Snake Plant Not Growing – 8 Reasons & How to Fix

The snake plant is one of the top choices of house plants for many plant owners across America.

This undemanding exotic greenery comes in various subspecies that can grow anywhere from 4 to 12 inches a year. Some types, like the cylindrical snake plant, can grow up as high as 7 feet!

But despite being so easy to maintain, they can stop growing. Here you will find all the reasons this can happen and what you can do to get them back on track and reach tall.

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Snake Plant Growth

Snake plants are house plants that grow slowly and usually don’t gain more than three inches in a month.

By the end of the year, they typically end up with 6 – 10 new leaves, but that depends on the conditions under which they are left.

The root spread of the snake plant is, on average, 1 – 2 inches each year, so they need to be repotted every two to three years.

Snake plants go into dormant periods, especially in winter, but this is not a sign of bad care, and many plants do the same when the temperature drops.

When the temperature rises in the USA and your snake plant gets more light, it should start going again.

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Reasons a Snake Plant Stops Growing

Its Species Won’t let it

Before you assume your plant has a problem, check to ensure you don’t have a shorter variety. Certain types of plants can only grow so tall, no matter how well you care for them.

The Twisted Sister is a variety that only grows 12 – 15 inches tall. Refer to the table before for some of the types of snake plants and how tall they grow.

Type of Snake PlantAverage Height
Laurentii Sansevieria2.5 – 3 feet
Trifasciata Sansevieria2 – 4 feet
Twisted Sister12- 15 inches
Birds’ Nest12 inches
Cylinder Snake Plant3 – 4 feet
White Snake Plant2 – 3 feet
Rhino Grass20 – 24 inches

It doesn’t have enough Space

An immature snake plant that has not reached its maximum height might be limited because its roots don’t have enough space.

This condition is known as being root-bound and is not necessarily bad. Many plant owners purposely keep their plants in small pots to limit their growth, thus keeping them at a more manageable size.

If you want to encourage growth, repot your snake plant into a larger container at least one to two inches wider every two to three years.

You might think it is better to go for a pot larger than this, but that can lead to overwatering, damaging new root growth.

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It Doesn’t Get Enough Light

Snake plants are considered low light or shade plants, but even when kept indoors, they benefit from the bright indirect light that comes early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

This light falls between 10,000 – 20,000 lux which is brighter than you would expect. If you hold your hand out in such light, it should make a pretty decent shadow.

If your snake plant is anywhere in your home where the light is lower than this, it will survive, but it won’t grow because there just isn’t enough energy to use.

While a snake plant can be left in direct sunlight for a couple of hours, this can cause leaf burn, when the edges or tip of the leaves turn brown or yellow.

If you see your plant is not growing straight up and curving to the side, it is growing in the direction of the light. You can reduce this by rotating your plant every time you water it, so reduce the curving.

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It Gets Too Little Water

Snake plants are quite well adapted to handle drier soil and can survive even when it hasn’t been water in three months!

Even the negative effects of under-watering, like brown edges and leaf curling, don’t show up until a couple of weeks after.

However, if you don’t water your plant enough, it will not grow. So make it a habit to check the soil at least an inch deep to check if it is dry.

It Gets Too Much Water

On the flip side, watering too much is something many plant owners accidentally do. There seems to be a mistaken belief that the only way to give their snake plant enough water is to flood the pot.

That’s why you must always feel the top layer of soil first. If it is dry and crumbles in your hand, you know it is time to water it. 

Sprinkle room temperature water until it drips out of the drainage holes at the bottom of your planter. If your snake plant is in a planter that does not have holes at the bottom, then you need to report it.

If you keep your plant in this water-logged soil, it will absorb too much water and stop growing. You also risk developing plant diseases like root rot, eventually killing your snake plant.

You will know you have overwatered when the leaves lose their stiffness and begin to yellow.

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Pests

Pests can damage and stress your snake plant, which can cause it to stop growing. These plants generally suffer from spider mites and mealybug infestations which can cause serious health problems.

Regularly check both sides of your snake plant leaves from the tip all the way down to the soil for anything growing or crawling on its leaves.

Mealybugs may look like mildew or mold, and your first instinct is to let the soil dry. But if this mildew looks like white fuzzy spots scattered around the leaves, these need to be treated immediately with rubbing alcohol.

Spider mites are another problem that can be overlooked because they are so tiny but if you see webbing among the leaves of your snake plant, then take a closer look.

One female spider mite can lay over 15 eggs daily, and these hatch within a week. In another week, these freshly hatched mites can lay more eggs.

So you will have a full-blown infestation in a matter of weeks.

These pests drain your snake plants of the sap that is packed with nutrients that help them grow. If your plant doesn’t have that sap, it can’t grow.

An insecticide is the most effective solution, but there are other natural options. You can mix one part liquid detergent in forty parts water (1 : 40 ratio), then add 8 parts rubbing alcohol.

Spray it over your plants for at least a week or until the infestation is gone.

Note that if you see any signs of pests, isolate that plant immediately so that it doesn’t spread to others. You can put it in a large container, bath, or sink and treat it until the bugs are completely cleared out.

Leaf Damage

If you see that the tip of your snake plant’s leaf is damaged, that can stop it from growing more, even if your plant is otherwise healthy.

Indoor plants are always in danger of getting bumped into or knocked over, which can cause them to fall over. 

You can monitor your damaged leaf for a while to see if it grows, but if it doesn’t, then it is better to use a pair of sharp garden scissors and snip the tip. This clean cut can encourage the leaf to be grown again.

It is always better to keep your plants in areas that see less foot traffic to prevent this kind of problem in the first place.

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Needs Fertilizer

Snake plants don’t need to be especially well fed, but fertilizer can help encourage new leaf growth.

If you are not repotting your plant or changing the soil every couple of years, then your plant will deplete all the nutrients in the soil, which will stop it from growing.

Since snake plants are a kind of succulent, it is important not to use normal ones that will be too concentrated for them.

Go for a fertilizer that is specially made for succulents and is water soluble, and use it every two to three months but only in spring and summer.

Note, never use too much fertilizer. Instead of helping your snake plant, it can stop it from growing completely.

If you are using fertilizer, keep an eye out for brown patches on the body of the leaves and tips. In such cases, you will need to flush out the excess fertilizer with lots of water and avoid using fertilizer for the next six to eight months.

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Wrapping Up!

Hopefully, all this information has given you insight into why your snake plant isn’t growing. Always research the type of snake plant.

You should know how tall your variety of snake plants grows, which will keep your expectations on track. Ensure it is getting adequate sunlight and that you are watering it correctly. Regularly check your snake plant for infestations, patches, yellowing, leaf damage, and roots poking out. All of these are issues that can stop your plant from growing.

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