Why are My Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow? (7 Reasons)

Last Updated on June 17, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Snake plants, also known as Sansevieria or mother-in-law’s tongue, are popular houseplants due to their ability to thrive in low light and with minimal care.

These hardy plants come in a variety of textures and colors that can add life and color to any living space. However, yellowing leaves are a common problem that can be difficult to diagnose.

To ensure the health and longevity of your snake plant, it is important to understand why its leaves might be turning yellow and what steps can be taken to prevent or correct this problem.

Common Causes of Snake Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

yellowing snake plant leaves
  1. Overwatering
  2. Underwatering
  3. Poor drainage and root rot
  4. Inadequate light
  5. Nutrient deficiencies
  6. Temperature fluctuations
  7. Pests and diseases


One of the most common causes of yellowing leaves in snake plants is overwatering. When a plant is overwatered, water builds up around the roots and “drowns” them.

This prevents the roots from absorbing oxygen and other essential nutrients, which can lead to root rot and eventually death if left untreated. Overwatering also deprives the plant of oxygen, leading to yellow and limp leaves.

Signs that your snake plant is being overwatered include wilted or mushy leaves, yellowing of the lower leaves, and white or gray spots on the foliage.

Additionally, if you notice that the potting soil remains wet for an extended period of time after watering, it could be a sign that you are overwatering your snake plant.

To adjust your watering habits, it is important to water only when the top inch or two of soil is dry and to use room temperature water.

Additionally, make sure that there is proper drainage in the pot before you water and avoid wetting the leaves as this can cause fungal diseases.

Once your snake plant has been overwatered, you should allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again to help prevent root rot.


Underwatering is another common cause of yellowing leaves in snake plants. When a plant does not receive enough water, its leaves will start to turn yellow as the plant searches for moisture.

Other signs that your snake plant is being underwatered include wilting or drooping foliage and dry, brittle soil.

To provide adequate water to your snake plant, water until the soil is completely saturated and allow it to drain before dumping excess water.

You should also ensure that your pot has enough drainage holes. Additionally, only water when the top inch or two of soil is dry and opt for room temperature water so as not to shock the roots with extreme temperatures.

Poor Drainage and Root Rot

Poor drainage and root rot can also lead to yellowing leaves. Root rot is caused by overwatering which leads to the soil staying wet for too long, as this creates a hospitable environment in which fungal diseases thrive.

Signs of root rot include softened or discolored roots, wilting foliage, and yellowing leaves. Poor drainage can create similar issues, as standing water in the pot can prevent oxygen from reaching the roots.

To help improve drainage and reduce the chances of root rot, switch to a pot with more drainage holes.

When watering, ensure that your snake plant is receiving enough water but not getting overwatered – you should see excess water draining into the saucer after every watering session.

Additionally, repotting your snake plant to a pot with better drainage and adding a layer of gravel or charcoal at the bottom of the pot can help improve soil aeration.

Inadequate Light

Snake plants typically need bright, indirect light to thrive. If they are placed in dimmer areas, or don’t receive enough sunlight, this can lead to yellowing leaves.

The first sign of insufficient lighting is usually a pale green coloration in the leaves.

To provide enough light to your snake plant, place it near a window that gets ample natural light, or consider investing in artificial lighting such as LED grow lights.

Additionally, rotating your snake plant every few weeks can help ensure that all the leaves are receiving equal amounts of light.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to yellowing leaves in snake plants. Signs of nutrient deficiency include stunted growth, discolored or mottled leaves, and yellowing of the older foliage while new growth remains green.

Plants that are lacking in nutrients may also display disproportionate leaf sizes or a general lack of vigor.

To solve nutrient deficiencies, you should consider feeding your snake plant with a fertilizer formulated for succulents or cacti once every two weeks.

Additionally, repotting it into a fresh potting mix can help replenish the soil and provide essential nutrients to the roots.

Temperature Fluctuations

Snake plants prefer warm temperatures, so they may suffer if exposed to cold drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations.

While snake plants tolerate some cooler temperatures, they tend to experience yellowing and wilting when exposed to prolonged periods of cold weather.

To ensure your snake plant is growing in the ideal temperature range, provide them with bright light and keep the surrounding air between 65-75°F (18-24°C).

If your home tends to be cooler, you may want to place your snake plant in a spot that doesn’t get drafty at night.

Additionally, try to avoid placing it near air conditioners or heating vents as these can cause drastic temperature changes for the plant.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases can cause yellowing leaves in snake plants, as these organisms damage the foliage and disrupt essential nutrient uptake.

Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects are some of the most common pests that feed on the sap from snake plants’ leaves. To help identify pests, look for webbing or tiny specks along the plant’s leaves and stems.

Other signs of infestation include yellowish spots, sticky secretions on the surface of the plant, or a white powdery coating (known as “powdery mildew”).

If your snake plant is suffering from pests or diseases, you should immediately isolate it from other plants to prevent further spread. To address pest issues, spray the plant with an insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Additionally, try introducing natural predators such as ladybugs or lacewings that can consume pests without harming your snake plant.

To prevent pests and diseases from occurring in the first place, make sure your snake plant is receiving plenty of air circulation and bright light.

Also, inspect new plants before bringing them into your home and quarantine any that appear to be infested. Finally, keep your plant’s soil clean and free of debris, which can attract pests and diseases.

Prevention and Maintenance Tips

To help prevent your snake plant’s leaves from turning yellow, there are certain measures you can take.

To start, monitor and adjust the watering habits of your snake plant according to its needs—too much or too little water can lead to yellowing.

Make sure the soil is well-draining and not soggy, as this could cause root rot.

Additionally, provide adequate light to the plant and avoid extreme temperature fluctuations, as these can stress the plant.

Finally, regularly inspect your snake plant for signs of pests or diseases and use appropriate fertilizers to address any nutrient deficiencies.

When to Consult an Expert

If you’ve tried all of the prevention and maintenance tips above, but are still experiencing problems with your snake plant, it may be time to consult an expert.

A professional gardener or horticulturist can provide a more in-depth diagnosis of your plant’s condition and recommend appropriate treatments.

Additionally, they can give specific advice tailored to your particular situation.

Consulting an expert is particularly important if you’re dealing with a pest infestation or severe leaf discoloration, as these can be challenging to resolve on your own.


In conclusion, yellowing leaves on a snake plant can be caused by a variety of factors. To prevent and address this issue, it’s important to understand the underlying causes and take the necessary steps to ensure its proper care and maintenance.

The most significant preventive measure is providing the right amount of water, light, and nutrients.

If all else fails, you may need to consult an expert for help. By following the tips and advice mentioned above, you can keep your snake plant healthy and vibrant.


snake plant leaves turned yellow

How much water does my snake plant need?

Your snake plant needs to be watered only when the soil is completely dry. To do this, stick your finger into the soil and if it’s still damp, don’t water it; wait until it feels completely dry. Additionally, keep in mind that overwatering is one of the leading causes of yellowing leaves.

Will a yellow snake plant turn green again?

Yes, a yellow snake plant can potentially turn green again if the underlying issues causing the discoloration are properly addressed. If the yellowing is due to overwatering, adjusting your watering schedule and allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions can help the leaves regain their vibrant green color. Similarly, if the yellowing is caused by inadequate lighting or nutrient deficiencies, remedying these issues can also lead to the recovery of the plant’s original color.

However, it is important to note that severely damaged leaves may not fully recover their green hue, and it may be necessary to trim them away to encourage new growth. By consistently providing proper care and addressing any issues promptly, you can help your snake plant maintain its vibrant green leaves and overall health.

Should I remove yellow leaves from snake plant?

Yes, it is generally recommended to remove yellow leaves from snake plants, as they are unlikely to recover their original green color once they have turned yellow. Removing these leaves not only improves the plant’s appearance but also helps redirect its energy towards the healthy green leaves and new growth.

To remove yellow leaves from a snake plant, use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut at the base of the affected leaf. Be sure to sanitize the cutting tool before and after use to prevent the spread of any pathogens. Once the yellow leaves have been pruned, continue to monitor the plant for any signs of stress or further discoloration and address issues promptly to maintain the overall health of your snake plant.

What does an overwatered snake plant look like?

An overwatered snake plant typically exhibits several telltale signs that indicate excess moisture. The most common symptom is yellowing leaves, which often become soft and mushy to the touch. In severe cases, the leaves may also exhibit a translucent or waterlogged appearance. Additionally, the plant’s roots may show signs of rotting, emitting a foul smell and turning brown or black.

What’s the best fertilizer for snake plants?

The best fertilizer for snake plants is a balanced fertilizer that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Additionally, you can use liquid fertilizers specifically designed for succulents or cacti. It’s important to use fertilizer only when the plant is actively growing, typically from spring to fall.