Snake Plant Care

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Snake Plant Art Graphic

Snake Plant is one of the best plants for you if you are looking for your first indoor plant. It requires minimum attention and looks really good as a decorative indoor plant. Snake Plant is a common house plant because it needs very little care and if you are careless (like me), don’t worry - this plant is very hard to kill.

 

If you read this article completely,  people will start calling you Dr. Snake and you will be an expert in Snake Plant care, how to grow and propagate your Snake Plant into multiple pots, what soil to use, common problems in snake plants and how much water is needed. You will know the best and most recommended ways to grow, multiply and care for your Snake Plant at home.

Snake Plant General Info

  • Origin: West Africa - Nigeria East to the Congo
  • Genus: Dracaena (previously thought to be Sansevieria)
  • Scientific Name: D. trifasciata
  • Common Names: Sansevieria, Saint George's sword, mother-in-law's tongue, viper's bowstring hemp, Tiger’s tail
  • 👪Family: Asparagaceae
  • 🌵Type: Succulent
  • 🌼Flowers: Yes, Green color.
  • 🍃Leaf Colors: Green and variegated
  • 🌵Climate: Tropical
  • 🌡️Temperature: 55F to 80 F (12 C to 26 C)
  • 🌼Growing season: Summer
  • 💧Watering: When soil is absolutely dry
  • ☀️Light: Medium to bright indirect light, can survive very low-light conditions.
  • 🐛Pests: Spider mites, Aphids and mealybugs.
  • ☠️Toxicity: Saponins, Toxic to pets (dogs, cats) and kids.
  • 🧴Use: Indoor plants as an air purifier, ornamental, for making bowstrings
  • Propagation🌱: Whole leaf in water, Leaf Cuttings in water, Whole Leaf in Soil, Leaf Cuttings in soil, Cutting Rhizome into two halves and repotting in a new pot
  • Height📏: 60-120 cm (2-4 ft)
  • Soil: Cactus Mix (50%) and Potting Soil (50%)

Snake Plant Care Tips

Snake Plant Care Infographic

Watering 💧

Snake Plants are succulents and don’t require too much watering. Do not over water: Only water when the soil goes completely dry. Overwatering a Snake Plant will cause root rot and your plant will die.

 

When watering your Snake Plant, remember the 2 D's

  1. Drench: Water until the pot starts to drain the water, and the soil is completely drenched.
  2. Drain: Water should be completely drained

 

How much and how often you water your Snake plant depends on 

  1. The Season: Needs very less water during winters and a bit more during summer.
  2. The Location: Whether you have kept it indoors or outdoors and
  3. The Climate: How dry or humid the climate is.

 

Season

Climate

Location

Water frequency

❄️Winter

🌵Dry 

Indoors

Once a month

❄️Winter

🌵Dry

Outdoors

Twice a month

☀️Summer

🌵Dry

Indoors

Once a Week

☀️Summer

♨️Humid

Outdoors

Twice a Week

 

The best way to know when to water is to do the classic finger test where you stick your finger and see if 1-2 inches of the topsoil has dried out completely before giving it more water. If it's still moist, don't water it.

 

Just picking up the pot is also an easy way to know if it needs to be watered. It feels pretty lightweight and doesn’t seem to have moisture in there, you can plan to water.

 

Pro Tip: Better to be on the side of under-watering than over-watering. Most of the plants can recover from severe under-watering but die if over-watered.

Sunlight ☀️

Snake Plant kept Outdoors with sunlight

Often labeled as “low-light plants”. Low light plants are just “low-light-tolerant”. They don’t thrive in low-light, they just survive.

 

Snake plants will need medium to bright Indirect bright light for the perfect growth, however they won’t die if kept in low-light.

 

Make sure you don’t keep the plant very close to the glass window, as it can intensify sun rays and burn the leaves.

Too much direct sunlight will burn the leaves

Soil

Snake Plant likes any soil that drains really quickly because they don’t like to have a lot of moisture accumulating around their roots. If that happens - it causes a root rot. They also like a soil that retains some moisture. Snake Plants also like slightly acidic soil with pH between 4.5 to 7.5.

