Overwatered Snake Plant: The Consequence and The Solution

Last Updated on June 1, 2022 by Gary Stephen

When you say snake plant, the first thing that you would often hear from growers is that it is such a hardy houseplant. Some even claim that it is nearly impossible to kill. Then, it got you thinking…“Really? So, why does my snake plant smell awful?” OR “What if I overwatered my snake plant?”

Uh-oh! You might have already figured out by now that the snake plant isn’t indestructible after all. Yes, they are indeed pretty easy to care for. But unfortunately, the snake plants have their fair share of troubles too. 

In this article, we will tell you exactly why your snake plant is smelling bad. What is the cause? And, what can you do to restore its health back to life? So, just stick around and we’ll walk you through this stinky mess…

Why Does My Snake Plants Smell

The Cause: Overwatered snake plant

If by any means your snake plant is emanating unwanted odor, that is almost always a sign of ROOT ROTTING.

Why Does My Snake Plant Smell

Root rotting is an awful disease that causes your plant to rot. The primary culprit of this disease is often overwatering. The prolonged exposure to excessive moisture predisposes your plant to soil-borne parasitic oomycetes. Soggy soil is the perfect environment for this fungal-like organism. Thus, the spores favorably grow, multiply, and take over your snake plant’s root system. 

The infestation initially starts on the extremities of the roots. Slowly, it turns them from white and firm into brown, mushy, and smelly. It advances its way

 up until it damages the entire root system. So technically, the offensive odor comes from the decomposing parts of the plant. It smells horrendous like that of a rotten egg.

By this time, the plant is no longer able to absorb nutrients. This consequently causes all sorts of deficiencies and problems. It well includes growth stunting, delay or absence of blooming phase, and wilting of the leaves. Worse, it can even lead to plant death if not addressed immediately.

The Solution for Overwatered snake plant

  1. Gather all your supplies

Fresh Soil

When attempting to revive your snake plant from root rotting, here are the following supplies you would likely need:

Garden Shears – Aside from obviously being sharp, your scissors should have been sterilized too. It is important to disinfect your shears before and after each use to prevent cross-contamination. Trust me, you don’t want to further add misery to your already diseased and dying plant. 

Pot – For snake plants and other types of succulents, it is ideal to use a clay pot. The porosity of this material tends to allow air and moisture to permeate in and out of the pot. Hence, more favorable for plants that prefer to be on the drier side. Moreover, see to it always use a container with at least one drain hole to release excess water. 

Fresh Soil – Snakes plants are prone to overwatering. Thus, it is ideal to use well-draining potting soil. A cactus and succulent potting mix should work best. After all, the snake plant is a variety of succulent too.

Fungicide – It would be beneficial to use a systemic fungicide to effectively destroy the presence of pathogenic fungi. Make sure to find one that is formulated to specifically target root rotting on cactus and succulent varieties.

  1. Take out your diseased snake plant from its old potting soil

Carefully loosen and remove the soil from the plant. Then, give the roots a thorough rinse to clear off the debris. Always remember to handle your sick snake plant as gentle as possible so as not to add further damage.

  1. Cut off the rotten parts

Using the sharp and sterile garden shears, cut away all the rotten portions of the roots. See to it to cut slightly above the healthy part already. Leaving traces of bad roots will tend to continue the progression of the disease.

  1. Apply fungicide on your trimmed snake plant

Once all the brown and mushy parts are already removed, you can now apply the fungicide to your snake plant. Always remember to follow the manufacturer’s direction of use. This will ensure that your plant will be treated accordingly. Moreover, it also lessens the likelihood of burns.

  1. Allow the roots to develop calluses

After cutting all the bad roots away, let your snake plant rest and dry up. This gives your freshly trimmed roots some time to develop a callus. The dried and hardened tip serves as a protective layer. It is part of the plant’s healing process. The formation of callus may take a few hours or even days depending on the plant. But usually, an overnight rest will do.

  1. Fill your clean pot with fresh soil

Pour your fresh well-draining soil mix into your chosen container. The amount varies depending on the size of your pot. The height should just be enough to allow light and air to penetrate the soil. But, not too much that it would spill already when handled.

  1. Plant your snake plants

Create a hole in your fresh soil. It should be as wide as the width of the root system. Carefully bury your root-trimmed snake plant at a depth enough to support and keep it erect. Once placed, cover the hole with more soil. Give it a gentle tap to establish security. Keep in mind not to compress the soil too much. Allow it some space to promote good aeration and drainage.

  1. Watering your newly potted snake plants

Keep your new snake plant slightly moist for the first 6 weeks after replanting. Again, give it just enough moisture but never soaking wet. Otherwise, the same problem will occur over and over again. If you feel not confident with your watering skills, you might be better off using a soil moisture meter instead.

  1. Root testing

It would take about 4 to 6 weeks for new roots to start growing. By then, you can give it a quick check by gently tugging the plant. If you feel a bit of resistance from the pull, then there’s a good chance that your snake plant successfully developed roots already. If none yet, give it more time to grow. Re-check after a week or two.

What are snake plants’ growth rate?

These pretty plants grow slowly to moderately, and they spread through underground stems (also called rhizomes) which make an appearance with new growth. Want your snake plant to grow faster? Pop it in natural, strong light and watch that baby grow!

Wrapping Up about Overwatered Snake Plant

Snake plants truly are hardy plants. They are so low-maintenance that they only need little amounts of water to thrive. Unfortunately, this is the very reason why they are prone to overwatering too. When this  happens, root rotting can potentially occur. And so, your snake plant starts to smell bad.

However, the step-by-step guide we provided above  gives you the best shot at restoring the health of your snake plant. They are very easy to follow. All you need is to give your plant a chance for a fresh new start.

Gary Stephen
Gary Stephen

Hi, I am Gary Stephen. I have been gardening for a long time. Gardening gives us much benefits and pleasure. Many of us desire to have a garden, but it cannot fulfill the desire for the proper guide or instruction of gardening. So, I am eager to help them. For this purpose, I have developed the MyGardenPlant.com website to make a garden with the proper guide. So, you will get me beside you if you want to know anything about gardening.