Snake Plant Splitting Leaves: 9 Most Common Causes & Simple Solutions

One of the most extraordinary things about growing the snake plant (mother-in-law’s tongue), is that it is very low maintenance. But if you’ve noticed your snake plant splitting, your green friend is facing trouble that requires intervention.

Snake plant cracked leaves can result from various scenarios, such as unsuitable watering routines, physical damage, or inadequate humidity levels.

We will dive deeper into nine reasons that cause the leaves of your lovely to split, and solutions you could use to prevent it.

Quick Answer: Why Is My Snake Plant Splitting?

Overwatering is the primary cause of snake plant leaves splitting. Too much water can lead to root rot and leaf damage. However, other factors such as low humidity, physical damage, or natural growth can also cause splitting. Ensure proper watering, maintain suitable humidity, and handle your plant with care.

9 Causes & Solutions to Snake Plant Leaf Splitting

man showing how to trim a snake plant

Sometimes, the culprits behind your cracking snake plant leaves are subtle. This is why you should look at the following potential causes to diagnose your snake plant splitting leaves problem.

Here are the nine points you should watch out for regarding your snake plant care habits.

1: Overwatering

watering a snake plant

Too much of anything is not good, which applies to how you water your snake plant. The snake plant is a succulent so it doesn’t tolerate overly wet soil.

Succulents thrive in dry, arid conditions. They store water in their fleshy leaves allowing them to survive in environments with infrequent rainfall. Too much water can build up in the plant’s tissue, causing the leaf tissue to become stretched and cracked.

Over time these cracks can become more visible.

The harmful effects of overwatering your snake plant can also extend to root rot, drawing in pest infestation and parasites, low intake of nutrients, and stunted growth.

How to Solve This Problem

Maintain a balanced watering schedule, only watering the soil until it gets moist but not saturated. Ensure the soil is dry up to at least one inch (2.5 cm) below the surface.

As a rule of thumb, the snake plant needs water every few weeks in the summer. You can give it water once a month during its dormant period in the winter. Paying attention to the soil’s moisture is the best method for avoiding an overwatered snake plant.

When potting your snake plant, use well-draining soil and choose a pot with adequate drainage holes so that excess water can easily drain away.

2: Underwatering

watering a snake plant

Whilst snake plants fare well in dry environments, they can still become stressed from severe underwatering.

Symptoms of underwatering can include cracking, curling, drooping, and wrinkling leaves.

Eventually, the plant’s leaves will become yellow or brown and crispy. It might be too late to restore your snake plant to its former, lush glory by then.

How to Solve This Problem

Paying attention to the watering needs of your snake plant will help to avoid underwatering.

When the top one to two inches of the soil becomes dry, it is a good time to water.

3: Physical Damage

enjoying snake plant benefits

Your snake plant’s leaf-splitting problem can also be a result of physical damage. Snake plants have thick, fleshy leaves that can be quite resilient, but excessive rough handling can still cause damage.

Mishandling is one form of physical trauma that this plant can be prone to.

But how exactly do you mishandle a plant?

You might move your snake plant to several locations, trying to place it in the perfect spot to match the rest of your windowsill arrangement. In doing so, it is possible to accidentally hold the plant by the leaves or knock the plant against the wall.

Plants placed in areas of high traffic or close to doors are also vulnerable to physical damage.

How to Solve This Problem

Be gentle when transporting your snake plant. Make sure to always hold the pot rather than the plant itself and try not to change the location of your plant too often as it can cause stress.

Avoid choosing high-traffic locations in your home, keeping the plant away from walkways and doorways. This will reduce the chance of it being bumped into or knocked over, preventing physical damage to the leaves.

4: Pets

dog with toxic snake plant

While harmless to us, pets may pose a significant risk to your houseplants. Pets might like to play with the leaves of potted plants because they have unique smells and textures.

Additionally, plants have a cooling effect, which your little dog or cat might enjoy while scratching the leaves. Some pets might even bite or eat the plant!

It’s important to note that ingesting snake plant leaves could be troublesome for your pets because the plant is toxic.

How to Solve This Problem

Your best bet is to place your snake plant out of your pet’s reach, preferably on a higher shelf in the same room. You may also surround the pot with a barrier to keep your pet away.

If you are moving your snake plant to another location in the home, ensure the chosen room has the ideal environment for your snake plant to thrive.

