Leaning Over Snake Plant - Knowledgebase Question

Stanhope, NJ
Question by mcctrm
September 22, 2002
I have a pretty old snake plant that I am trying to save. It seems to have very short roots and the plants are so close to the top of the pot that they can no longer stand up straight but instead lean completely over. I would like to just re-pot it deeper but I don't know if that will utimately help or further damage the plant. I've tried tying it up but the leaves are just too heavy. Please tell me how I can save this plant. Thank You!

A comment from BonniePega
January 13, 2018
Unfortunately this is the way of Snake plants. The best solution that has worked for me, is to buy a narrow but deep pot and plant it down in the pot--about half-way down--do not cover any of the stems, but allow the sides of the pot to offer support.

A comment from Lindasilklemoine
January 14, 2018
I use a pretty small trellis to anchor my plants. This works well and is pretty to look at. Makes a pretty display where ever I place my plant. One can purchase the trellises most plant supply places. Readily available on line also.

Name: Anita
West Fulton, NY (Zone 5a)
"Let food be thy medicine...."
A comment from Lioba
January 19, 2018
I have planted it in a regular ceramic pot then set in a triangular bowl with a wide mouth. I found it at the dollar store. I was using them for serving bowls, chips but this is working out great. I'd like to post a photo.

Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Answer from WillC
January 13, 2018


I agree with jessybean, that a wider pot would be counterproductive, causing the leaves to lean even further. The situation described above resulted from the plant being in low light for a long time causing the roots to weaken and die back. At this point, it may be too late for recovery.

Remove the root ball from the pot. If there are healthy remaining roots, then squeeze the rootball into the bottom of a tall, narrow pot with a small amount of porous potting mix added underneath the rootball. It should sit very low in the pot so that the leaves are supported by the sides of the pot. Move it to a sunny location and it may gradually recover.

Name: Sandra Pruden
Dearborn Hts, MI (Zone 6b)
A comment from DaylilySLP
January 13, 2018
This solution sounds good, I am having the same problem with my old plant.

Name: Kay
Lincoln, Nebraska
A comment from chickadee
January 13, 2018
I have a couple old snake plants that were like you describe. I repotted one because it had been in the same pot/soil for years. I gave it a good watering, but haven't watered much more. I also read that they do not like being misted so I stopped doing that. I am seeing some new growth now. It seems they prefer neglect!

Answer from NGA
September 22, 2002


These plants may lean over with age when they are overcrowded or in an attempt to lean closer toward a source of light. However, the most common reason is usually overwatering. This plant really does not need much water at all, so make sure the soil is allowed to dry between waterings during the growing season and that the soil mix is a well drained one. During the winter when the plant grows little if at all, water even less often.

They are naturally shallow rooted as you noticed, and burying them deeper by repotting will not solve the problem -- in fact it would not be healthy for them to be planted deeper and could make the problem worse if the base of the stems has begun to rot at all. You might spread a little sand over the surface instead and see if that helps.

You could also try repotting into a wider pot so that they have more room to spread thus allowing outer portions to stablize the center. Make sure to use a clay pot and a free draining mix if you repot and take care not to overwater.

Alternatively you can trim off the topplers. The tips of the trimmings can be used to make new plants. Take the tip cutting, stick it upright into barely damp sand and be very patient. Eventually a new leaf will grow next to the cut piece.

You might also want to gradually increase the amount of light your plant receives and remember to turn the pot regularly to even out the light each side receives. Good luck with your sanseveria trifasciata -- also called mother-in'law's tongue.

A comment from JudithL
January 13, 2018
Stake it.

Name: Jessybean
Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Zone 5b)
A comment from jessybean
January 13, 2018
I'm not sure that putting it in a bigger pot would help. I did this with mine and they all fell over. Now I'm in the same boat. Snake plants like to be tight and compact at the roots which helps them stabilize.

Answer from cswhowe60
January 13, 2018


I grow plants in pots placed in wire or plastic milk crates. The pots are held upright, never falling over. The plant's leaves will stay upright inside the crate.

Name: Jeffrey Fitch
Wayne, PA (Zone 7a)
Answer from Jsfitch
January 13, 2018


I use stretch wrap and a stake them, They look like mummies and the clear stretch wrap allows light to the leaves, I always thin them out every year at end of summer, I usually get flowering in the summer, of course we move them in and out of the house every spring and fall.
Better living with Plastics....

A comment from roughhiker
January 14, 2018
I have a snake plant that is almost 6 foot tall and over 10 years old. Never repotted and infrequent watering- they love a crowded pot! I agree that overwatering is the main culprit- it goes outside in partial sun in summer and in my south facing window in the winter.

Name: Donna King
Selmer, TN (Southern West TN) (Zone 7b)
Answer from donnabking
January 15, 2018


I have never grown a snake plant. I personally never liked them. We always called them Mother In Law's Tongue plants. My Grandmother had a large one as long as I can remember, it was long and did resemble a snake I guess. Probably the reason I never cared for the plants as I am terrified of snakes. But I cannot help but wonder if just giving the entire plant a good haircut wouldn't solve the problem and let it put up new healthy upright growth?

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