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brown spots on snake plant

Brown Spots on Snake Plant – Causes and Fixes

If you want to get a tough and hardy plant for your home, a snake plant might be your best pick. These no-nonsense plants are known to have the potential to both decorate your plants and benefit your health simultaneously. 

An important part of owning a plant is knowing about its needs and requirements. And something that you need to care about is noticing any signs of spots on your leaves, especially ones that happen to turn brown because those are signs of distress. 

What do we know about Snake Plants?

The snake plant or the Sansevieria trifasciata is native to Asia and Africa. It is known to be evergreen sword-shaped leaves that grow upright and almost resemble artificial leaves.

Snake plants are usually used as decorative plants since they’re pleasing to the eye, are easy to care for, and can survive on very little water. These plants can be neglected for weeks at a time, doesn’t mean that you have to. 

Additionally, they can do well in low light levels, and drought and have very few insect problems. NASA research has also managed to prove that snake plants can help keep the air inside your home clean, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. 

In short, they are amongst the top 10 houseplants for you to grow.

What do we know about Snake Plants

As was mentioned before, this plant is known to be extremely drought-tolerant, but too much water can become its Achilles heel. Snake plant works well with a well-drained potting mix that doesn’t hold a lot of water. 

In an ideal scenario, the snake plant likes to be in bright but indirect sunlight. However, you can park it in a dark corner and it’ll manage to fend for itself. 

In lowly lit conditions, the color in some Sansevieria varieties can become washed out, and taller varieties of jades can become leggy and floppy, but usually, this isn’t much of a problem.

Under the appropriate conditions, a snake plant will bloom with amazing flowers. While not overly showy, these flowers are borne in large clusters, generally white with a greenish hue to them. 

These small, tubular flowers generally emit a sweet floral fragrance that can brighten any room, especially at night. But don’t depend on a snake plant to bloom with any regularity; many of them tend to bloom just once every several years, not following any schedule whatsoever.

Caring for snake plants

Perhaps one of the most popular reasons people make snake plants a part of their indoors is that they’re low maintenance, and require very little attention when they are growing. The plants are resilient, hardy plants and can easily survive in dry environments, indoors and out.

If you plan to move a snake plant in your home, here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

  • Overwatering is harmful. Too much water is a weakness for the plant. Place your plant in a well-drained pot to avoid overwatering, as it can cause your root to rot. Only water the soil when it feels completely dry when you conduct a finger test.
  • Fertilizer. Feed your plant with a mild cactus fertilizer during the growing season or a balanced liquid slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer or a 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half strength. Make sure you don’t fertilize the plant during the winter season.
  • Indirect sunlight works best. The partial sun does great for snake plants, though they can grow fine in darker corners or brighter window areas. If kept in complete shade, the plant can become dull and the leaves might become a bit floppy.
  • Chose the correct soil. these plants are known to prefer a loose, well-drained potting mix. The plant does even better in sandier soils. Use a potting media low in peat content. Peat is known to work well in many situations, but it can become tightly packed and sometimes has problems rehydrating or draining.  Check Out: What Is The Best Soil For Snake Plant?

What causes brown spots on Snake Plants?

Plants tend to stress when they are not raised the right way and this starts to show on the leaves of your plants. Fungal diseases, pests, and improper watering are some of the most common causes of brown spots on snake plants. 

Excessive fertilizer application, frost, and extreme sunlight exposure are known to worsen this problem. Brown spots on your snake plant can come up for several reasons.  Be it inappropriate watering or fungal issues all of them boil down to poor treatment.

What causes brown spots on Snake Plants

Inconsistent watering

Both overwatering and underwatering in snake plants can immensely affect the plant. Underwatering, as the name suggests, is a condition when snake plants have stayed a long period without receiving water, or are not being watered at the proper time. 

The plant will become dehydrated after using all the water it had stored. The leaves, in such a situation, will start turning crispy, with brown tips.

Leaf discoloration tends to be the first sign of an overwatered snake plant. They start showing symptoms by drooping before a blister forms on the surface of the leaves. 

