Ask a Question forum: Is my snake plant dead?!

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Chicago, IL
Morganahelding
Mar 30, 2018 11:02 AM CST
I have been noticing that my snake plant has not really grown since I got it 6+ months ago from ikea. I was looking at it today and it looks like a few of the outside leaves have a wrinkled texture and are curing towards the middle at the base, instead of being straight. I also noticed it was leaning a lot so I went to repot it. When I uncovered the roots they were all dried out, does this mean it is dead? The leaves themselves are all green, not brown spots. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Thumb of 2018-03-30/Morganahelding/d01aa3

Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 30, 2018 11:39 AM CST
I am 100% certain your plant is not even nearly dead.

You probably over watered causing the roots to rot. These are bad-a.. plants - they can really take a lot of neglect, so its common for people to "kill them with kindness"

Its always hard to tell from the green bits above the soil becasue over and under watering have the same effect- whether there is no water to bring up to the leaves or too much water has caused the roots to collapse into mush so they can't bring water up to the leaves-
It looks the same from the top side- dry and wrinkly

BUT if you repotted and the roots were gone- its almost certainly over watering. I water mine once every two weeks. I will grow new roots- they are amazingly resilient. With most varieties even the tip of a leaf can grow a whole new plant if you are patient.

Give it sunlight
atmospheric humidity if possible
I know I just said let the soil dry - and I meant it- but if the roots are gone, it will take time for them to grow back and in the mean time there is no way for the plant to replenish water- It will still survive, but you may loose more leaves and end up with an uglier plant
if you can elevate the pot over a tray with some water that would be best to keep it from too much dry air- DO NOT let it sit IN standing water- OVER standing water is good- IN is bad.

Make sense?
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Mar 30, 2018 11:45 AM CST
I think it will be fine, but just be very careful you don't over water it. Paula gave you good advice. I've found that for me the ones that are silvery or gray grow a lot slower than the green ones. I'm not sure why that is.
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Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 30, 2018 11:58 AM CST
On second look-
are you sure this is a snake plant and not a bromilead? Did it have a big flower spike in the middle when you got it?

Hard to tell from the photo- but I think you've got a bromilead
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - Mar 30, 2018 12:02 PM (+)]
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Chicago, IL
Morganahelding
Mar 30, 2018 12:27 PM CST
Thank you so much for the advice, I am happy to hear it is not dead. It did not have a flower when I bought it, but when I do look at pictures of snake plants it does seem different from others. Here are some more photos of it.
Thumb of 2018-03-30/Morganahelding/cc85b2
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
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purpleinopp
Mar 30, 2018 1:30 PM CST
An unglazed clay pot this small could become very dry after a few days if the air in your home has little humidity. Whenever the clay pot turns a lighter color, the moisture is gone from the soil. When you notice that, thoroughly moisten the soil, then repeat when dry again.

This may be 'Moonshine' cultivar.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Moonshine')
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[Last edited by purpleinopp - Mar 30, 2018 1:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 30, 2018 1:47 PM CST
Your plant is a Sansevieria, not a Bromeliad. If the soil, as well as the roots, were dry, then you probably underwatered it. I know this contradicts what others have written. While it is true that these plants tolerate drought need better than over watering, they can be allowed to get too dry. This is especially true if it is in a small, terra cotta pot and in moderately good light.

It is hard to say if the roots will recover if watered properly - as soon as the top half of the soil is dry. You can try and see what happens. If it continues to decline, then take some leaf cuttings and propagate it.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 30, 2018 2:35 PM CST
Will, sometimes I wonder if you just like to disagree with me? We have to meet for coffee one day as we are neighbors-

In the mean time How do you explain that there were no roots when transplanted? I can see under watering as a cause of the wrinkles in the leaves- under watering would have encouraged DEEPer root growth not collapse? Where'd they go?

And I'd like to see a pic of a sanseveria this color and shape.

Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 30, 2018 2:44 PM CST
Okay Will-
Youre right- probably a sanseveria becasue it doesn't have the geometric central stalk of a bromilead and didn't come with a flower. But that doesn't explain missing roots
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - Mar 30, 2018 2:46 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 30, 2018 2:53 PM CST
No, Paula, not picking on you. Smiling I just call things as I see them, regardless of the source. My experience and perspective are often different from what others post. Happy to join you for coffee - my treat just to prove I am friendly, kind and generous! Hilarious!

When Sanaseveria roots get completely dried out from inadequate water, they don't go deeper, they just dry up and die back, which is how Morgana described them. The shriveling is consistent with either over or under watering because either will cause root dieback and keep the plant from absorbing water.

I am not completely sure that underwatering was the problem here, but it certainly is a possibility given the information provided.

Now, can we just be friends! Shrug!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Mar 31, 2018 7:09 PM CST
Looks a lot like mine, 'Moonglow' or similarly named Sanseveria. I split one up, gave some to friends, and kept a couple pups. One lived very dry over winter in a small terra cotta pot, and I am getting a bit anxious about it taking its sweet time plumping back up. I had it in a cool dry basement window, but afraid with terra cotta and being out of sight out of mind it got too dry. Another pup of it has been in plastic, in the library, dry air, fairly good light, gets dry but is watered about weekly in decent loose potting mix. It is plump but hasn't added any leaves over winter.
With summer coming, better light and humidity, I also think this will recover.
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Sempervivums
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plantmanager
Mar 31, 2018 7:12 PM CST
Paula and Will, I think you two do need to meet up! I'd be very happy to meet up with anyone in my area. I love meeting new gardening friends!
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Apr 1, 2018 10:44 AM CST
NYC might be a bit of a trek for you, Karen, but feel free to join Paula and me, if she agrees! Crossing Fingers!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Apr 1, 2018 10:44 PM CST
Adorable!!! I see the possibilities in both opinions.

I was able to regrow roots on Sans that I underwatered, without having to propagate from a leaf cutting. Getting a small sans pup or cutting started that has no roots is really a tough project for me. Good luck.

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