Snake Plant Care: The Ultimate Guide to Growing and Thriving

Snake plants, also known as Sansevierias or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, are incredibly resilient and easy to care for. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned houseplant enthusiast, these hardy beauties are a must-have for any indoor garden. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to grow and maintain a flourishing snake plant. So, let’s dive in!

Snake Plant Traits

Snake plants, now classified as Dracaenas, are known for their strong, bold appearance and tough sword-like leaves. They exude a modern, edgy feel that adds character and interest to any space. These evergreen perennials are incredibly long-lived, making them the perfect addition to your plant collection.

A tall dark green snake plant sansevieria grows in a gold urn pot

Size

Snake plants come in various sizes, ranging from 8 inches to 9 feet when grown as houseplants. You can find them in different pot sizes, including 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 inches. Whether you have limited space or want to make a bold statement, there’s a snake plant size for everyone.

Growth Rate

Sansevierias are generally slow growers, spreading through underground stems called rhizomes. The growth rate depends on the amount of natural light they receive. In brighter light, they’ll grow faster, while lower light conditions slow down their growth.

Uses

Snake plants have versatile uses, from tabletop and narrow floor plants to dish gardens and kokedama. Their striking silhouette and low-maintenance nature make them ideal for decorating any space.

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Snake Plant Care Guide

Nell Foster holds a large Snake Plant in her brightly lit living room

Snake Plant Light Requirements

Snake plants prefer medium light, but they can tolerate both lower and higher light levels. However, direct, hot sun can cause their leaves to burn, so it’s best to keep them in indirect sunlight. Darker-leafed species and varieties, like D. trifasciata and D. hanhnii jade, thrive better in lower light conditions.

Snake Plant Watering

One of the best attributes of snake plants is their tolerance for infrequent watering. They don’t require as much water as other houseplants, so it’s crucial not to overdo it. Always allow the soil to dry almost completely before watering thoroughly. The watering frequency will vary depending on the environment, soil mix, and pot size.

Humidity Levels

Snake plants can adapt well to average household humidity levels, making them suitable for homes and offices with dry or stale air. They’re even capable of surviving in higher humidity levels, such as bathrooms, or lower levels, like in the desert.

Temperature

Snake plants are quite adaptable to different temperature ranges. As long as your house is comfortable for you, they’ll thrive. However, avoid placing them in areas with cold or hot drafts. They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, even surviving in scorching summers and occasional freezing winters.

Fertilizing Snake Plants

Woman shown in her kitchen holding a clay pot with a snake plant

Snake plants benefit from fertilization during the spring and summer months. Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer for tropical plants, following the recommended dosage. Overfeeding and fertilizing too often can harm the plant’s roots, leading to brown spots on the leaves. Avoid fertilizing during late fall and winter when the plants are in their resting phase.

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Snake Plant Soil

Choosing the right soil is essential for snake plant care. To prevent root rot, which is a common issue for these plants, use a well-draining soil mix. A combination of succulent and cactus mix with potting soil in a 1:1 ratio is ideal. If the soil feels heavy, adding pumice or perlite can improve aeration and drainage.

Repotting

Snake plants thrive when slightly pot-bound, so there’s no need to rush into repotting. Repotting every three to seven years is generally sufficient, although plants in low-light conditions may only need repotting every five to ten years. Ensure the new pot has drainage holes to avoid water build-up, which can lead to root rot.

Pests

While snake plants are relatively pest-resistant, they may occasionally attract mealybugs or spider mites in poor conditions. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of infestation and treat accordingly, using insecticidal soap, neem oil, or a DIY spray. Take action as soon as you spot pests to prevent them from spreading to other plants.

Cleaning Your Snake Plant

Keeping your snake plant clean not only promotes its health but also enhances its overall appearance. Use a damp cloth to wipe off any dust or dirt that may accumulate on the leaves. This simple maintenance routine will keep your snake plant looking snazzy.

Propagating Snake Plants

One of the fantastic characteristics of snake plants is their ease of propagation. You can propagate them through division or leaf cuttings. As houseplants, leaf cuttings are the simplest method, where you cut healthy leaves and place them in a loose soil mix until they develop roots. Another option is to divide or remove offsets (pups) from the mother plant and plant them in soil to create new plants.

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Safe For Pets

While snake plants are mildly toxic to cats and dogs, they are generally not appealing to pets due to their tough leaves. However, it’s always best to consult the ASPCA website or do additional research to understand their specific toxicity levels.

Snake Plant Flowers

Although snake plants can produce flowers, it’s not a common occurrence when they are grown indoors. Flowering is relatively infrequent and unpredictable. When a snake plant does flower, it displays pale whitish to greenish flowers with a delightful, sweet fragrance.

Snake Plant Care Video Guide

Snake Plant Care Video Guide

Snake Plant Care FAQs

If you’re new to houseplant gardening, consider adding one or two snake plants to your collection. They are perfect for beginners and can thrive in dry environments with minimal attention. Snake plants are often found in office spaces and tough environments like airports due to their ability to withstand neglect.

The jazzy foliage of a Sansevieria Laurentii

To sum it up, snake plants are virtually indestructible, provided you don’t overwater them or expose them to excessive sunlight. They thrive on dry air and neglect, making them resilient and low-maintenance. With their bold and architectural appearance, snake plants are sure to captivate any plant enthusiast.

Note: This article was originally published on 5/6/2017 and has been updated on 3/27/2020 and 8/17/2023.

Happy gardening!

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