24 Common Issues and Queries About Snake Plants

Snake plants, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, are robust houseplants that often face various questions and problems. This article explores 24 of the most common issues and queries related to snake plants. While these plants were previously classified in the Sansevieria genus, they are now categorized under the Dracaena genus.

Soil, Pots, and Repotting

1. Choosing the Ideal Soil for Snake Plants

When it comes to soil, snake plants thrive in well-drained mixes. A cactus/succulent mix combined with 1/4″ pumice is my preferred choice for potting snake plants. Consider using high-quality 1/4″ pumice from Bonsai Jack’s for optimal results. Adding pumice, a volcanic rock, to the potting mix enhances drainage, ensuring healthier snake plants.

2. Optimum Pots for Snake Plants

Snake plants can be grown in a variety of pots. Terra cotta pots and plastic nursery pots, which can be placed within decorative pots, are both suitable options. Keep in mind that terra cotta pots dry out faster, making them ideal for warm and dry environments. In contrast, smaller terra cotta pots may cause excessive drying.

3. Importance of Drainage Holes

Yes, snake plants, like any other plants, require drainage holes. Having proper drainage helps prevent the risk of root rot, especially for succulent plants like Sansevieria.

Further reading:  10 Unique and Stunning Succulents for Your Garden

4. Knowing When to Repot Snake Plants

Typically, late winter or early spring is the best time to repot snake plants, coinciding with the plants’ growth period. However, repotting can be done at any time of the year if necessary, provided that adequate light and growing conditions are provided. Snake plants can remain in the same pot for many years, sometimes even breaking or splitting the pot as they grow.


5. Necessity of Fertilizing Snake Plants

Although snake plants naturally grow in poor, rocky soil in tropical Africa, fertilizing them contributes to their overall growth and health. While not excessive, providing fertilizer is beneficial for these plants.

6. Choosing the Right Fertilizer

When it comes to choosing a fertilizer for snake plants, any all-purpose fertilizer for houseplants, especially those formulated for succulents, will suffice. Avoid using fertilizers with high nitrogen levels, as they can lead to weak and floppy new growth.

7. Avoiding Standard Miracle Gro

Avoid using the standard all-purpose Miracle Gro, which contains excessive amounts of nitrogen (NPK 24-8-16). Instead, opt for the Succulent Plant Food version of Miracle Gro (NPK 0.5-1-1), which is suitable for snake plants and other succulents.


8. Proper Watering Frequency for Snake Plants

Instead of adhering to a strict watering schedule, observe your plant’s needs. Snake plants prefer their potting mix to dry out completely before watering. However, avoid waiting too long, as prolonged dryness can harm your snake plant. Once the potting mix is completely dry, water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain through the drainage holes.

9. Determining the Right Amount of Water

Measuring the water amount is unnecessary when watering snake plants. Watering until the potting mix is thoroughly moistened, and allowing excess water to drain away, is sufficient.


10. Humidity Requirements for Snake Plants

Snake plants do not require any special attention to humidity.


11. Ideal Light Conditions for Snake Plants

While snake plants are often considered low-light plants, they require adequate light for optimal growth. Insufficient light can lead to distorted growth, weakened and bending leaves. To ensure the best results, place snake plants directly in front of a window that receives at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight. Although they can tolerate low-light conditions, growth will be slower, and issues like prolonged soil moisture can arise.

Further reading:  The Ultimate Guide to Successful Carrot Seed Planting


12. Various Ways to Propagate Snake Plants

Snake plants can be propagated through division, leaf cuttings in water or soil, rhizome cuttings, or by seed. Refer to my detailed snake plant propagation guide, complete with step-by-step photos, for more information on each method.

Common Problems

13. Leaf Curling in Snake Plants

Leaf curling in Sansevieria is often caused by excessively dry potting mix. Check the soil moisture and soak your plant thoroughly if the mix has been dry for too long.

14. Drooping Leaves in Snake Plants

Drooping leaves can also result from prolonged dryness of the potting mix.

15. Mushy Leaves in Snake Plants

Mushy leaves can be caused by exposure to cold temperatures or if the potting mix remains wet for too long. Avoid combining cold temperatures with wet conditions, as this can be detrimental to your snake plant’s health.

16. Brown and Mushy Roots in Snake Plants

If the soil remains excessively wet for prolonged periods, snake plants are susceptible to root rot. Ensure proper drainage by discarding excess water in the saucer or cache pot.

17. Slow Growth in Snake Plants

Insufficient light is often the cause of slow or stunted growth in snake plants. Provide adequate light, especially near a window with eastern or western exposure, to promote healthy growth.

Other Topics

18. Outdoor Placement of Snake Plants

Snake plants can be placed outdoors, but pay attention to adequate temperature conditions. Keep them in locations that don’t go below 55°F (approximately 13°C). As most snake plants are native to Africa and prefer warmer climates, strive for temperatures between 65-80°F (approximately 18-27°C). When transitioning plants from indoors to outdoors, gradually introduce them to sunlight to prevent sunburn.

Further reading:  Planting Japanese Maples: A Guide to Success in Your Garden

19. Companion Plants for Snake Plants

You can pair snake plants with other plants as long as they share the same light and soil moisture preferences. Many succulents make excellent companions for snake plants.

20. Winter Care for Snake Plants

Winter care for snake plants can be challenging due to colder temperatures, reduced light, and longer drying times for the potting mix. Adapt your care routine accordingly by checking the moisture of the potting mix and only watering when it has completely dried out.

21. Alternate Names for Snake Plants

Snake plants, previously known in the Sansevieria genus, have multiple common names such as mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, Saint George’s sword, and devil’s tongue.

22. Popular Varieties of Snake Plants

There are several beautiful varieties of snake plants, many of which are cultivars of the Dracaena trifasciata species. Check out my blog post on 13 stunning snake plant varieties to discover some of my favorites.

23. Snake Plants as Succulents

Snake plants are considered succulents due to their ability to store water, enabling them to withstand periods of drought. While some plants may be more succulent than snake plants, they still fall under the succulent category.

24. Toxicity of Snake Plants

Snake plants are toxic to dogs and cats due to saponin compounds. Ingesting these plants can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets.


Snake plants are versatile and resilient houseplants, but various concerns and questions can arise when caring for them. By addressing these 24 common issues and queries, you will be better equipped to ensure the health and growth of your snake plants.

Sansevieria Flowers

For more information on snake plant care and related topics, be sure to check out the following resources:

  • General Snake Plant Care
  • Sansevieria cylindrica
  • Sansevieria Flowers
  • Whale Fin Snake Plant

I hope you found this article helpful! If you have any other snake plant problems not covered here, feel free to comment below, and I’ll be happy to assist you.

And remember, for all your snake plant needs, visit Ames Farm Center!