Why Does My Snake Plant Have Brown Spots? (how to fix it asap)

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Why does my snake plant have brown spots?

Knowing exactly what to do is so crucial to keeping it alive.

If you’ve dabbled in keeping plants indoors, you’re likely familiar with the snake plant. This leafy green beauty is not only lovely to look at but incredibly easy to take care of, making it a popular choice for beginners. However, you may notice your snake plant exhibiting discoloration, liquid browning spots on snake plants, or even wilting from time to time.

If brown spots are appearing on the snake plant’s leaves, this could be caused by one of two things. Either the plant is not receiving the appropriate amount of water, or there could be fungus growing underneath the potting soil, affecting the plant’s roots. 

Luckily, both scenarios are quite easy to fix. This article will examine the causes of brown spots on your snake plant, solutions you can try, and other useful Sansevieria Trifasciata care tips.

Is Sansevieria Trifasciata a Snake plant?

Yes, Sanseviera Trifasciata is a snake plant. This popular indoor plant, also has a third nickname, Mother in Law’s Tongue. Sansevierias are known to be hardy and low maintenance. There’s almost no way to kill this plant. They love to be neglected just a little too much. 

Just be aware that because they’re hardy and difficult to kill, doesn’t mean that there won’t be problems associated with it (if the right conditions aren’t met.

But have no fear, their problems are fixable.

Resource: 36 BEST Indoor Plants for the First Time Plant Parent {aka Beginners}

What causes brown spots on a Snake plant? 

Though snake plants are considered to be an easy house plant to care for, they can be finicky at times. The first thing to do when purchasing a snake plant is to read up on the care they require and create a routine you can remember to do. That way, you can make sure you aren’t neglecting your plant.

a healthy snake plant on a table

Typically, brown spots on your snake plant are caused by two reasons: inconsistent watering and fungus. The next sections will go into more detail about both, as well as how to prevent sansevieria brown leaf spots from occurring in the first place.

Inconsistent watering

Snake plants, also known as Sansevieria Trifasciata, do not require much watering. Depending on the soil and potting mix, you may only need to water your plant once a week or even less. Experts recommend watering your snake plant only when the top inch of the soil is dry. When it comes time to water, only add enough to moisten the soil. You don’t want it to be sopping wet!

Plant TIP: Sufficient watering is when your water starts seeping out of the drainage holes during your watering session.

Overwatering is a big concern for snake plant owners, as many people find themselves surprised at how little effort must be given. Even if it’s been a while since your last watering session, double-check that the soil is dry enough to be watered. If the soil mix is still moist, wait a couple of days before watering again.

At the same time, underwatering can also be an issue that snake plant owners may face. You may find yourself forgetting to care for weeks for your houseplant, since it’s durable and will not exhibit signs of malnourishment for a while.

Wet Brown spots may appear on your snake plant’s leaves if the plant itself is not getting enough water.

The struggle is real with this watering issue!

Plant TIP:  If you’re ever unsure about when your plant is thirsty or if it’s too soon to water your tropical plant, use the finger test. Stick your finger an inch or two into the soil. If your finger comes out dirt free, then the soil is dry enough to be watered. If there are speckles of dirt on your finger, I would put it off for the day and try again tomorrow. Instead of sticking my finger into the soil, I like to use a bamboo skewer. It works just as well, well slightly better since I don’t have to get my hands dirty. 

a snake plant next to a window sill with no brown spots

It’s better for plants to be underwatered than overwatered.

And remember, when you water your sansevieria plant or any other indoor plant, continue to pour water into the potting mix until you see it start to drain from the drainage hole. That’s the indicator to stop watering.  

Resource: How to quickly rehydrate a wilted houseplant

Fungus in the soil mix

Anyone who’s kept an indoor plant knows how easy it is for fungus to grow, especially when your plant doesn’t have proper drainage. Though less common, the liquid brown spots on your snake plant may be caused by a fungal infection. 

One main reason why fungus thrives on indoor plants is the soil’s inability to dry out completely. While snake plants don’t require direct sunlight, you’ll want to be sure that they have access to some in order to dry the soil after watering.

Additionally, ensure that your plant has proper drainage by repotting it into a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.

When there is nowhere for excess water to drain, fungus can grow. Always make sure that your snake plant’s soil is drying out properly after watering. 

