If the leaves of your snake plant are wrinkled, it is because one or more environmental factors are causing the plant stress, resulting in the change in the plant’s leaf texture.
In order to properly address this problem, you first need to correctly identify the cause. The most common causes of wrinkled snake plant leaves are too much water, root rot, not enough water, fertilizer issues, temperature issues, humidity problems, drafts, insufficient light, and pests.
In this article, we will discuss the different causes of wrinkled snake plant leaves and how to remedy each one. So, if you are faced with this problem, just keep reading.
Why are my snake plant’s leaves wrinkled?
Too much water
One of the most common and serious mistakes a snake plant owner can make is to overwater their plant. Remember that snake plants are succulents that are able to store water in their leaves, so they do not need to be watered as often as most of your houseplants. They are very tolerant of drought, so when an eager plant owner waters them multiple times a week, this can be a problem. Overwatering can also happen if you forget to adjust the frequency of watering when the seasons change. Watering the plant once a week may work in the summer, but come wintertime you will need to cut down the frequency.
An overwatered snake plant will struggle to effectively absorb nutrients and oxygen from the soil. The plant will get edema, which is when the cells in the leaves take in too much water and burst. The leaves become yellow or brown, and will wrinkle. Furthermore, the longer the plant is overwatered, the more prone it becomes to root rot.
Save your overwatered snake plant by first confirming that the plant is, indeed, overwatered. You can do this by feeling the soil in the plant’s pot. If the soil is soggy even though you have not watered the plant in a couple of days, it may be overwatered. Stop watering the plant immediately and allow the soil to dry out for the next few days. If you are fortunate enough to have caught the overwatering in its early stages, then letting the soil dry out may be enough to save the roots and the plant.
If the soil in the pot is too dense and compact, you may need to replace it with better-draining soil so that any excess water can escape more easily. Make sure that the plant’s pot has drainage holes at the bottom, too.
Once the plant has recovered, make sure to water it correctly going forward.
Overwatering and root rot generally go hand in hand. Root rot is essentially the most serious consequence of overwatering, and as with overwatering, the plant’s leaves will also turn yellow and become wrinkly.
Root rot starts when the plant’s roots are constantly sitting in waterlogged soil and cannot dry out enough to absorb oxygen. The roots will drown and start to rot, and will become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens in the soil. These pathogens will help the rot spread faster to the rest of the plant until the entire plant is affected. When the leaves and stems are soft and mushy, the plant’s chances of recovery are slim to none.
If you suspect that your plant has root rot, you can try to save it by removing it from the pot and washing off as much of the old soil as possible. The old soil is contaminated with pathogens, so you will not re-use it. You can now also inspect the roots more easily. Brown and black roots are rotten and will need to be removed using a sterilized knife or pruning shears. Only healthy white roots should remain, and these should be sprayed with fungicide and allowed to air-dry for several hours before repotting the snake plant. Use a pot with drainage holes at the bottom, and well-draining potting soil. You will have to be patient as your plant recovers, and only water it when the top two inches of soil in the pot are dry to the touch.
Not enough water
As mentioned above, snake plants are drought-tolerant succulents, but that does not mean you can just neglect to water the plant entirely. Because these plants only need infrequent watering, they tend to be the kind of plant that people forget to water.
Extremely thirsty plants’ leaves will become wrinkled and droopy because of the lack of moisture inside them. It is water that makes healthy leaves stay taut and smooth.
Other signs that indicate an underwatered plant are when the soil in the pot is bone dry, and when the growth of the plant has noticeably slowed down or become stunted.
Save an underwatered snake plant by not forgetting to water it. You only need to water the plant once or twice a month, depending on the season and the weather and climate where you live. A plant that is growing in a place with a drier climate, in the summer, with little rainfall, will need to be watered more than a snake plant growing in a colder place, in the winter, with lots of rainfall.
If the soil has become bone dry, you may need to loosen it manually so that the water can permeate it more easily. Water the plant more often than normal to begin with; this means that if you would normally water it every two weeks, water it once a week at first, until it appears to have recovered. When the plant seems to be back to its normal self, you can go back to the normal watering schedule.
