Wrinkled Leaves

Seleur803December 10, 2013

Hello. I keep finding leaves that look like the attached image on my Snake plant - I think the best description is "wrinkled" (rather than droopy) - they wrinkle and twist and then kind of fall over. I just cut about 8 of them off my snake plant. Any idea what could be causing this? Under or over watering it? The snake plant is about 4 feet tall, I water it very thoroughly about once every 3-4 weeks. Is snipping the leaves with scissors at the base (as close the soil as I can get) a good way to trim? There's obviously still a little stump in the soil that goes down into the roots. Thanks!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also, to give you all an idea, here's a photo of what my snake plant looks like (don't mind the Christmas lights!). It's about 4 feet tall. Does it look like I need to repot this? Honestly not sure how I would - since I am in a small NYC apartment and it's so big already. Thanks everyone.

This post was edited by Seleur803 on Tue, Dec 10, 13 at 23:41

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 11:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Seleur,

Hard to say, am guessing it could be underwatering, root rot or stem rot. Only way to know for sure is turn it out of the pot & check its roots.

Watering only every 3-4 wks seems too infrequent to me (& I've killed some some by UNDERwatering, so pls. know that can happen).

Any chance the soil has compacted too hard to absorb water? When was the last time the soil was changed?

I think trimming them as close to the soil level is fine, that's what I do. I'd sterilize the scissors for each use.

If you've had to remove 8 leaves for that problem, something is definitely wrong down below (seems not to be taking up water). If mine, I'd unpot it to check, it's the only way to know for sure.

Sorry, I know it's a PITA & likely not what you hoped to hear.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 10:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

PS. does the pot have a drainage hole?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 10:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Pirate_girl, thanks very much for the response. I've had to remove 8 leaves probably over the course of the last two months. The rest seem pretty stiff and happy. I have no idea when was the last time the soil was changed - I bought this plant from a local plant store about a year and a half ago . It's a loose mixture that looks like wood chips. It does have a drainage hole - it's in a large plastic pot with holes, you are just seeing a cache pot in the photo. I water it very thoroughly every 3-4 weeks until a lot of water comes out into the bottom of the cache pot (which I then empty so it is not sitting in water). So the water is definitely going through and coming out the bottom. Honestly, I wouldn't even know how to unpot the thing - it is so heavy and I think I'd probably kill it. Do you think it could just be an issue of underwatering? I had thought that, especially given how cold it is now, once every 3-4 weeks was enough, but maybe I'm underdoing it? Thanks for your help!!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 11:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You won't kill it removing it from it's pot, but you take the chance of killing it if it's rotting and you don't do anything about it (no offense). I agree with PG, sometimes when there's something going on "upstairs" it can be a sign that there's something wrong "below." You never know unless you look. I would hate for you to assume you're underwatering, water it more, and one day the whole thing collapses on you due to rot. I think the best thing to do is to be sure the root system is healthy before you consider watering more frequently. If the root system blows your mind (in a good way, to say that there's no rot found and it's healthy), just put it back in the pot and water more often.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the response, and fair enough. Unfortunately I'm a total newbie when it comes to plant care (even for something as easy as a snake plant). How would I go about checking the roots? It's a huge plant filled with what looks like wood chips in the soil. Do I turn it over and try to pull out the soil and then hope I can disentagle the leaves? Sorry if this is a stupid question, I just wouldn't even know where to begin on this. The plant is huge (at least for my little NY apartment). What should I look for?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 2:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For good measure I have included another photo of the plant, outside of its cache pot. The plastic pot it is in has drainage holes at the bottom. Also here is a picture of the soil. It looks like wood chips. I put a stick down to the very bottom and it was bone dry. I assume this is pretty fast draining soil.

This post was edited by Seleur803 on Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 0:43

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 12:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If that's what's in the pot all the way to the bottom, it probably could use more water, I don't see how it could be rotting in those bark/wood chips with a drink about once per month (and not sitting in water, said the cache pot gets emptied.) If you pull that plant out of the pot, that loose stuff is going to fall all over the floor and make a mess, I don't think I would unless/until I was prepared to actually repot.

When you look at the drain holes, is anything blocking them? Is there any loose sediment down there, like sand? If not, I think more water is probably the answer. Since you pick it up to empty the cache pot, why not just take it to shower or sink for a thorough drink? Before/after watering to feel the difference in weight. If thoroughly soaking it doesn't make it weigh a lot more, you can know the 'soil' isn't retaining much moisture.

Just to make sure, I want to ask, did the problem start when you put the lights on there?

The 'regulars' are probably sick of this pic, but this is what should be going on under the surface. The roots make 'pups' that need to find their way to the surface. With no restrictions like the side of a pot, the babies prefer to be several inches away from the mama, but in a pot they will contort into whatever shape to find a spot to get 'out.' If the roots/rhizomes become so tightly packed in the pot that they are pushing against each other, the weaker sections will be squeezed out and Sans are known for breaking pots. The rhizomatous roots can literally push a pot apart. At some point, it's necessary to give the whole thing a bigger pot, or separate some of the individuals into separate pots. Waiting until you can do that outside should be fine but that's what I would consider doing. Give some away if you don't want a bigger pot or more copies of the same plant.

