Drought hardy and a lover of indirect sunlight, the snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata) is probably one of the most low-maintenance houseplants in the world.
Its popularity mainly comes from its air-cleansing qualities, and it is often placed inside city offices to purify the air.
The only notable downfall to this plant is owners overestimating the care that it needs.
Overwatering is one of the biggest killers of snake plants, as many believe its love for warm locations and water retaining foliage must mean it needs a lot of hydration.
In this article, I will tell you how to treat an overwatered snake plant and reveal how often you should be watering it.
Overwatered snake plant
Snake plants are drought-hardy, meaning they are very susceptible to overwatering. You should only water your plant when the soil is dry, and a severely overwatered snake plant will need to be transplanted into new soil.
The perfect watering schedule
With snake plants, it’s best to water them when you’re sure the soil’s dry to the touch. It is a good idea to test the moisture in the soil to get a more accurate idea of whether or not your plant needs to be watered.
You can stick your finger or a popsicle a few inches to see how wet the soil is.
If the soil sticks or you can feel any residual moisture left behind, then you should hold off watering your snake plant for a few more days.
Ultimately, how often you should water your snake plant all depends on the environment you live in.
For example, your plant will need to be watered more frequently if it is placed outdoors than it would need to be if it resides indoors.
On average, I water my snake plant anywhere between every 2 to 8 weeks.
Reviving an overwatered snake plant
As snake plants are so resilient to drought, it’s likely that new owners will overwater it.
Early signs that suggest you are overwatering your snake plant include wilted leaves that are discolored and softer to touch than usual.
The leaves may even start to fall, something that should be very noticeable in snake plants due to their infamous upwards pointing foliage.
If you think that you are overwatering your plant, I would suggest that you cease any watering immediately.
Ensure that you place your snake plant in a sunny area, but not in direct sunlight, and let the moisture from the soil slowly start to dry out.
I wouldn’t advise that you water your plant again until the soil is completely and thoroughly dry, and you have started to see sure signs of recovery. Weeks can pass by before the soil becomes dry again.
During this period of recovery, it is suggested that you leave your snake plant alone, and do not fertilize or tend to it at all.
However, you should still keep a close eye on any changes, especially if you notice the damage from overwatering getting rapidly worse.
If the leaves of your plant start to become mushier to touch or they are starting to develop brown spots all over, this could mean that they are suffering from root rot.
Root rot is a dangerous plant disease that requires immediate attention.
Root rot is a disease that is caused by fungus and bacteria in the soil, often a result of consistency overwatering your plant.
To put it simply, the roots have become so wet that they have started to rot and decay. If you leave it untreated, the condition will eventually lead to your snake plant’s death.
Other factors will also increase the chance of root rot in overwatered snake plants, such as a lack of sunlight or fertilizer.
Common symptoms of root rot include mushy to touch leaves that are going brown and wet from the bottoms.
Checking your plant for root rot is very simple, all you need to do is push back some of the soil around the roots and examine them for damage.
Signs of root damage from root rot include roots that are brown or black that are very mushy or falling apart.
If the root rot has become excessive, you may notice a foul smell coming from your plant, especially from the soil.
Transplanting an overwatered snake plant
If your snake plant is suffering from root rot, the best course of action is to remove it from the saturated soil as soon as possible and repot it into new and dry soil.
When it comes to this disease, I wouldn’t advise letting your plant’s soil dry out on its own. It is possible that the amount of time this would take could lead to root rot causing further damage and eventually killing your plant.
Start by gently removing your plant from the soil and removing as much of the soil as you possibly can.
Although this might sound counterproductive, you should then wash the roots in a stream of water. This will wash off any excess soil and hopefully some of the bacteria and fungus living on them.
Then, take a sterile pruning tool and remove any brown or discolored roots.
These are the roots that have been affected by rot and overwatering the most, and will no longer provide nutrients to your snake plant.
An optional yet recommended step that you can take in this process is applying a fungicide to the roots of your snake plant before you replant it.
I found that this extra step works very well, as the fungicide kills off any remaining rot and prevents the disease from progressing to the unaffected roots.
Make sure that you are transplanting your snake plant into a well-draining potting mix such as a simple houseplant and succulent soil.
Alternatively, you could use standard soil mixed with horticultural gravel to get similar results.
You should also use a pot that will provide adequate draining, I would personally suggest using a terracotta pot over a plastic one, as this will provide much easier draining.
Top tip – Even if you are placing your snake plant into a bigger pot, you should not change the depth that you plant it in.
Cover the roots with soil, but don’t stick the snake plant deeply into it.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Overwatering Snake Plants
Should I mist my snake plant?
No matter how convenient it is, it’s not recommended to mist your snake plants. They prefer their foliage to be dry, and misting them could lead to damage and diseases affecting the leaves.
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.