How to Tell If Snake Plant Needs Water?

How to Tell If Snake Plant Needs Water
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How to tell if the snake plant needs water? If you are a beginner in growing snake plants, you might end up asking the same question too. In this post, I will share with you some of the important information about watering snake plants.

The snake plant is one of the most popular succulent plants. It is often regarded as resilient and can survive neglect.

However, although snake plants are resilient, they have some limitations. Like other succulent plants, they need water to survive. If the water need is not provided they could die.

But how to tell if the snake plant needs water?

There are many symptoms associated with underwatering in snake plants. If underwatered, their leaves tend to droop, become dry, brittle, and wrinkled, leaves curling, turn yellow or brown and fall, the soil is dry, and shows slow growth.

If you see some of these symptoms, there is a high chance that your snake plants need water. Let’s dig deeper into the signs of underwatering in snake plants.

The Signs of Underwatering in Snake Plants

As mentioned, there are many symptoms of underwatering that can be observed in snake plants. This happens when snake plants do not receive enough water.

In this section, I will talk about the symptoms of underwatering a little bit deeper. If you see some of these signs, consider watering your snake plants before they finally die.

1. Wrinkling of Leaves

One of the symptoms of underwatering in snake plants is the wrinkling of their leaves. Wrinkles are thin lines that appear on the leaves with different depts.

Overwatering can also cause wrinkles on the leaves. However, the main difference is that in overwatered snake plants, the leaves are dry and brittle instead of mushy.

2. The Leaves Are Falling Over

Aside from wrinkled leaves, underwatered snake plants’ leaves tend to fall over. But before that, the leaves begin to droop and become lifeless. This is due to the lack of available water.

It is important to remember that, although succulent plants store water in their stems and leaves, the lack of it can be detrimental to their health.

Back when I was started growing snake plants and other succulent varieties, I thought that these plants can survive in total neglect. It turned out that I was wrong.

Succulent plants like snake plants do need water to survive.

3. Discoloring in the Tip of the Leaves

Another sign of underwatering is the discoloring of the tips of the leaves of snake plants. This happens due to the lack of moisture that reaches the tip of the leaves.

The bad news is that there is nothing you can do to revive the tip of the leaves. It will not return to green as it was.

4. Drying of the Edge of the Leaves

Underwatering could potentially dry the edges of the leaves. This is primarily due to the lack of moisture reaching the edges of the leaves. As a result, the farthest part becomes dry.

In most instances, the edges of the underwatered snake plants turn yellow or brown. They also become too dry and brittle. If underwatering lingers for too long, the leaves will eventually die.

5. Curling of the Leaves

Severe underwatering in snake plants were associated with curling or the leaves. This indicates that the snake plants are too thirsty. The long leaves will bend and curl into a circle.

If this condition is not fixed soon, the whole plant will die. Underwatered snake plants are easier to fix than overwatered ones. But in extreme cases, underwatering can be equally fatal to succulent plants.

6. The Leaves Turning Brown

If you see some leaves of your snake plants turning brown, that means that something is wrong happening. One of the most common causes of this is underwatering.

Your snake plant needs a drink. You need to act immediately before it becomes too late. When the foliage turns completely brown, it means that the snake plant suffered from extreme underwatering.

7. The Soil is Dry

Succulents like snake plants are not like other common plants that needed to be watered daily. These plants instead only need just enough moisture. However, they cannot survive without water.

When the soil is dry for so long, it can detriment the health of snake plants. Water is an essential ingredient of healthy growth. Any plant without water will eventually die.

If your snake plant starts to show symptoms of underwatering, check the soil. The soil is likely to dry.

8. Slow Growing Pace

Slow growth is also a sign that the snake plant is struggling. Many causes could contribute to this issue and underwatering is one.

The lack of water hinders the growth momentum of the plant. However, slow growth is not easily seen. In most cases, the most indicators of underwatering are the wrinkling and discoloring of the leaves.