There's no risk of killing a healthy plant by removing it from its' pot, I do that very often. It is messy though. Your pot looks like it has at least 10 autonomous individuals.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not to argue with the other comments at all. Just a thought. Maybe there is nothing at all wrong with your plant. I can see a number of new growths, the lighter leaves. With so many plants in the pot, maybe the older leaves are just naturally shedding. If it were me, I would wait til spring before disturbing the roots.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 2:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks to all for the thoughts. There is nothing that seems to be blocking the holes at the bottom of the pot - I just see the soil. I will try watering this evening and then see if the pot gets noticeably heavier, as suggested. The problem did not start when I put the lights on (I just put them on a few days ago), but has been going on for a few weeks. However, if you think the lights might be harming the plant, I'll take them off. I think I will try to water the plant a bit more, and if the problem persists, I will take it out and look at the roots.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If the lights are not hot to the touch, I doubt they'll bother the tough-as-nails plant. It's just so unconventional to see, worth asking I thought. It looks cool to me, you'd probably see burn spots by now if the lights were any harm.

Sans don't really shed older leaves like a palm tree or Dracaena unless the roots can't sustain them for some reason. If there's anything wrong with this plant, I would vote on thirst and lack of space to grow new 'parts.' Though I don't believe in "prefers to be root bound," many people swear that makes a Sans bloom. Since most Sans are in this condition, it's hard to produce evidence to the contrary except where they are hardy in the ground, apples'n'oranges.

A plant that must live in a pot is rarely as perfect of a specimen, so it's unreasonable to expect the leaves to all stay perfect indefinitely. Overall, your plant looks good to me too. Thirsty is much better than rotting.

I'm curious if the Sans PG had that died of lack of water shed curled, still-green leaves like that?

So how long have you had this pretty plant?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, purpleinopp. The lights are not hot to the touch. I put them on because we could not fit a Christmas tree this year into my apartment, so I wanted to have something a little seasonal.

I've had this plant for about a year and a half now. Got it from a small plant place a few blocks from my apartment - no idea how old it is or what condition it was kept in before I bought it, but other than these wrinkled leaves over the past few months it's been thriving - it actually did bloom in April, three stalks of very pungent, white flowers. Which is why I was concerned enough to post on here to get your views - I'd like this thing to thrive for a long time.

I am thinking that I am going to try increasing the watering for a bit, and if I notice an increasing number of wrinkled leaves, I may try to repot it a little bit down the road...

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Blooms! That's fantastic! It's obviously been happy under your care. My gut instinct from what you've said and the pics is that things have just become crammed too tight in the pot - from growing, a good thing. Whenever you can make it more comfortable, it should bust-out a crew of pretty new pups.

Just don't go too far the other way and start watering it constantly, especially if you feel a significant difference in weight after a thorough soaking.

We don't have room for a tree in here either, because of a ton of potted plants. Doesn't stop us from putting lights on other things either. It just never occurred to me to 'light' a Sans. People who live where 'occasional frost' is the extent of winter can get away with wrapping lights around some outside plants though they're not supposed to feel hot like you said, but enough heat to thwart frost. The heat radiating from each bulb is probably less heat than direct sun in August. Wish there was an outlet on the outside of this house - plenty of room for light-stuff out there!

I also think holiday cacti provide the same effect as lights. Pow - festive color!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 4:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you given the sans fertilizer Im not a sans expert but I feed my house plants sans included a weak fish emulsion when watering .Others with more knowledge may want to respond to this. Just a thought

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 5:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I've never fertilized this plant that I remember, either recently when I've put them in the ground for summer, or for all the years before when they were in pots all of the time. Not that I'm against it, just too lazy & doesn't seem to need it. If I was serious about trying to make plants bloom more, that's the first thing I would do, but starting when plants go back outside for spring. That could be unnecessarily conservative, others with more dedication to and knowledge about fertilizing will have more info, I'm sure.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 9:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I don't fertilize my Sans much (was taught they don't need much). Since their growth is slowing down for winter, I would definitely not fertilize now in Winter (unless you're growing in FL maybe).

On further reflection for a pot of Sans. that large, 8 leaves in two months seems nothing to worry about. I hadn't realized how big a pot it was. I'm sorry, if I jumped the gun here, but opening shot WAS just the leaf.

Is there any way to know if it's chunky mix all the way down? Or could it just be the top few inches?

I tend to agree w/ Purple that taking it out of the pot won't harm it at all. These plants are almost indestructible; I wouldn't worry about disturbing roots, have never had a problem w/ this. Sometimes it's more important to assess what's going on down below. But to me, the overall pix looks fine.

