Root rot can cause root damage in snake plants due to damp soil around roots, excessive watering, or high humidity. To avoid root rot, which can turn the leaves black, snake plants need well-drained soil and pots that have drainage holes.
If your snake plant leaves are turning black, keep reading to learn how to care for your plant …
Snake Plants Turn Black
Overwatering is the most common reason for snake plants turning black.
Snake plant native to Africa , where they thrive in dry conditions and infrequent rain.
If you water your snake plants more often than once a week, then you may be overwatering them.
This is especially true in Winter when snake plants stop growing and go seasonalally dormant.
(If you have a snake plant that isn’t growing, read my articles for the reasons and solutions ).
Too much water around roots due to frequent watering can lead to root rot, which causes the snake plant’s leaves turn black.
Root rot is often seen in snake plants when they turn yellow and droop.
How do I save it …
Reduce the amount of watering. As this mimics its natural environment, snake plants should be watered by soaking the soil then drying it completely.
Snake plants are more likely to need watering every two weeks. However, it is best to feel the soil at its base through the drainage hole. This will allow you to determine if the soil is moist or dry.
(Read my article How often to water snake plants during Winter.
Water the plant when it is dry. If it is still moist, wait until it dries out before watering.
Once rot has established itself, it can be difficult to revive a serpent plant.
The best thing to do is to remove any blackened sections from your snake plants and keep the healthy tissue. If left untreated, the black rot can spread and eventually kill the plant.
Once the infected area of the plant has been removed, and your watering habits have been corrected, the plant will be able to re-grow.
If a large section of your snake plant has become black, it can be difficult to revive the plant and it is likely that the snake plant will die back.
If there is any tissue left on the plant, I recommend cutting it for propagation.
Propagating snake plants from cuttings is easy and has high success rates. This video will show you how to propagate your snake plant easily:
Slow Draining Soils
Snake plants have learned to grow in soils that are naturally sandy and able to drain quickly.
If the snake plant is placed in regular potting soil, it is more likely that this will retain too much moisture around its roots and cause the leaves turn black.
Snake plants should be planted in soils that are similar to their natural environment.
Snake plants thrive in specially prepared succulent and cactus soil, which can be purchased at garden centers or on Amazon.
Special succulent potting mixtures have the exact right drainage characteristics to support snake plants. Water infiltrates efficiently to reach roots, but drains quickly to prevent root rot.
If you have a potting mix that stays moist for a long time after watering then replace the soil with some succulent and cactus soil to prevent further stress to the plant.
It is important to remove any leaf that has gone black, regardless of how often you water your plant and the drainage of the potting mix. This will prevent the plant from getting rotted and allow it to recover.
However, with black snake plants, it might be necessary to cut any green leaves that you have left for propagation.
Humidity Causes Leaves to Lose Water and Blackens
Snake plant are native to dry and hot environments. They prefer low humidity in rooms.
Humidity can slow down the rate of transpiration (water losses) from snake plants leaves. This is the main way snake plants control their moisture levels.
Low transpiration can lead to water stress, which causes snake plants to become black.
Higher levels of humidity could not be due to the climate but also due:
- Watering onto the leaves or misting the leaves. This is against the preference of snake plants to mist their leaves in dry conditions. To avoid creating a humid microclimate, water snake plants at their base.
- Humid rooms of the house. The majority of snake plants do not like to live in humid rooms, such as bathrooms or kitchens that have high levels of moisture. Your snake plant should be kept in dry areas.
- Humid climates. High humidity conditions can make it difficult for snake plants to thrive. If this is the case, find a sunny spot.
Keeping your snake plant in a place with lower humidity can help it recover from rot. It will also prevent further damage to its leaves.
For more information read my article how to revive a dying snake plant).
Pots without Drainage Holes in The Base Cause Water Stress
Snake plant leaves can become black from water stress. They are planted in pots that do not have drainage holes at the bottom, which causes water to pool around their roots.
If your snake plant is not in a pot with drainage holes, re-pot it immediately.
Snake plant leaves can turn black if there are no drainage holes at the base.
- The use of saucer and trays. To prevent water from leaking, a tray or saucer should be placed underneath the pot. This will allow water to drain away from the bottom of the pot. Root rot can also occur if the soil is kept damp by allowing water to pool around the base.
- Drainage hole clogged by roots or compacted soil. If your soil is draining slowly, it’s worth checking the bottom of the pot. Sometimes, roots and compacted soil can block drainage holes. With succulent and cactus soil, the potting soil is less likely to be compacted and more likely to stay porous and well draining.
- Snake plants are often sold in the store as gifts with a decorative outer pot. This can stop excess water from escaping, and cause soil to remain damp. Your snake plant’s leaves will turn black.
Snake plant soil must dry between waterings to prevent them from turning black. It is also important to ensure your plant has the right pot to drain excess water after watering.
The same goes for snake plants that have been water stressed. You should remove any dead leaves and transplant the cuttings to healthy tissue if you need to.
- Snake plants turn black because of root rot when there is too much moisture around the roots caused by over watering, slow draining soils or pots without drainage holes in the base. The leaves can turn black if they are exposed to high humidity.
- Scale back the watering, replace the soil with succulent and cactus soil and ensure the snake plant is in a pot with good drainage.
- Locate the snake plant in a room with lower humidity and avoid steamy bathrooms or kitchens.
- Cut away any black rot from your succulent to prevent the rot from spreading and propagate from healthy cuttings if necessary.