You’re not a gardening expert but it looks like you have an overwatered snake plant to deal with. Should you throw the plant in the bin and proclaim that you’ll never get indoor plants again because you kill everything, or can you be a plant miracle worker and bring it back to life?
The good news is that yes, you most likely will be able to save your overwatered snake plant but that depends on how long it has been overwatered for, and what condition your snake plant is in.
If it’s only slightly overwatered and you’ve not left it for too long, some extra care and attention will help your plant revive and be healthy again.
If you’ve left it for weeks and your plant looks like it’s dead, then you could still try to revive it, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s still worth trying, because mother nature is amazing!
In this article, I will share how to know if your plant is overwatered, what can you do about it to rescue your plant, and how to prevent making the same mistake again in future.
Rescue your overwatered snake plant in 5 easy ways
Want the quick version? Here are 5 ways to rescue your overwatered snake plant:
1. Stop watering your snake plant
2. Gently remove the plant from the pot and check for root rot.
3. Get a root rot treatment from your nursery.
4. Remove any damaged and unhealthy leaves.
5. Replant in a new pot of healthy soil and add the root rot treatment.
Once you’ve done the above, you can create a new watering system so that you don’t overwater your snake plant again. They key to doing this right is recognising when your plant needs to be watered and responding the right way. It’s not a case of watering every 2-3 days.
How do you know if you have an overwatered snake plant?
Ok- be honest with yourself. Have you been watering all your plants every day and you assumed you could do that for a snake plant?
And have you researched how to look after a snake plant or have you been guessing and “hoping for the best”?
You’ll know if you have an overwatered snake plant because you water it Every.Single.Day.
And that little voice in your head told you that something was wrong because you noticed the leaves were getting soft and mushy and some were drooping. Snake plant leaves are generally upright when they’re healthy.
You also noticed funky looking brown spots, and you may have smelt something odd.
These are the signs you have an overwatered snake plant:
-Soft and squishy leaves
-Leaves drooping instead of standing upright
-Brown spots on the leaves
-Leaves turning yellow instead of their healthy green color
-Root rot which you discover after removing the plant from its pot
-A strange smell coming from the pot
The frustrating thing about gardening problems is that your plant can look similar if it is overwatered and if it is underwatered.
It’s like when you Google something to diagnose a medical condition you have, and the symptoms shown could be the same symptoms for about a hundred other things!
But using our list of “things to look out for”, you’ll quickly be able to cross out any other plant issues and realise that yes indeed, you have an overwatered snake plant.
Soft and squishy leaves
When you water your snake plant, its leaves absorb some of the water. So when you have an overwatered snake plant, the leaves have absorbed too much water, causing them to turn soft and squishy.
They’re full of water!
While the leaves need water, they don’t need as much as you’re giving them.
Leaves drooping instead of standing upright
Drooping leaves is always one of the first signs that your plant is in trouble. It’s something that happens whether your plant is overwatered or underwatered.
When you first see drooping leaves, you’ll probably think your snake plant is thirsty and will water it more.
Watering it more just makes the problem even worse!
But how do you know if the drooping leaves are caused by lack of water or too much water?
Check the soil. Check the top of the soil to see if it’s wet. Also insert a skewer into the soil as far down as you can without touching the bottom and damaging the roots.
Remove the skewer and check the soil on it. Does it look damp and very wet? Was it easy to insert the skewer because the soil was damp, or did you have to push it down because the soil was dry and hard?
This will help you work out whether the drooping leaves are because you have an overwatered snake plant.
Brown spots on the leaves
Brown spots on leaves are caused by fungus which thrives in water. Having an overwatered snake plant means that fungus grows on the leaves and you end up with brown spots.
If you only have a few leaves with brown spots you can pull them off and throw them out. However if many of your leaves have brown spots, you might want to try treating them.
A fungicide is the best way to treat brown spots on your snake plant leaves. You can buy some from your local plant nursery.
However, the cost and effort to use fungicide might not be worth it. Unless your snake plant is of sentimental value, it’s cheaper to buy a new one!
Another option is to mix together baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) with water, at a ratio of ½ teaspoon per 4 litres of water (a gallon). This is only a mild mixture so if the brown spotting is extensive, it may not work.
Leaves turning yellow
An overwatered snake plant ends up with leaves turning yellow. This is because of a lack of oxygen due to too much water suffocating the root system.
The plant slowly starts to die and the leaves turn yellow.
There’s not much you can do to revert the yellowing process other than try to save the plant and then cut off any yellow leaves.
New growth will be green again, so you might just need to put up with fewer leaves until your plant is healthy.
The roots are suffering from root rot
What is root rot?
Root rot is a disease that causes roots to decay and rot away due to fungal growth. Too much water helps make this happen, so it’s something typically found with overwatered snake plants and any other overwatered plants. There are different types of fungus that cause root rot.
If your overwatered snake plant has root rot, its roots will be soft, mushy and brown. Roots are supposed to be white. While you might think the brown roots are just the soil covering the plant, if you rinse off the roots they will turn white if the roots are healthy.
Good news- you can reverse root rot! Before you try anything, you’ll need to let the overwatered snake plant dry out. The soil needs to be completely dry, so put your plant somewhere near sunlight to speed things up.
You can then use a quick root rot hack- water it with a mixture of 1-ounce of hydrogen peroxide and 1-quart water. Instead of your usual watering, water your snake plant with this mixture instead. This will quickly stop the root rot.
A strange smell coming from the pot
Water that’s been sitting stagnant for days ends up smelling yuck.
A soggy pot plant that’s full of funky fluid that hasn’t done much for days also smells yuck.
If you smell something strange when getting a whiff of your snake plant, it’s time to ditch it.
You could try to save your plant but the risk of bacterial issues makes it not worth it.
But if you do want to save your plant, then remove it from the soil and let it air out and dry for a few days. Replant in a new pot with new soil, and only give the plant a small watering after repotting. Then leave it for a week or so.
Otherwise, just buy a new snake plant.
How to rescue your overwatered snake plant
I listed 5 ways to rescue your overwatered snake plant at the start of this article.
Let’s now look at these 5 ways in more detail!
Stop watering your snake plant
You’ve figured out that you have an overwatered snake plant. So stop watering your plant!
Your plant is in distress and you need to stop doing the one thing that’s causing the distress- too much watering.
If you have your snake plant in a humid room such as a bathroom, take it out and put it somewhere dry. Use a dehumidifier to remove the moisture in your bathroom or other spot in your home.
Your snake plant needs time to dry out and doesn’t need more water or moisture added.
Remove the plant from the pot and check the roots
Be gentle when removing the plant.
I recommend squeezing the pot to loosen the soil first before attempting to remove the plant. This helps if the soil has been compacted, otherwise you could up ripping the plant out but the roots remain in the pot.
Check the roots and look for signs of root rot, which I’ve already covered in this article.
Treat the root rot or decide to turf the plant and buy a new one.
One final word
Snake plants are easy to take care of and don’t require a lot of attention. That also means not overwatering your plant, but just finding that “sweet spot” which might be every 7-10 days depending on your climate and where your snake plant is.
Once your overwatered snake plant has recovered, find a new routine for watering and care and your plant will give you years of joy.