You may know mother-in-law plant (Sansevieria) as the snake plant, appropriately nicknamed for its tall, slender, upright leaves. If your snake plant has droopy leaves, it’s an indication that something isn’t right. Read on for suggestions about possible causes and fixes for a mother-in-law tongue with drooping leaves.
Help! My Snake Plant is Drooping!
If your snake plant has droopy leaves, there are a few likely possibilities.
Mother-in-law’s tongue is a succulent plant with thick, moisture-holding leaves. This built-in watering system allows the plant to survive in its native environment – dry, rocky regions of the West African tropics. Like all succulents, the snake plant is susceptible to root rot in soggy conditions, and droopy snake plant leaves often result when the plant is overwatered.
Water the snake plant only when the top 2 or 3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) of soil is completely dry, and then water deeply until water runs through the drainage hole. Although conditions vary, a plant near a heat vent or a sunny window will need water more frequently. However, many people find that watering every two or three weeks is adequate.
Water around the inside edge of the pot to keep the leaves dry, and then allow the pot to drain freely before replacing it on the drainage saucer. Don’t water again until the top of the soil is dry. Water sparingly during the winter months – only when the leaves begin to look slightly wilted. Once a month is usually enough.
Also, be sure the plant is in a pot with a drainage hole. Use a fast-draining potting mix such as a mix formulated for cactus and succulent, or a regular potting soil with a handful of coarse sand or perlite to enhance drainage.
Some people joke that Sansevieria is so hardy it can grow in a closet, but droopy snake plant leaves may result when the plant is in excessive darkness for long periods of time. The pattern in the leaves also tends to be more bright and prominent when the plant is exposed to light.
Snake plant tolerates relatively bright light, but direct light from a south-facing window may be too intense and may be to blame for drooping mother-in-law’s tongue. However, a southern exposure works well during the winter months. A sunny west- or east-facing window is a good bet nearly any time of year. A north-facing window is acceptable, but long periods of northern exposure may eventually cause droopy snake plant leaves.
If improper watering or lighting isn’t the reason for drooping mother-in-law’s tongue, check to see if the plant is rootbound. However, keep in mind that snake plant generally only needs repotting every three to five years. Move the plant to a container only one size larger, as a too-large pot holds an excessive amount of potting soil that can cause root rot.