Snake Plants with Orange Roots – Is it Bad?

Snake plants with orange roots are not necessarily harmful. It may be natural staining from age or the onset of a disease called root rot. We’ll show you how to tell the difference.

Snake Plant Orange Roots


  • orange snake plant roots are normal due for older, thick roots due to staining
  • discolored roots can be indicative of diseased roots, such as root rot
  • to determine the next steps, we need to look for other symptoms

Why Are My Snake Plant Roots Orange?

Okay – let’s answer the elephant in the room – why are your snake plant roots orange? And do orange roots mean something is wrong?

The good news is orange roots are perfectly normal. Sansevieria roots naturally become orange due to old age and are stained by the soil. However, if you were to cut a root, it would be white (sometimes light green) in the middle. This is indicative of a healthy root.

There are occasions when you should be concerned about discolored roots, and we’ll expand upon this later.

Let’s first look at how to identify healthy roots.

What Do Healthy Snake Plant Roots Look Like?

Healthy roots generally look plump, strong, and virile.

They will be hard to the touch and won’t have any give when squeezed gently between your thumb and index finger. If you find the roots are soft and mushy, the roots may be rotting, and the beginning of the snake plant root rot.

Snake plant roots are thin and wiry, with thickness akin to the thickness of yarn or wool.

snake plant rhizome

Snake plants also develop rhizomes in their root system. They look like root-like formations that will be the same color as the roots. However, they will be thicker and more bulbous. You will also see snake plant pups growing from the rhizomes, efficiently propagating into new snake plants.

What happens if your roots appear brown or black? This is the topic discussed in the next section.

healthy roots vs rotting roots

When Should You be Concerned About Color and Root Rot?

Roots that are brown or black are cause for concern.

The brown and black color is a warning sign that root rot may be developing.

It is easy to identify when your snake plant’s root system is infected with root rot because there will be other symptoms. Such as:

  • rotting and dank smell
  • soggy soil
  • roots are soft and squishy
  • the base of the leaves will begin to turn brown and squishy (in advanced cases of root rot)

For a complete guide on snake plant root rot and how to treat it, check out our detailed article HERE.

How to Keep Snake Plant Roots Healthy

Now that we know how to examine the root system of your snake plants, how do we keep them healthy and disease-free?

Here are our best tips for maintaining a healthy root system.

Good Quality Soil

The best thing you can do to maintain healthy plants and a good root system is to house them in quality, well-draining soil to allow excess water to escape.

In their natural environments in Africa, snake plants grow in a sandy porous substrate, often around large rocks. This is why we like to emulate this consistency in our houseplants at home. We use a mixture of:

  1. perlite
  2. fresh soil mix
  3. coarse sand, and
  4. decomposed compost or worm castings.

You can find the exact recipe we use here in our article Best Soil for Snake Plants.

snake plant roots


The other key ingredient to maintaining a healthy root system is watering only when necessary.

Many indoor plant enthusiasts ask how often they should water their snake plants. The truth is, no one but your plant can answer this question.

Sticking to a regimented watering schedule is asking for disaster. Instead, the best way to determine when a snake plant should be watered is when the soil dries out.

Only water your snake plant when the soil has dried.

You can use the soil moisture finger test to check your soil. Alternatively, if you don’t like to get your hands dirty, a soil moisture meter to check for excess moisture and whether the soil is dry.

We don’t water on a schedule because the frequency changes throughout the year as the seasons change. Check out our recommended watering in each season HERE.

Overwatering a snake plant is a surefire way to develop root rot and could result in the demise of your container plant.

We recommend familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of root rot and an overwatered snake plant to prevent it from killing your plant.

Snake Plant Orange Roots – Common Questions

Do orange roots mean your snake plant has root rot?


Orange roots do not indicate the onset of root rot. Snake plants with orange roots are common, particularly on older snake plants. As the older roots are exposed to the soil for extended periods, they become stained and appear orange.

Can you eat snake plant roots?

We do not recommend eating any part of the snake plant. Snake plants contain a toxin called saponin, known to cause irritations to humans, cats, and dogs when ingested.

There are no known deaths related to snake plant poisoning. However, this is likely because the toxins cause internal issues shortly after ingested, which prevents too much from being consumed.

What if your snake plant doesn’t have many roots?

If you discover your snake plant has very few roots, we wager a guess that you have wet soil that emits a rotten and dank smell. This usually means your snake plant is suffering from root rot.

Healthy snake plants have a prolific root ball, including rhizomes. They require a tight root system to support their long sword-shaped leaves.



  • Saponin. (2022, October 1). In Wikipedia.