How Do You Know If Your Snake Plant Needs Water?

Tending to Sansevieria plants is quite straightforward due to their minimal upkeep needs. Their capacity to thrive with infrequent watering adds to their widespread appeal. Nevertheless, this same hardiness can sometimes confuse plant owners, leading to either overwatering or underwatering of snake plants. As a result, some people may give them too much water, while others might unintentionally leave them parched for long stretches.

Signs a snake plant needs watering, include wrinkling leaves, drooping, leaf curling, brown tips, dry edges, yellowing/browning leaves, brittle leaves, and stunted growth. Always check and water the plant when the soil dries up.

If you don’t water a snake plant for long, it will start suffering from dehydration, which affects the plant’s growth and eventually kills it. In this post, I will be providing information that will help you determine if your snake plants need water.

Signs That Your Snake Plant is Thirsty

Water is an essential component of all living organisms. Ninety percent of plants’ structure is made of water, which performs critical functions in plants.

Water is a transport medium for hormones, food, nutrients, minerals, and toxins. It also manufactures plant energy through photosynthesis and cooling the plant through transpiration.

By maintaining cellular rigidity, water helps maintain the upright structure for plants.

Whenever plants don’t get adequate water, all these processes we saw above are likely to suffer, affecting the plant’s health. It is essential to regularly check your snake plants and maintain the desired watering schedules. Here is how you can tell that your snake plant needs water:

The soil is dry

The recommended way of checking when your snake plant needs watering is by checking the soil moisture content. The growing medium will often tell you when your plants need water because the roots will dry up when it dries up.

Snake plants rely on their roots to take up water from the soil for essential functions. When the soil dries up, the plant cannot take up essential nutrients and minerals from the ground, which is critical for growth.

Plants take up nutrients from the soil in the form of ions only formed when these nutrients are dissolved in water. The process through which these ions get to the plant root cells also requires water.

Plants take up essential nutrients like potassium and phosphorous through diffusion, which requires water.

Waiting between watering schedules is essential as it promotes deep and fibrous root systems. However, the plant’s roots also suffer when the soil is dry for prolonged periods.

For this reason, it is essential to water snake plants when the soil dries up. Feel if the soil is dried up by feeling it with your fingers.

If there is no moisture content about two to three inches deep in the soil, it is time to water the plant. Also, resist watering the plant if there is still some moisture in the soil, leading to overwatering.

Wrinkled leaves

Water maintains the beautiful structure of the snake plant’s leaves. As sansevieria plants go without water, they begin using the water reservoir in their leaves to carry out essential metabolic processes.

Over time, the water levels within the plant go down, and the plant cells lose their rigidity. As a result, the leaves become wrinkled.

It will, however, take long periods of drought for snake plants, especially those indoors, to reach this stage without your notice. The wrinkles are lines of different shapes and sizes appearing on the leaf surface, and they are often the first signs that your plant is thirsty and could die from lack of water.

The plants’ lower leaves are often the first ones to be affected. Once you notice this problem among your snake plants, you need to check out the plant’s soil and see if the problem could have occurred from lack of water. Also, remember exposure to high intensity of sunlight or heat could contribute to the problem.

Leaf curling

Leaf curling among your snake plants could be a sign of dehydration. When the plant loses an excess amount of water it is not obtaining from the soil; its leaves begin to fold and twist, forming loops to preserve any further moisture loss.

As the plant leaves curl, they also begin to develop wrinkles. It takes extreme conditions of neglect for your plants to reach this level, especially if you have them indoors with minimum water loss.

If your snake plant is curling up its leaves, act quickly before permanently damaging it. Remember to check the soil’s condition, as leaf curling can occur from other factors such as diseases and attacks by pests, excess fertilizer, transplantation shock, and root rot.

Drooping and wilting of leaves

Whenever plants go for long without water, they use up the water within, eventually getting exhausted. It often occurs when the water loss process is drastic. The plant leaves lose their upright structure as the cells lose their rigidity, and this causes the leaves to wilt and droop.

The plants assume an unpleasant look, and you must verify if it is due to the lack of water.

Browning of  leaves and tips

If your snake plant leaves are turning brown, they must have been in distress for a long time. A prolonged lack of water can lead to snake plants’ leaves turning brown because the plant is not receiving the necessary water and nutrients. It is usually a clear indication that the plant cells in the affected areas have died.

Consequently, these leaves cannot regain their look even if you want to revive the plant; you can only prune the affected leaves. In other cases, when the plant is severely affected, it becomes impossible to revive the plant.

Prolonged lack of water also kills the plant’s roots, losing their functionality, ultimately killing the plant. At first, the plant will develop a yellowish coloration which gradually turns brown and brittle.

The color change begins from the edges and tip of the plant leaves, spreading across the entire leaf surface because when there is insufficient water within the plant, the water supply cannot reach the outer parts of the leaves.

Stunted growth

Given all the critical functions of water within snake plants, it would be impossible to grow without water. Snake plants cannot absorb and transport essential nutrients from the soil for long periods without water.

Since water is a critical factor for photosynthesis, these plants can not manufacture energy.

Consequently, they reserve the food and water reservoirs for survival rather than growth. Therefore, you will notice that if you don’t maintain the necessary watering schedules, your plants are likely to show stunted growth. Ideally, snake plants should grow 10 to 24 inches per year, developing 6 to 10 leaves.

If your plants are not growing as fast as expected, it could be because you wait too long before watering them.

Also, read Snake plant locations within your home, and find out the best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do snake plants attract mosquitoes?

One of the biggest problems many people have with growing plants is that they tend to bear insects and mosquitoes. But if you grow a snake plant, you will have no problem. The snake plant has a chemical called Saponin, which repels mosquitoes.

Are snake plants poisonous?

Because they do just fine in low light, snake plants are common in office spaces and homes. But they are also poisonous if ingested. Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting, and the poison found in the plant has a numbing effect that can cause the tongue and throat to swell.

Why is the snake plant called mother-in-law’s tongue?

Dracaena trifasciata is commonly called “mother-in-law’s tongue,” “Saint George’s sword,” or “snake plant” because of the shape and sharp margins of its leaves. It is also known as the “viper’s bowstring hemp” because it is one of the sources of plant fibers used to make bowstrings.

Do snake plants need sunlight?

Light: Plants grow in any light level, from low to high. They grow more quickly in brighter light, but direct solid sunlight burns leaves, especially when plants are outdoors. Temperature: Snake plants thrive in hot, dry environments. Consider placing potted ones outside for summer in bright shade.

Why does my snake plant have holes?

When you overwater the plant, the leaves may develop brown spots on their surface. Some of these spots and patches turn into holes due to severe damage. These locations are ideal for insects to find a host plant in the garden. When they reach the Snake plant, they can cause a few holes in the leaves.


Snake plants are not as demanding in terms of water requirements. However, if you don’t give your plant the required water, it will likely develop undesirable appearances. If you suspect your plants are not getting sufficient water, look for the signs above. Remember, other factors could contribute to the poor health of sansevieria plants rather than lack of water.

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