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Snake Plant Leaves Splitting: 7 Causes and Remedies

Snake Plant Leaves Splitting: 7 Causes and Remedies

There are over 70 species of snake plants, and many of them are very popular in the plant keeping hobby. Their popularity is likely due to their ease of care, and their aesthetically pleasing looks. Even the easiest plants can sometimes have issues though, especially when it comes to snake plants leaves splitting.

Today we are going to take a look at what could be causing your snake plant’s leaves to split. 

Why Are My Snake Plant’s Leaves Splitting? 

One of the hardest things about keeping plants is that they sometimes seem to have issues out of nowhere. In this article, we are going to go over the reasons your snake plant’s leaves could be splitting and remedies on how to fix them. 

1. Too much water

2. Too much fertilizer

3. Physical damage

4. Boron deficiency

5. Too much humidity

6. Extreme temperatures

7. Pests

1. Too much water

One of the biggest issues when keeping snake plants tends to be overwatering. We all love our plants and want to give them the best care possible, but that love can sometimes lead to us drowning our plants.

I know when I first started on my plant keeping journey I loved lots of plants to death, especially succulents and cacti. Thankfully, I eventually got the hang of caring for plants that like it dry and now I can share that knowledge with you! 

A good watering schedule is important for all plants, but especially so for snake plants. You won’t want to water your snake plant more than once every 2 weeks and you will want to make sure the plant has completely dried out before you water again.

It’s usually better with snake plants, cacti, and succulents to underwater than overwater. If you aren’t sure if your plant is ready, simply give it a few more days. This approach is sure to keep your snake plant happy. 

A snake plant in a white vase

If your plant is already at the point its leaves are splitting, check the soil and see if it’s wet or soggy. If it is, you will want to remove it from the soil and check for root rot. Healthy snake plant roots are usually orange and firm, while rotten roots will be black or dark brown and mushy.

Remove any rotten roots and place the plant in fresh, well-draining dry soil. Snake plants like being somewhat crowded, so you will want to make sure you don’t use a pot that is too large. 

As long as your plant has healthy roots and you’ve moved it to dry soil, it should be fine. There is no way to heal the current splits, but any new growth should be healthy. 

2. Too much fertilizer

Snake plants come from arid regions in tropical Africa. Here they grow in sandy soil that is relatively low in nutrients. This has caused the snake plant to evolve to thrive in poor soil conditions. Too much fertilizer can lead to their roots being burned and cause their leaves to split. The ideal soil mixture for your snake plant is 2 parts sand, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part potting soil. This mixture will keep your plant from being overwhelmed with nutrients and will also prevent overwatering. 

If your plant is currently in high nutrient soil and the leaves are splitting, simply repot it in the soil mixture above after checking for root rot. This won’t do anything to heal current splits, but it will improve future growth. 

3. Physical damage

Another common cause of leaf splitting on snake plants is physical damage. Maybe your cat or dog has chewed on a leaf, you bumped it on your way through the house, or one of the kids knocked the plant over when you weren’t looking. Whatever the reason, there isn’t much you can do to fix physical damage other than to avoid it happening in the future. 

If you think your leaf damage is due to cats or dogs, be sure to move your plant somewhere they can’t reach or to a room, they don’t have access to. Snake plants are toxic to cats and dogs, so you want to avoid them ingesting the plant for both the plant’s sake and theirs. 

If you don’t have any good spots to keep your plant away from your cats here are some tips to help deter them from munching or swatting at your snake plant. 

A snake plant in a black pot

Aluminum foil

Cats detest aluminum foil, so placing it around your plant should deter them from getting near it. This isn’t my personal favorite method, but lots of other plant keepers swear by this method. 

Double sided tape

My favorite method of cat munching prevention is double-sided tape. We use this throughout our house in places we don’t want our cats to sit, like the tops of terrariums and high shelves where we keep some of our more sensitive plants. 

We have had great luck training our cats with tape and no longer need to use it in high areas as the cats assume the tape is still there. In lower areas where they can see the tape, we do have to keep it there all the time. 