Can You Revive an Underwatered Snake Plant?

The good thing about underwatered snake plants is that they can be fixed. You can revive the underwatered ones. The process is easier than the overwatered succulents.

In reviving underwatered snake plants, you just need to consider the following:

1. Apply Good Watering Techniques

When your snake plant is underwatered, it means that the watering strategy you might have been implementing did not work well. A more appropriate watering technique may be needed.

The watering strategy that works well for my succulent plants is the soak and dry watering technique. This watering strategy involves soaking the soil completely then let the excess water drain. Water again once the soil dries.

However, before you apply this watering method, make sure that you’re using a pot with drainage and fast-draining soil created for succulents. The excess water should drain through the drainage hole.

If you are using the pot with a hole, then I suggest that you avoid applying the soak and dry watering technique. Soaking, in this case, can potentially result in overwatering which is also dangerous to snake plants.

2. Use an Appropriate Type of Water

Using the right watering strategy sometimes is not enough. You need to give quality water to your snake plant. I suggest that you provide filtered water.

The reason for this is that unfiltered or low-quality water contains substances that will be accumulated in the soil. These chemicals will potentially hurt the health and growth of the snake plants.

That said, I suggest that you avoid watering your snake plants using tap water. It is not safe for the plants especially if the snake plant is recovering from underwatering.

3. Use the Right Container

The next thing you need to consider in fixing the underwatered snake plant is the use of the right container. The pot that snake plants are planted in plays a tremendous role in their health.

Here are the things you need to consider:

1. Container Size

When choosing the right container for the snake plant, always go with the one that has a larger size than the root ball. The reason for this is that smaller pots will only constrain the growth of the plants.

However, avoid using a large container too. It can only retain too much moisture which will potentially cause overwatering.

2. Choose the Right Type of Container

Aside from the size of the container, you should also consider the drainage hole. It helps drains the excess water during watering preventing it from being stuck at the bottom of the pot.

I found great success with a clay pot. Clay pot provides good aeration which also helps prevents root rot.

Another great thing about clay pot is that it protects the snake plants from extreme environmental changes. The clay pot is perfect especially when you’re growing snake plants outdoors.

3. Choose the Right Succulent Soil

Aside from the pot, the type of soil from the snake plants are planted is also crucial. Like other succulent plants, snake plants soil that drains water and provides good aeration.

Succulent soil mix is available in the market. You can also make your soil if you want. In my case though, I always use commercially available succulent soil. I found it easy to use because it has instructions that are also easy to follow.

4. Place The Plant in a Safe and Stress-Free Location

The environmental conditions are essential to the recovery of the underwatered snake plant. I suggest that you place the plant in a safe location. It should be free from human and animal disturbance. This will allow the plant to recover faster.

Final Thoughts

Underwatered snake plants show signs that should be taken into consideration immediately. The symptoms can include leaves drooping, leaves become brittle and wrinkled, curling and falling leaves, and yellowing of the leaves.

These signs suggest that the snake plant is thirsty. It is important to take immediate action to fix the problem.

The good news is that underwatered snake plants are easier to fix than overwatered ones. You can use the tips shared in this post to revive your thirsty snake plant.

I hope this helps. Thank you for reading.

Related Questions

How often should indoor snake plants be watered?

Several factors influence the watering frequency of indoor snake plants. In most cases, the moisture in the soil determines when to water an indoor snake plant. As the soil becomes dry, it is time to give your plant a drink.

Can I cut the brown tips of my snake plant?

Yes, you can cut brown tips of the snake plant especially if you want to maintain the aesthetic feature of the plant. But do it with a sharp knife. Cut it once carefully. You do not want to cause further stress to the plant.

How do you know if the snake plant is dying?

A dying snake plant shows several symptoms including rotten roots and discoloring of the leaves.


I am a university teacher by profession, researcher, blogger, and gardener.

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