5: Inconsistent Humidity 

moonshine snake plant

Snake plants are native to various regions across Africa. They are adapted to arid or semi-arid environments and can generally tolerate a range of humidity conditions. However, extremely low humidity or rapid fluctuations in humidity can contribute to splitting leaves. 

Snake plants prefer relatively stable conditions and rapid changes in humidity levels can cause stress to the leaves, as they will lose or gain water too quickly, leading to potential cracking.

Excessively dry can lead to dehydration as the plant struggles to retain moisture within its tissues. The leaves will become dry and brittle, which can lead to the development of cracks.

How to Solve This Problem

It is important to note that cracked leaves caused by humidity alone is relatively uncommon as snake plants are well adapted to the ambient conditions in most homes and offices. Moderate humidity levels in the home to ensure your snake plant is kept in its optimum environment.

To help prevent cracking due to humidity issues, here are some further tips:

  • Avoid moving your snake plant from a high-humidity area (a bathroom) to a low-humidity area.
  • In times of extreme low humidity, such as during winter when indoor heating can dry the air, place a tray of water next to your plant. Plants can also be grouped together to create a slightly more humid microclimate.

6: Boron Deficiency

boron

Did you know that the soil that your snake plant is growing in might be the cause of boron deficiency? If the pH levels are too acidic or alkaline or the soil lacks nutrients, these could prevent boron from reaching your plant.

Boron is essential for your snake plant because it is responsible for the structural integrity of the plant. If your plant isn’t receiving enough of this micronutrient, it can lead to weak and brittle leaves prone to breaking or splitting.

How to Solve This Problem

A complete and balanced fertilizer that includes micronutrients will help to prevent nutritional deficiencies in your snake plant.

Repotting the plant in fresh, nutrient-rich soil will also help to promote healthy growth and maintain vitality.

7: Extreme Temperatures

snake plant outdoors

While snake plants are generally resilient in a variety of conditions, drastic temperature changes can cause your plant stress.

When the leaves experience a sudden change in temperature, the cells expand or contract rapidly, leading to stress on the leaf tissue which can lead to cracks.

Exposure to frost can also be harmful to snake plant leaves. Frost-damaged leaves may show signs of wilting, browning, or developing splits and cracks. Conversely, extended exposure to extremely high temperatures can result in leaf brittleness.

How to Solve This Problem

Ensure that the room temperature is between the recommended range of 60–80°F. In addition, keep your snake plant away from an air conditioner vent or a heating unit.

Protect your plant when the weather gets too hot by moving the pot to a cooler or more shaded spot. In the winter, ensure your plant is in a well-insulated room and away from the draft of doorways or open windows.

8: Pest Infestations

snake plants turning yellow and wilting

Although snake plants and generally pest-resistant, they can be susceptible to a few pests. Two common parasites include mealybugs and spider mites, but aphids can also be a problem.

These pests feed on the sap of the succulent leaves, leading to weakened leaf tissue that can crack over time

How to Solve This Problem

Snake plant pests are relatively simple to avoid and get rid of. The best methods to combat these pest infestations are:

  • Trim any severely infested parts to stop the spread of these parasites to other regions of the plant.
  • Spray your snake plant with neem oil to kill off the pests. Regular application will act as a preventative measure.

9: Sunburn

sansevieria trifasciata sunburn

Snake plants prefer bright indirect light and may develop splitting leaves if exposed to full sun for prolonged periods. Intense, direct sunlight can accelerate evaporation, leading to moisture loss and causing the leaves to become brittle.

Leaves can also experience sunburn, or scorch, becoming discolored and turning brown or yellow. The combination of heat stress, dehydration, and a weakened leaf structure can contribute to splitting leaves.

How to Solve This Problem

Unfortunately, once the snake plants leaves are scorched the damage is irreversible. However, the plant can continue to grow and produce new leaves, and steps can be taken to prevent further sunburn.

Ensure your plant is protected from intense sunlight. Avoid south or west-facing windows that receive afternoon sun. Additionally, a sheer curtain can provide dappled light and dilute the sun’s intensity.

At Last: Snake Plant Leaf Splitting Solved

Snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) are generally quite sturdy and resilient. However, some conditions can make them prone to cracking.

Just some slight changes to your care routine could avoid damage and help your plant restore its health.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.