 

So basically they need good drainage and some water retention.

 

  • You can buy a commercially available 
    • Cactus Mix (50%) and 
    • Potting Soil (50%)
  • Do not use just the cactus mix alone, as it will not hold enough water and pass very quickly before the roots absorb enough.

Create your own DIY Snake Plant soil mix

  1. Potting Soil (40%) for nutrients.
  2. Sand (40%) for good drainage of water. Use river sand or construction sand. Don’t use beach or sea sand because it is high in sodium chloride (salt).
  3. Perlite (or pumice, Stones, Charcoal, Granite chips or pebbles) (20%) for water drainage.

 

  • Pot should be well drained with multiple drainage holes. Water should not be withheld in the pot at all. Also, place some rocks in the pot first so they act as a filter and drain all the water well, without losing soil being drained from the holes.

Fertilizer

Since Snake Plant has evolved to sustain in conditions where there is not a lot of nutrients in the soil, it can still do well without fertilizer. 

 

  • Which fertilizer: Heavily diluted all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.
  • Frequency: once a month in the growing season (summer)

 

Temperature 🌡️

  • Ideal temperature is between 55F to 80 F (12 C to 26 C)
  • Snake plants are very tolerant to temperature. They can tolerate super low temperatures in the 40s (4C) and can tolerate high temperatures as well.
  • They are also tolerant to humidity.

Problems

📸 Screenshot this Snake Plant troubleshooting table! 

 

Problem

Reason

Solution

White or Brown wounds on Leaves (Fungus).

Overwatering caused root rot.

Spray Neem Oil once a week for 2-3 weeks and re-pot in a fresh dry soil.

Leaves turning Yellow 

Overwatering caused root rot.

Get rid of the rotted roots and repot the plant in fresh dry soil.

All leaves are Soft & Limpy (falling over)

Overwatering caused root rot.

Get rid of the rotted roots and repot the plant in fresh dry soil.

Top and middle leaves are falling over (limpy)

These leaves are top heavy

It's just the weight causing them to lean over.

Mushy Leaves

Overwatering 

Root rot setting in. Remove the affected foliage. Cut the leaf out. 

Rips and tears on the leaves

Overwatering, fungus buildup in soil

Pour some all natural cinnamon. It is antibacterial and prevents infection.

Very Slow Growth

Not enough Light

They are usually slow growers, but to facilitate the growth, give it indirect sunlight and fertilize.

Brown and dried up leaves

Severe Underwatering

Hard to revive the plant back. You killed it.

Brown edges on the leaves

Infrequent Watering

You are overwatering and underwatering. You need to set a watering schedule.

Leaves Curling and Twisting (concave leaves)

Severe Underwatering

Leaves started to use their own moisture to survive. Fix a right watering schedule and water when the soil is dried up completely.

 

Leaves Curling Inward

Curving leaves of Snake Plant due to underwatering

 

This is a very common problem in snake plants when we are too careful of watering snake plants by reading so much that snake plants might die because of overwatering. Due to this fear, we start to not care for our snake plants at all and start severely underwatering the plant. This leads to the severe thirst in the leaves of the plant resulting in leaves curling inward, outward or twisting.

 

Since Snake Plant is a succulent and stores water in its leaves, when you underwater a snake plant, it starts using its own stored moisture to replace the lost water needs and starts to curve and twist as the leaves lose its succulence.

How to kill a snake plant

Although Snake Plants are pretty hardy and robust, you could still kill them if you have a strong will and carelessness. Following are the three main reasons why you could kill your snake plant.

  1. Placing them in freezing temperatures below 0.
  2. Overwatering
  3. Severe Underwatering

Pests🐛

  • Can be infested with Spider mites, Aphids and mealybugs.
  • If you see mealybug, just spray some alcohol.
  • Spider mites can be removed by washing the plant and giving the plant more humidity (maybe use a humidifier?)