Purp: to answer your earlier Q to me, my dried out Sans. didn't shed any leaves, the just wrinkled (that's why I thought the 1st pic might be a problem) & then dried up & browned, looked pretty dead to me.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 2:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Sele., I'm happy to report that your festive lights gave me enough holiday cheer to go find my decorations, some in the shed, some in a plastic tub thing way up on top of the bedroom TV. I couldn't find the little 8" tree I know I had but did find the big 3-ft. tree and daggone it, we're going to find someplace to stick it. (My big Sans doesn't look anywhere as nice as that right now, and out in the shed unless a really cold night comes along.) More about indestructibility; when I dug mine up from summering in the ground, I shared some. Meaning that I knocked the dirt off of the roots, let them dry overnight, wrapped in newspaper, stuck in a box, took to PO. I've done this quite a few times & everyone who has received them says they arrived just fine and are doing well. Pics confirm. I've also received plants this way. This is the usual way to send succulents, judging by anecdotes about it and the boxes I've received from extremely knowledgeable/experienced (and generous!) chatters.

When my son & I get some stuff decked out, I'll take a pic.

TY, PG. Wouldn't it be nice if all leaves responded the same ways to drought stress? This discussion makes me want to let a vigorous rosette dry, dry, dry, to document what happens. You know I'm ready to put these plants to scientific experimentation like that. I will choose a test subject & start a discussion soon.

I don't think you jumped a gun, Sans really shouldn't lose leaves, that's just unusual. Over the years they get inadvertently beat-up, but I think that's the only reason I've cut a leaf off of one. Do you remember the 'stumps' I propagated a while back? Some of those had to be at least 10 years old.

Your thinking is going right where mine was. Chunks decompose. That's why I was asking about sediment around the drain holes. As that happens, the ability to hold moisture, and the amount of moisture it will hold go up exponentially! I use almost strictly organic stuff in pots so know how fast it can break down, what the result is, I see it at least 100x per year. I attribute a lot of that to hot, steamy AL weather, the fact that I'm trying my best to overwater all of the plants, and the fact that worms get in there and start munching. A year-18 mos. is the max amount of time most of my pots can go without getting rid of mud & replacing it with new 'chunky stuff.' I'm curious too about the level of decomposition in this pot in an apartment, inside all the time, not watered nearly as often. As wood decomposes, it turns into tiny particles - dirt.

Sidebar, do not use any of the rest of this entry as advice for anything, just me talking about the weird things I do that are NOT advised, but related to the decomposition issue, my observations... Some of the pots I brought inside a month ago haven't been watered yet. The mud at the bottom of the pots from a summers' decomposition is just that - mud. The surface looks unchanged but a huge increase in...

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 3:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Purpleinopp - glad you got into the festive spirit! Definitely post some pics, would like to see. I am going to hold off on watering my Sans for at least a few days so I don't get electrocuted :) Then I'm going to increase the watering regime a bit (but not so much as to overdo it). I think the plan will be to see how things go for the next few months, and assuming it is fine, I'll probably wait until the spring and repot it in a same size pot with some fresh soil (can't go any bigger because I don't have room to let it grow!).

Pirategirl - thanks for your advice as well, no worries about jumping the gun or not, I truly just had no idea. I'm not exactly knowledgeable about this stuff. I can't tell if the wood chips go all the way down - though they seem to. I wonder how "fresh" the soil still is considering I bought this a year and a half ago and have never changed it; who knows how long it was sitting in this before I got it.

Anyway, thanks all! Will keep you posted...

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 1:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hope all is still well!

As promised, 3 feet of cheer!! The lights just don't show up well, 250 of them, maybe if I take a pic after dark... gotta keep a close eye on it anyway. Tiny Grinch might figure out how to steal it!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 4:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just got back from some holiday traveling and saw this - glad you decided to put it up!! Love the grinch at the top. I think I'll leave the lights on my Sans for another week or so, and will probably get a real tree next year :) hope you had a great holiday and happy new year!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

TY, S, me too, and you too!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 4:50PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Sansevieria Whitney? at Ikea
My husband and I were at the South Philadelphia, PA...
Stretch marks?
I just noticed these little, vertical, scratch-like...
How much does a sans grow in a year?
I recently got 2 of these and was wondering how much...
Roamin' rhizomes in the ground
After being in the ground since mid-March, the Sans...
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL
Sponsored Products
Charles Grande Leather Sofa in Black
$1,499.00 | LexMod
PH Snowball Pendant by Louis Poulsen
$2,674.00 | Lumens
Modernist Rays Suspension Light XXL
Ivory Double Hemstitch Tablecloth
$29.99 | zulily
Home Decorators Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Home Decorators Collection Rugs Old
$79.00 | Home Depot
OK LIGHTING Lamps 29.5 in. Antique brass Table Lamp OK-9139T
Home Depot
Bougainvillea table runner (yellow/blue)
Origin Crafts
Isola Sheet Set
$870.00 | FRONTGATE
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™