Snake plant drooping is a likely sign of moisture issues (overwatering or underwatering), extreme temperature, too much light, or low humidity. But other things like overfeeding, rootbound, repotting or a transplant shock, pests diseases, damage, etc., may be causes.
Discover all the causes of drooping snake plants or leaves and fixes or what to do. We will also tell you the common symptoms each reason has to help you quickly know what it is for your case.
About snake plant
Snake plant (Dracaena Trifasciata, formerly Dracaena Trifasciata) is a lovely houseplant succulent with sword-like alternating bands of green shades. But some varieties or cultivars have variegated outer margins, especially yellow or whitish.
It belongs to the family Asparagaceae with popular cultivars being Laurentii, Golden Hahnii, Moonshine, Cylindrica, Hahnii Jade Pagoda, Futura Robusta, Black Gold, Craigii, Black Coral, Futura Superba, etc.
Lastly, other common names include mother-in-law's tongue or mother-in-law's tongue and it is native to tropical Africa, from Nigeria, eastwards to Congo.
Why plants droop or wilt?
In plants, one of the functions of water is helping to maintain turgor pressure or cell plumpness. So, when any plant doesn’t have enough water, cells will become flaccid, making it droop especially leaves and stems of herbaceous plants (non-woody plants.
Of course, water has other roles in plants like photosynthesis, keeping the plants cool (via transpiration), and nutrient transport. Also, it forms part of the protoplasm, a medium of many physiological processes, etc.
Why is my snake plant drooping and fixes
Now, let us look at the various reasons why your Mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant droops. We will start with the most likely. Use the elimination method by looking at other signs to pinpoint the most likely cause for your case.
1. Moisture issues – underwatering and overwatering
Underwatering is the leading cause of snake plant drooping. Your plant cannot get enough water to keep cells turgid. To confirm it is underwatering, check if the soil is dry and the drooping improves after giving this houseplant a drink.
Other indications of underwatered snake plants include leaves curling, turning yellow, stunted growth, leaves falling off, etc.
On the other hand, surprisingly, overwatering may also make Mother-in-law’s tongue to leaves droop or wilt, and watering won’t improve things. If you suspect it’s overwatering, the main sign to look for is your snake plant leaves turning yellow, starting with lower leaves.
More signs include a wet potting mix even after not watering for a couple of days, mushy stem base, moldy potting mix, black or brown splotches on leaves, etc.
Why does overwatering make plants droop? Because overwatering cuts oxygen from the roots. So, without oxygen, roots cannot grow or even absorb water effectively and leaves.
Water your plant when about 50% of the potting mix is dry to fix moisture issues. But don’t let it completely dry and always feel the soil.
If overwatering is the problem, don’t water your plant and check for signs of root rot. Also, if the potting mix drains and your pot has drainage holes. Also, always discard any water that collects on the saucer or cachepot.
On the other hand, people who neglect their plants need to set reminders for the next watering session. But always ensure you feel the soil. Also, ensure your potting mix holds moisture without being soggy.
2. Extreme temperatures
Very high temperature or heat stress will increase the rate of water loss from the leaves. And if this plant cannot replace the lost water, it will droop and wilt. Other signs include brown edges and tips, leaves curling, etc.
On the other hand, cold drafts or chilly conditions may make the water inside the plant crystalize. As water freezes, it will damage plant tissues. Consequently, the plant may droop or wilt and have brown or black splotches, among other symptoms.
Maintain the optimum temperature of 55 to 90°F (12.8 to 32°C), and don’t put your plant hear heat emitting vents or appliances. Similarly, move plants from drafty areas in winter and don’t put them next to your air conditioning vent.
Lastly, avoid sudden temperature changes as they stress your Dracaena trifasciata and many other houseplants.
3. Too much light
When under much light, snake plants may droop. Why? Because they convert excess light, they absorb heat and dissipate it via transpiration. As water evaporates, it absorbs the excess heat, keeping plants cool.
As your plant tries to keep cool, expect leaves to droop if it loses more water than what roots absorb. Other signs of direct sunlight include leaf scorch, discoloration (looking bleached, washed out, paler or yellowish), curling, and so on.
Move your plant from where it receives direct sunlight. Outdoors, a shade or greenhouse will do.