Snake plants do not really need to be fertilized, as long as their soil is rich in nutrients. However, if you want the plant to grow quickly and reach its full potential, you can fertilize it once every one to two months. Do not give it more fertilizer than it needs, because this can lead to toxicity in the soil. The buildup of minerals in the soil can result in yellowing and wrinkling of the snake plant’s leaves.
If you accidentally give the plant more fertilizer than it needs, flush the soil with plenty of water. To avoid soil toxicity, try using organic fertilizer specifically made for houseplants, and only fertilize the plant in the spring and summer when it is actively growing.
When snake plants are exposed to high temperatures, they transpire faster in order to cool down and prevent the cells in their leaves from denaturing. This mechanism is perfectly capable of protecting the plant when the hot temperatures only last for short periods, but if these conditions continue for some time, the plant will wilt and dry out, and its leaves will wrinkle.
Save a snake plant from temperature stress by moving it to another spot where it will be less exposed to hot temperatures. If the plant is kept outdoors, do not leave it out under direct sunlight; place it under a garden net or under the shade of a large tree.
These plants also do not do well in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so be sure to take the plant indoors before winter sets in.
Keep the plant away from heating vents and furnaces indoors, because the heat from these can also dry the plant out.
If the snake plant is kept in conditions of lower humidity than in its natural habitat, it will react very similarly to when it is exposed to hot temperatures. Low humidity can also dry out and wrinkle the leaves.
Snake plants can suffer from the lowered humidity during winters when the air is drier. You can help your plant by misting its leaves every once in a while, or by keeping it in the more humid rooms of the house, such as the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. You can place a pebble tray filled with water under the plant’s pot, so that as the water evaporates, the leaves and soil will be moistened. You can also place the plant near other plants, which will create a microclimate around them. Finally, if you have the money to spare, you can buy a humidifier to automatically regulate the humidity in the room where the plant is kept. As long as the humidity level around the plant is above 40 percent, it will be completely fine.
As we mentioned above, snake plants do not do well in cold conditions, and this includes exposure to cold drafts. The plant will do fine when exposed to temperatures a little lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but try to keep the temperature above that all of the time. Air conditioners can be a source of cold air, as can windows or doors that have cracks through which cold air can flow. Any of these causes can lead to drying and wrinkling of the plant’s leaves.
If your snake plant’s wrinkled leaves are due to cold drafts, move it to another area where it is not directly exposed to such drafts. Maintain a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher around the plant at all times, if possible.
Bring the plant indoors when the cold months start, so that it is not exposed to frost.
Not enough light
The snake plant generally does well in indoor lighting conditions, but if you keep it in a room with low light conditions, it will start to turn yellow or brown and wrinkle.
Remember that, even though the plant can survive indoors, it still needs a certain amount of light each day to be able to photosynthesize. If it is unable to photosynthesize, it will become unhealthy and this will show on its leaves.
Move the snake plant to an area where it can get as much light as it needs every day. Ideally, it should be near a north- or east-facing window, but if the only window available lets in harsh light, place a sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the light.
During the winter, when light is scarce, use a grow light to support your plant.
Pests can also cause the snake plant’s leaves to become wrinkled, especially those that suck the moisture from the leaves when they feed on the plant. If the infestation is severe, the sap from the plant’s leaves will become depleted, resulting in the leaves drying out and wrinkling.
You can use insecticides, horticultural oils, or neem oil to treat pest infestations in snake plants. Treat the plant once a week for a month to make sure that all of the pests have been eradicated.
Remember to keep the infested plant away from your healthy plants so that the pests do not spread.
Wrinkled leaves on a snake plant are a sign of stress caused by one or more environmental factors. You will need to identify the cause of the stress in order to resolve it as soon as possible so that it does not further damage the plant’s health.
The most common causes of wrinkled snake plant leaves are too much water, root rot, not enough water, fertilizer issues, temperature issues, humidity problems, drafts, insufficient light, and pests.
The faster you identify the cause of the problem, the sooner your snake plant will be able to recover.
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