As a plant parent, it can be stressful knowing what our plant babies need most. After all, some of them can be finicky little creatures, and their needs are not always obvious to us.
Splitting leaves is a prime example of not knowing what the heck is going on with our plants. This is especially true for newbie plant carers.
Overwatering and physical damage are the main causes of your snake plant’s leaves splitting. These plants prefer dry and somewhat arid environments, and they need adequate draining to prevent soggy soil and root rot. Wet soil soon suffocates your plant and causes its leaves to split.
Fear not because there’s still time to bring your baby back to life! Or better yet, there are several precautions you can take to prevent splitting snake plant leaves.
This guide will shed light on how to care for your snake plant and create a happy environment for it.
Why Are My Snake Plant’s Leaves Splitting?
More often than not, a snake plant’s leaves splitting is caused by overwatering and physical damage. However, snake plant split leaves can indicate several different causes – such as snake plant root rot, micronutrient deficiency, humidity, and plant placement.
To best understand why this little guy isn’t boasting luxurious snake-like leaves, we’ll need to start by understanding their needs.
They don’t complain without a reason, so if there’s something wrong, it’s not something to brush over.
This guide will help you get to know your plant’s needs, and by understanding their requirements, you’ll soon be able to work out why the leaves aren’t holding together.
Overwatering Your Snake Plant
As almost indestructible house plants, overwatering is the most popular culprit of the snake plant splitting leaf.
With their natural environment being in Africa, they’ve developed survival tactics for withstanding a drought. Sansevierias are succulents who store water in their leaves. If we give our plants too much water, their leaves will begin to swell.
While water stored in its leaves during a drought is an impressive survival tactic, it can also cause damage to the leaf’s cells. As temperatures begin to increase, the cell damage can cause the snake plant leaf to split and change in appearance.
For this reason, they naturally shy away from being overwatered. These plants can go without water for three weeks, and in winter, it’s even more extreme as they can use stored water for up to two months.
The snake plant only needs water when the soil begins to dry out. Before you get into a watering routine, test the soil with your fingers to determine if watering is required. You’re looking for the first two inches of soil to be completely dry before you water again. If you can feel that the soil is moist, skip out on watering.
How to Avoid Overwatering Your Snake Plant
No plant parent wants to see their once-thriving beauty start to suffer. And now that we know that overwatering is the main culprit when it comes to splitting leaves, we for sure want to avoid allowing our plants to drown.
We can take the following steps to prevent our babies from being overwatered:
- Create a watering schedule – trust me, no matter how good of a plant parent you are, there are going to be times when you forget whether you watered or not. That’ll lead to you watering again when it’s not needed.
- Get your hands a little dirty and test the soil moisture with your finger.
- Check that your drainage holes aren’t blocked.
- If there’s excess water in the tray, empty it out immediately – another great tip for avoiding the nasty root rot.
- Only buy the best for your baby – like quality soil and plant nutrients.
How Do You Fix an Overwatered Snake Plant?
If you’ve already got an overwatered snake plant on your hands, the best solution is to repot. During the repotting process, you can swap out the soil for one with better drainage.
Now would also be a good time to inspect the snake plant’s roots and ensure that they are not suffering from root rot. If you suspect this is the case, you can gently wash the roots with warm water and a cleaning solution.
Humidity Levels for Your Snake Plant
The leaves of this plant are the main attraction, and it’s a big turn-off when they start to split, crack or turn brown. Just like water levels can cause your plant’s voracious leaves to split, so can the incorrect humidity levels.
Snake plants prefer moderate humidity levels of 40-50%. Low humidity levels cause the plant to use more water, which ends up dehydrating the entire plant. A dry leaf is at high risk of cracking or splitting due to cell or physical damage.
Misting Your Snake Plant
As an indoor plant, the snake plant isn’t at risk of being affected by natural elements. But that doesn’t mean that indoor heating systems don’t run the risk of harming your plant.
When we blast the heater or cool air, our plant sucks up moisture or loses it completely – causes the leaves to split. It’s our job to make sure that we keep our babies bright and happy, and we can do so by misting the leaves of the plant.
- You can manually mist the leaves each day.
- A humidifier is a quick and easy fix to neutralizing water levels in the air.
- A pebble tray can be used in summer to provide an extra moisture boost.
Physical Damage to a Tall Snake Plant
Another one of the suspects leading to a snake plant’s leaves splitting is physical damage. While it wouldn’t be our intention to harm the plant, placing it in busy doorways or in zones where it is being touched too much causes leaves to accidentally be damaged.
While it doesn’t actually hurt the plant, it does leave the snakey leaves looking scarred and pretty ugly.
With extreme damage, the phloem may be prevented from allowing nutrients to reach all parts of the leaf. Soon enough, the leaf will die and will need to be cut off.
Another thing to consider is how playful your cats and dogs may be. This plant is toxic to pets if ingested, so it should be placed in an area that cannot be reached.
However, it’s not only the plant that can harm your fluff. Cats gnawing or scratching the leaves can result in split leaves, while dogs can run around the house and knock over the entire plant.
How to Fix The Damage That Results in Splitting Leaves
Keeping your plant safe and out of harm’s way is an easy fix. It’s all up to us in providing a space place where they’re free from being knocked over or bumped.
- Put up a shelf for your plant or place it comfortably atop a bookshelf.
- Consider investing in a hanging pot plant.