When in doubt, add some perlite or pumice to your potting mix to help increase adequate drainage, if your potting mix still does not dry. Or try switching to a different type of soil that can provide more drainage and aeration for your roots.

How do you fix brown spots on snake plants?

First of all, don’t panic! It’s likely a temporary ailment that can be easily fixed.

1. Typically, the brown spots are caused by overwatering. In this case, check to see if your plant’s soil is able to dry out properly. If not, move your plant temporarily into an area with more sunshine.

a healthy snake plant near a window sill with no wet brown spots

2. Avoid watering your plant until the soil has dried completely. When it comes time to water, only water enough to moisten up the soil! Any leftover water will either drain out the bottom of the pot or cause fungus to grow. Start by watering just a little bit and add more if necessary.

3. You may also want to try moving your plant to an area of lower humidity if the soil won’t seem to dry out.

4. Remove any dead or crispy leaves by cutting them with a sterilized scissor

5. If you notice the brown leaf spots on your snake plant aren’t going away, visit your local nursery. The store associates should be able to determine the cause of the discoloration and guide you in the right direction.

Does my Snake plant have root rot?

While overwatering is typically the cause of brown edges on your snake plant, you may notice that your plant is not responding to an adjusted watering schedule. In that case, it is possible that your snake plant is suffering from root rot.

Root rot is typically caused by soil that is too wet, which allows the disease to easily spread and attack the roots of your plant. Unfortunately, the main solution for root rot is to discard the plant altogether. However, if you catch your plant’s root rot in time, you may be able to save it.

To check for root rot, simply remove the plant from the pot to examine its roots. If the roots are discolored, soft, and looking sickly, root rot is likely the culprit.

In some cases, you may be able to simply trim the roots right above where the rot has set in and repot the plant with new soil. Choose a pot with holes on the bottom instead of something without. This will allow the soil to drain efficiently. 

Placing the pot on top of a saucer will ensure that the surfaces of your home are not damaged by water.

If all of the roots have been affected, you may need to discard your plant and purchase a new one.

Root rot is difficult to deal with, but luckily it can be avoided by making sure that your plant has plenty of drainages and isn’t being overwatered.

How to care for a Snake plant

Providing snake plant care is incredibly easy, which is why the species is such a popular choice among homeowners. The main thing to remember when caring for your plant is not to overwater or overexpose your plant to light. Indirect sunlight will work just fine, as you don’t want to burn your snake plant. Be wary of your eagerness; it could damage your plant! 

a type of sansevieria plant

There are a few other things to remember when taking care of your snake plant: 

  • Choose the right soil. Because snake plants are more susceptible to fungus and root rot than other house plants, you’ll want to ensure that the soil you choose is free-draining. You can research viable options online or speak to an associate at your local nursery.
  • Avoid if you have pets. According to Apartment Therapy, the leaves of a snake plant are toxic to cats and dogs if consumed. Either opt for a different plant choice or keep your snake plant out of your animals’ reach. 
  • Keep the temperature up. Snake plants can suffer damage if kept in areas colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They typically do best in a warmer region, or in a home with frequently-run heat. Just make sure that you keep them away from cold drafts and heat sources, as both of these can cause physical damage to the plant. 
  • Have the right light conditions. Even though it can tolerate direct sunlight, it will thrive so much better in indirect sunlight. If you were to move your plant from a sunny to a shady spot (or vice versa), do so gradually. Sansevieria plants tend to get stress when their lighting conditions are abruptly changed.
  • Check for pest infestation (at least every time you water your plant). Be on the lookout for mealybugs and spider mites. They can be quite the plant sucker and will suck the sap out of every leaf possible. Have your neem oil or insecticide soap ready to go at all times in a spray bottle.

Resource: How to Increase Humidity in a Room for Indoor Plants

Final thoughts on why does my Snake plant have brown spots?

3 mother in laws tongue plant near a window with no liquid brown spots on the leaves

Snake plants are popular choices for indoor plants due to their durability and low maintenance. You may notice some discoloration in your snake plant from time to time, but don’t fret.

For a healthy snake plant, simply adjust your watering schedule and examine your plant for root rot. I hope that this article has offered helpful information on how to diagnose and treat your snake plant.

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