Reasons For a Skinny Snake Plant – Leggy Plant Care

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Last Updated on February 11, 2023 by Griselda M.

What are the reasons for a skinny snake plant, and how can you prevent or treat them? Snake plants are a group of plants formerly in the genus Sansevieria, now Draecena that originated mainly from Africa. These plants have been spread globally as house plants and garden plants because they are really tough, pretty, and water-efficient. Sometimes these plants can get long and leggy – in the article, we ask “What are the reasons for a skinny snake plant?” and then explore how to fix them!

Leggy Snake Plant Reasons Explained

When it comes to a leggy snake plant, there are a few reasons that can cause this problem. When your snake plant leaves tend to grow narrowly, this may be due to them not receiving an adequate amount of sunlight or other health hazards. You may notice that in conditions where light is restricted, your anke plant will grow longer in a bent upward direction, hence the narrow, elongated growth that is not very attractive.

To fix this problem and avoid it happening again, there a few things that you can do. To begin, a snake plant that is growing in a pot should be rotated daily so that all parts of it get ample sun exposure. Snake plants are very easy to grow and maintain if you know how to meet their needs. They are commonly grown as houseplants for this reason and thrive in the right conditions.

A healthy snake plant usually has fleshy, thick leaves that grow to about four feet in length with a three-inch width. To keep your snake plant leaves in optimal shape so that their leaf patterns are visible, affording them proper care and maintenance is recommended. It will ensure that your plant stays healthy and happy instead of growing in a leggy unattractive fashion. Just remember that leggy snake plants can be revived quite easily if you follow the correct procedures. A rotation schedule for sun exposure would be best in this case.

Skinny Sansevieria – What to Do?

So, you have skinny Sansevieria and don’t know what to do about it. To power up your plant’s expansion and aid it in regaining its original stance, a good amount of sunlight is recommended, as mentioned above. However, aside from light explosion, there are a few other aspects that will help bring your plant back to its former glory. These include essential growth boosters that are beneficial to leggy snake plants. 

The second important component is water. Although snake plants are quite hardy and can go a few days without a sip of water, allowing their soil to dry out completely can result in skinny sansevieria. However, this can be rectified with timeous watering schedules that keep the soil moist. The other essential booster is fertilizer, as it aids in the growth of the snake plant. Timed fertilizing schedules will enhance your plant’s growth substantially, and you’d never have to worry about them going leggy.

However, too much fertilizer can also flaw your snake plant, so you should use it with caution and as directed. Container space is also important when growing snake plants because a crowded space will reduce aeration, and the demand for nutrients would be much higher. Pruning is also a great option to bring your plant back to life, although this must be done with caution to not reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Here are a few steps that your can follow to trim your leggy snake plant.

Skinny Sansevieria

Snake Plant Pruning:

  • To begin, you will need a sharp, clean knife.
  • Then, locate the damaged or overgrown leaves that need to be removed.
  • Thereafter, using the sharp blade, cut off the damaged stalks at their bases. This cut should be made as close to the soil as possible.
  • Leggy seedlings can also be cut off and transplanted. Remember to give them ample light, water, and fertilizer to keep them thriving.
  • While pruning, take caution not to damage the snake plant’s healthy leaves and new growth.

About The Snake Plant

This plant is native to tropical Africa, but it has been widely cultivated globally. There are actually many species that are sold, but most people view the common Dracaena trifasciata as the sort of generic snake plant against which all others are compared.  The leaves of the snake plant can be up to three feet tall.  The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the length of the stem.  These leaves grow close together and may have serrated edges.  They are often referred to as spear-shaped.

It has been cultivated as a house plant in the United States for about 100 years. The plants are perennials, with glossy green, leathery leaves that grow from a rosette at the base of the plant. The roots are thick, sometimes more than an inch or two thick.

Read more about How To Get Rid Of ZZ Plant Black Spots On the Stem

What Are The Reasons for a Skinny Snake Plant?

It is common to notice skinny snake plant leaves on many of these plants.  But why do they get skinny? Here are reasons why you may have a skinny snake plant.

