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Houseplant succulent - Help! Looking a bit sad..

KitBMillerKitBMiller Posts: 32
Hi, I bought this from one of the budget supermarkets as I though it was a sansevieria (it didnt say) and I have one that's doing well and is easy to care for.  This one looked nice being variegated. A few of the leaves were droopy on the ends but now they have got worse. I am wondering now if it is actually a snake plant - or something else?  Also can I save it?  I have made sure its dried out and won't over water.  Any advice on what to do would be gratefully received.  Thanks

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  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,151
    It looks like what I know as Sanseveria (common names Mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant, apparently now reclassified as a type of Dracaena), probably one of the dwarf forms, but I've never known anyone to kill one. I had one in my office and it came through the 2020 and 2021 COVID lockdowns with no water for several months as if nothing had happened. They do naturally lose the occasional leaf, withering from the tip downwards normally, so if the new growing tip is OK it might be alright. You could gently tip it out of the pot and have a look at the roots - if it's been kept too wet before you got it there might be some root rot. If there are any brown mushy roots, trim them off and repot in fresh compost (possibly in a smaller pot if there's not much root to fill that one).

  • AthelasAthelas Posts: 572
    edited 27 April
    Yes it’s a snake plant. Agree with @JennyJ — I would tip the whole thing out (an old washing up bowl would be handy for this), cut out the non-green leaves and any rotten roots, and repot. Take a thorough look through the roots at the base, as sometimes there is a tiny plastic mesh basket holding the roots, from back when it was a smaller plant. If so, I would cut all the plastic off completely. Probably clean the original pot first before re-using it, or use a clean, smaller pot as mentioned. Essentially the roots don’t want to be sitting in a large amount of soggy potting mix. I use peat-free compost for cactus and succulents mixed with a couple of big handfuls of grit (sold as “horticultural grit” or “horticultural potting grit”) for extra drainage; both can be bought online or at gardening centres. Would avoid topping with bark chips, not sure if that’s what you’ve got in the photos, instead would cover with a layer of grit.

    In terms of watering, what I do is water thoroughly until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot, and then leave it until it is completely dry. If you try holding the pot while it’s wet and progressively over time you will be able to tell when it is very light to pick up, which is when it is dry. Then again water thoroughly until the water runs out… Watering is about every 6 to 8 weeks for my sanseveria plants; some closer to a window or radiator might need it more often, but simply be guided by the weight of the pot. I find that immediately after repotting it takes a much longer time for the compost to dry out, maybe because the plant has a bit of a shock and needs time for the roots to fully recover. Make sure all the water has drained away before putting it back on a saucer or in a decorative non-draining pot; they do not like their roots staying wet. I do have a water butt so I use rainwater as much as possible.

    Sanseveria near a very bright window can also develop sunburn and leaves will whiten, not sure if that’s a factor as well but in any case would still do all the above.

    I would avoid using normal houseplant fertiliser — if you feel the need then Cactus Focus or a similar specialist feed would be best (I don’t use any), but at this point while it is poorly I would only use water. Every so often wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth to keep dust off and maximise its ability to take in light. Sorry it’s a lot of advice now I realise it! Apologies if you already know all this, looks like you have other succulents? Good luck with the plant.
  • thevictorianthevictorian Posts: 418
    I agree with the above and think "budget supermarket" might be the problem here. All the plants I see in them and places like wilco, homebase etc are watered to death, or not watered at all depending on who's in charge so they are often doomed before you get them. Letting it dry out if needed and checking for root rot is the first thing I'd check for.
  • KitBMillerKitBMiller Posts: 32
    Thank you so much everyone - The roots look alright, I've put it in a smaller pot, changed the soil and taken off the dead leaves, given it rainwater. Hopefully it will revive - it was just rather nice with its variegated leaves so hopefully it will live!
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