Causes of Snake Plant Leaves Splitting (And Solutions)

Snake plant leaves splitting can be very alarming to any plant owner. However, the cracks and splits in its leaves are actually scarier than the actual problem.

That said, it still means that the plant is not getting all the requirements its needs.

As such, it requires your attention and help to make the necessary adjustments.

Snake plant leaves splitting usually happen due to physical injury. This can be due to lots of foot traffic and people brushing against the plant’s leaves while they pass by.

It can also be caused by curious young children or pets who play around the plant.

However, other issues like low humidity, nutrient deficiencies, watering issues, pests and extreme temperature will cause this issue.

Causes of Snake Plant Leaves Splitting and How to Fix Each

If you see your snake plant leaves splitting, then it is important to figure out what is going on.

In most cases, the problem isn’t too serious.

Nevertheless, the breaks and tears in the leaves will make your plant unsightly.

And since it takes a while for new leaves to grow, it is a shame for this lovely plant to look that way for long periods of time.

Below, I’ll go through the different possible causes of snake plant leaves splitting.

For each, I’ll also discuss ways on how to fix the problem.

 

Lack of Humidity

Snake plants are easy to care for because they don’t necessarily need high humidity.

As long as you keep humidity at 40% to 50%, it will grow very well

In fact, it can tolerate low humidity as well, even at 30%.

However, there’s a limit to this.

If the air gets very dry, then its leaves become prone to splitting. This happens as they lack of moisture in the air will eventually make the leaves feel dry.

After a while, they’ll become more crispy and even brittle.

This is when they are susceptible to splitting or cracking.

 

How to Fix It

There are two things to consider here.

One is to avoid your snake plant leaves splitting and the other is to fix the problem in case its leaves are already split or cracked.

To prevent a snake plant from splitting, it is important to keep humidity up.

You don’t need to push it all the way up to 60% or anything like that. As long as you keep it at 40% or so, the plant will grow optimally.

In additionally, try to feel the leaves every now and then.

Or you can check how they’re looking.

This lets you quickly notice if the leaves start becoming dry. If you feel this happening, check moisture.

Usually, it will either be humidity or lack of watering.

Try to keep the leaves from drying up. And act before the edges or tips start turning brown.

While you can still reverse it then, the browning is permanent and won’t turn green again.

Therefore, you’ll need to trim these off the leaves and reshape them.

If humidity is low, you can use a humidifier or mist the plant daily. Both will work.

In case you do not want to spend on a humidifier and don’t have time to mist regularly, use a pebble tray instead.

This will keep humidity around the plant to keep its leaves from splitting or cracking.

On the other hand, if your snake plant leaves have already split or crack, then fixing will consist of two things.

First, you’ll need to decide how you want to handle the leaves.

You can leave them as is or you can trim some sections off and reshape the damaged leaves.

In some cases, gardeners will just cut off the damaged parts to encourage the leaves to regrow from there.

After that, make sure to adjust humidity to avoid splitting leaves from happening again.

 

Physical Damage

Physical damage to the leaves is another common cause of snake plant splitting.

While the leaves feel firm when you touch them, constant tugging, pulling or brushing will eventually cause wear and tear.

As such, it is important to observe if these are happening.

From my experience, the most common ways that snake plants leaves split from physical damage is foot traffic.

If you position the plant in hallways or entryways, people passing by can easily brush against the plant.

When their hands, arms or legs keep hitting the leaves as they cross, the plant’s leaves will eventually sustain some damage.

How much will depend on the amount of people passing by that area.

I also know that some teens, kids or even adults will intentionally run their hands through the leaves to feel them as they walk by.

Often, just for fun.

But they don’t realize that when this is done many times a day, it will eventually damage the leaves.

Another common reason for snake plant leaves splitting due to physical damage are pets and kids.

In most cases, pets or kids playing around the plant will cause them to tug or pull on the leaves. Some may even try tearing them just for fun.

I know I had a dog who would tear up the plastic drinking bowls we gave her as a puppy just for fun.

After a while, I just got tired of replacing it and put a metal one. That stopped it.

The same is true for plant leaves where your curious or mischievous young cat or dog may playfully damage the leaves of our snake plant causing it to split.

Finally, there are accidents and mishandlings.

This happens when you’re reorganizing, decorating or just moving the plant to a better location. At times, it can happen when need to repot or propagate the plant and you accidentally get caught with some leaves.

 

How to Fix It

Fixing snake plant leaves splitting due to physical damage can be tricky because you need to see what’s actually causing the tears to the plant.

If it is a lot of foot traffic, then you can adjust the position of your snake plant so they’re not right in the path of visitors or family members.

Sometimes, the plant is right by the entryways do people easily brush against its leaves on a regular basis.

In this case, moving the plant just 1-2 feet farther will keep it away from contact when people walk by.

Other times, it may require a completely relocation of the plant.

When it comes to kids ands pets playing with your snake plant, this can be a bit more tricky.

One is teaching your children or training your pets not the play or toy with the plant. Or you can just move the plant somewhere it is out of their reach.

Finally, when it comes to mishandling and accidents, the only solution here is to be more mindful of the leaves when you’re moving the plant.

At times, it is just taking your time as well.

Accidents can occur when we’re in a hurry or want to quickly get something done. Or something else is on our minds that keeps up from properly focusing on what we’re doing at the moment.

