Snake Plant Wrinkled and Soft Leaves – (How to Fix)
Wrinkled leaves on a snake plant can only mean one thing – it needs help!
What is causing your snake plant’s wrinkled leaves can be a range of factors, such as water stress, unfavorable changes in the localized environment (like temperature and humidity), or even a fungal infection. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear. Without intervention, your snake plant is unlikely to survive.
To help you identify the cause of your withered leaves, we’re going to take a slightly different approach. Unlike other resources that will make you read through cause after potential cause, we’re going to take a shortcut.
We’ll be troubleshooting the other symptoms present on your snake plant, which will then narrow down our possible causes. This will laser focus your attention on a few (rather than get overwhelmed by the many) causes – leading you to a quicker outcome.
So grab a coffee and let’s begin!
How to Use this Trouble Shooting Guide
We’ve summarized the corresponding symptoms of your snake plant wrinkled leaves (with links to the right sections in this article), so you can quickly diagnose the problem.
|Other Symptoms||Possible Cause|
|Wrinkled Leaves + Dry Soil||Water Stress (Underwatering)|
|Wrinkled Leaves + Soggy Soil + Rotten Smell||Water Stress (Overwatering) + Disease (root rot)|
|Wrinkled Leaves + Drooping / Falling Over||Root Bound or Water Stress|
|Wrinkled Leaves with Yellow /Brown Patches||Over Fertilization|
|Wrinkled Leaves with Brown Edges and Tips||Leaf Burn|
Why Does My Snake Plant Have Wrinkles?
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back and understand why and how these snake plant wrinkled leaves have come about.
Wrinkled leaves are generally the first signs that your plant is suffering from a lack of moisture in the leaves. The wrinkles look like deep irregular lines and appear along the length of each leaf. They form when the leaf loses integrity as the water reserves in the leaves are drawn down by the plant.
Wrinkled leaves are usually only one of many symptoms that your snake plant will be exhibiting. It is these other corresponding symptoms that will point you in the right direction of how to fix your sick houseplant.
Wrinkled Leaves & Dry Soil (Water Stress – Underwatered)
The combination of wrinkled leaves and dry soil indicates that your plant is suffering from neglect and insufficient water.
Healthy soil should appear as a nice, dark rich soil that crumbles easily when you rub it between your fingers.
If you find your soil is hard when you try to push your finger into the topsoil, it indicates that the soil has not received water for an extended period of time. In severe cases, soil will stick together in clumps and develop cracks throughout.
Soil that is dry becomes unusable for your snake plant because it loses its ability to absorb water and deliver nutrients to the root system.
How to Fix Underwatered Snake Plants
Your plant needs water – and fast!
Rather than a cursory sprinkling of water for your snake plant, we recommend giving your houseplant a good soaking.
This especially applies to plants that have dry and cracked soil. To reinvigorate your soil and return the water absorbent properties, the soil needs to be soaked for a long time.
For a complete guide to rehydrating your snake plant, check out our How-To instructions.
Wrinkled Leaves & Soggy Soil (Overwatered & Root Rot)
When you have wrinkled leaves with soggy and wet soil, all signs are pointing towards an overwatered snake plant.
Snake plants are succulents and do not like to live in waterlogged soil. They require a well-draining potting soil that allows any excess water to exit via the drainage holes in their container. The ideal soil should also be a loam consistency that is light and airy. We like to make our own soil – check out our recipe HERE.
If you are overzealous with your watering regime or have poor quality potting mix, your snake plant’s root system will sit in water-laden soil. This can attract unwanted attention, such as fungus gnats or fungal diseases, like root rot, which can have detrimental effects on your snake plant’s health.
Root rot can be a fatal disease for snake plants if it isn’t treated quickly and thoroughly. It generally develops through spores in soggy soil, infecting the root system. Once there are rotten roots, the infection will spread to other parts of the water-logged roots, eventually working its way up to the stem and succulent leaves of the snake plant. This is where you may observe some wrinkled foliage with mushy leaves towards the base of the leaves.
Another tell-tale sign that your snake plant has root rot is when it begins to emit a rotten smell from the soil and leaves.
How to Treat Snake Plant Root Rot
There is only one solution to treating a snake plant with root rot. You will need to eliminate all infected roots and infected leaves, treat it with a fungicide and repot your indoor plant.
Unfortunately, without complete elimination the disease will continue to spread and eventually kill your snake plant.
We understand root rot can be an intimidating disease to overcome, so we have put together a guide that will hold your hand throughout the entire process of eliminating snake plant root rot.
Make sure to use a sterile pair of garden scissors when cutting any infected parts of the snake plant. Root rot is a disease that can spread via contact.
Wrinkled Leaves & Drooping or Falling Over Leaves (Root bound)
If you have wrinkled snake plant leaves that are drooping or falling over, you may have a root bound house plant.
When snake plants become root bound, they slowly suffocate due to the lack of room in their container. The roots begin to circle the container and get overcrowded. This restricts the root’s ability to uptake nutrients, water and oxygen from the soil, weakening your snake plant, and leading to wrinkled leaves that cannot support themselves.
Besides wrinkled and falling leaves, it is hard to identify when your snake plant is root bound. You may see roots beginning to poke out from the drainage holes. However, the only sure way of knowing is to perform an inspection on the root ball by lifting it out of the container.
How to Resolve a Root Bound Snake Plant
Like root rot, the only solution for a root bound snake plant is to repot it. This will quickly fix the water and nutrient issues. If this is your first time repotting a plant, it can be a bit of a daunting process. After all, everything has been going peachy up until this point!
Nevertheless, it has to be done, and it is an important skill to know as a plant parent. To help you overcome your first-time worries, we’ve put together a guide to show you how easy it is to repot a snake plant.
Wrinkled Leaves with Yellow / Brown Patches (Fertilizer Burn)
Snake plants with wrinkled leaves accompanied by yellow and brown patches often indicate there is an excess of fertilizer in the soil.
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 fertilizer burn, because the leaves will also have a distinct yellow color surrounding the brown burn marks. You may also see a chemical build up on the surface of your soil.
How to Fix Fertilizer Issues in Snake Plants
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
Wrinkled Leaves with Brown Edges and Tips (Leaf Burn)
The last symptom to look for on your snake plant is the discoloration of your plant’s leaves with brown spots and browning edges and tips.
When a snake plant exhibits browning leaves (without the yellow), it generally points towards leaf burn – which is another way of saying sunburn.
Snake plants can tolerate a variety of light conditions – however, this assumes a healthy plant. When a snake plant is dehydrated and exposed to too much direct sunlight, it can result in wrinkling leaves with brown marks around the edges and tips.
It is also an indication that your snake plant may be suffering from extreme temperature stress. That’s right, even succulents can find high temperatures stressful – especially when they do not have enough water reserves.
How to Fix Leaf Burn
If your snake plant is in a pot, we recommend giving it a good watering and then moving it to a position that receives plenty of indirect light.
As with the case of an under watered snake plant, the soil is likely to be dry. In cases like these, we like to bottom water our snake plants to afford them the time to slowly regain their water absorbing properties.
Moving your snake plant to a position with ample light (but not direct sunlight) will also reduce the temperature and allow it to recover from the stress.
Snake Plant Wrinkled Leaves – Final Words
Snake plants are hardy plants that can tolerate a range of conditions. So when its leaves begin to show signs of stress with wrinkles, it is an indication of some larger problem at play.
We find the quickest path to a solution is to look at the symptoms of your plant. It will help guide you to the source of the problem, so you can promptly rectify the causes of the wrinkled leaves.