Rust rot in Sansevieria: How to identify? Tips to handle!

Along with the problems like mealybugs, red spider mites, and gnats, soft leaf sansevieria faces another common rust rot. It might sometimes happen that a gardener sees red spots where leaves join with each other. But, when they disturb it or scratch it, they will be surprised with the movement in these spots; they are red mites. Sometimes, there are some red rusty powder and spots on the leaf joints that start to spread slowly to other parts, especially eating the roots.

The infestation of pests and mites is pretty common to the succulents. Although, one will wonder how their sansevieria got the mites. As they have not taken them outside, nor have given them the extra moisture or extra fertilizer. But the thing is, even if you have left a window open, mites ac haunt your indoor beauties. As we go to the outside environment, we are also the carrier of the mites. Which can transfer to succulents later and play havoc. 

What causes rust rot in sansevieria?

Sansevieria, also known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, is a pretty popular succulent type. The reason behind it is their hardiness to go through adverse situations and fewer demands. And they are available in different varieties that can beautify your garden aura to the next level. Some people like the sansevieria of stiff-leaf types while some fall for the soft leaf ones. But, everyone can have the darling of their choice. 

Basically, it is a fungus problem due to over humid circumstances because of over-watering and bug infestation. Bugs prepare the circumstances that are suitable for the initiation of this problem. They make the succulent moist and vulnerable; as they leave honeydew behind themselves. Also, they invite other insects like ants, which further make it susceptible to rust rot

Soft leaf sansevieria is more attractive for mealybugs, red mites, and some other bugs. And these bugs make the plant more vulnerable to fungus infection. As, either over-watering or over-fertilization was done because of bugs, or it will be done to remove some bugs.

It might happen because of underwatering also, as some of the bugs appear in drier conditions. And, what havoc they do later is known to everyone. 

How can we identify rust rot?

The leaf grouping part of the sansevieria starts to rot in over-humid conditions; red marks can be seen on the place where the leaves conjoin, i.e., the roots. It will feel like they are rusting; it is a fungal condition that can badly haunt succulent’s existence. One can have the powdery like feel while touching it. And, see that the roots are slowly succumbing to rust rot

The root will start to ferment and turn mushy as the rust rot increases, becoming incapable of providing succulent needs. Joint of leaves and root where you can see the red spots will start to spread. And, soon the joints will loosen up, putting harm to the whole structure. It is a very deadly infection for the sansevieria. As, it can destroy it whole if it is not controlled in time. 

How to solve the rust rot problem?

This lethal problem for succulents can only be solved if we focus on eliminating the root cause behind this problem. And that is the bug infestation that upsets the whole growth cycle of the succulent. And, produces the circumstances that make way for fungal problems like rust rot.    

Eradication of bugs is the first step to solve this problem. And, that can be done by spraying a solution of insecticidal soap on the affected parts where the bug or mite population is still present. When one is satisfied that he has covered all the affected areas. He can continue with the second step of fungicide spray to reduce the rot problem to a significant extent. Again, the spray of insecticidal soap should be repeated to eradicate the remaining pests.

This procedure needs to be repeated for two weeks at least for better effectiveness. Care needs to be taken that water is not provided to the succulent in this period; just try to destroy the infestation. Because watering can be some relief for the pests at that time, that can spoil your efforts to eliminate them. 

Stages of the rust rot devastation that we may expect after infestation treatment:

First Stage:

  • If you realized this rust rot problem really quick, very much in its preliminary stage. You are pretty lucky that you have the best chances of having back your succulent. So, the rot is limited to the center part of the plant. And, some leaves also may have come up with some red spots or infestation signs. It is better to cut off that part of the leaves to prevent further spread. Along, with the proper following of the infestation and fungus control method discussed above, along with the precautionary steps. This is the best outcome that a succulent lover will think of. As, he will be able to save his efforts, time, and most importantly, the beauties of his garden. But, that requires quick action to solve and curb the problem. And, you might be rewarded with a happy mother plant. 

Second Stage:

  • The second outcome that may come to our sights, if we identified the rust rot problem bit later. And, worked on its solution as described earlier. But after the treatment, the center part of the succulent is gone. But, to our luck, most of the leaves are intact. That means we can still hope of having new growth. As, the healthy leaves will make sure that we do not have to see our plant dying. 

Third Stage:

  • The next outcome of the rust rot situation is that when the center portion is exhausted entirely. And, the leaves, rhizomes beneath the soil are still okay. This means our mother plant will be dead. But, the good news is you can still have new offsets from the rhizomes. Rhizomes are the tube-like stems that connect all the leaves together, and they are responsible for producing offsets. And therefore, you will be able to have new small sansevieria in the same potting soil. You will have to make sure the infestation in your mother plant does not carry to the new ones.

Fourth Stage:

  • This outcome horrifies the gardeners, as it is the sign of complete devastation of your mother succulent from rust rot. Leaves are gone completely, the center is also gone. And, the only thing you are left with is the rhizome that you can dig out of the soil. And if it is still hard, that means it has not rotten or fermented. Or we can say it does not smell and feels like one. You can re-pot it in another soil base then, obviously after the infestation treatment. And there is a possibility that with proper care, you may have a succulent from it. But, that will take a lot of time. 

Fifth Stage:

  • It is the worst situation of all; your all efforts have gone to vain now. Leaves are dead, so is the center, because of rust rot. And, now the rhizome that you had pulled out from soil also seems to be mushy and fermented. The only option you are left with is to have a brand new sansevieria for your garden. And be prepared to save it from the infestation.

Tips for a Sansevieria lover:

  • Understand the fact that no succulent store is super clean. So, it is almost impossible that you will not bring any infection with your new plant. But, surely you can bring some awareness and techniques to handle an issue. 
  • When you see a rust rot problem in your sansevieria, be quick to act on it. Quick action will save your efforts and succulent both. The only solution to this problem is spraying, from insecticidal soap to fungicide, follow the procedure carefully. So, no matter what, do not stop spraying till the problem is solved. 
  • When you go through an issue, be smart enough to remember its details. Like the symptoms, the problem level, the treatment, outcome, etc. You may also log it down to your diary or something if required. As you will have these beauties in your garden, and with a handy guide to tackle problems, you can make your gardening part easier. So, learn from your experiences, notice the details.

Bottom Line

A succulent gardening beginner will be quite satisfied after going through the details in this article. Which comes from the experiences of ardent love of succulent gardening. To know the tricks and tips about rust rot. And, the visual description of the problem, one can go to for details.