Why Do I Have Brown Spots on Snake Plant (+ Solutions)
Brown spots on a snake plant can indicate a variety of issues that may be effecting the health of your houseplant. The challenge is identifying which issue is causing your brown spots on snake plant leaves.
When we discover brown spots on snake plant leaves, our initial thoughts are some type of fungal disease. Most fungal diseases like rust or southern blight show up with symptoms in the snake plant’s leaves. However, brown spots can also develop from an attack from sap-sucking pests. Or even external factors like cold temperatures or results from trauma and damage to the leaves.
Whatever the cause, it is clear your snake plant needs your help – which is the exact purpose of this article. We will help you troubleshoot your beautiful plant, so you can quickly get it back on the road to recovery.
So grab a coffee and settle in, because we have some work to do!
Possible Causes for Brown Spots on Snake Plant Leaves
How much easier would it be as a plant parent if your snake plant could talk?
No more guessing when it’s time for more water. Not having to worry if they are receiving too much sun. More importantly, when they don’t feel well, they could tell you why there are brown spots on their leaves!
Unfortunately, plants cannot talk. But they still are sending you signals and trying to communicate their woes.
In this section we are going to analyze the signals your snake plant is sending. By interpreting these signals, we’ll be able to confidently identify the cause of these mysterious brown spots. We’ll also provide easy-to-follow solutions after each cause, for immediate implementation.
Fungal Diseases and Snake Plants
Diseases can infect even the most hardy indoor plants, like Sansevieria. Even though snake plants are considered strong house plants, if they are neglected or not taken care of properly, they will become weak and susceptible to diseases.
The most common snake plant diseases are fungal infections, such as root rot, southern blight, red leaf spot, rust and powdery mildew. Of these diseases, the following will display symptoms of brown spots on the snake plant leaves:
If you have caught the infection in the early stages, only isolated parts of the plant will show brown spots. However, as the fungal infection spreads, more spots will develop and your entire plant will appear weak and a mushy texture.
How to Treat Fungal Diseases in Snake Plants
The best form of treatment for fungal diseases in snake plants is immediate removal of any infected parts of the plant. Once you have cleaned up your snake plant, you will have to treat it with a fungicide to ensure any remaining spores are killed off.
We have covered fungal diseases in snake plants extensively in our other article SNAKE PLANT DISEASES, which also includes step-by-step instructions for treating each type of disease.
Snake Plants with Pest Infestation
Another potential cause of brown spots on snake plants are pests.
Like other members of the succulent family, snake plants have thick meaty leaves that they use to store excess water as a reserve.
Unfortunately this unique quality makes them an easy target for sap-loving bugs like:
- spider mites, and
These bugs are common pests for snake plants. They can wreak havoc with a plant’s health, as they pierce the skin of the leaves to feed on the sap.
One or two pests won’t cause much damage. However, without intervention, the pests can quickly infest a snake plant, causing considerable damage resulting in brown spots and rot.
How to Treat Pests on Snake Plants
Treating a snake plant for pests is a relatively straight forward process.
- Manual Pest Removal – the first step involves manually removing any visible pests from your plant. We usually take our snake plant outdoors and apply a medium pressure water spray on the plant to remove any visible bugs. Mealybugs may be a bit more stubborn during this process. To eradicate mealybugs, use a cotton bud dipped in rubbing alcohol, and dab each visible mealy bug.
- Remove any Damaged Leaves – now remove any infected leaves that have brown lesions and appear rotten. These leaves will not recover, and just continue to use up essential nutrients that could be used for new growth.
- Treat with Organic Pesticide – the final step is to treat the remainder of the plant with a pesticide from a spray bottle to remove any pests that may be hiding. Remember to treat the crevices and spaces in between the leaves.
For a detailed treatment process, be sure to check out our article on common snake plant pests.
Chemical Build Up in Soil
Another potential cause for brown patches on your snake plant’s leaves are chemicals accumulating in the soil. This can result from two main sources:
- over-fertilization, and
- tap water.
Over-Fertilization (and Solutions)
This can result from over application of fertilizer or a gradual build up of unused chemicals in the soil over time. You can identify when your snake plant is suffering from too much fertilizer in the soil, because the leaves will also have a distinct yellow color surrounding the brown marks. You may also see a chemical build up on the surface of your soil.
If you suspect your snake plant has fertilizer burn, you have two options:
- Repotting into fresh potting mix (refer to previous section for repotting instructions), or
- you can flush your plants’ soil to get rid of the excess chemicals.
If you have never flushed a houseplant before, check out this useful video tutorial by Marianne from My Wasteless Life
Tap Water Leaving Chemicals in Soil (and Solutions)
If you generally use tap water to water your snake plants, you can sometimes experience a build up of chemicals in the soil, like chlorine and other hard minerals. This is especially relevant to those that have hard water or chlorinated water in their taps.
This will depend on your location and country, as tap water quality varies around the world.
If you suspect you have built up residue minerals from your tap water, the best thing to do is replace your tap water with distilled water or rain water.
You can also use the flushing method described above to remove the built-up chemicals or simply repot your snake plant into fresh soil.
Snake Plant with Temperature Stress
When snake plants are exposed to temperatures below their recommended temperature range of 70-90° fahrenheit (21-32° celsius), their leaves can suffer damage and begin to develop brown spots.
Snake plants that are outdoor plants tend to suffer from cold stress more than indoor plants, simply because of the dramatic temperature drop overnight. Particularly if you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing point. The water in your snake plant’s leaves will expand and damage the plant tissue in the leaves.
How to Prevent Temperature Stress
If you suspect your snake plant is suffering from temperature stress, try bringing your plant indoors at nighttime. Particularly in the winter months of the year.
If you still see brown spots developing on your indoor snake plant, try using a heat pad to keep the ambient air warmer around your plants.
Brown Spots Resulting from Trauma
The final cause of brown spots on snake plant leaves is damage caused by trauma or injury.
Snake plants are large indoor plants, and can easily be damaged by family members or pets passing by. Particularly if you have a snake plant that has leaves that tend to grow outwards, rather than the typical vertical growth.
The perpetrators may not even notice they have damaged the snake plant, because snake plants are generally tough plants and won’t show immediate damage, like other plants with more fragile foliage.
How to Prevent Trauma to Your Snake Plant
This one is easy to resolve.
You have two options.
- Move your snake plant to a safer position that is out of the way and not in any thoroughfare of the house, or
- You can kick everyone out of the house.
We know which one we’d choose!
Brown Spots on Snake Plant – Closing Comments
Even though it may feel like you are failing as a plant parent when one of your snake plant babies develops brown spots on its leaves. We’re here to tell you not to panic.
Take a deep breath and work your way through the potential causes we have listed in this article. Once you have identified your cause, simply apply the solutions and your beloved snake plant will be back on the road to recovery in no time.