Diseases🦠

The most common disease is caused by us, by overwatering. If you see white spots on the roots, that’s fungus. Overwatering leads to fungus buildup and root rot. If you see brown spots on the leaves, spray neem oil once a week for 2-3 weeks.

How to save an overwatered Snake plant 🆘

If you have overwatered your Snake Plant, and the plant is still in the wet soil, you can save your plant from dying completely by repotting it into fresh and dry soil.

  1. Remove the Snake Plant from the pot
  2. Remove any rotted parts of the Leaves or the roots.
  3. Repot into new dry soil.

 

How to save an Rotted Snake plant 🆘

When you overwater your snake plant, it’s roots start to rot and you see the leaves drying and falling over. However, is there a way to revive this plant and save it?

 

When your snake plant roots have suffered a root rot, you can still save the plant by propagating the plant using its leaves. It’s just that the roots of the leaves have rotted, and the leaves are still healthy enough to revive back to life by building a new root system.

Pictures of Snake Plant Issues

Tears n cuttings

Leaves falling over

Brown edges

Repotting

How often to re-pot a snake plant?

Sansevieria (Snake Plant) in a white pot kept on a table indoors

  • As Snake plants propagate by rhizome, they like to be potted down for years so they can build a strong rhizome.
  • They also seem to like small pots. If you plant just a couple of leaves in a big pot, it will take a lot of time for the leaves to establish themselves in the soil and will take a lot of time until you see new growth coming out. 
  • Make sure your pots have holes for drainage.

How many Snake Plants per pot

Usually, snake plants like to be potted down and love small pots in order to grow its creeping rhizome. Since snake plants do not have long roots, you can have several plants in a small pot. 

 

Take the snake plant out of your pot and see if the rhizome has new shoots and new growth. If it does and you wish to propagate your snake plant by dividing the rhizome, you can do so and divide the plant into two pots at that stage. 

 

Also, if you see that your pot is too small now and the plant has become root bound around the pot, maybe it's time to get a bigger pot, or propagate a part of your plant.

Propagation 🌱

There are about 4 different ways in which you can propagate your snake plant. You can either use the leaves and propagate by soil or water OR you can cut the entire plant rhizome into two halves from its root and plant in a separate pot.

 

There are 4 ways to propagate Snake plant:

  1. Propagation by Soil

  • Cut one leaf from the base of the plant.
  • Now cut 2-inch sections of the leaf.
  • Remember to keep the leaf bottoms-down - meaning that you should remember what is the bottom part of the leaf because that's how you will plant the cutting. If you plant the leaf by planting the upper side of the leaf, it wont work.
  • Pot the leaf into the soil.
  • Let the cuttings callus for 2-3 days before watering.
  1. Propagation by Water

  • Cut the leaf from the base.
  • Let the leaf cuttings callus over for 2-3 days.
  • Either keep an entire big leaf in water (easier) OR, just like Propagation by soil, cut 2-inch sections of the leaf -  bottom-down.
  • Keep the leaf bottom-down in water and let the leaf stand out.
  • Change the water every week. Roots will take 1-3 months to show up - so be patient.

 

Pro Tip: If you are putting small sections of leaves in your water pot, you can keep the leaf straight by creating some intersections on the pots using rubber bands.

Picture of rubber-banded pot and leaves.

 

Not every leaf will grow roots. Some will rot.

Picture of rotted sansevieria leaf cutting - failed propagation

 

If you find that a leaf is rotting (instead of rooting), just cut the rotting part of the leaf and put it back in the water. Give it a second chance.😊

  1. Propagation by Divide

You can also divide the leaves of the pot into multiple pots. You can also take the pups (baby snake plants) that grow near the mother plant and plant then in a new pot. Just make sure you get the fibrous roots of the pups and not just the stock. These new propagations will grow into bigger plants and more pups surrounding the new mother.

Offsets (babies) of Snake Plant growing in a cylindrica Snake Plant

Propagation by Divide picture

 

If you see a rhizome in between two leaves, you can divide it into two plants by cutting the rhizome in the middle 

Cutting Rhizome pic - coming soon.

