#1 Reason for Snake Plant Leaves Curling (And How to Fix)

In our experience, the most common reason that causes snake plant leaves to curl is because it is dehydrated. Like other succulents, snake plants (sansevieria) use their leaves to store water in order to survive extended dry periods. Once they have used their water reserves, their leaves will begin to curl inwards and become wrinkled.

SOLUTION: If your snake plant’s leaves are curling, it is severely in need of water. Don’t panic, your snake plant should survive. However, you will need to act quickly with a healthy watering. If your snake plant is curling, it is likely your soil has also hardened from the lack of moisture. We’ll share with you different solutions to overcome this problem, so stay tuned.

Snake Plant Leaves Curling

Snake Plant Leaves Curling – Causes and How to Fix

Wouldn’t it be great if our houseplants could talk?

We’d know how they feel, what their day was like, and most importantly what they needed (oh – you’re a bit thirsty are you?).

Unfortunately this is not the case, and we’re left forever guessing what to do next. But, as you become a more experienced plant parent, you’ll pick up on signs to indicate when your plant is not happy.

Leaves are a perfect way to monitor your plants, and are the primary way a plant communicates with you.

Plants communicate via their leaves to tell you when something is wrong.

Snake plant leaves curling is one way your indoor plant is saying “I need attention!” But, what does your snake plant need? What is wrong?

To help you navigate this cryptic message from your plant, we’ve put together a list of reasons why your plant may be yelling for help.

snake plant in terracotta pot with curling leaves

Snake Plants Leaves Curling Due to Underwatering

As we identified earlier, one of the main causes for snake plant leaves curling inwards is a lack of water.

If your snake plant has reached this stage, it is likely due to neglect (you know who you are) or your snake plant is having difficulty with water uptake from your soil.

No matter what the reason, your snake plant needs water quickly.

How to Fix Underwatering

If you know the reason your snake plant is dehydrated is because you haven’t watered it for a long time, now is the time to pick up your game and give it a drink.

Unfortunately, if a succulent is withering from a lack of water, it also means your soil is likely too dry to absorb water straightaway. You’ll be able to tell because your soil will be hard, and potentially cracked.

To return the water absorbing properties to your soil you have two options.

  1. Soak the soil in water to give it time to return to functional soil. For this we recommend using the bottom watering technique. You can read more about this method in our article HERE.
  2. Repot your snake plant to provide it with fresh soil mix that has sufficient water retaining properties as well as the ability to drain any excess water, to avoid diseases like root rot.

PRO TIP – First Time Repotting a Pot Plant?

Check out our detailed step-by-step guide for how to repot a snake plant. We hold your hand through the process and highlight special considerations when repotting snake plants.

Snake Plant Leaves Curling Related to Overwatering & Disease

At the other end of the water spectrum, it is possible that too much water can be the source of your curling leaves. However, the reason may not be what you think it is.

Another reason for leaves curling inwards on your sansevieria is because it may have root rot. Root rot is a fungal disease that can affect snake plants when they are sitting in wet soggy soil for too long. And, as you may have guessed, the wet soggy soil came about because it has been overwatered.

fixing root rot in snake plant

How to Fix Overwatering and Root Rot

Root rot is the source of many new plant parents’ frustrations. It is a hard disease to detect. And once it sets in, it is harder to eliminate.

If you suspect root rot is causing your plant’s succulent leaves to curl, you need to act quickly to stem the spread of the disease. Once it reaches the bottom of the leaves (brown stains and mushy appearance), it has infected the entire root system and the chances of your plant surviving are very slim.

We recommend following the steps in our step-by-step guide for treating snake plant root rot.

Once you have the root rot under control, the next step is to work on fixing the reason the root rot developed in the first place – too much stagnant water.

Overwatering your snake plant is one of the biggest mistakes to make, and yet it is the easiest to correct.

We use the soil moisture finger method to avoid soggy and water-logged roots. It is a simple, yet effective method for determining if your snake plant requires a top-up of water. Simply dig your index finger into the soil knuckle deep. Gently pull it out and see if any wet soil is sticking to your finger. If there is soil on your finger, there is moisture present. If your finger comes out clean, it’s time for some water.

Snake Plant Leaves Curling Due to Low Temperatures

Another potential reason why you have curling leaves is because your snake plant is suffering from a drop in temperature.

Snake plants are tropical by nature, and as such thrive in warmer weather. They are a very adaptable plant, and can tolerate cold temperatures. However, if they become too cold, their leaves will curl, wither and experience stunted growth.

