A cold climate will damage cell walls and water pathways and disrupt the flow of nutrients. If your snake plant is placed near drafty windows, they are vulnerable to leaf yellowing.

6. Root Rot

snake plant turning yellow and soft

Soggy soil conditions are the ideal environment for different types of soil-borne fungi. They thrive in such conditions and destroy the affected plant’s root system, leading to moisture and nutrient deficiency.

As the plant undergoes stress due to the disrupted system, leaf discoloration begins with yellow spots dotting the blades of the leaf.

You can confirm whether root rot has affected your plant by gently unpotting your snake plant and inspecting its roots. If the roots appear soggy, soft, and emit a bad odor, root rot has snagged your plant.

7. Over-Fertilization

Snake plants have minimal fertilizer needs. In case they are overfed during the winter months, the plant and the roots can suffer from chemical burns, leading to yellowing leaves.

Over-fertilization disrupts the absorption of essential nutrients and moisture and makes the plant highly sensitive to cold temperature conditions. If there is an increased concentration of nutrients during the dormant months, yellow patches will start appearing on the leaves.

Moreover, juvenile snake plants or recently repotted plants are highly susceptible to yellowing leaves caused by excess fertilizer.

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How Do You Save a Yellowing Snake Plant?

In order to save a snake plant that is turning yellow, you have to treat the cause of the yellowing. Repotting the plant into a well-draining potting mix and providing the plant with optimal water, light and temperature conditions will help revive the plant and drain the soil of any surplus salts.

Here are a few ways you can save a yellowing snake plant.

1. Water Moderately

It is important to give your snake plant just the right amount of water. Do not irrigate your plant if the top two inches of the soil layer have not completely dried up. If you water while the soil is moist, you risk overwatering.

To revive a yellowing plant, wait for the soil to dry up entirely. Then resume watering. Water your plant once every week. Always check to see if the soil is wet before watering.

In case your plant is potted in poor-draining soil, schedule your watering during the early hours of the morning. This will aid in enhancing drainage rates due to the sunlighting and high-temperature conditions during daytime hours.

2. Allow Proper Drainage

For proper drainage, you have to use a fast-draining potting mix and a container with holes for drainage at the bottom. A soil mix with coarse sand and perlite allows for quick drainage.

Prior to transferring your plant into a new pot and soil mix, make sure you remove the yellowing leaves and any rotting roots. This will considerably improve the plant’s probability of survival.

If the snake plant is growing outdoors, cover the garden soil with coarse sand after raking away mulch. This will improve drainage.

3. Maintain Ideal Temperature

Keeping your plant in the right environment with the ideal temperature will help revive it. If your snake plant is in a greenhouse, maintain the temperature between 70 and 90°Fahrenheit.

If you are growing them indoors, make sure the plant is not kept in areas with cold drafts, such as AC vents, windows, and doorways.

4. Watch Out for Direct Sunlight

Too much direct sunlight will adversely affect your snake plant. Move your plant to a shaded or dimly lit location. You can install some window drapes to ensure your plant receives light indirectly.

If your snake plant is planted outdoors, obstruct its path with a taller plant to prevent exposure to direct sunlight.

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5. Fertilize Properly

Do not fertilize your plant during or slightly before the winter months. Snake plants need additional nutrients during the warmer months. However, if you feed them excess fertilizer during cold temperatures, they adversely impact the root system and yellow the leaves.

If you have already added the fertilizer, water the soil mix to leech excess salts and, in the process, give the plant a fighting chance to regain its former glory.

In case the plant is suffering from mineral deficiency, repot it into a cactus or succulent soil mix. These formulated soil mixes are supplemented with appropriate minerals and will help the snake plant fend off chlorosis.

6. Treat Fungal Diseases

After inspecting the snake plant’s roots, if you discover a soggy and foul-smelling root system, you need to treat the soil mix with fungicide. Treating root rot is important.

Besides commercial fungicides, you can also use hydrogen peroxide to kill off various pathogens in the soil that open the doors for root rot.

How Do You Revive a Mushy Snake Plant?

Mushy leaves are not an attractive look on a snake plant. Usually, snake plant leaves turn mushy due to fungal disease. The most common cause is overwatering the plant.

Overwatering leads to soggy soil, which promotes the growth of root rot, causing fungal spores.

In order to revive a mushy snake plant, prune off the squishy leaves with clean and sterile shears. Make sure to cut off all the diseased leaves to give the plant a chance to survive.

Once you have sheared off the soggy leaves, get started on a fungal disease treatment plan. You will have to use treatment based on the severity of the infection. There are multiple natural options and commercial options to treat the disease.

Also, make sure to check the soil to ensure it is not waterlogged. You need a well-draining soil mix to avoid the problem again.

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The material of the pot in which the plant resides is also important. Use materials such as unsealed ceramics and terracotta that will help wick moisture in case you overwater.


Can Yellow Snake Plant Leaves Turn Green Again?

Once you make alterations to the light, temperature and watering conditions, the yellow snake plant leaves can get back their green color again. However, if the problem has reached an advanced stage, there may be no hope of saving the leaves and perhaps even the plant.

How Do I Know If My Snake Plant Has Root Rot?

The indicators of a root-rot-infested plant include gradually yellowing mushy and sodden leaves. Look out for drooping, soft leaves, a soggy root system and a foul odor in the soil.

Can a Snake Plant Recover from Overwatering?

The recovery chances of your snake plant from instances of overwatering depend on the severity of the problem. In most cases, if you follow the above instructions to fix the overwatering problem, your plant should recover well.

The Bottom Line

There are multiple care-related reasons why the leaves of your snake plants could be turning yellow and soft. These reasons usually begin with overwatering and placing the plant in an improper environment.

Once you get to the bottom of the cause, you can rectify the issue to a certain extent with a viable solution.