Snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are known for being incredibly easy to look after, and snake plant temperature tolerance is often overlooked as houseplant owners assume they will survive just about any condition.
While snake plants are incredibly hardy, you still need to provide an adequate temperature if you want to see them thrive. Aim for a temperature between 60°F and 80°F (15°C-26°C) and you should have no problems, but if the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C) you will start to notice signs that your snake plant is struggling.
Luckily for us plant owners, snake plants will give you clear signs that they aren’t happy with the temperature, and in this guide, I’ll take you through these signs and what you can do to get your snake plant back into shape.
Signs Your Snake Plant Is Struggling With Temperature
Snake plants will give you some pretty clear indications that they’re struggling with temperature.
I’ve owned a snake plant for several years now, and in my experience, it is usually colder temperatures that will cause the most problems for snake plants, as it is much more common for the temperature to drop too low than too high.
1. Curling Leaves
Snake plant leaves can curl for a variety of reasons, but cold damage is one of the more common factors.
This is done as a defensive measure against moisture loss through the leaves and is seen amongst a variety of different plants.
2. Yellow Leaves
When temperatures drop too low, you may also notice that your snake plant leaves start to turn yellow.
Cold soil limits the number of nutrients that are absorbed by the plant, which results in the leaves turning yellow. Overwatering is also another common cause for this, which is common in colder temperatures if you don’t change your watering schedule.
I only water my snake plant once every two weeks during the winter to insure against this.
3. Splitting Leaves
Snake plant leaves are notorious for splitting, and extreme temperatures can also cause this to happen.
Fluctuations in temperature can also cause the leaves to split. This can happen due to drafts and vents, so avoid placing your snake plant in areas like these where there is likely to be a changing temperature.
4. Leave Edges Turning Brown
Most plants, including snake plants, lose moisture through their leaves (particularly the edges) during the day. If this water cannot be replaced the edges will turn brown and crispy.
This can be very common when the temperature is too high and your snake plant is not able to get enough moisture from the soil as it evaporates and dries out too quickly.
5. Sun-Scorched Leaves
High temperatures combined with direct sunlight can scorch snake plant leaves quite easily.
This can appear as yellowing of the leaves, but it can also cause areas to turn brown or lose pigment. Leaves that are affected by the sun in this way will need to be removed once they have completely lost their pigment., and you should reduce the number of hours that the plant receives direct sunlight.
Snake plants can also wilt due to a lack of moisture or key nutrients.
Again, this can be caused by overwatering during cold temperatures or simply by evaporation in high-temperature scenarios.
How To Protect Your Snake Plant From Cold Damage
If the temperature is going to drop below 50°F (10°C) for an extended period of time, you need to find an area in your house where the temperature will be higher than average.
Kitchens or living rooms tend to be warmer on average and are great options for keeping your snake plant safe from cold damage
If the temperature change is only temporary, I’ve found that reducing watering and fertilizing will help prevent many of the key issues associated with colder temperatures.
As I touched on before, overwatering is the most common problem associated with colder temperatures.
As the temperature decreases your snake plant’s growth will slow down, along with its water requirement. If you continue to water as before the excess water will build up and lead to issues such as root rot.
You probably guessed this one, but if the water requirement is slowing down along with the overall growth then your snake plant will require fewer nutrients.
I avoid fertilizing at all during the winter and this seems to work well for me. As a minimum, I would cut your fertilizing schedule to 25% of that in summer.
From there you can assess if your snake plant is responding well to the change and adjust accordingly.
What About Extreme Heat?
Snake plants can actually withstand temperatures as high as 90°F (32°C) without much trouble.
If the temperature exceeds this amount it’s likely that it is placed in direct sunlight in a very warm climate. Symptoms of the temperature being too high include sun scorch on the leaves, as well as yellowing/drooping leaves and slow growth.
Underwatering is the real issue here, which causes much less damage than overwatering which is common during periods of cold temperatures. If you’re concerned about extreme heat, simply keep your snake plant out of direct sunlight and check the top few inches of soil more regularly as it will dry out quickly under these conditions.
If certain leaves become sun scorched simply prune them once they have died completely, allowing the rest of the plant to absorb key nutrients from the leaf before it is removed.
Can A Snake Plant Go Outside?
Snake plants originate in tropical western Africa and thrive outdoors in conditions that are similar to this climate.
In terms of USDA zones, snake plants can live outside year-round in zones 9-11. They are expected to become invasive in certain areas over the coming years, however, with Florida currently giving the snake plant a high invasion risk assessment.
They’re also invasive in areas of Australia, so it’s best to keep them inside even if you live in a climate where they can grow outside.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For A Snake Plant?
At temperatures below 50°F, a snake plant will start to struggle.
If the temperature drops even further towards the freezing point for an extended period of time then it is more than likely that the plant will die. At this temperature range, the plant tissue will start to die and eventually the root system will die as well as it cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
If the roots survive, there is a good chance that your snake plant will make a full recovery from cold damage.