Why Is My Whale Fin Plant Dying? Tips for Rescuing Your Dying Sansevieria Masoniana

The whale fin plant, or the shark fin plant, as it is also fondly known, is a true delight to have in your home or office space with its large leaves that resemble the fins of a noble undersea creature and its bright, verdant color.  

So, if you think your Sansevieria masoniana is dying, you are likely devastated.  

But fear not, we’ve got all the tips you need to get it back in great shape.  

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A Whale Fin Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office 

The whale fin plant is an excellent choice for your home or office as it can serve as a succulent soaking in the sun or it can simply appear as a startlingly large piece of greenery in a pot on your desk.  

A Whale Fin Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office

In other words, it can tie into pretty much any décor, or it can be its own center piece.  

Keep it in a clay pot for a southwestern theme or pot it in a cool pot with cutout designs to give it plenty of drainage.  

Signs of a Dying Whale Fin Plant 

Classic signs of a dying whale fin include the following:  

  • Leaves falling off  
  • Failure to flower 
  • Leaves or flowers wilting or curling 
  • Leaves beginning to yellow 
  • Leaves turning brown 
  • Leaves getting red spots 
  • Bugs  

Common Causes of a Dying Whale Fin Plant 

The most common cause of a dying whale fin plant is overwatering. We often just get into the habit of watering all our plants at once, and some, like succulents, don’t need to be watered that much and will start to essentially rot.  

In addition to overwatering, other causes of a dying whale fin plant include:  

  • Underwatering 
  • Too much light 
  • Not enough light 
  • Pests 

The whale fin plant does not need a ton of attention. Once you find an ideal location and watering routine, you’re pretty much set.  

So, let’s get you there.  

Watering Needs of a Whale Fin Plant 

The Sansevieria masoniana is a classic succulent or cactus plant that needs to be watered infrequently, especially in cooler months when it is more likely to go dormant.  

In general, you can plan to water the whale fin plant every 10 to 14 days.  

Am I Underwatering My Whale Fin Plant? 

In the unlikely event you are underwatering your whale fin plant, you will know by the curling leaves. They will go from relatively full leaves to fully curling in on themselves.  

Restoring Water to Your Underwatered Whale Fin Plant 

To restore your leaves to their former glory, simply water your plant all the way through until it is dripping wet. Allow the water to drain through then pay closer attention to its watering needs going forward.  

Am I Overwatering My Whale Fin Plant? 

In the much more likely event that you are overwatering your whale fin plant, you will notice the leaves turning to mush, becoming translucent, and the soil getting soggy.  

Restoring Balance to Your Overwatered Whale Fin Plant 

If your whale fin is overwatered, you might just need to move it into the sun and allow it to fully dry out before another watering.  

You will know your soil is fully dry when you insert a chopstick into the soil, all the way to the bottom of the pot, and it comes out clean and dry.  

If it comes out with any wet soil, do not water your plant again.  

In the event your soil has become soggy and begun to rot your roots, you will have to repot the succulent.  

To repot, remove the root ball from the soil and break up the roots, cutting off any dead or mushy parts.  

Empty the pot of its wet soil and put fresh cactus soil in the pot, placing the root ball in the dry soil and covering it with more fresh soil.  

Water the plant and place it in indirect sunlight to dry out.  

Soil Needs of a Whale Fin Plant 

The shark fin plant is a snake plant, a succulent, so it needs cactus or succulent soil, or a blend of both.  

You can fertilize the whale fin plant with a low nitrogen succulent fertilizer once a month to ensure it has all of its nutrient needs met.  

Soil Drainage Needs for a Whale Fin Plant 

You want to allow your whale fin soil to dry out completely before watering again.  

Resolving Soil Drainage Issues for a Whale Fin Plant 

If you notice your soil is not draining well, consider switching to a clay pot, which allows moisture to leach through, or a pot with plenty of holes on all sides.  

Also be sure your plant is getting plenty of light and air circulation, which will help dry out the soil.  

Lighting Needs of a Whale Fin Plant 

The whale fin plant calls for plenty of indirect sunlight.  

Imagine it growing in a hot, dry region under the shade of another, larger leafed plant or tree.  

Place it near a window where it will receive at least five or six hours of indirect sunlight.  

Resolving Lighting Issues for a Whale Fin Plant 

If you notice the leaves are becoming dull and lifeless, you might want to move your plant closer to the sun or to a different window facing in a different direction.  

If you notice the leaves getting brown or yellow, it may be getting too much direct sunlight, so simply move it farther away from the window.  

Pests or Diseases that Can Cause Issues with a Whale Fin Plant 

The whale fin plant is notoriously resistant to pests, but you may encounter scale pests or, even more rarely, thrips.  

To rid your plant of scale, just wipe the leaves down then spray the plant and soil liberally with neem oil.  

If you have thrips, you will need to scrape as many off as you can then spray the plant liberally with a systemic pesticide.  

Diseases that may afflict your whale fin plant include fungal red leaf spot, southern blight, and soft rot.  

Each of these will present according to their names, with red lesions, wet lesions, or root rot.  

To cure your plant of red lesions, which is fungal, you can spray it with a fungicide and get on a solid watering schedule.  

With wet lesions or root rot, you may need to throw the plant away.  

Fake Whale Fin Plants Are an Additional Consideration 

If you get too frustrated trying to keep your whale fin plant alive, you can always take the artificial route.  

Fake Whale Fin Plants Are an Additional Consideration

There is not only no shame in going for a beautiful fake whale fin plant, but also fake plants are super trendy right now.  

Don’t believe me? Check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky. 

Do you have a whale fin plant you’ve nursed back to life? What worked for you? Leave your tips and tricks in the comment section below.  

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