The bloated leaves look brown due to the lack of certain necessary nutrients. Sometimes, it is the potting mix that can be a problem. When the soil starts becoming dense like mud, it can become too wet or concrete dry, then suffocate the roots ending up in root rot.

Inconsistent watering

Too much direct sunlight

Snake plants are known to love indirect sunlight and can make wonderfully fast-growing plants when provided with the right conditions. Without the right light conditions, your green friend is most likely to develop brown spots on its foliage. 

It might start with a leaf or 2 but it might go on spreading. For instance, when the plant is accustomed to a dimly lit room and you decide to move them to a bright room for them to receive full light, it might be severely affected.

The sudden changes in the lighting conditions might lead it to become brown, especially at the tips. When the sun is too bright and direct, snake plant leaves might also end up getting wrinkled.

Also Check: Our Blog Post on Snake Plant Light Requirements

Proper Humidity

Snake plants are known to do their best in humid environments and struggle in dry air conditions. Low humidity in their place of living may cause the snake plant tips to turn brown.

To take care of them, you can mist your snake plant every week with a spray bottle if your place has dry air to prevent and fix brown tips on your snake plant.

Excessive fertilizer

The snake plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizers, owing to the hardy nature of the plant, since it can survive on nutrient-deficient soil. 

Too much fertilizer is known to be the cause of burning in the roots, thus impacting the foliage of the plant and leading to brown tips or brown leaf edges. If you notice the leaf tips or the rest of the shaft browning a few days after fertilizing, excess nutrients may be the cause.

Fungal Disease

Snake plants, even though tough, can easily be affected by fungal diseases, as their leaves are known to retain more moisture for longer periods than most indoor plants. 

Altering the watering routine they are on makes your snake plant vulnerable to fungal disease. Red leaf spot, southern blight, and rust are three of the most common fungal diseases likely to attack the plant.

  • Red leaf spot is sort of a complex fungal disease that is known to be caused by the Helminthosporium pathogen that thrives in warm and wet conditions. A red or brownish-red sizable spore that is shaped like cigars on your snake plant indicates it’s suffering from the red leaf spot.
  • Rust is also a fungal disease that’s common in a lot of plants, not just snake plants. It is quite common in tomatoes, beans, etc. It mostly gets a hold of matured plants, but not always. When it is in its early stages, it affects the white raised area underneath the leaves or near the snake plant stems. The white spots turn orange-brown, then brown or black if the infestation spreads.
  • Southern blight also goes by the name of southern wilt or southern root rot. A fungus, Sclerotium rolfsii, prefers a warm environment that causes it. Apart from the recurring brown spots, your snake plant will start getting droopy when infested by southern blight. Leaves start to turn yellow and then go on to be light brown if not treated. The entire plant might also end up collapsing, or even dying when the fungus wraps around the roots, messing with the entire soil.

Pest infestation

A lot of indoor plant pests are known to prefer the snake plant to other indoor plants. Some of these include spider mites and mealybugs. An average spider mite happens to be around 0.04 inches, and a lot of them tend to gather on snake plant leaves at the same time.

Once the spider mites or mealybugs settle in your green little friend, they will start eating the cells of the snake plant as they suck out the sap inside. 

The spots where the spider mites have caused infestation tend to have brown spots. When the infestation becomes severe, the snake plant’s leaves will start to curl and lose their pretty shape.

Pest infestation

Cold temperatures

Snake plants though sturdy, are not exactly winter-hardy, and exposing them to a cold freezing climate can lead to damages that are visible on the leaves as brown spots. 

When temperatures are below 10°C, the leaves start getting scars and develop brown patches, with a little mushy texture. These damages, if not paid attention to, will turn out to be permanent.

Chlorinated water:

Your snake might be sensitive to the type of water you are using on them. 

In the city area, the water you consume has chlorine make sure to make sure it’s safe for you to consume. 

Snake plants are sensitive in nature and the components present in the tap water are hard for them to digest. Chlorine can affect nutrient availability in the soil. Potassium deficiency in the soil can create brown spots on the leaves. 

Trauma or injury:

The final reason for brown spots on snake plant leaves is provoked by trauma or injury.

