What Causes the Leaves of a Snake Plant to Turn Yellow? [4 Reasons]

If you are looking for a potted house plant that is tall, has a deep green color, and has a unique ability to be highly tolerant and resistant to changing external conditions, a snake plant is ideal.

While most indoor planters are usually extremely high-maintenance and quite a challenge to keep alive, the snake plant can naturally survive and thrive on deprivation.

This means you only need to water your snake plant once every two weeks to keep it green, healthy, tall, and alive.

However, although a snake plant is popular for being one of the most low-maintenance indoor planters, its survival and health still require that the owner pays attention to a certain type of care routine.

If the plant owner deliberately chooses to ignore the indoor plant’s needs or is simply unaware of the correct care regimen, the snake plant’s leaves may begin losing color and turning yellow.

How to Care for an Indoor Potted Snake Plant?

Potted house plant species are far more sensitive and susceptible to their external conditions than most outdoor plants.

While most outdoor plants can stand strong against ranging temperatures, heavy rainfalls, and strong winds, a basic potted house plant might droop and die if its owner forgets to water it on time.

However, a snake plant is nothing like most indoor planters. As mentioned above, a snake plant is able to stand out among most other indoor plant species due to its unique tolerant nature.

Not only does it need very little water, but it is able to retain its quality, beauty, shape, and health for multiple days or poor care and neglect.

However, although a snake plant is not an easy quitter, constantly testing its ability to fight and survive on the bare minimum is not encouraged.

If the owner chooses to deprive the snake plant of all the care and attention it requires, the plant leaves will lose color, turn yellow, and eventually fall off.

Hence, it is incredibly important to know how to care for a potted snake plant if you wish to enjoy your indoor planter’s calming and healing company for a long time.

Some of the simple care steps to remember and practice for an indoor potted snake plant are as follows:

  • Water your snake plant only once every two weeks.
  • However, if the external weather is excessively dry, you should water it at least twice in two weeks.
  • Place your indoor snake plant in a bright spot with sufficient filtered sunlight during the day.
  • Repot your indoor snake plant when it gets too tall or outgrows its current pot.
  • Add micronutrients like boron, copper, zinc, and magnesium to your snake plant’s soil.
  • Make a habit of examining the snake plant’s leaves for an unhealthy color change.
  • Examine the potting soil at least once a week to keep an eye on a fungal infection or a pest infestation.

Although these care tips are usually enough to keep a snake plant healthy and alive, not following them can cause your snake plant’s leaves to turn yellow.

However, how will you know when your snake plant is not doing too well?

Continue reading to learn when your potted indoor snake plant is not doing too well and why the leaves of your snake plant turn yellow.

Let’s get started!

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How to Know Your Indoor Potted Snake Plant is Not Doing too Well?

Most potted house plants that are quite sensitive begin to show signs of neglect and poor care within just a few days. If the indoor plant has flowers, its petals begin to fall off, and none of the new flower buds bloom.

Moreover, the stems of such planters begin to drop, and the plant eventually dies and begins to decay in under a week.

However, a snake plant is a unique fighter when it comes to survival. Even when its optimal conditions are not maintained, a snake plant can live and fight through for many weeks.

However, like every other living organism, a snake plant, too, has its limits. When poor care and neglect continue for too long, signs of distress, lack of nutrition, and even sickness become quite evident.

Hence, if you have an indoor potted snake plant that you care to keep alive, it is important that you are well informed about the signs that indicate distress and poor health.

Some of these signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • The leaves of most indoor plants are the first plant organs that begin to indicate poor care. When a snake plant is neglected, its leaves will lose their deep green color and turn yellow.
  • Apart from losing their color, the leaves may also lose their ability to stand tall and either droop sideways or curl up.
  • Moreover, the new snake plant pups will either have slow and stunted growth or will die before getting the opportunity to develop a healthy stem.
  • Furthermore, the dried-up leaves may start falling off.

Why Are the Leaves of My Indoor Potted Snake Plant Turning Yellow?

Most plant parents who have had multiple snake plants for a long time have witnessed their snake plant lose its color. However, not many experienced or new plant caretakers know what causes the leaves to turn yellow in the first place.

Some of the reasons why your indoor potted snake plant’s leaves are turning yellow are as follows:

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One of the most important rules to remember when caring for an indoor snake plant is that too much water is toxic to the plant’s health.

People who either never had the experience of caring for a snake plant or are unaware of this important rule usually water the plant way more than required.

Since the roots of a snake plant refuse to absorb more water than their required capacity, the excess water accumulates inside the pot and soil.

If the extra water is not drained out, the wet conditions of the soil create the perfect medium for a fungal infection. Usually, it will only take a day or two for the fungus to grow and spread to the snake plant’s roots.

When this happens, the fungus begins to spread over the surface of the plant’s roots, causing them to die and decay. Since the snake plant cannot get water through its dead roots, it eventually dehydrates.

Since water is one of the primary ingredients needed for photosynthesis, its scarcity prevents the leaves from creating any plant food or sucrose. Without food, the leaves cannot create the pigment (chlorophyll) that gives them their green color.

Hence, as a result, the leaves lose their color and turn yellow.


Although a snake plant is known for its ability to thrive on deprivation, it still needs water to survive.

Since a snake plant needs water only once every fifteen days, it is not as easy to keep track of when you watered your plant before and when you need to do it next.

Hence, it is common for people to miss the exact date they had to water their snake plant.

However, if more than twenty days pass without watering, the underwatered snake plant begins to lose its strength as a lack of photosynthesis leads to a sucrose shortage.

As a result, the leaves turn yellow, and the snake plant begins to droop downwards.

Insufficient Sunlight

The best tip to keeping your snake plant healthy and alive is to place it in a well-lit area of your house that gets sufficient indirect sunlight.

This is incredibly important, as sunlight is the main catalyst in the photosynthesis reaction. Without proper sunlight, the plant will be unable to create any plant food and thus show signs of starvation.

Hence, when a snake plant is kept in a dimly lit area, its leaves lose color and turn yellow before any other signs of distress become apparent.

Excessive Sunlight

Although sunlight enables the snake plant to create its plant food, excessive sunlight might overheat the plant beyond its optimal body temperature.

When this happens, the plant attempts to reduce its internal temperature by transpiring water from its leaves. As the water evaporates off the plant’s leaves, it creates the desired cooling effect needed by the plant.

However, if the plant is not removed from the direct sunlight, the leaves may lose too much water, and the entire snake plant might dehydrate.

As a result, the snake plant fails to create any plant food, and its leaves begin to turn yellow.

Final Thoughts

A snake plant is the perfect home addition for a person who travels a lot or does not have the time or will to care for their plants every day.

Not only is the snake plant able to survive and grow on very little water, but it usually is also able to adapt to temporary shaded conditions.

However, if the snake plant is frequently underwatered, overwatered, or kept in the dark, it will display signs of neglect and distress. Usually, the first indicator of a snake plant’s poor condition is when its leaves lose color and turn yellow. However, if timely measures are taken, and the correct care routine is adopted, a yellow-leaved snake plant can be fully recovered.

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