The whale fin snake plant or Sansevieria Masoniana is an adorable-looking snake plant that can succumb to many issues that are easily avoidable with the right information. In this guide, I’ll go over the most common issues people have when caring for this particular type of snake plant as well as specific information on how to fix each issue.
To fix the whale fin snake plant’s most common issues, choose a suitable potting mix, watch how frequently you water the plant, provide optimal lighting, maintain a consistent temperature, and know how to treat pests like mealybugs.
It’s always scary when something goes wrong with a beloved plant, but fortunately, fixing a lot of these Sansevieria Masoniana issues isn’t difficult in the slightest.
Keep reading for information on how to restore your whale fin snake plant back to health!
The Most Common Whale Fin Snake Plant Issues Solved!
Issue #1 – Falling Leaves
When I talk about the leaves of the Sansevieria Masoniana falling over, I don’t mean they’re drooping or wilting. That’s a separate issue that I’ll address later on, so make sure you don’t miss that.
Instead, the whale fin snake plant’s leaves fall over because the rhizomes aren’t developing as quickly as the plant is.
Rhizomes are simply fleshy stems that are able to reproduce and store food and water for the plant just beneath the soil. They are supposed to grow similarly to the plant’s roots but using an improper potting mix can retard the rhizome growth.
So what kind of potting mix does the whale fin snake plant require? It needs well-draining soil above all else.
I’d recommend mixing your own custom blend that includes soil amendments for optimal drainage and soil airflow.
To make your own well-draining potting mix for your whale fin:
- combine one part commercial potting mix
- one part coarse sand or pumice
- one part perlite.
This mix won’t retain water for too long, and you’ll see why that’s so important for this particular snake plant variety later.
To encourage stability while the rhizomes develop, pack the potting mix firmly around the base of the Sansevieria Masoniana. Since the leaves grow very top-heavy, this plant might need more support than most in those critical early growing days.
Once you switch to a better potting mix and amply support the whale fin, the roots and rhizomes can grow in tandem, leading to a healthy, strong plant.
Issue #2 – Mushy Leaves
The whale fin plant is known for its rigid leaves, so when yours turn soft and malleable, that’s a clear indicator something is wrong. When the leaf bases are downright mushy, whatever issue you started with has progressed quite a lot.
If your whale fin plant feels mushy and soft to the touch, and if the issue has reached the stems as well, you can attribute the problem to overwatering.
For more on overwatering indoor plants, I recommend reading my related article: Signs You’re Overwatering Your Indoor plants.
Snake plants are succulents, so you can hold back on the watering for longer than you’re used to. The fleshy leaves of the whale fin will retain water for days and sometimes longer.
You only have to water the Sansevieria Masoniana when its soil has dried out completely.
Insert a clean finger or two deep into the soil to feel for moisture. If your fingers come back even a little moist, it’s not time to water the plant yet.
When you do water the whale fin snake plant, make it count. Pour water into its pot slowly and saturate the root ball consistently across its entirety.
The risk with a soggy, mushy plant isn’t only that it’s being overwatered, it’s what overwatering can lead to. That’s the fungal disease root rot, which could already be in progress for your Sansevieria Masoniana without you even realizing it.
If your snake plant’s leaves are bendable, I would recommend removing the plant from the soil and checking the root ball.
Ideally, the root ball should have healthy, white roots. If any roots have turned black and are slimy and stinky, those roots are dead or decaying. You’ll have to prune them.
A soil refresh is a good idea at this point, as the old soil is likely oversaturated.
Between making those changes and watering more infrequently, your whale fin should hopefully live to see another day.
Issue #3 – Fuzz-Like Texture or Black Spots
Discoloration is always a red flag when growing any houseplant, so if you’ve noticed small black spots or speckles on the large, variegated leaves of the whale fin snake plant, that’s something to pay attention to.
So too is that the case if the leaves have a fuzzy or web-like texture on them, especially if you see that texture on the undersides of the leaves.
What is going on here? Your Sansevieria Masoniana has an insect infestation. The symptoms you see will tell you which bug has invaded, which informs your insect removal and treatment options.
Let’s start by talking more about those concerning black spots. Those spots are trademarks of aphids or thrips.
Both are sap-sucking insects, but thrips have the added benefit of flight, making them doubly dangerous.
To eliminate aphids, fill an empty spray bottle with dish soap and water. You only need a few drops of dish soap to kill aphids since they’re so tiny.
Every two days, apply the soap and water mixture. Keep this up for two weeks, and the aphids should be gone.
If yours is a thrips problem, you’ll need a heavier-duty solution like insecticidal soap applied every week until the problem abates.
What if you’ve spotted a fuzzy texture on the whale fin snake plant’s leaves? Those are likely webs woven by the microscopic spider mites.
These bugs also can’t fly, but they propagate in such numbers that they’re a risk for your indoor garden.
I recommend pouring 30 ounces of water and a cup of rubbing alcohol (at least 70 percent concentration) into a spray bottle and misting your Sansevieria Masoniana’s leaves.
After a minute or several, use a paper towel to blot up the excess liquid. Repeat until the mites are gone.
Issue #4 – Shriveled Leaves
You try not to touch your houseplants, but the leaves of the whale fin looked so wrinkly that you couldn’t help yourself. The papery, shriveled texture has given you pause.
The issue here is that you’re not watering your whale fin plant often enough.
Some indoor gardeners forget that the snake plant is a succulent. Others go forth with that knowledge and cling to it too tightly, letting the Sansevieria Masoniana go too long without water.