Provide cat plants

Another great way to prevent your cat from chewing on your plants is to give them their own plants. We grow several cultures of cat grass and herbs for our cats to munch on and play with and we switch them out regularly to give the plants time to grow back. This will give your cat a healthy outlet for their plant chewing instincts and will keep your other plants safe and happy. 

4. Boron deficiency

An issue you may not have come across with many other plants is boron deficiency. Snake plants need more boron than many other plants due to the unique make up of their leaves. Boron helps the plant to distribute sugars throughout its cells. A plant that is deficient in this nutrient will often have split leaves or stunted growth. 

To fix boron deficiency in your plant, add boron to the soil. You can either place it on top of the soil or mix it in. Over time, your plant will start to do better and its leaves will begin to grow normally again. 

5. Too much humidity

Like we talked about in section 1, snake plants live in arid regions and don’t do well with too much water. Too much water in the soil can cause the leaves to split and too much water in the air can do the same. Plants release water into the air as they photosynthesize.

Plants also absorb water through their leaves. In humid regions, too much water can be absorbed and not enough water released. This causes the leaves to split. 

It’s hard to solve the issue of too much humidity outdoors, but if your plant is indoors, you can keep it near a dehumidifier, or you can keep it in a room that is dry. You don’t want the plant to get too hot or too cold, so be careful not to place it too close to a vent. 

6. Extreme temperatures

While snake plants tend to be rather hardy, they can become stressed if they are kept below 65 degrees or above 80 degrees. This stress can often cause the leaves to split, or to fold over.

You will want to do your best to keep your snake plant in an area that has a relatively steady temperature as wide fluctuations in temperature, even in the 65-80 range, can stress your plant as well. Be sure to place them somewhere away from drafts and vents as these can not only cause temperature stress, but they can dry out your snake plant more than you would want. 

7. Pests

The most dreaded issue for any plant parent is pests. Snake plants tend to be more prone to spider mites and mealybugs, but if your other plants have aphids or other pests, these can affect your plant too.

The best way to prevent your plant from getting pests is to have a quarantine procedure for all new plants. While you may not initially see pests on your new plant, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and it only takes a few tiny insects for your entire plant collection to become infested. 

With my plants, I quarantine for 2 weeks outdoors. This may seem like a weird place to quarantine, but I live in Florida, and we have a huge variety of predator bugs in our backyard that will eagerly take care of any pests.

After the 2 weeks outside, I move them to the garage where I treat them with neem oil for another 2 weeks. If you don’t have an area outside that will work for your quarantine, you could skip straight to the garage method. 

If you didn’t quarantine and are at the point where your plant’s leaves are splitting due to pests, there are a few things you can do. 

Place the plant outside

Placing the plant outside is a great natural way to take care of pests and this is the least stressful for your plant. This method will only work if the temps are appropriate for your snake plant, but it is generally my favorite method. 

Neem oil

If it is too cold outside, or you live in an apartment and don’t have an outdoor area, there are other options. Neem oil can be a great tool in treating pests.

Apply it every few days to your plant and after 2-3 weeks your plant should be pest-free. Restart quarantine after you no longer see plants before bringing your plant near your pest-free plants. 

Insecticides

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of unnecessary chemicals, but insecticides will take care of any pest problems you may have. Be careful using them around other pets, especially rodents and birds.

Also, try not to use it in your kitchen as the fumes can sometimes linger and you won’t want it getting in your food. When using insecticides, always follow the directions on the bottle and spray them outside if possible. 

Toss the plant

While this isn’t a method, I recommend some plant keepers simply throw out plants that have become infested with pests. They do this to keep the rest of their plants safe and because they view pests as an overwhelming nightmare. If you want to use this method, you can, but the thought of tossing any of my plants makes me sad. 

If you want to toss the majority of the plant, but don’t want to lose the whole thing, you can always take cuttings and thoroughly wash the pieces that you keep. Snake plants are slow growers, but I’ve had great luck rooting cuttings in the soil. Simply cut the leaf horizontally, wash it really well, apply neem oil, and place it in the soil. It might take 1-2 months to root, but all of my cuttings have eventually rooted.