Snake plants are one of the toughest houseplants around. However, they do have their weaknesses. And one of these is when your Snake Plant gets mushy leaves.
Why does your snake plant have mushy leaves? Nearly 100% of the time, a snake plant has mushy leaves because of overwatering or waterlogging.
This can be caused by improper watering, using soil that holds too much moisture of a pot with no drainage.
Once you identify and fix the problem, you also want to remove the dead, soft of mushy leaves to help your plant recover.
Reasons for Snake Plant Mushy Leaves (And What to Do)
Snake plants are known for their, firm, upright leaves that stand almost straight up. However, if you touch and feel that your snake plant’s leaves are much, it is usually a cause for concern.
In most cases, any unusual change in your plant’s leaves means the plant is trying to tell you something. And this is the case when your snake plant’s leaves turn mushy, soft or limp.
Overwatering is the main cause of mushy leaves in snake plant. This is almost always the culprit. Therefore, it is the first thing you should check, especially because overwatering can lead to other more serious issues.
Snake plants are drought tolerant. As such, they don’t need a lot of water.
Unfortunately, many houseplant owners tend to be too generous with watering thinking that more water will help the plant stay healthier.
This is why overwatering is the number one cause of houseplant death.
And in the case of the snake plant, once there’s too much water, the soil becomes waterlogged.
What happens here is that the plant’s roots end up sitting in water for long periods of time. When this happens, they are deprived of oxygen (which they need in addition to water).
In addition to it leaves getting soft and mushy, you may also see them turn yellow. On the more serious end, root rot can set in.
This is why when you notice your snake plant has mushy leaves, it is important to check the soil. If the soil is wet, soggy or damp, it means the plant is overwatered.
Sometimes, the surface of the soil will easily reveal this. Other times, you’ll want to stick your finger into the soil down to about 2 to 4 inches.
if the soil is wet at that depth, it is important to take your investigation a step further.
This means checking for root rot.
While this is precautionary, I always like to be safe than sorry.
Because root rot happens under the soil, it is difficult to spot early unless you know the signs. Otherwise, the only time you become aware of it is when the leaves and stems start to show symptoms.
By then, some or many of the roots have either been damaged or rotted. Once too many roots have been damaged, the plant may be beyond saving.
So, always check the roots if you suspect any overwatering problem.
To do this, unpot the plant and brush off excess soil to expose the roots. You’re looking for black, mushy, soft and smelly roots.
If there is root rot, prune the rotted rots and repot the plant. Hopefully, you can save it and it will eventually recover.
If there is no root rot, put the plant back into its pot and allow the soil to dry out before you add more water. This will allow the plant to recover which will resolve the mushy leaves.
Poor drainage is another reason for snake plant mushy leaves.
In this case, it is not how much you water or how often you water. Instead, it may be the soil or the pot the plant is in that’s the problem.
This means that you can do a perfect job in watering your snake plant. However, if you use the wrong kind of soil or pot, it could negate all your effects.
The moment water reaches the soil, you’ve done your job. Now, it is the soil’s turn.
Unfortunately, there are many different types of soil around, each of them having different textures and water holding abilities.
Some tend to hold more water which makes them perfect for water-loving plants. Other soils drain faster which makes them more ideal for plants whose roots don’t like wet feet.
Of the two, the latter is what the snake plant likes.
Thus, you want to use well-draining soil for your snake plant. And if you use heavy soils or even regular houseplant potting soils, it will retain too much of the water your poured causing the roots to end up sitting in water for extended periods of time.
When this happens, you will see similar symptoms to that of overwatering. But this time the cause is waterlogged soil.
Thus, your snake plant will get mushy leaves. And the risk of root rot will emerge again.
Next, it is also important to use the right pot.
Some people will tell you that porous pots like terracotta are better than plastic pots because they allow moisture to seep out.
While true, I have not found enough of a difference to recommend spending more for clay or terracotta pots. That is, unless you like the way they look.
What’s more important is that the pot you choose has drainage. This comes in the from of holes at the bottom of the pot.
This helps with drainage because it allows the excess moisture that drained from the soil to exit the pot.
If your pot does not have holes, the drained liquid jus ends up pooling and building up at the bottom of the pot in contact with the soil.
When this happens, the soil will eventually reabsorb the water which causes waterlogging as well.
If you have pots with no holes and notice your snake plant’s leaves getting mushy, you can make holes yourself. This is easier with plastic pots since it is easier to drill holes in them.
