The Q&A Archives: Snake Plant Wilting

Question: My once lush, multi-fronded Snake Plant (looked like Medusa's head!) has lost many leaves - they've wilted or dried up and I can't imagine what happened. It was happy for several years. I noticed that alot of the root centers of the clusters have popped out of the soil, I try to re-bury them and moisten the soil to get them reconnected but they don't "take". Also - for propagation I thought you snipped 3" leaf tips and simply placed them in soil. But I notice those 3" pices eventually wilt and keel over. What gives? How do I keep a snake plant alive and healthy??

Answer: There are a couple things that could be causing the problem. First of all, I'd suspect overwatering. From your description of them wilting, it sounds like they could be rotting. Snake plants don't like too much moisture--they should be planted in a very well-drained mix (like a cactus mix) and watered sparingly. Though they can tolerate low light levels, they do better with some sunshine. And the lower the light level, the less water they'll need. The plants also need very little in the way of fertilizer. If you applied fertilizer regularly, that may be affecting the plant. Cold temperatures can also damage the plant.

Normally snake plants need repotting only every three or four years. If it's been that long, you could try repotting. But that's probably not the problem, and with a larger pot there's more chance of overwatering.

To propagate the plant, you should be able to take a leaf and cut it into 3" sections (they don't all have to be from the leaf tip.) Place these sections into moist sand, making sure that you orient them the same way as they were on the leaf--that is, that you are placing the lower edge in the sand. Again, overwatering, or a potting mix that holds too much water, may be causing the problem.

Unfortunately, the plant grows so slowly that it could take a long time to regain its lush appearance. It might pay to start over with a new one. Hope this helps!

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