Why is my Rattlesnake Plant drooping?

Last Updated: September 29, 2022

If you’ve noticed that your Rattlesnake Plant has started drooping then there is a good chance that something isn’t right. However, as they are part of the Calathea plant family, Rattlesnake Plants do curl up and naturally move quite a bit so it’s important you don’t mistake this for drooping stems and leaves. 

Below we will go through each of the individual causes of a drooping Rattlesnake Plant as well as how to spot whether or not it is simply natural movement. We will also guide you through the diagnostic process and how to treat and prevent the issue from happening again.

A drooping Rattlesnake Plant can indicate underwatering

The most common cause of drooping Rattlesnake Plant leaves is underwatering. Rattlesnake Plants like to have some moisture in the soil and will struggle if they are consistently underwatered. A lack of water can also cause other issues such as dry brown leaves and your plant actually losing leaves so you want to avoid this as much as possible. 

To figure out if underwatering is the cause of your Rattlesnake Plant’s drooping leaves, take the plant carefully out of its pot and check the moisture in the soil. If the soil is very dry and powdery and the roots have started to slowly crisp up, then underwatering is the most likely cause. 

You want to be careful when reintroducing water to your Rattlesnake Plant as a sudden change of environment can cause the plant to go into shock. This can result in your plant losing a handful of leaves so best to be avoided.  

Instead, you want to water your drooping plant a little once a day for about a week. This should be enough to give the soil a good soaking. After a week you want to go back to a more usual watering routine, making sure you are watering more frequently or more deeply than before to avoid the problem happening again in future. 

Low humidity can also result in a droopy plant

If the soil isn’t particularly dry, it could be a lack of humidity that is causing your plant’s leaves to droop. Rattlesnake Plants, like the whole Calathea family, like quite humid environments and can struggle in homes with dry air. 

As they have quite thin leaves, dry air can impact it a lot quicker than other plant types and can cause brown leaf tips and edges as well as a drooping plant. 

Luckily, there are many easy and often free methods to increase the humidity for your Rattlesnake Plant:

  1. Mist the leaves each day

    One of the simplest ways to increase the humidity for any of your houseplants is to mist them with a spray bottle. If the issue has become quite bad, then misting once a day will help a lot, otherwise, a few times a week will be enough. We love these spray bottles from Amazon because they’re super affordable and look great!

  2. Move your Rattlesnake Plant to the bathroom

    If you have great natural lighting in your bathroom you can move your Rattlesnake Plant in there to increase the humidity. The running water from your showers means your bathroom is probably one of the most humid in your home and it means you don’t have to worry about increasing the humidity yourself!

  3. Build a pebble tray

    Place your Rattlesnake Plant over a tray of pebbles with fresh water over the top. Over the day water from the tray will evaporate giving the plants above exactly what they’re looking for. Just make sure that the plant isn’t sitting in the water as this can cause waterlogged soil and root rot.

  4. Give your Rattlesnake Plant a shower

    To quickly raise the humidity and wash down your Rattlesnake Plant of any long-standing dust, you can always give them a quick shower. Simply pop them in the shower and wash them down with lukewarm water, this will clean off the leaves and give the soil a good soaking. This is a short-term solution though but good to give a proper boost every now and again.

  5. Buy a humidifier

    They’re relatively affordable little devices and they make keeping a consistent humidity level so much easier. This is our favourite humidifier from Amazon, it does a great job of keeping some humidity in through the colder/dryer months.

Overwatering can also cause a droopy Rattlesnake Plant

Rattlesnake Plants are pretty hardy plants and won’t die suddenly if you overwater them once in a while. However, consistent overwatering will mean their leaves will start to droop as their roots begin to rot and turn mushy and dark in colour. This tends to be more common in winter as the soil dries out a lot slower in cold environments, thus increasing the risk of root rot. 

If you have overwatered your Rattlesnake Plant it is best to replace the soil if it is waterlogged straight away rather than just sit and wait for it to dry up over time. Be careful though when removing the soil from the roots as you don’t want to cause any further damage to an already sensitive plant. 

Moving forward, to prevent overwatering from causing more damage in future, make sure to check the moisture in the soil before you water your Rattlesnake Plant to ensure it has had time to dry out. 

Cold temperatures may be to blame

Rattlesnake Plants thrive in warm temperatures meaning they’ll struggle in homes with cold air and cool drafts. During winter, cold air streaming through cracks in windows and external doors can be really damaging to your plant’s health. But it’s also something to consider in summer as if your plant is too close to any AC vents, this can also be harmful. 

Make sure that you draft-proof any windows or doors that are close to your Rattlesnake Plant (and other tropical houseplants) as well as move them away at least one meter away from air conditioning units. 

We recommend using a digital thermometer to monitor any changes in temperature around your Rattlesnake Plant as this will make it pretty easy to diagnose and treat the problem. They are also generally a great investment for plant parents as they’ll allow you to find the perfect places for each of your plants. 

Don’t mistake your drooping plant for natural movement

Rattlesnake Plants are part of the Prayer Plant family which naturally fold their leaves at night and uncurl them in the morning. If you were to take a timelapse of your Rattlesnake Plant plant over 24 hours you would be shocked at how much they move around! 

Part of this natural leaf movement means their leaves can often look a little droopy but it’s actually nothing to worry about. 

If your Rattlesnake Plant’s leaves look a little droopy then we always recommend monitoring their position a little for a few days before making any changes to their care or environment. You don’t want to disrupt anything without knowing for sure there is a problem.

Taking photos throughout the day from the same position is a great way to monitor the movement of the leaves. If you notice your Rattlesnake Plant’s leaves are moving around a lot over the days you are monitoring them then that is completely normal and the drooping was simply part of that natural praying and moving. 

However, if the leaves do not move much and are continuing to droop down and look quite limp then this is probably a sign your Rattlesnake Plant is unhappy.

Those are the most common reasons why Rattlesnake Plants start drooping down. It’s important that once you’ve made a change to either the care or environment, that you keep a close eye on your plant to check that things are getting better and your plant is no longer drooping down. 

To learn more about how to keep your plant happy and healthy for years to come, check out our Rattlesnake Plant care guide.

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