  • Lack of Adequate Water. One of the reasons why you have a skinny snake plant is that it gets too little water and light.  Water is everything to a plant, if not provided with enough, this plant tends to shrink its leaves causing the leaves to be thin.
  • Direct Sunlight. A lot of posts on the internet suggest that snake plants do not like direct sunlight. This seems like rubbish to me as I see these plants growing in the wild in 100°F plus temperatures, in direct sunlight. I suspect that in some cases, the effect of a high temperature on a windowsill can give the plants a shock if they are not used to heat. But trust me, these are tough plants. You will more than often not be able to damage them with sunlight.
  • Insufficient Sunlight. This is a far more likely reason that your plants are skinny – the leaves are phototaxic -which means they grow toward the light. If you have weak sunlight, and your plants are craving a bit of sun they will stretch towards the light. Consider a supplemental light.

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  • Poor Soil Conditions.  Your plant may have grown in poor soil conditions.  Poor soil conditions can affect the growth and development of your snake plant.  Soil conditions should be kept in good condition as they affect the health of your plant.
  • Nutrient Deficiency.  A general lack of nutrients in the soil, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These are just a few of the most common reasons your plants are not growing. I have never seen this cause skinny leaves, but a cursory glance at the internet suggests many people think this can happen. I would be a bit cautious about this as it’s probably just a Google SEO meme. Repotting a snake plant in good soil never hurts though.

How Can You Treat Skinny Snake Plants?

As we have detailed above, correct your light, restore your watering regime – not too much water, once a week or every ten days is fine for snake plants, and correct your soil.

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How Can I Repot Snake Plants?

The snake plant is a tropical houseplant that has a sprawling, upright growth habit. The snake plant is an easy-to-care-for plant that needs low to medium light and mild temperatures to survive.

I have found that these plants grow quite fast if they have optimal conditions and tend to fill a pot up – then they break the pot when you water them and the roots expand. This is why we need to repot them from time to time – break the clumps up and give them space to grow in new pots.

Remove all the soil from the pot, rinse the roots with tap water, and drain.

You can use any good garden soil – or buy specially formulated soil. I tend to favor well-drained soils and mix my own out of pearlite, compost, potting soil, and sand. You can buy a similar mix here.

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Growing a Healthy Snake Plant

Growing a healthy snake plant requires little attention and can be grown almost anywhere, indoors or outdoors. Most people grow this plant as an ornamental plant but it has some medicinal properties too – mainly in treating warts and fungal growths on the skin. This is a perennial and will survive for years if given proper care.

If you want to try growing a healthy snake plant, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Location. Snake plants can be grown almost anywhere in the world, from temperate climates to tropical and subtropical regions. They can be planted in pots or on the ground and should be placed in full sun to partial shade. Protect from freezing conditions in winter by moving indoors.
  • Watering. This is the most important thing to remember when growing a healthy snake plant. It is best to avoid overwatering. If the soil gets too wet, the roots will rot. Water the snake plant at least once per week during the summer months and once every two or three weeks in winter.
  • Feeding. When you water your snake plant, give it a good drink of water but don’t let it sit in the water for long periods. This will encourage the leaves to develop thick, leathery leaves. If you feed it with fertilizer, use one that has slow-release nitrogen in it.
  • Light. Your snake plant should have full sunlight or part shade to grow properly. During the winter months, put your snake plant under a grow light, and remove it when the plants start to flower in spring.
  • Temperature. Your snake plant needs a temperature between 70°F and 90°F ideally. It can easily tolerate slightly lower temperatures at night, but try to avoid frost and freezing temperatures. It also needs to be kept away from drafts and cold winds.
  • Re-potting. If you want to increase the size of your snake plant, re-pot it every two years or so. This will help to keep the plant healthy and encourage new growth. You can re-pot it by removing the old soil and planting it in a larger pot as discussed earlier.

Conclusion On Skinny Snake Plants

Skinny snake plants are easy to grow in the right growing conditions.  However, poor growing conditions cause snake plants to exhibit thin leaves. The above article gave you tips and tricks on how to transform your long skinny snake plant into a picture-perfect houseplant!


Why is my snake plant growing skinny?

More often than not it is dry (then the leaves are skinny and thin) or it needs more light (then the leaves are long and stretch towards the light).

How do I thin a snake plant?

I just repot them - break up the clumps, place each plant in a new pot. Within no time you will have an army of these plants. They can become a pest.

How do I re-pot my snake plant?  

Turn the pot on its side. Wack it a few times with your hand. Wiggle the plants out of the pot - they will come out as a plug of roots and plant. Break the clumps of plants apart and repot them. Do not feel bad about being brutal. These plants evolved in Africa and there are a lot of big scary animals that do very bad things to the plants and they survive.

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