5 Most Probable Reasons Why Your Snake Plant Has No Roots

What should you do if your snake plant has no roots? Is it really a problem or is it natural? Let's find out!

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Jimena Bolívar

June 27, 2021


5 Most Probable Reasons Why Your Snake Plant Has No Roots Thumbnail

The Roots of a Snake Plant

Snake plants are a trendy choice for indoors and outdoors alike. For me, these plants can make any space cheerful with the bright yellow color on the edges of their leaves, especially if you have received your snake plant without roots. But, how can you be sure that they can even be planted?

A snake plant may not have roots if it has been damaged. The two main reasons are usually underlying diseases such as fungus or overwatering. There could be more reasons, such as roots falling off during online delivery or simply due to natural growth.

Whether your snake plant naturally has shallow roots or was destroyed due to poor care, you can recover your snake plant. However, you must be able to distinguish whether your plant’s root system is suffering from a severe problem or it’s natural.

If your snake plant doesn’t have roots, then the following signs can help you understand if your plant has serious health issues:

  • Smelly or brown leaves
  • Fungal disease
  • Tips of the leaves turning brown
  • Leaves appear heavy or ‘weighing down.’

Things You Should Know About the Snake Plant Root System

What sort of root system does a snake plant have?

Snake plants have a shallow root system. In any container, the roots of this plant may not even go as deep as half of the pot.

Snake plants have shallow types of roots that are known as rhizomes.

If you understand how rhizomes work, you’ll be able to care better for your snake plant. A rhizome is a stem and not a root. It grows underground, beneath the soil, And many nodes can grow out of it and appear above the ground, along with snake plant leaves shooting from them.

PRO-TIP

Roots aren’t supposed to look brown!

Roots look brown only because they’re immersed in soil. A healthy snake plant roots are either tan or natural white color.

1. Overwatering

Standing water is a big no for your snake plant!

A snake plant in a tiny pot

Snake plants should never be left in a damp and moist environment.

Although a snake plant can thrive in both hot and cold climates, you must keep the soil well-drained at all times.

The signs of overwatering a snake plant are straightforward:

  • Standing water in the pot
  • Leaves appear mushy or soggy
  • Rotten roots (in the case there are any)
  • Brown spots on some or all of the leaves
  • Wilted or withered leaves

Recovering an overwatered snake plant

How do you deal with a snake plant that has been overwatered? You could repot it before the damp, wet soil further damages the plant.

  • Place the plant in a brighter, sunnier spot
  • Pull out the plant from its container
  • Shake off excess dirt and soil from the plant
  • Use a sterilized knife or scissors to cut off infected parts (even if they are not roots, the infected area will appear yellow-brownish)

WARNING!

Never reuse the old soil.

Always use fresh soil in the new pot. An overwatered snake plant will not tolerate more dampness. So, the soil in the new pot should be a well-draining mix and completely dry before you plant.

PRO-TIP

Leaves with brown tips!

Are the tips of your snake plant leaves turning brown? This could be a clear indication of overwatering. However, in some cases, it could also be a sign of underwatering.

2. Fungus

Overwatering a snake plant leads to fungal diseases!

The top view of a snake plant

Fungal infections in snake plants are usually caused by overwatering. The plant could be removed for repotting, and the use of fungicide in the bottom root parts is recommended before planting in the new container.

Solution:

The best way to recover a snake plant from fungal diseases is to treat it. Before you begin the treatment, you should skip watering your plant for a few days. Please follow these steps to treat your snake plant:

  • Choose a new, clean pot and fill it up with fresh soil.
  • Use an insecticide to spray the bottom of the plant.
  • If you see any black parts in the bottom portion of the plant, remove them immediately with the help of a sterilized knife before the fungus spreads.

Catching a fungus is more common for snake plant species such as Rhizoctonia and Pythium.

3. Roots were torn during delivery

Online delivery packaging gone wrong could be troublesome for plants!

A snake plant outdoors ina  pot

Before ordering plants online, it’s necessary to check if their packaging process is safe and secure.

If you ordered a snake plant online and all the roots fell apart during the delivery, you could propagate the leaves too. This is because snake plants are elementary to propagate.

