Snake Plant Care

Snake Plant care

Snake plants are possibly the easiest of all easy-care houseplants. The tall, upright foliage has a sculptural look, and this plant adds dimension and effortless style to a space. Seriously, place a mature snake plant in a plant stand in a sunny corner, and your home could be in Architectural Digest. Formally known as Sansevieria, this plant goes by several aliases, including mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, Saint George’s sword, bowstring hemp, and lucky plant. The snake plant is originally from Africa, where it grows as an evergreen perennial. Snake plants are members of the succulent family, and they prefer arid conditions and generally do best when left alone and admired from afar. Learn all about snake plant care and how to ensure your plants thrive.

Types of Snake Plant

The defining characteristic of snake plants is the upright leaves. Most well-known varieties have flat leaves, but some cultivars have thick, rounded foliage. Bird’s nest varieties grow in a rosette and typically have a compact form. The foliage can be entirely green or have variegation in shades of green or yellow. The variegation can be in rings or stripes or have a more organic look. Some of the more common types of snake plants include:  

What’s In a Name?

Snake Plants, or Sansevieria, have long been classified in their own genus. In an effort to create a more accurate classification system, Sansevieria was reclassified as part of the Dracaena genus. These plants have a lot in common on a biological level, but their care needs differ slightly, so they both have separate care pages on this site. I continue to use the term Sansevieria even though it is not completely accurate simply to distinguish between plants.

Snake Plant Light Requirements

Perhaps what makes snake plants so easy to grow is that they are adaptable. For optimal snake plant care, place this beauty in an area that receives medium to bright indirect light for optimal snake plant care. Can snake plants handle bright direct light? Yes, in small doses. Can snake plants live in low light? Absolutely.

These plants are slow-growers, so if you want to maximize their growth potential, snake plants need medium to bright indirect light. If you are looking for a plant that can live directly in a south-facing window or greenery for a low-light hallway, sansevieria plants are a good choice.

How Often to Water Snake Plant

Let the soil dry out completely before giving snake plants a drink. These succulents naturally grow in dry conditions; too much water is the quickest way to kill this plant. Sansevieria plants store water in their leaves and ration it out as needed. 

Wait to water your sansevieria until the soil is dry throughout. Plan to water every 1.5 to 2 weeks. You can gauge the heaviness of the pot to determine when the soil is dry. Damp soil makes the pot heavy, so when the potted plant feels light, the soil is dry. Shriveled foliage is an indicator that the plant is dehydrated. If you notice the foliage looks wrinkled, water right away. Growth may slow down during the winter when the plant is dormant, so scale back how often you water the plant.

Give the plant a thorough drenching when it is time to water. Apply water until the soil cannot absorb any more and the excess drains through the pot. Drainage is essential to snake plant care because soggy roots are a deal breaker. Empty the cover pot or saucer of excess water.

Best Soil for Snake Plant

The ideal soil for snake plants promotes drainage. There are soils formulated for snake plants, but generally, potting mix intended for succulents or cacti will work well. The soil mix should not retain water but should let it drain through. The soil can contain organic content or a slow-release fertilizer to support new growth. If you really want to dial in the potting mix, opt for a product with a 5.5 to 7.0 pH.

Temperature for Snake Plant

The ideal temperature of snake plants is between 55° to 85° F. Plants grown in warmer temperatures will do better, but air temperatures in the 60s or high 50s are tolerable. Anything colder than 55° F can be damaging and may negatively image the foliage.

Snake Plant Humidity

Snake plants prefer dry conditions. Remember, this plant hails from dry, arid climates, so there is no need for a humidifier to keep this beauty looking lush. Sansevieria will tolerate some humidity, but moisture in the air may prevent the soil from drying out quickly, so you may need to water longer between watering sessions.

Snake Plant Fertilizer

It should come as no surprise that snake plants are not heavy feeders. There are several reasons why this plant is so easy to grow, and the fact that it doesn’t require regular feedings is one of them. This plant will grow perfectly fine without fertilizer but apply a balanced, water-soluble plant food once during early spring for optimal snake plant care.

Pruning Snake Plant

Since sansevieria are slow-growing plants, there isn’t much of a need to prune them. Remove dead or damaged growth as necessary using clean shears. Most snake plant varieties are capable of blooming, but houseplants seldom set flowers. If your snake plant blooms, it will send up a tall flower stalk. The stalk can be removed when the flowers fade.

When to Repot Snake Plant

Don’t be in a hurry to repot snake plants because these indoor plants like to be somewhat rootbound. You’ll know your plant needs a new home when you notice roots growing through the holes in the pot. Snake plants can comfortably live for years between repotting, so plan on repotting your snake plant every two to five years.

Freshening up the soil is usually the most compelling reason to repot a snake plant. Soil can become compacted and will lose any nutritional value after a while. Select a pot one inch larger in diameter and give the plant new soil to keep it happy and growing.

Snake Plant Propagation

You have options when it comes to propagating snake plants. Propagating is an easy way to turn one plant into multiple, giving you even more greenery to enjoy or gift the new plants to friends and family.

Offsets

Your plant may take care of the propagation work for you via offsets. Offsets are the plant’s way to creating new plants. An offset, also called a pup, is a tiny version of the plant that grows near the mother plant. The offset is attached to the mother plant’s root system. Remove the offset when it is at least an inch or two tall. It’s easiest to remove offsets during repotting, or you can remove some soil to expose the roots. Use clean pruning shears or a knife to remove the pup from the main plant. Leave some roots on the pup and place the new plant in soil.

Division

You can divide snake plants and break apart the roots to create individual plants. Division is the best method when you have several plants in one pot, likely a parent plant growing with mature offsets. It’s easiest to divide a plant when repotting since everything needs to come out of the pot. Ensure each section has an adequate root system and repot in its container. 

Cuttings

Water and soil propagation are the old standby methods that work for most houseplants, including Sansevieria. Remove a leaf from the plant using clean, sharp shears or a knife. Sections to be propagated need to be at least two inches long. A long leaf can be cut into multiple smaller pieces to propagate. Maintain the orientation of the cutting so the top is facing up and the bottom is facing down. Roots will only form on the bottom of the cutting.

Since snake plants are succulents, allow the cut end callous over before propagating; even if you intend to water propagate, the cut ends need to dry out. After a few days, when the cut end is dry, place the cutting in soil or water and give it time. Roots should form in several weeks.

Are Snake Plants Pet Friendly?

Snake plants are not the best option for pet owners. The plant contains a toxin known as saponin and can cause nausea and gastrointestinal problems for dogs and cats if consumed. Be aware if you already have sansevieria in your home and you adopt a furry friend and consider relocating the plants to an area that is not easily accessible or commonly frequented by your animals.

Styling Tips

Snake plants do not need much in terms of styling help. Give them an appropriate-sized pot, and let the foliage dazzle you. The plant will look at home in a subdued neutral planter or a classically inspired urn planter. The upright foliage of the snake plant makes this an excellent choice to pair with a whimsical head planter, so the foliage resembles hair. 

Snake Plant Care Tips

Whether you are an admirer of foliage, new to houseplants, or notorious for failing to keep plants alive, the snake plant is for you. Sansevierias make a big visual impact and prefer to be mostly left alone. Follow these snake plant care tips to ensure your plants look amazing!

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