  1. Planting the seeds of Snake Plant flower

  • A mature Sansevieria plant produces flowers.
  • The plant needs adequate indirect sunlight to induce flowering.
  • You can collect its seed pods and grow new snake plants from these seeds.

Pruning

Snake plants don’t need a lot of pruning. You will need to prune your Snake Plant for aesthetic reasons or if you want to propagate the snake plant.

 

  • The only time you would want to prune a snake plant is when you see a bacterial spot on a leaf - you just get rid of it.
  • If you see a very droopy leaf that is not able to stand up - you can cut it off and maybe use it for propagation.

Growth Habit

Tall Sansevieria (Snake Plant) Outdoors

In general, snake plants grow kind of slow - especially if they are in lower light. But if you provide them a lot of warmth and a lot of indirect medium to bright light - they can grow faster.

 

Another way to facilitate their growth faster is to up-pot them into larger pot sizes as required.

Toxicity☠️

  • It is mildly toxic. Should not be consumed orally.
  • It contains Saponins which are Toxic to Dogs and Cats. Keep the Snake Plant away from pets and kids.
  • It has low levels of toxicity which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, pain, and excessive salivation.

Flowering🌼

Flower picture - coming soon

Flower berries pic - coming soon

Snake plants flower when kept outdoors in bright indirect sunlight. These are tiny flowers that are green in color,which eventually turn into orangish berries. You can use the seeds of these flowers to propagate Snake plants.

Benefits of Snake Plant

  • This is one of the few plants that produce oxygen as a by-product during the night time so it can aid in your sleep patterns when kept in the bedroom.
  • Snake Plants also remove toxins from the air that come from furniture, paints and detergents - However, you need to have a lot of them in your bedroom to actually make a difference in oxygen levels.

Types of Snake plants

How many varieties of Snake plants are there?

 

There are more than 70 species of snake plants but not all are sold commercially. If you are wondering what kind of snake plant you have, find it out by seeing the pictures of the most common snake plants below.

 

  1. Sansevieria trifasciata var. Laurentii

This is how a typical snake plant looks like:

 

This is how Snake Plant (Sansevieria) looks like in a brown pot with Black Background and tall green leaves

  • Leaves Form: Tall pointed leaves.
  • Leaves Color: Deep Green pointed leaves with gray-green horizontal striped on the leaf and with broad yellow edges. Some are curly and variegated.
  • Flowers: Yes, Green color, followed by orange berries.
  • Height: 60-120 cm (2-4 ft)
  1. Sansevieria gracilis

  • Leaves color: Green and white bands
  • Leaves form: Cylindrical and pointed.
  • Flowers: Yes, geen-white flowers in the late fall season.
  • Height: under 18 inches.
  1. Sansevieria fischeri

  • One of the smallest varieties of snake plant
  • Flowers: Yes, white flowers in summer.
  1. Sansevieria masoniana

 

  • Also called Whales fin or Shark’s fin.
  • Leaves Color: Green with light green horizontal spots.
  • Height: upto 4ft

 

How to buy a Snake Plant

Snake Plant is so basic, you will find Snake plants from supermarkets to your nearest nursery. But when you do reach your nearest nursery, Look for the following attributes when buying your Snake plant.

 

  • Look for rot: Look at the leaves closely. If you see any rips and tears on the leaves, it might be susceptible to rot or infection.
  • Green healthy looking leaves (not pale or yellow without any black marks on leaves)
  • Snake Plants are slow growers. So if you are looking for tall leaves, better to buy a tall plant upfront as it would take you years to reach the maximum height.
  • Presence of a baby plant (pups)
  • If the leaves are curling inwards and flattened, the soil is overwatered. Don’t buy that snake plant.

Fun Fact

  • Until 2015, scientists thought that Snake Plant is a species of Sansevieria. Now we come to know it is a species of Dracaena. Commercially, shops still use the names Sansevieria.
  • Snake Plants can grow upto 4 ft.
  • When is the snake plant growing season? Summer.

PDF Download

Download this Snake Plant Care Guide in PDF so that you can easily refer to it offline - whenever you are in need for a reference

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