Sansevierias, commonly known as snake plants or mother-in-law’s tongue, are beloved indoor plants that can also thrive outdoors in certain regions. If you’re a beginner gardener or someone looking to add a touch of green to your garden, caring for outdoor snake plants is a breeze with the right conditions. In this article, we’ll explore the key steps and considerations for successfully growing and nurturing sansevierias outdoors.
Choosing the Perfect Spot
To give your snake plants the best chance to thrive, select a sunny location with excellent drainage. These plants enjoy basking in the sunlight, so finding a spot that receives ample sunshine throughout the day is essential. If you have clay soil, make sure to enhance it with compost before planting.
Outdoor snake plants prefer warm climates, with temperature ranges of 70 ⁰F to 90 ⁰F (21 ⁰C to 32 ⁰C) being ideal. If you reside in USDA zone 9 to 12 or in an area outside the United States with consistently warm temperatures, you can confidently plant snake plants directly in your garden. However, in cooler climates, it’s recommended to place them in pots and transfer them outdoors during the spring and summer months while bringing them indoors during colder periods.
The Blooming Beauty
While indoor snake plants rarely bloom, their outdoor counterparts have a greater chance of producing blossoms under the right conditions. The flowers, which grow on long stalks, are usually white or cream-colored and emit a pleasant scent. Moths play a crucial role in pollination, and after blooming, small red or orange berries with seeds appear.
Getting Your Hands Dirty: Planting Snake Plants Outdoors
Prepare the soil by incorporating aged compost or soil enhancers before you start planting. Dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the roots, gently placing the plant at the bottom. Cover the roots with soil and give the plant a thorough watering. If you plan to plant multiple snake plants, make sure to space them at least 30 cm apart to allow for healthy growth. For an aesthetically pleasing display, consider planting them alongside small succulents like echeverias in an outdoor planter.
Important Note: It’s imperative to check if there are any restrictions on planting sansevierias outdoors in your area due to their invasive nature.
Transitioning Indoor Snake Plants Outdoors
If you’re planning to transplant your indoor snake plants outdoors, they will require some time to adjust to the outdoor conditions, especially if they haven’t been exposed to direct sunlight before. You can gradually help them acclimate by placing them in partial shade for a week or so before permanently planting them in your garden.
Snake plants are known for their drought tolerance, so they only need to be watered about once a week. Avoid overwatering, as excessively moist soil can lead to root rot. Before watering, check the soil’s moisture level by using your finger as a guide. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water your snake plant again.
While snake plants planted outdoors do not require excessive fertilization, applying a slow-release fertilizer in the spring during their active growth phase can boost their overall health.
Dividing and Propagating Sansevierias
Snake plants naturally produce small offsets, commonly known as baby plants, at their base. To cultivate large clumps, leave these offsets intact. However, if you prefer to propagate your snake plants, dividing them every few years or using leaf sections for propagation is a viable option. It’s important to note that propagating variegated sansevierias from leaf cuttings may cause them to lose their variegation.
Keeping Pests at Bay
While outdoor snake plants are generally hardy, they can attract pests such as scale, mealybugs, and spider mites. If you spot any of these pesky intruders, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove them. To fully eliminate the infestation, use a neem oil spray or insecticidal soap once a week. Remember to spray the plants in the evening to avoid leaf burn.
Height and Sun Tolerance
Most snake plant varieties grow between one to three feet (30 to 90 cm) tall, with some exceptional varieties like Sansevieria cylindrica reaching up to five feet (1.5 meters) in height. Regarding sun exposure, snake plants adore full sun, especially variegated varieties that display more vibrant colors when exposed to abundant sunlight.
With the right care, location, and attention to detail, you can enjoy the beauty and minimal maintenance of snake plants in your outdoor garden for years to come. Don’t forget to share your success stories of growing sansevierias outdoors in the comments below. And if you’re looking for more gardening inspiration, remember to check out Ames Farm Center. Happy planting!