Why Snake Plant Leaves Curl? Is It Underwatering Or Something Else?

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I knew snake plants can tolerate neglect, but why does snake plant leaves curl? Recently, I have heard so much about this question. Even my cousin Alex said that his snake plant leaves curl.

He wanted to know why snake plant leaves curl and what to do in this situation.

Why Snake Plant Leaves Curl

But now the question is how to diagnose the actual reason. And how to fix this problem? You don’t need to be worried. You are in the right place. Just read it patiently.

Key takeaways:

  • Facing underwatering issues? Then ready to see curling leaves. 
  • Don’t worry, you can determine and take proper steps to solve it. 
  • Small Pot (4 inches): Watering every 1-2 weeks
  • Large Pot (8 inches): Watering every 3-4 weeks

Why Snake Plant Leaves Curl?

You can see most people who love plants have snake plants in their homes. Because snake plants are known for their architectural beauty and low-maintenance reputation. But it can sometimes surprise you with unexpected curling leaves. 

While this might send chills down your plant’s parent spine, fret not! Curled leaves are simply your snake plant’s way of communicating distress. Let’s delve into the reasons why is my snake plant wrinkled:

Why Snake Plant Leaves Curl

Watering Woes

Snake plants are champions of drought tolerance. But that doesn’t mean they’re immune to watering issues. Both under and overwatering can cause snake plant leaves curled up.

Underwatering: 

Underwatering is the most common culprit. When your snake plant doesn’t receive enough water, its cells become dehydrated. This lack of moisture makes the leaves lose their turgidity. And you wonder why is my snake plant wrinkly. 

You may know snake plants conserve water in their leaves. So they redirect moisture away from the leaves to more crucial functions like root survival.

The leaves begin to curl inwards to minimise water loss through the surface area. This reduces the exposed surface area and helps your plant retain precious moisture.

Overwatering:

Many people have asked why snake plant leaves curl after watering. Snake plants, with their desert origins, are adapted to survive in dry conditions. They have a shallow root system that thrives on good drainage and aeration.

When you provide excess water, the soil becomes saturated, ultimately suffocating the roots. This lack of oxygen hinders their ability to absorb water and nutrients effectively.

To compensate for the impaired root function, your plant may start to shut down some non-essential functions. Including the proper distribution of water to the leaves. As a result, you see your snake plant leaves curling and drooping.

Light Mishaps

Snake plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Harsh direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. It can cause snake plant leaves curling over to minimize damage. Think of it as your plant trying to shield itself from sunburn.

On the other hand, In low-light conditions, snake plants may struggle to produce enough energy through photosynthesis. This can lead to weak, stretched leaves that eventually curl due to lack of support.

Temperature Trouble

Snake plants can tolerate warmer temperatures. But excessive heat (above 85°F/27°C) can stress out your plant. This disrupts their internal processes and leads to increased water loss. In response, snake plant leaves curling under to minimise surface area and conserve moisture.

Temperature Trouble

On the contrary, exposure to cold temperatures (below 50°F/10°C) can also damage them. This can cause new growth to curl downwards and droop. But older leaves might remain unaffected. 

The cold disrupts water uptake and nutrient flow. It can hinder your plant’s ability to maintain healthy leaves.

Rootbound Issues

It’s right that snake plants are slow growers, but can eventually outgrow their pots. As your snake plant matures, its snake plant root system expands. It fills the pot with a dense network of roots. 

Once the pot is full, the roots have nowhere to go. Additionally, this hinders their ability to absorb water and nutrients effectively. To compensate for this limitation, your plant starts to shut down non-essential functions, such as the proper distribution of water to the leaves.

This lack of water reaching the leaves can cause them to curl inwards. Curling reduces the surface area, minimizing water loss through transpiration.

Pests and Diseases

This is uncommon. Some pests like mealybugs or scales can infest your snake plant. It can cause damage and lead to curled leaves. Fungal infection due to overwatering can also manifest as curled foliage.

Pests and Diseases

Figure Out What Causes Snake Plant Leaves To Curl

When your beloved snake plant’s leaves start to curl, it can be alarming. But fear not, plant detective. While curled leaves can be a cause for concern, it’s also a communication tool for your plant. By carefully examining your snake plant and its environment,  you can determine the main reasons why snake plant leaves bending:

Consider the Watering Habits:

  • Underwatering: This is the most common culprit. Check the soil moisture by sticking your finger an inch or two deep. Dry soil and crispy, brown edges on the leaves indicate underwatering.
  • Overwatering: To identify overwatering, look for soggy soil, a foul odor, and mushy leaves at the base of your plant.

 Assess the Temperature:

  • Heat Stress: Extreme temperatures (above 85°F/27°C) can cause leaves to curl to minimize water loss. So, measure the temperature around your plant. 
  • Cold Damage: Exposure to cold temperatures can cause new growth to curl downwards. If the temperature is below  50°F/10°C, this can be the main reason. 

Inspect the Pot and Roots:

Rootbound Issues: If roots are visible pushing through the drainage holes, your plant might be rootbound. Curled leaves can be a sign of water and nutrient deficiencies due to the cramped roots of snake plants.

Look for Pests or Diseases:

  • Pests: While uncommon, pests like mealybugs or scale can infest your snake plant. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pests. Mealybugs are immobile and suck sap from the plant. Unlike mealybugs, scale, spider mites, insects are hard-shelled and immobile. They can be brown, grey, or yellow and look like bumps on the leaves or stems.
  • Fungal Diseases: Fungal diseases often start at the base of the leaves. It can also start at the stem and spread upwards. Look for a pattern in these parts to diagnose fungal diseases. 

