How to Stop Snake Plant Root Rot?

The snake plant, also called the sansevieria, is a beautiful looking plant. If you’re a plant parent, you must be aware that having a plant in your home comes with many responsibilities. If the plant is not taken care of, the plant can catch insects, dry out, droop, or even die.

A plant parent must know the unique properties of the specific plant and care for it. Every plant is susceptible to specific problems, and it is essential to be aware of them.

The snake plant, just like any other plant, can go through a few issues if not taken care properly. One such major issue is with root rot, which can be deadly to a snake plant.

If you are unaware of what a root rot is and the issues caused by them, you are in the right place. Without any further ado, let’s dive in!

What Is Root Rot?

Simply put, root rot is when the roots on a plant start to rot. This is due to many reasons, but it causes the roots to look soft and brownish-black in color. You may even notice the horrendous smell that root rot causes. To see a root rot, you may need to remove the plant from the soil, but there are many other ways to estimate the presence of root rot.

Signs of Snake Plant Root Rot

The issue with root rot is that it can easily go unnoticed. To identify something is wrong with your plant, it is essential you first know the signs.


If you suddenly find your snake plant wilting, it is a good idea to lift the plant and check the roots. Less water can also cause wilting of your snake plant.

Even curling of the leaves is a sign your plant may have root rot. Overwatering snake plants, can be detrimental to the plant’s health and contribute towards wilting.

Yellow and Soft Leaves

The leaves can turn from green to yellow due to insufficient water or too much water. They can also turn yellow due to underlying root rot. Fungal infections can also cause root rot in snake plants.

Mushy and Black Roots

If your snake plant has mushy roots, it may be a sign of root rot. Regular snake plant roots are black but not mushy. They should appear and feel strong, not like mushy roots that disconnect from the plant when touched. Even if a few roots show this sign, it means your plant has root rot.  

Why Does Root Rot Happen?

Once you know why this even happens, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it. Prevention is better than cure. Here’s why root rot happens in snake plants:

Overwatering the Snake Plant

This is the most important and crucial point that should be avoided to prevent root rot. We are aware that watering our plants keeps it alive, but did you know that overwatering could kill it?

When one starts overwatering their snake plant, excess water gets accumulated around the roots. As it does not get absorbed into the soil, it stays there and saturates the root’s outer layer.

As the roots are entirely covered with water, the plant struggles to absorb oxygen from the roots. Lack of oxygen is a known reason to cause rotting.

Lack of Sufficient Drainage

Like every other plant, your snake plant must have enough space for drainage too. Make sure your plant is planted in soil with adequate width and depth.

If the pot your plant grows in has a solid base without holes, the water will not have space to get drained. This will lead to an accumulation of water and ultimately lead to root rot.

Soil with Less Drainage

If the soil you have used to plant your snake plant is of low quality, it can cause root rot. A good way to increase soil drainage is to add sand to the soil. Another crucial point to remember is that your soil should contain one-third of compost or hummus.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections could be the reason your plant has root rot. Your plant can catch a fungal infection if the soil is already infected from another plant that was infected. A fungal infection can also be caught from surrounding infected plants.

Extremely Large Pot

Although you need to choose a pot with sufficient width and depth, do not go overboard and choose one that is larger than necessary. 2 inches of extra space is acceptable, but more than that is considered too large. As the plant roots will not reach the ends of the large pot, there will be retention of that water, leading to root rot.

Low Temperatures

You need to ensure your snake plant is placed at a suitable temperature. If the roots’ temperature is very low, it will cause root rot as the roots tend to freeze and struggle to absorb oxygen.

Excessive Fertilizers

Too much fertilizer can cause the snake plant to struggle to attempt to extract the water. Some fertilizer is healthy, but too much can lead to the plant withering and dying.

How to Prevent Root Rot in Snake Plants?

It’s a wise idea to prevent root rot from happening in the first place. Taking this pro-active approach means you won’t have to take emergency action later down the line. 

Repotting Your Plant

While repotting your plant, you must keep in mind the following tips.

  • Choose a pot that is large enough but not too large
  • The drainage holes need to be covered with a porous substance. Example: filter paper of coffee
  • If any roots are already infected with root rot, remove those pieces

Soil Mixture

The soil needs to be made of one-third regular soil and one-third fertilizer. For the last third landscaping, sand should be used. This raises the porosity. If there were soil drainage issues earlier, try adding perlite to the mixture.


Right after repotting your plant, it needs some fresh water. This is because the lowermost area will be dry after repotting. However, don’t go overboard, as this can make the root rot even worse.

Disinfection and Sterilization

Disinfection of the tools, roots, and pot can be done with chemicals. The details are mentioned further down in this article.

Avoid Waterlogging

As mentioned earlier, avoid water logging as it can lead to root rot.

How to Save a Snake Plant with Root Rot?

If root rot has already occured, you will have to take immediate acion to save your snake plant. Here’s how:


You can easily propagate a snake plant by placing a cutting from the old plant and replanting it in new healthy soil.

Potassium Permanganate 

Dilute Potassium permanganate with a large quantity of water. Then proceed to apply it on the lower parts of the snake plant.

A paste of copper sulfate and chalk

The mixture contains 3 tablespoons chalk that is crushed + 1 teaspoon copper sulphate + 0.5 liters water. Apply the creamy liquid to the lower area of the stem, collar of the root, and all the roots that have root rot. The plant can then be repotted after slightly drying the roots.

Chalk and Wood Ash

Add both the ingredients and apply it to the roots of your plant. It is important to remember that you need to give one week between applying the chemical and repotting the plant. This allows the microorganisms to return to the soil.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This chemical is useful when a fungal infection has led to root rot. It gives out oxygen when it breaks down in the soil.

How to Save an Overwatered Snake Plant?

In this scenario, you will need to halt watering the plant immediately. The snake plant should be kept in a sunny area. Remove the plant from the soil and clean out any dirt visible. Cut off infected parts of the root with a sterilized scissor. Use fungicide on healthy roots. Then repot the plant in healthy soil.


Root rot is something you do not want to encounter as it can cause your snake plant to die and increases the amount of work you need to do to remove it and repot it. Therefore, it is in your best interest to prevent root rot by following the instructions in this article.

Root rot can give out a foul smell, and the bacteria can spread to other plants as well. It is time to have a look at your snake plant just about now!