Snake plants are hardy and can survive for two to eight weeks without water, but you don’t want to starve them for that long. Your plant will be in very poor shape if you do!
The fingertip test remains your best option for determining when it’s time to water the Sansevieria Masoniana.
Remember to hydrate the whale fin generously when the time comes to water it.
The reason I push for the fingertip test over following a schedule is that a schedule can be influenced by so much. If you live in a hot region, you’ll have to water the whale fin snake plant far more often than someone does in a cooler region.
Even if you experience all four seasons in equal measure, you’ll water the Sansevieria Masoniana more during the warmer months than the colder ones.
The fingertip test is always accurate, accounting for temperature and humidity. Watering on a schedule cannot do the same.
Issue #5 – Slow Growth (or Stopped Growth)
Another common issue many indoor gardeners have when caring for the whale fin snake plant is that its growth seems to stop one day.
The first thing to check is your expectations. The Sansevieria Masoniana doesn’t go dormant so much as it slows down its growth.
If it’s anytime between October and February, don’t expect your whale fin snake plant to grow to its normal degree.
Its growth will pick back up in the Spring, provided you’re giving it the right care.
Besides the soil and watering levels, which I’ve talked about, the whale fin likes some light but not too much.
Snake plants usually aren’t picky about their lighting, but the Sansevieria Masoniana is, and that’s where many indoor gardeners can trip themselves up.
Partial sunlight is the brightest you should go with the whale fin to maintain any variegation.
Filtered light is fine too, as are periods of shade. Just don’t submerge the whale fin snake plant in too much shade or it will lose its unique coloration.
The Sansevieria Masoniana also likes temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I know, that’s not a huge temperature range like so many houseplants afford, but it is right within the common room-temperature range, so that’s good!
This plant isn’t picky at all about its humidity levels. Lower humidity is preferable to higher humidity, but if it’s not too balmy, the Sansevieria Masoniana will be fine.
If you’re doing everything right for the whale fin but it’s still not growing as quickly as you would like, you can always supercharge it with fertilizer.
Start fertilizing during the plant’s active growing season in the spring and continue until the Sansevieria Masoniana slows its growth in the colder season.
A lot of indoor gardeners I’ve spoken with use a standard succulent fertilizer when fertilizing their whale fin. Personally, I’ve had good luck with a cactus fertilizer mix, so I consider either one an acceptable option.
You can fertilize the whale fin every two to four weeks in the Springtime, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Every plant will have a slightly different tolerance for change and that’s especially true when it comes to adding new chemicals into the mix.
Fertilizing too frequently can infuse the soil with salts, which will cause even more distress to your plant.
Issue #6 – Dull-Looking Leaves
The whale fin snake plant has bright-colored leaves, even if yours is heavily variegated. Time will not cause the leaves to lose their sheen and brightness. That comes down to how well you’re caring for the plant.
A few issues could be at play when the color dulls and borders on gray.
If the leaves look and feel lifeless, see the section on shriveled leaves, as your Sansevieria Masoniana needs more water.
What if the leaves only look bland, but they feel healthy and you’re certain you’re hydrating the plant enough? Then it’s a lighting issue.
Snake plants have a reputation for being hard-to-kill plants, and part of that is attributed to the plant’s lack of lighting preferences. If you grow a regular snake plant in low light, it’s fine. If you grow it in bright light, it’s still fine.
The only time it’s not fine is in direct light!
Once you begin broadening your snake plant horizons and looking into specific varieties, you’ll realize these snake plant varieties often have more nuanced lighting needs.
That’s the case for the Sansevieria Masoniana. Place the plant in the shade sparingly.
As your whale fin snake plant begins drinking in more light, the color and shine of its foliage should reappear.
Issue #7 – Foliar Discoloration
Snake plants come in many varieties, and while some are yellow-green, none should be wholly yellow, especially not the whale fin.
Yellowing in the Sansevieria Masoniana can occur anywhere on the plant’s broad leaves, such as around the base, the edges, or the tips.
A yellowing plant is trying to tell you that it’s getting too much water.
Consider how often you’re watering the whale fin. It’s likely too much, especially if you didn’t realize the snake plant was a succulent. Scale back on the watering frequency and no future leaves should be yellow.
You should also check the soil. Using the wrong type of soil can impede drainage, as can time and soil compaction. Using soil amendments keeps the soil light and aerated, so make sure you have them.
What if you’ve noticed browning around the leaf tips and edges? Foliar browning is a sign your plant is overexposed to heat and light.
The first order of business is checking your thermostat. Once you’ve lowered that to a reasonable range, consider moving the Sansevieria Masoniana to a different room or window, as it’s likely receiving too much sunlight.
Make sure you remember to water the whale fin too. When it dries out, the plant can turn brown.
Unfortunately, once a plant has yellowed or browned leaves, you can’t save the existing leaves. You’ll have to trim them and amend your care so future leaves grow healthier.
Issue #8 – Plant Wilting
I mentioned earlier that there’s a difference between the whale fin snake plant falling over and wilting or sagging. Now I finally want to talk about the latter issue.
A drooping succulent like the snake plant usually has too much water in the leaves. The cell structure of the leaves can break down, leading to the wilting issue.
Cut back on watering the Sansevieria Masoniana.
For more information on leaning or snake plants tumbling over in their containers, I recommend reading my article titled: Snake Plant Falling Over? (Solved).
It’s also a good idea to repot the plant in drier soil, as the consistent exposure to moisture from the saturated soil will only cause the plant to try to take more water into its leaves.