That said, if you need to move your snake plant to avoid recurring physical damage to its leaves, make sure that you choose a location with:

  • Medium to bright indirect sunlight
  • Moderate to warm temperature
  • Good humidity

 

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Extreme Temperature

Snake plants like tropical and subtropical climates. This is what they are accustomed to as they are native to these regions of the world.

As such, its ideal temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is where it feels most comfortable. And it is also where it will grow at its best.

Like other plants, you’ll have some leeway of about 10 degrees Fahrenheit above and below this range. But as you go farther away, you’ll see its growth slow down.

The biggest thing you want to watch out for is cold conditions.

Snake plants start to experience problems once the temperature drops under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

It does not have good tolerance to the cold. Nor is it frost hardy.

This means leaving it in cold weather including that outside when winter arrives, increases the risk of scarring and seeing its leaves split or crack.

Similarly, this can happen when the temperature is too high. Although, the plant has better tolerance to heat so this is usually less likely.

However, if you leave the plant in temperatures over 100 degrees for long periods of time, you’ll start seeing damage to its foliage as well.

 

How to Fix It

The good news is that solving temperature issues is easy. All you need to do is move the plant to somewhere that fits its ideal temperature range.

That said, the cold or the heat can sneak up on you at times.

This is why if you take the plant outdoors, make sure to bring it back indoors around mid fall when the temperature nears 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Never leave your snake plant outside in winter as it will not survive through the season.

Indoors, be aware of heaters, radiators, ovens, fireplaces, air conditioners and vents.

These appliances can cause temperatures near them to significantly increase or decrease. Additionally, the fluctuation it causes also negatively affects your snake plant.

Lastly, be mindful of the cold spots in your home during winter.

This is likewise the case for any rooms or spaces in your home that can get really hot and stuffy during the summer.

Move the plant from these location if needed.

If you’re not sure what the temperature is at any given point in time, I highly suggest getting a digital thermometer. A portable one makes it easy to move from room to room.

 

Watering Issues

Overwatering is a common problem with snake plants. That’s because the plant is a succulent.

As such, it is used to storing moisture for periods of dryness.

This also means that it does not need regular watering.

For the most part, it only needs to be watered once very two weeks.

Note that this can change during summers when the weather gets really hot.

The problem with watering the plant too often is that it will try to store more moisture in its leaves. As a result, its foliage will expand to do so.

If you keep watering too frequently, you’ll see your snake plant leaves split as they won’t be able to expand past a certain point.

That said, inconsistent watering can also cause this.

What happens is when you overwater the plant, the leaves will expand rapidly. But during times you forget to water, they will shrink as they’re short on water.

The back and forth expanding and shrinking eventually will damage the integrity of the tissues causing the leaves of your snake plant to split as well.

Another possibility is temperature changes or hot temperatures.

When the temperature suddenly rises and the plant has too much water, the faster rate of transpiration triggered by the heat will cause the plant’s leaves to shrink as well.

Again, this can cause leaf splitting problems.

 

How to Fix It

Snake plants do not need to be watered every day.

In fact, if you do this, you run the risk of overwatering.

Instead, the plant only needs to be watered once every 2 to 8 weeks. And this is why it is a very popular houseplant and office décor.

In addition to being beautiful to look at, it is also very tough, able to tolerate neglect and is low maintenance.

That said, in most cases, you’ll likely need to water the plant once every 2 weeks.

As the weather gets colder towards the end of the year, the interval increases to every 6 to 8 weeks especially in winter.

Doing so helps prevent overwatering.

I prefer to feel the soil to check how much moisture it has.

As long as you water the plant when the soil gets dry, you’ll do well.

So, wait until the top half of the soil is dry before you water. You can likewise let the entire root ball go dry between waterings.

Any time in between this range works well.

 

Pests

Unfortunately, as tough and resilient as snake plants are, they are still susceptible to damage from pests.

For the most part, spider mites and mealybugs are usually the pests this plant has to deal with. However, other bugs can also come around.

That said, most of the pests that like to attack snake plants are sap suckers.

These insects will take a bite out of the leaves and start robbing the plant of its internal juices.

Initially, you’ll just see small dots or marks appear on foliage. But as the pests grow in number, you’ll begin seeing holes develop.

Sadly, if the pests turn into infestations, you’ll see parts or sections of your snake plant’s leaves split. You’ll also see scars and cracks in the foliage as well.

What’s worse is that as more and more pests steal the plant’s sap, it will get weaker and weaker.

That’s because sap contains moisture and nutrients that sustains the different parts of the plant.

 

How to Fix It

Doing regularly checkups is the best way prevent split leaves on snake plants due to pests.

While there is no way to completely guarantee that pests never come around to bother the plant, early detection lets you avoid the more serious damage.

This prevents yellowing leaves, splitting leaves, holes or other foliage issues caused by these insects.

Plus, the earlier you spot the pests, the easier they are to get rid of since there are only a few of them.

On the other hand, it takes much longer and becomes more complicated to eradicate pest infestations.

Whenever I see pests on my plants, my first line of defense is to spray them off with a hose or shower head.

This is a quick and easy way to remove many bugs in a very short period of time.

Removing them manually also works if you don’t mind doing some work yourself.

But often, spraying with water two or three times with a few days in between will let you get rid of all the pests from the plant.

In case the pests are stubborn or there are still some left, you can use neem oil or insecticidal soap and spray on the affected parts of the plant.

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