How to Treat a Snake Plant with Skinny Leaves

Skinny snake plant leaves are evident your plant is nutrient deficient, which can be caused by problems such as too little light, root bound, or a lack of water.

Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Skinny


  • skinny leaves indicate your snake plant is not receiving enough nutrients
  • determine the main cause of your skinny leaves by looking for other symptoms
  • once the cause is identified, apply ease-to-follow solutions from this article

Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a houseplant suffering under your care. It’s hard not to feel helpless and somewhat defeated.

What went wrong?

Your other plant babies aren’t suffering? Why is my snake plant looking skinny?

Not another plant headed for the big garden in the sky!?

Okay – that last one was a touch dramatic. The good news is we are here to help at the Garden Bench Top Clinic.

Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Skinny – The Run Down

In this article, we’ll explore why snake plants develop skinny leaves. We’ll also help you to identify other symptoms to look for to help narrow down the potential causes of the skinny leaves.

The last piece of the puzzle is how to remedy the skinny leaves. We’ll detail the next steps for you after each respective cause.

So if you’re ready, grab a coffee, and let’s begin.

Why is my Snake Plant Forming Skinny Leaves?

Skinny Snake Plant Leaves

As we mentioned earlier, the primary reason skinny leaves develop in snake plants is a lack of nutrients. The reason for nutrient deficiency can be the result of many causes – and we’ll get into those potential reasons in the next section.

skinny leaves result from a lack of nutrients

Whatever the reason, we recommend acting with haste.

credit: tenor

Your snake plant is already nutrient deficient, and its health is declining.

What Causes Skinny Snake Plant Leaves?

This section will cover the potential reasons why your snake plant has skinny leaves. To help you identify the cause, we’ll list down a few other symptoms you can look for to confirm your diagnosis.

Lack of Light

One of the primary causes of skinny leaves developing on snake plants (and even on other plants) is a lack of light. This is also known as etiolation. It is a process that occurs when your snake plant is deprived of light.

To survive, your snake plant begins searching for more light and stretches its leaves toward any available light sources. This results in skinny leaves developing.

Other Symptoms

Along with the skinny leaves, snake plants that are suffering from etiolation can also display the following symptoms:

  • Tilting or Falling Over – as your snake plant stretches towards the light, it may look like it is leaning or falling over in the direction of the light source. This will give your snake plant a sparse look.
  • Droopy Leaves – the leaves on your snake plant may begin to droop, appear weak or look sad as the nutrient supply becomes less and less.
  • Dull and Colorless – another common effect of low light is the colors on your snake plant will become dull or muted. The greens will be less vibrant, and any variegation will be less noticeable.

How to Fix a Lack of Light

We understand some resources will advertise snake plants as low-light plants. However, they are only tolerant of low light. They can only live in low light conditions for so long. And they certainly will not thrive. If you suspect your snake plant is suffering from a lack of light we suggest you familiarize yourself with their light requirements (check out our guide on optimal lighting for snake plants HERE).

Gradually move your snake plant closer to a source of light that is bright and indirect sunlight.

We suggest moving your snake plant gradually toward the light source over the course of a few weeks. This will allow it to acclimate to the new light intensity and prevent it from going into shock.

Water Deficiency

skinny and floppy snake plant

Another potential cause for your snake plant developing skinny leaves is a lack of water.

Snake plants are drought-tolerant plants that naturally live in arid places with unpredictable rainfall. Therefore for a snake plant to form skinny leaves due to a lack of water is extreme. You would essentially have to neglect your plant for months.

That said, it is a potential cause and can not be ignored.

Snake plants have the ability to store water in their leaves. Therefore, when a snake plant becomes underwatered, it will begin to draw down on these reserves to survive. As the water reserves dwindle, the leaves begin to thin out, causing them to become skinny.

Other Symptoms

It is easy to tell if your snake plant is suffering from being underwatered. They will exhibit other signs such as:

  • Wrinkled Leaves – not only will the leaves be skinny, but they will also be wrinkled and soft to the touch. As the water content in the leaves becomes depleted, the excess skin begins to sag and form wrinkles.
  • Hardened Soil – soil that is starved of water becomes hard and brittle. It solidifies and cracks, making it hard to penetrate with your finger.
  • Brown and Crispy Edges – as the leaves become dry and dehydrated, the edges begin to brown and develop a crispy texture.

How to Fix a Water-Deficient Snake Plant

If your snake plant is underwatered it makes sense to immediately rehydrate your snake plant.

How you go about that will depend on the condition of the soil.

If, as we described above, the soil is hardened and solid, watering your snake plant with a traditional watering container will not work. The water will simply funnel through the cracks and run out of the drainage holes in the pot.

You will need to rehydrate the soil by giving it a water bath. This involves submerging the soil in water until it returns to a natural consistency. This means it will be able to absorb water once again and, more importantly, retain water.

Alternatively, you can choose to repot your snake plant into fresh potting soil. This is a much more effective solution that will instantly give your snake plant the best chance of survival. Follow our step-by-step guide for repotting a snake plant.

Will Skinny Snake Plant Leaves Fix Itself?

We have some bad news for you.

Unfortunately, once snake plant leaves become skinny, they will remain skinny and deformed. Even if you do everything right, such as placing them in a well-lit area with plenty of water after the fact.

If you do not like seeing skinny leaves on your snake plant, we suggest removing them and trimming your snake plant. Doing so will help your snake plant focus its energy on new growth instead of supplying the skinny leaves with nutrients and water.


External References Used

  • Etiolation. (2022, November 14). In Wikipedia.