- Keep your plant away from windows that need to be opened and closed every day.
In addition to sunlight, CO2, water, and oxygen, snake plants require natural elements that are found in the soil to help them grow. These macro and micronutrients feed the plants nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as zinc, copper, and boron.
Boron deficiency is a prime example of your plant lacking in nutrients. Boron is in charge of transporting sugars through the plant, and without this important food source, the cells of the leaves can’t develop.
If there isn’t enough boron in the soil, the plant because bitter, causing its leaves to split or turn brown.
How to Avoid Boron Deficiency
The tricky thing with boron deficiency is that it’s often noticed too late, and the snake plant’s leaves have already begun splitting. The following steps will aid in keeping your plant nutrient rich.
- You can apply borax (disodium tetraborate) to the soil before planting.
- Use borax as a foliage spray if you start to notice your plant’s leaves looking dry and brittle.
- Test the soil with an at-home pH testing kit to determine if the soil is too acidic or alkaline. You can reduce the pH level with magnesium sulfate.
- Don’t over-fertilize the soil – snake plants don’t like being overfertilized.
If you’re a little too late noticing the deficiency, you can simply snip away the split leaves and take the above precautions for preventing boron deficiency. New, boron-rich leaves will soon start to appear.
Pests Causing the Leaves to Split
Snake plants aren’t often victims of pests. However, as a plant parent, we put our plant at risk of pest invasion when we overwater and over fertilizer the plant, as this is a welcoming environment for nasty critters who love root rot.
You might have nailed your water schedule, which could lead to the second reason for pest invasion: contamination. Contamination occurs when you don’t disinfect your pruning scissors or you have an overcrowded plant collection.
If you don’t disinfect your pruning scissors, mites and diseases from other houseplants may transfer to your snake plant.
Mealybugs and aphids are often the likely culprits of houseplant contamination. They like to attack the newer, weaker leaves, which turns the leaves yellow and brown and can cause them to eventually split.
When you have plants on top of each other, these nasty little pests can easily transport to other plants, and you’ll land up with a huge home invasion.
Tackling the Pest Problem
In the case of spider mites and mealybugs, it’s always best to identify the problem early on. If there’s an infestation, you’ll notice small, white fuzzy balls tucked in between the plant’s leaves. Here’s how to get rid of them and prevent them from spreading further:
- The first thing you need to do is isolate any plants you can spot with an infestation.
- You can use an organic pesticide to beat the pests.
- If you prefer to use an at-home concoction, neem oil with warm water is just as effective. Simply put your solution in a spray bottle and give the plants a good mist.
- If the plant has been badly affected by pests, you can discard the split and yellow leaves. These are on their way to dying off, and you pruning them can save the plant energy.
- When you’re doing your weekend gardening, keep a bucket filled with pesticide and warm water. Between each pruning session, disinfect the sheers before beginning with a new plant.
Extreme Environmental Changes
Just because the snake plant is a sturdy houseplant, doesn’t mean we can mishandle them. Moving your snake plant around constantly is going to shock the plant.
If we keep the plant in our dark bathroom and then all of a sudden put it on our hot and humid, sunny balcony, we’re going to cause the plant to go into shock. The sun will eventually burn and split the leaves, as there isn’t enough water stored in the leaves to prepare for the move.
Winter is a crucial time to be looking after our snake plants, as they hate being too cold. If your plant is homed in a colder part of the house, consider moving it to a slightly warmer, sunnier position. But remember, it can’t be too extreme of an environmental change.
How to Avoid Extreme Environmental Changes
- Prepare for winter by moving your plant away from spots that have a cold draft or a place that doesn’t receive enough sunlight.
- Don’t change the location of your snake plant unless it is totally necessary – like if it’s near a radiator or in a high-traffic area.
- If you experience dry weather conditions, use a humidifier to balance the water levels in the air.
FAQ’s About Split Leaves on Snake Plant
Snake plants are classic houseplants and their snakey leaves put let them stand out from your typical house plants. Easy to care for, the main issue with these plants is their leaves splitting. If you’re wondering about what to do with split leaves, you’re not alone; take a look at these commonly asked questions.
Can I Cut the Split Leaves Off My Snake Plant?
Cutting the split leaves off of your snake plant is not necessary. The cuts aren’t causing any harm to your plant and are the result of physical damage to the plant’s leaves. Your best option is to leave them alone until the snake pant’s new growth starts to develop.
If the splits are killing your aesthetic vibe, you can always snip them off. But be super careful in not cutting off the healthy part of the leaf, as that’ll cause the plant to brown even further.
Will Cut Snake Leaves Grow Back?
Any damage caused to the leaves stays on them permanently. Minor lapses in care, such as burning the leaves in the sun or bumping into the plant accidentally, can result in slight damage that won’t be able to be repaired.
But guess what? Pruning your snake plant allows perfectly sprouted leaves to add some vibrancy and snakey patterns.
Footnote on Snake Plant Leaf Spitting
While they’re one of the hardiest plants around, we still need to take care when owning one of these beauties.
The leaves of the snake plant are the star of the show, and the last thing we want to be seeing is split leaves.
Keep this dazzling plant out of busy corridors and away from the pets to stop the leaves from breaking. Be sure to set up a watering schedule, feel the soil when you’re watering, and check your humidity levels and you’ll be left with a beaming snake plant!
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