Snake plants are generally big indoor plants, and can effortlessly be hurt by anyone will little force. Especially the snake plant whose leaves grow outwards are more prone to get anyone who is passing by it.

 Snake plants are normally tough plants and won’t bulge or show any damage quickly, the brown spot will form gradually.

How can you help your plant?

Now that we have listed so many reasons that might lead to a sad plant, we have tackled the biggest issue, the identification. If you have found out the reason, you can easily go forward and tackle the problem with ease. 

Severe damage is mostly hard to reverse. However, if you take proper care of the plant, over time, your plant may start looking healthy. 

The correct watering methods

If you start noticing that your plant’s leaves have discolored because of chlorine water, try rain or distilled water. Alternatively, if you happen to have enough time, fill a container with tap water and let it settle for at least 48 hours before watering the snake plant. Here, the water will naturally dissipate and hence remain safe.

Treat fungal diseases with proper medication

Whether it’s suffering from red leaf spots, southern blight, or rust, look out for quick remediation. If a disease isn’t treated in time, it can quickly spread and kill the entire plant.

Start by isolating the infected plant from the rest to avoid the disease from spreading to healthy plants. Apply the necessary fungal medication to the affected area to treat red leaf spots, or rust and remove any brown spots.

Alternatively, you can even create your own chemical-free anti-fungal treatment at home by mixing dishwashing detergent and bleach. Ensure that the detergent used doesn’t have degreasing ingredients. Also, take care of your hands and wear gloves while you do this. 

Also, you can mix about 3 liters of water with 4 teaspoons of baking soda or 4 teaspoons of bicarbonate.

To battle the southern blight, you can heat-treat the soil too. To get started, separate the healthy soil from the unhealthy soil. Set up your heat mat to around 160 or 180 degrees. 

Go ahead and leave the soil to sit that way there for about 30 minutes at the same temperature before turning the heat mat off. A simpler alternative is just to change the soil.

The correct watering habits

Snake plants don’t really require a lot of watering. Probably once a week or less tends to suffice. Only water the plant when the top inch of the soil starts to feel a little dry. When watering, add just enough water to moisten the entire soil.

Make a habit of conducting a finger test on your plant, and check if your snake plants need water. Start by sticking your finger or chopstick an inch deep inside the soil, and if dry, it could be time for watering. If the soil is moist, don’t be too generous and water the plant.

Fixing unfiltered watering issues:

You can use any water filtering option that is available to you. 

You can also fill a bucket with water and leave it overnight before using it on your plant, for better results leave it for a day under the sun. Sunlight works wonders on breaking 90% of the chlorine in just a few hours. 

Get rid of the pests

Go ahead and start by removing spider mite webs and the brown spots before applying any supplements you brought with garden-safe insecticides like horticultural soap or neem. If the issue is with mealybugs, apply isopropyl alcohol by rubbing it on the bugs. Be careful when you apply this as lots of isopropyl alcohol can lead to leaf burn.

Preventing trauma and injury:

Moving the plant to a safer place, out of everyone’s reach is the only option you have unless you want everyone out of your house (just kidding!)


Should I use a DIY solution or a store-bought mix?

There is not a hard and fast rule as to what you should give to your plant when you need to treat it. Both of them are good to work with. Just that excessive use of any sort of chemical substance on your plants might only end up burning them so you need to be very careful about that. 

What do Brown Spots on Snake Plants Leaves look like?

Brown spots on the plant generally resemble circles or lesions on the leaf surface. You can also see them in several shapes and size variations.

Should you cut the Browning Tips on My Snake Plant’s Leaves?

With the help of a sharp pair of scissors and then locate the brown tips present on the plant. Go ahead and cut off the tips or the edges of the leaves rather than the whole stem. Don’t start pulling or tearing the brown part as this would damage the healthy parts as well.


From all the discussions that took place so far, one thing is for sure, the brown spots on the leaves are directly dependent on the care your snake plants receive. 

When you give the plants proper care and nourishment, your beloved green friend will be thriving in no time. After all, they’re known to be one of the most sturdy plants to take care of.

If you have anymore questions regarding the care of snake plants do leave us a comment below and we would love to help you out.

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