This can happen if you live in a temperate climate, that experiences near zero nights during the cooler months of the year.

snake plant in stunning pot

How to Prevent Curling Leaves from Cold Damage

Snake plants prefer to be kept in a temperature range between 50-85° Fahrenheit (10-30° Celsius). If you keep your snake plant as a house plant, these temperatures should not be a problem since indoor conditions rarely move beyond this range.

However, if you keep your pot plant outside, then we recommend bringing them inside during the winter months. At the very least, collect them inside the house to protect them from the extreme temperatures.

This will help to stop any frost burn on the leaves, and help to prevent the leaves from curling.

Snake Plant Curling Leaves Due to Lack of Light

While we are talking about the environmental factors, let’s discuss how a lack of light can impact your snake plant.

Some gardening resources will list snake plants as ideal plants for low light areas in your house, like bathrooms and hallways. However, we find this information to be slightly misleading.

Yes, we agree snake plants can live in low light – they are a tough indoor plant that can tolerate a range of less than ideal conditions. However, that doesn’t mean they will thrive.

In fact, one way a snake plant will tell you it needs more light is by curling their leaves inwards – remember it’s their way of communicating that something is wrong.

How to Fix Curled Leaves Due to Lack of Light

If you think your snake plant is suffering from a lack of light, you may think the fix is nice and easy. Let’s just move it to a brighter position, right?

Yes and no.

You are correct – your snake plant ideally needs to be in a location where it receives plenty of indirect light for a good part of the day.

However, the process of getting to that position is not as simple as a quick pickup and put down job. Moving houseplants to new locations requires a bit of finesse and patience. Moving an indoor plant from one extreme to the other can shock it, causing more damage and weakening your plant. It is a variation of plant shock.

The move is a gradual process that involves slowly moving your plant to brighter positions, bit by bit, every couple of days. Each move will be to a position that is slightly brighter than the previous position, until you reach the final location.

Snake Plant Curling Due to Over Fertilization

Another potential reason why your snake plant is screaming for help with curly leaves may be due to too much fertilizer in the soil. This is called fertilizer burn, and occurs when there is a build up of fertilizer in the container.

When there is too much fertilizer in the soil, it becomes toxic and can burn the leaves of your snake plant, causing them to curl.

How to Prevent Fertilizer Burn

Snake plants aren’t big feeders. They only require a feed just before they commence their growing periods (early spring).

If you suspect there is a build up of fertilizer in your container, you can try to flush the excess minerals and nutrients with distilled water.

Flushing soil involves pouring large amounts of water into the soil, so that it flushes the nutrient issues out of the drainage holes.

IMPORTANT – make sure your soil is well-draining soil that does not retain or hold any excess water. If you end up with extremely soggy soil, we recommend repotting your snake plant to avoid root rot.

Snake Plant Curling Leaves Due to Bound Root System

Like all potted plants, snake plants will eventually outgrow their pot. If you don’t catch this in time, the root system will soon run out of room. This will cause suffocation due to a lack of water and oxygen reaching the roots of snake plants. This results in your snake plant becoming root bound, again resulting in curling leaves.

You can sometimes identify root bound issues when roots begin to protrude out from the drainage holes of the pot.

However, you can only confirm that your plant is root bound, by lifting it up out of the pot and inspecting the root ball.

How to Fix Root Bound Snake Plants

This is an easy fix, because there is only one solution – upgrade your snake plant’s home by repotting.

When selecting a pot for your snake plant, the general rule of thumb is to choose a planter that is 1-2 inches wider in diameter than the previous pot.

For a complete rundown of repotting snake plants, jump on over to our Beginners Guide.

Snake Plant Leaves Curling Due to Transplant Shock

While we are on the topic of repotting snake plants, if you are experiencing curling leaves AFTER a recent repotting, this may be due to transplant shock.

Similar to when you change the lighting conditions too quickly, a snake plant may experience curled leaves as it adjusts to its new home.

This is due to the root system slowly adjusting to the new environment, before it settles down.

How to Prevent Transplant Shock to Snake Plants

After a repotting, be gentle with your snake plant and don’t expose it to any dramatic changes that may contribute to the shock of the change. Keep a close eye on your snake plant, and ensure it has enough water and not in direct sunlight.

What’s Next?

When your plant’s leaves begin to curl, it is signs of plant stress and your snake plant communicating with you that something is not quite right.

We recommend you take heed of this message and begin investigating for potential problems with the current state of your snake plant.

By using this guide to troubleshoot potential issues, you will soon identify the cause of your plant’s curling leaves, so you can implement the suggested solutions.

Good luck and happy gardening with your awesome plants!