Although, you can likewise do the same for clay and terracotta pots.
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Snake plant are accustomed to hot and humid conditions. That said, they do bets when you keep humidity at around 40%.
And while they’ll be happy with higher humidity you do want to be wary of going too high.
Overly humid environments will cause mushy leaves in snake plant.
For this reason, is it is not a good idea to mist the plant. I don’t recommend doing so because excess moisture not only causes your snake plant to have mushy leaves, it also increase the risk of pests and infection including leaf spot disease.
On the other hand, you also want to avoid very low humidity.
This causes a different set of problems.
When humidity it low, the plant tends to lose more moisture via transpiration. As such, it increases the risk of lack of water or even dehydration.
When this happens, you see your snake plant’s leaves droop and become brown and crispy on the tips and edges.
Should You Remove Mushy Leaves on Snake Plants?
Yes, it is a good idea to remove the mushy leaves. Mushy leaves won’t recover and become normal, healthy leaves. Additionally, they don’t look good.
But the most important reason for removing mushy leaves on your snake plat is because they expend energy.
While the leaves are attached to the plant, the plant will continue to support them. It will also spend valuable energy and resources to try and revive the leaves, which won’t do any good.
By removing the mushy leaves, you allow the plant to focus all its resources on the new and healthy foliage.
How To Tell If a Snake Plant is Overwatered?
Since overwatering and its many forms including waterlogged soil are the main reason for mushy leaves of snake plants, it is important to be aware of the symptoms.
In addition to mushy leaves, there are a few other signs you can look for that will help you identify overwatering.
By knowing them, you can spot the problem early and hopefully avoid the more serious consequences.
Soft, Mushy and Soggy Leaves
Snake plants are drought tolerant because they’re able to store moisture in their leaves.
So, once they are overwatered, their leaves end up retaining more water than the plant needs or it is normally used to. This is what causes leaves to get mushy and soft.
Similarly, if you see any wrinkles forming on your snake plant’s leaves it is likely a sign of too much moisture.
Finally, any instance of mold means that you need to address the issue.
Overwatering will cause leaf discoloration. For the most past, you’ll see leaves turn yellow and soft. However, there are times that overwatering will cause browning leaves as well. Brown leaves are often a sign of overwatering.
Since the color of the leaves can sometimes be misleading, it is important to always verify by checking the soil.
Wet, damp soil means overwatering is the problem. On the other hand, very dry soil indicates lack of water.
Brown Spots on Leaves
Brown spots on leaves of your snake plant can either be a sign of overwatering, fungal disease or pests.
Two of the three are caused by too much water. Therefore, it is the first thing to suspect and investigate.
With overwatering, wilting often accompanies the brown spot. Meanwhile, infections are often borne from damp environments.
Root rot is the most serious consequence of overwatering. And it can destroy your plant if you don’t spot it early.
This is why overwatering is very dangerous.
The thing is, it is easy to identify root rot. The roots turn black or brown. They’re also soft and mush and will have a foul odor.
But the difficulty is in seeing these symptoms because the roots are buried under the soil.
Therefore, any time you suspect overwatering, it is a good idea to unpot the plant to check. While this practice is overly cautious, I like to keep in mind that root rot only needs to happen once to kill your plant.
Droopy Leaves That Later Drop
Eventually, damaged leaves caused by overwatering will drop. As such, when you see your plant shedding quite a few leaves at the same time, something’s wrong.
Unfortunately, because this is a late-stage symptom, there’s likely to have been some kind of damage already sustained by your plant.
How to Properly Water Your Snake Plant
To avoid overwatering your snake plant, always check the soil before adding more water.
Remember, snake plants store water in their leaves. They can tolerate periods of dryness. More importantly, this makes them susceptible to too much water.
Therefore, always wait until the soil is almost completely dry between watering. Avoid watering too frequently of when the sol still feels moist.
When watering, soak the soil with water then allow all the excess liquid to drain before returning it to its original spot.
You can likewise water from the bottom of the pot. This takes longer but it allows the soil to absorb moisture at its own rate.
Finally, be aware of climate changes.
Winter brings cold weather and less sunlight. As such, the soil takes much longer to dry then compared to summertime. Additionally, the cold conditions also keeps the plant from actively growing.
Therefore, it does not need as much water or nutrients during the colder months.
Thus, watering your snake plant during winter like you would in the summer will increase its risk of overwatering.
So, make sure to cut back of watering during the colder months.