Solution

If the snake plant has many leaves, you can make many cuttings and propagate a new plant from each. It may not be possible to save the parent plant, but there is always a chance of new life springing from the old, as long as the leaves are fresh.

4. Little to no roots naturally

A snake plant has a very shallow root system!

The roots of a snake plant are shallow. Snake plant species that have little to no roots can be planted nonetheless.

Since a snake plant has rhizomes for roots, the chances of having deep roots are null. Rhizomes grow horizontally and hardly go deep into the soil. So if your snake plant leaves look fine and your plant doesn’t look discolored, soggy, or withered in any way, there’s nothing to worry about. Your snake plant is in good health.

5. Using fertilizer

Have you been using too much fertilizer?

The rhizome root system needs to be well developed before a fertilizer can be used.

Using fertilizer on a young snake plant may stress the root system to grow faster than usual. As a result, it may also end up damaging the plant or hindering its growth so that the roots don’t develop in the first place.

Use fertilizer only during the growing season. It’s best to use it on mature plants and not on freshly propagated cuttings or young, baby snake plants.

Some more snake plant care tips you should know

Have you been taking care of your snake plant the right way?

If your snake plant had a rhizome root, but now it doesn’t, then you need to incorporate proper snake plant care into your schedule in the following ways:

1. Snake plants don’t need repotting often

Has your snake plant been overgrowing?

Snake plants are one of the few succulents that remain unaffected in a small pot for some period, when overgrown.

For most plants that overgrow their pots, you would need to repot them immediately. However, with snake plants, the case is quite the opposite. These great succulents make well use of any space.

If your snake plant looks crammed in its pot, it will do fine for a while. There’s no rush to repot it.

2. Don’t clean the leaves with your fingers

Is there a lot of dust on your snake plant?

The leaves of a snake plant should always be tidy. Cleaning with the fingers is not recommended; only a neat, slightly damp piece of cloth is ideal.

Always keep your snake plant leaves dust-free. You may be tempted to spray them with water, but that’s never a good idea. Snake plant is a succulent; too much water around can damage it. Whether it’s standing water or wet leaves, it may cause overwatering. Ultimately, it will hurt the roots.

3. Pruning your snake plant will keep the roots healthy too

Does your snake plant have too many leaves to handle?

When a plant has many leaves, there may be pressure on the root system to feed all the leaves equally. Not at once, but eventually, this could lead to the plant weighing down, causing pressure on the roots.

With snake plants, the pressure could be different altogether. Since their root system is based on rhizomes, there can be multiple stems coming out from the single node. It may cause the root to eventually give up, so it is best to prune your plant now and again to maintain proper growth rate and health.

4. You can propagate the extra snake plant leaves

Have you pruned your snake plant leaves? You can quickly propagate them!

Many snake plant leaves

A snake plant can be propagated easily via its leaf cuttings.

If your snake plant never developed a rhizome but has many leaves, you can propagate each leaf using the following methods:

In soil

  • Keep the leaves separate from one another and let them dry
  • Pick a new container with some fresh, moist soil inside it
  • Plant one leaf cutting into each container, with the cut side inserted in the soil
  • Wait for a few weeks for the roots to develop

In water

You don’t need to wait for 2 to 3 days for the leaves to callous. Put each cutting in separate containers filled with fresh water. However, propagating in water may take over a month for the roots to start developing. It is extremely slow, but you can see the rhizome and the root system coming to life, which can be fascinating to watch and an excellent learning experience.

Conclusion

If your snake plant doesn’t have any roots, there’s nothing to worry about. The rhizomes are more like stems rather than a spread-out root system. Also, it takes snake plants around 4 to 6 weeks to fully develop roots as they are slowly growing plants.

However, if your snake plant has no rhizome and also has other issues such as a strange smell, brown leaf tips, and yellow discoloring, then there might be a problem. Always follow all snake plant care tips to assure healthy plant growth and a well-established rhizome.

If you want to learn more about snake plant propagation, read this complete guide on how to propagate snake plant.

What Is The Best Way To Propagate Snake Plant? Everything You Need To Know

Propagating snake plants is quite easy and you can choose from different methods and use the one most appealing to you.

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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