Will Snake Plant Leaves Uncurl?

Unfortunately, curled leaves of your snake plant themselves won’t magically uncurl once the issue is addressed.  The plant can’t reverse the physical changes that caused the curl. However, there’s hope. With proper care based on the diagnosed reason for curling, new growth will come in healthy and straight.

Will Snake Plant Leaves Uncurl

Obviously, the curled leaves might remain as a reminder. But your snake plant can recover and produce beautiful, upright foliage. It just requires addressing the underlying cause.

How Do You Fix Curling Snake Plant Leaves?

First, you have to identify the actual reason for curling leaves. When it is done, you have to take proper steps accordingly to fix this issue. As the reasons can be different, the fixing method will also be different. Follow the steps which are related to your plant to fix curling snake plant leaves: 

How Do You Fix Curling Snake Plant Leaves

Underwatering: 

If the reason is underwatering, address its thirst with a thorough watering. Soak the soil completely until water runs freely out of the drainage holes. A larger pot will require watering less frequently than a small pot for a snake plant

  • Small Pot (4 inches): Watering every 1-2 weeks
  • Large Pot (8 inches): Watering every 3-4 weeks

You can change the frequency depending on climate, and light conditions.

Overwatering:

When the reason is overwatering, stop watering immediately: This is crucial to prevent further root damage. If your pot lacks drainage holes, repot your snake plant into a pot with adequate drainage. 

Then, you can loosen the top layer of soil with a fork. It helps to improve air circulation around the roots. When the soil is dry completely, it’s time to water your plant. This might take several days to a week. 

The most important thing is to water moderately. Consider watering every 3-4 weeks or even longer during this time. You must also water your snake plant very attentively.

Too Much Light:  

Direct sunlight can scorch your snake plant leaves, causing curling and discoloration. So, move your plant to a location with bright, indirect light. South-facing windows are generally too harsh. The ideal place is east or north-facing.

Insufficient Light:

Snake plants are tolerant of lower light conditions. But if you let them sit for prolonged periods in dim light, leaves will curl. Try moving your plant to a brighter spot. You have to ensure it’s getting at least 4-6 hours of indirect light.

Temperature Extremes: 

To fix this issue, move your snake plant away from heat sources like radiators, vents, or sunny windows. But mind the drafts. Avoid placing your plant near frequently opened doors or windows. You should aim for a range between  65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius).

Repotting:

If your snake plant is rootbound, the pot is likely too small. Repot your snake plant into a pot only slightly larger (1-2 inches wider). It should have a fresh, well-draining soil.

Treat the infestation:

If pests like mealybugs or scale are identified, isolate the plant immediately. Then, Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to dab individual mealybugs or scale insects. 

You can also treat it with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Mix according to label instructions. Then, thoroughly coat the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves. Repeat the application every 7-10 days, up to 2-3 times. It will depend on the severity of the infestation.

Tips Prevent Snake Plant Leaves From Curling.

Prevention is always better than cure. So you have to be aware of this before curling the leaves of your snake plant. But how will you prevent this problem? 

You have to take care of your plant according to their needs. By following these simple tips you will be profited enough: 

  • Water: Water thoroughly when the soil dries out, avoiding overwatering. Large pots need water less often than small ones. Don’t provide water again before the soil completely dries out. 
  • Light: Provide bright, indirect light. If not possible, supplement with artificial light. However, avoid harsh sunlight and prolonged low-light conditions.
  • Temperature: Keep your plant in a consistent temperature range of 65-75°F (18-24°C). Avoid hot/cold drafts.
  • Potting: Use a pot with drainage holes that are sized appropriately for the roots.
  • Fertilize sparingly: A balanced fertiliser with 10-10-10 NPK and applied 1-2 times during the growing season is enough.
  • Monitor pests: Regularly check for and treat mealybugs or scale to prevent leaf damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Can Pests Or Diseases Cause Snake Plant Leaves To Curl?

Absolutely! Sap-sucking pests like thrips and mealybugs can weaken leaves, causing them to curl. Less common, but also possible, is a fungal disease called southern blight. This can cause curling alongside rapid yellowing.

Can Repotting My Snake Plant Help Alleviate Leaf Curling?

Yes, repotting can address leaf curling in snake plants if rootbound issues cause it. Over time (usually every 3-5 years), roots outgrow their pot. It restricts water and oxygen uptake. And lead to stunted growth and curling leaves.

What Does An Overwatered Snake Plant Look Like?

An overwatered snake plant will typically have mushy, yellowing leaves. It looks droopy or lose its upright form.

Conclusion

It’s not time to wondering why snake plant leaves curl. By doing a little detective work, you can usually diagnose the issue and get your plant back on track.

You should look for watering habits, light levels, temperature fluctuations, and potential pests or diseases. It will help you pinpoint the culprit and take corrective action. 

The good news is that snake plants’ curled leaves can often recover. Follow all the methods and tips explored in the article. Finally, enjoy your healthy plant’s beauty and benefits. Have more questions about the snake plant? Then, hit up the experts for the plan trick.

Raina Trick

Written by

Raina Trick

Meet Rayna Trick: Your Indoor Plant Whisperer! With her roots in environmental science and a passion for exotic succulents, she’s the Green Thumb of the Year. Rayna’s here to be your plant companion, sharing her expertise and nurturing your green oasis at PlantTrick. Let’s make your indoor space bloom, one leaf at a time, together!

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