Drought-resistant, sturdy, low-light-tolerant snake plants are every plant owner’s dream. Also called Sansevieria, these sturdy plants can survive on a minimum of water, light, fertilizer, and general care.
Unfortunately, even the hardiest of plants can run into problems every now and then.
A common issue with snake plants is curling leaves. If your plant’s usually broad, flat leaves are starting to curl, here’s what you need to know.
Why Does My Snake Plant Have Curly Leaves?
The most common reason your snake plant’s leaves are curling is because it’s been underwatered. However, just about anything that stresses out your plant can cause curly leaves. In some cases, curling leaves can also be caused by insects, fungus, and improper temperatures.
Common Reasons for Curling Leaves in Snake Plants
To fix the problem with your snake plant, you need to first figure out why the leaves are curling. Learning about the common reasons for curly leaves will help you identify which issue is affecting your plant.
Snake plants have a reputation for being incredibly drought-resistant. Unlike most house plants, they only need to be watered around twice a month.
In fact, overwatering snake plants is one of the most common ways people kill them!
However, snake plants still need some water to get by. If you forget to water them for a month or so, the leaves will start to curl in an attempt to conserve moisture.
If the plant is dehydrated, leaves will look curly, wrinkly, or dry. They may also turn yellow or droop.
Bugs like thrips, mealybugs, or spider mites can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy snake plant. Next to overwatering, thrips are the most common reason for curly leaves in a sansevieria.
As insects eat the plant, they damage the cell walls of the snake plant. This damage deforms the leaves, causing them to curl inwards.
Most snake plant pests are incredibly tiny, so it can be hard to see them. Try shaking your plant’s leaves over a white surface or looking at the leaves with a magnifying glass.
Thrips will look like tiny, black and specks, while mites look red and mealybugs look white. They often cluster at the base of leaves, where your snake plant leaves are packed together tightly.
There are various types of fungi, like red leaf spot and southern blight, that can damage your plant’s leaves or roots. Plants with a fungal infection will usually have web-like growth’s or discolored spots in red, white, black, or brown.
Most fungal infections are caused by overwatering. When the plant’s moisture balance gets out of control, fungi can flourish in damp soils.
Fungi also spread rapidly. If your plant has been in contact with other infected plants, it might develop an infection.
Snake plants optimal temperature range is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When these heat-loving plants get cold, the leaves may curl in to protect themselves.e
Cold damage usually is not an issue indoors, but it can be the culprit behind curly leaves on patio or outdoor plants.
In addition to curling leaves, cold damage may also cause leaves to darken or scar.
What You Can Do to Treat Curly Leaves
Now that you’ve got an idea of why your leaves might be curling, try these techniques to address the problem.
Water Soak Your Plant
If you suspect your plant is underwatered, this technique lets you properly water it without the risk of drowning your plant. To do it, you just need to make sure your pot has drainage holes.
To water soak your plant, fill up a sink or tub with about three inches of room temperature water. Place the plant in the water for at least 45 minutes to let the roots drink up water through the drainage hole.
Remove your plant, let it drain thoroughly, and then put it back in its usual spot. Make sure you water your plant twice a month to avoid this problem in the future.
Get Rid of Insect Infestations
First of all, make sure your plant is far away from any other houseplants. The last thing you want to do is spread the infestation.
Next, start removing leaves that show any sign of a bug infection. After disposing of them properly, use a damp cloth to wipe down both sides of each leaf.
Finally, spritz your plant with neem oil a couple times each week to keep the bugs from coming back.
Fight Fungal Infections
When you are dealing with a fungal infection, your main goal is simply to give the snake plant healthy growing conditions, so it can fight off the fungus on its own.
Just like an insect infestation, start by moving the plant away from other plants and picking off any infected leaves. Then you can use a fungicidal mix to clean off the leaves of each plant.
Once the worst of the fungus is removed, you need to focus on creating growing conditions that promote plant growth without allowing fungus growth.
Keep your snake plant in a warm room with bright, indirect light. Try to keep your plant as dry as possible, watering occasionally with a single deep watering instead of keeping it constantly moist.
Maintain Stable Temperatures
If you have outside plants, you may need to work to protect them from extremely cold temperatures.
Potted snake plants should be brought indoors during the winter. For plants you cannot move, covering them with a blanket or a clear plastic sheet may be able to help.
Usually, cold-damaged plants will recover on their own eventually. However, repeated exposure to extreme temperatures can kill your plant.
Curly Snake Plants FAQ
Do I have to cut off curly leaves on my snake plant?
No, most causes of curly leaves are easily fixable, so there is no reason to remove the leaves. The one exception to this rule is if you notice the leaves also have visible signs of disease, like insects or fungi.
When should I be concerned about curly leaves?
It is normal for snake plant leaves to lightly twist or bend at the edges. It is only a problem when the edges curl up more than a centimeter or so.
You should also be concerned if a plant with previously straight leaves has developed lots of curly edges.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.