How to Revive a Dying Snake Plant

How to Revive a Dying Snake Plant

How to Revive a Dying Snake Plant

Snake plants, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or Saint George’s sword, are resilient indoor plants that can thrive for years with minimal care. However, even hardy snake plants can start to die if their needs are not met.

The good news is that catching the signs of a struggling snake plant early and taking the right revival steps can bring your plant back to life. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to recognize when your snake plant is dying and detail a step-by-step process to nurse it back to health.

Signs Your Snake Plant is Dying

Snake Plant


Pay attention for these common signs that indicate your snake plant needs help:

  • Wilting or drooping leaves
  • Brown or yellow spotted leaves
  • Soft, mushy leaves
  • Dry, shriveled leaves
  • Slow new growth
  • Roots emerging from drainage holes

If you notice any combination of these symptoms or generally unsatisfactory performance from your formerly healthy snake plant, it likely needs some reviving care and attention.

Step-by-Step Guide to Revive a Dying Snake Plant

Follow this methodical revival process to troubleshoot problems and help bring your snake plant back from the brink.

Step 1: Check Roots and Repot if Needed

Examine the root system for possible issues:

What to look for

  • Black, mushy roots signal root rot
  • Dry, dead roots indicate under-watering
  • Circling or crowded roots require more space

How to revive

Gently remove the plant and roots from its pot. Trim off any black or smushy roots with sterilized scissors or shears. Repot in fresh, well-draining soil in a container one size larger if the roots are crowded.

If repotting

  • Choose a potting mix made for cacti and succulents
  • Select a pot with drainage holes
  • Carefully loosen and untangle circled roots

Properly tending to root issues can put your snake plant firmly back on track.

Step 2: Assess Watering Issues

Soil moistureDryWet
LeavesDroopingMushy or yellowing
Leaf tips/edgesBrownHealthy
StemsShrivelingSoft and weak
RootsDry and deadBlack/mushy with rot

Both overwatering and underwatering can cause similar symptoms. Check for:


  • Dry soil
  • Drooping leaves
  • Brown leaf tips/edges


  • Wet soil
  • Soft leaves
  • Mushy stems
  • Yellow lower leaves
  • Root rot

How to revive

  • For under-watering, give the plant a thorough drink and let the soil dry before watering again
  • For overwatering, stop watering and let the soil completely dry out before your next light watering

Getting the watering right is critical to making your snake plant thrive again.

Step 3: Provide Appropriate Light

LocationLight LevelDistance from Window
West-facing windowBright, indirect3-5 ft
East-facing windowBright, indirect2-4 ft
South-facing windowBright, indirect5+ ft
North-facing windowMedium to lowNext to window
No windowLown/a

Snake plants like bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light conditions. Look for:

Low light warnings

  • Sparse new growth
  • Paler green leaves

Too much light risks

  • Brown leaf tips
  • Yellowed coloring

How to revive

  • Move plant to a spot with more or less ambient brightness as needed
  • Avoid direct sun which can scorch leaves

Adjusting the lighting can make a big impact.

Ideal snake plant light levels:

  • Bright indirect sunlight
  • Near a north or west-facing window
  • With fluorescent lighting or shade outside

Step 4: Check for Pests

Sometimes failure to thrive is due to pests attacking your plant. Look for tiny insects like:

  • Mealybugs
  • Spider mites
  • Scale

You may also see webbing or sticky substance on leaves if an infestation exists.

How to revive

  • Manually wipe leaves with a wet cloth to remove any visible pests
  • Use an insecticidal soap spray made for houseplants to kill most invaders without harming your snake plant
  • Repeat applications around 7-10 days may be needed to fully eliminate pests

Getting rid of the pests can make all the difference in saving your plant.

Step 5: Fertilize Lightly If Needed

While snake plants don’t require much fertilizer, a weak liquid fertilizer can give nutrients if your plant lacks vigor.

When to fertilize

  • During active growing seasons (spring through summer)
  • If you see no new shoots for a long time
  • After another problem has been corrected

How to revive

  • Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to 1/4 or 1/2 strength
  • Fertilize every 2-3 months during growing periods
  • Flush the soil with water after to avoid buildup

Think of fertilizer as a supplemental treat that can boost a snake plant’s recovery process.

Summary of Key Snake Plant Revival Tips

Follow this checklist if you have a struggling snake plant:

 Inspect roots and repot if overcrowded or with issues
 Check that watering method matches plant needs  Ensure lighting is bright indirect sunlight
 Treat for pests if insects are visible
 Apply diluted liquid fertilizer for nutrients

Catching problems early, diagnosing the potential causes, and adjusting care is key to nursing your snake plant back to full health.

Results and Outlook After Reviving a Snake Plant

With consistent TLC following these revival steps, most dying snake plants can make a full recovery within a few weeks up to a few months depending on how far gone they are.

Pay attention for signs of improvement as you nurse your plant back from the brink:

  • New green shoots emerging
  • Plant standing upright
  • Leaves firm and plump again
  • Vibrant color returning
  • No signs of pests/disease

Your quick intervention and troubleshooting adjustments should help stabilize your snake plant and enable it to regain its vigor. Be patient, attend to its needs, and with hope it will make a comeback.

Common Reasons for Snake Plant Decline

Understand why snake plants go downhill in the first place as well. The most prevalent underlying causes include:

  • Under or overwatering
  • Insufficient or excessive light
  • Root binding due to small container
  • Pests eating away foliage
  • Disease from overly wet soil
  • Natural end of lifespan (uncommon)

While snake plants can endure quite a bit, they aren’t invincible to adversities. Being aware of what impacts them allows you head off issues before it’s too late.

With the techniques outlined in this guide though, you should be well equipped to recognize and rectify what is ailing your plant and get it flourishing again.

Preventing Future Snake Plant Problems

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to plant care. Here is a checklist of proactive measures to keep your revived snake plant going strong for the long run:

  • Water only when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry
  • Provide bright indirect sunlight if possible
  • Fertilize lightly every 2-3 months during growing season
  • Repot before roots become severely crowded
  • Prune fully dead leaves/stems back to healthy growth
  • Monitor weekly for signs of pests or disease
  • Dust leaves periodically to maximize light intake

Think preventatively and you can avoid having to resuscitate your snake plant again later on down the road.

Enjoy Your Recovered Snake Plant for Years to Come

While it can be concerning to see your formerly thriving snake plant deteriorate, know that in most cases some attentive care can make it bounce back good as new.

If you catch warning signs early and make adjustments following the guidance above, you stand an excellent chance of reviving your dying snake plant. With consistent care optimized to its needs going forward, here’s to enjoying your hardy, recovered snake plant for another lifetime of easy growth!