Snake plants can be affected by diseases, some of which manifest as curling leaves.
Drooping and wrinkled snake plant leaves are also symptoms of an underlying issue, often the same ones that cause curling leaves.
If you’re dealing with curling, drooping or wrinkled leaves, read my summary of possible causes and how to fix them.
Some of the chief reasons for curling leaves include overwatering, pest infestation, fungal diseases, and thermal shock.
The snake plant is drought-tolerant; its rhizomes store water, so overwatering can cause root rot, which in turn can cut off the supply of nutrients to the leaves.
With no nutrients being delivered, the leaves can droop and curl.
You can thoroughly water your snake plant but make sure to allow the soil to dry out before you water again.
Pests are another reason why your snake plant’s leaves can lose their upright position and become wrinkled.
There are a few pests that are more common for the snake plant including thrips, mealybugs, spider mites.
These tiny black bugs will feed on your plant, leaving tiny black specks and spreading to the entire plant. A snake plant infested with thrips will also have curled leaves.
Use a magnifying glass or do a ‘shake test’ to identify if you’re dealing with a thrips infestation. Shake the leaves of the snake plant over a white paper or cloth. If you see small black bugs on the white cloth, your snake plant is infested with thrips.
Solution: Remove dead or diseased leaves and leaves that are noticeably infested with thrips. Wipe the remaining healthy leaves with a damp cloth to remove any remaining thrips.
Mealybugs are a common houseplant pest that have oval-shaped, flat and waxy bodies. Their eggs are white, and cotton textured.
Solution: You can handle a small infestation by removing the mealybugs with a cotton ball or placing the plant under a water bath. A large infestation requires treatment with insecticidal soap.
– Spider Mites
Spider mites appear as round, red or black mites that you can identify by using the same “shake test” method I suggested for identifying a thrips infestation.
Like mealybugs, spider mites will feed on the sap of the snake plant, leaving it weak, crinkly and droopy. Sometimes, in advanced stages, the snake plant will lose its leaves.
Solution: Smaller infestations can be treated by wiping the spider mites off the bottom of the leaves with a damp sponge.
Spraying down the plant with a hose can also be a quick fix. A severe infestation should be treated with insecticidal soap.
A soapy water mixture (you can use regular dish soap) can be used as an alternative to insecticides.
Another cause of curling or wrinkled leaves in snake plants are fungal diseases, namely southern blight and red spot disease.
But fungal problems will have other symptoms as well, which will allow you to better identify the type of fungal disease affecting your snake plant.
For example, red spot disease will cause red lesions, web-like growths and dark brown and hardened leaves, in more advanced stages of the disease.
Fungal problems usually appear due to bad watering, especially overwatering. Excess watering can cause fungal issues to overtake your plant.
Solution: If you’ve been overwatering your snake plant and suspect you may be dealing with a fungal problem, you can try to repot in a new pot with fresh soil.
Remove diseased leaves and discard them. If the fungal disease is too advanced, you may need to discard the entire plant unless there is a healthy cutting you can still save to propagate your snake plant.
Snake plants that go through thermal shock can display a variety of symptoms including scarring, wilting, wrinkling or curling leaves.
The best temperature for snake plants is between 50-80 F. With such a wide temperature range, you’re unlikely to run into frost issues if you’re keeping your snake plant inside.
But frost damage is a real concern for plants kept outside throughout summer and fall. Make sure to take your snake plant back inside when the weather turns cold.
Should You Cut Off Dying Leaves?
Browned, diseased, or damaged leaves can be cut off from your snake plant. If only the tips are brown, you can cut only the tips off.
Other leaves can be cut entirely, as closely possible to the base. Use a clean, sharp blade or pruning shears.
Dried leaves or otherwise dead leaves can be gently tugged and pulled out from the root. If it’s easily dislodged, you can rest assured it was time for them to go.
Can You Save a Dying Snake Plant?
Snake plants are resilient and can bounce back easily once their environmental conditions are adjusted.
Depending on the underlying problem, you can bring back a snake plant from the brink of death by attempting the following things:
- If your snake plant is doing poorly because of overwatering, you can repot your snake plant in a well-draining potting medium and watering only when the soil dries out.
- If underwatering is the issue, adjust your watering regimen to normal.
- If you’re dealing with a pest infestation or fungal diseases, administering proper treatment will usually solve the issue.
- Reexamine humidity (snake plants enjoy humidity), temperature (50-85 °F) and light requirements (bright, indirect light).
With a good care regimen, you should notice your snake plant doing much better.
Because of the many snake plant varieties (Bird’s nest, Futura Robusta, Bantel’s Sensation, to name a few) and the elegance of this plant, they’re a common sight in many households.
We also know a lot about its requirements, so ticking these requirements off should not be difficult to any gardener eager to grow healthy plants.
Snake plants are adaptable plants that require minimal maintenance once their initial requirements are met.
Despite the plant’s resilience, they’re not immune to neglect and improper conditions. Root rot, pest infestations, exposure to extreme temperatures, fungal diseases can leave your snake plant doing poorly.
These can all cause curling of the leaves, which can ruin the aesthetics of the plant and shorten its lifespan.