If indoor, place it at a distance from the window where the direct sun doesn’t reach it, especially the hot scorching midday and afternoon sun. The south-facing and west-facing windows will likely allow the hot direct sun to hit your plant in the northern hemisphere.
4. Low humidity
The other reason for snake plant drooping is low humidity. Yes, these plants can tolerate average household humidity, but they prefer 45% or more. Your plant may droop, wilt, and have crispy brown tips and edges if your humidity is so low. Also, some leaves may turn yellow, and your houseplant will have increased water needs.
To help fix the problem, mist your plant, move it to the more humid room (kitchen, bathroom, etc.), or have a pebble tray.
The other ways to raise humidity are grouping plants if you have many (creates a microclimate) or buying a humidifier (the surest way).
A brand such as AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier is perfect. It is affordable and runs quietly. Also it is safe for kids or pets and you only need to refill it once in 24 hours.
Sap-sucking pests like spider mites, scale insects, mealybugs, thrips, or aphids are a less likely reason for snake plant drooping. But in case of a heavy infestation, it can occur because these bugs drink plant juice, depriving it of nutrients and water.
Use a 10X magnifying glass to help see if there are any bugs. They will appear as bumps or dots that may fly or not. Some have wings, others waxy bodies.
Alternatively, you can check for the various signs like webbing, honeydew, sooty mold, spots (brown, black, or yellow), silvery stippling, etc. But the exact symptoms depend on the bug present. Use insecticidal soaps, neem oil like Bonide BND022- Ready to Use Neem Oil, or horticultural spray oil to kill these bugs.
Fungus gnats are the other ignored pest that may cause sudden wilting and drooping leaves yellowing. Why? Because its larvae feed on the roots.
The easiest way to deal with fungus gnats is by pouring a 20% hydrogen peroxide solution (1 part of hydrogen peroxide solution to 4 parts of water). Also, mulching the potting mix with ¼ inch horticultural sand may help prevent these bugs.
If you overfeed or use the wrong fertilizers, they can result in salt deposits in the soil or burn roots. Both these two actions will make it hard for plants to absorb water. Consequently, your plant may begin drooping and wilting. But the most likely sign will be fertilizer burn characterized by brown tips and edges.
Other signs of overfeeding include yellowing, curling, drooping of leaves, stunted growth, etc. Also, you may see white deposits on the potting mix.
To fix overfeeding, start by flushing the soil. This process involves pouring a lot of lukewarm water, i.e., about four times the pot size through the potting mix. You can also scoop the top about ¼ an inch of the potting mix if you see fertilizer crusts or repot the plant.
Afterward, since they are not heavy feeders, only feed your plants once a month with an all-purpose balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength.
Although not balanced, we use Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food and feed our plant biweekly.
Also, you can use slow-release formula like Succulents & Cactus Plant Food 1-1-1 that has sulfur, magnesium, and other micronutrients. They can feed this plant for up to 9 months.
7. Diseases and root rot
Leaf spot diseases will cause brown lesions on leaves and stem without making your plant droop or wilt. But root rot or some stem diseases will cause drooping and wilting.
As disease girdle the stem or causes roots to decay, your snake plant will lose the ability to absorb water. As a result, your plant will drop or wilt, grow slowly, have yellowish leaves, among other symptoms.
Begin by checking for any signs of snake plant root rot. If show, repot it, removing any decayed parts. Afterward, don’t overwater your plants and ensure your potting mix drains.
Less likely reasons for snake plant drooping
The less likely reasons for snake plant leaves drooping are:
- Transplant and repotting – If you relocated, transplanted, or repotted your snake plant, the drooping leaves are just a sign of shock. Leaves may also curl, turn yellow, have brown edges and tips, etc. Provide optimum conditions, ensure the potting mix is moist, and reduce root damage when transplanting.
- Rootbound: If your Dracaena trifasciata has outgrown the pot, it cannot get enough water or nutrients, and drooping is one of the symptoms. Others are leaf discoloration, falling, stunted growth, etc. Check if roots are spiraling on the pot wall and have formed a hard mass or grown from drainage holes. If so, consider repotting your plant to a new pot 2-3 inches wider in diameter.
- Damage or injury: If you injure the plant stem, roots, or leaves, it may fail to transport water as usual, and leaves will droop. Give it time to recover or remove the damaged part if possible.