Snake Plant 101: How to Grow & Take Care of a Snake Plant
With houseplants growing in popularity, more and more people are searching for plants that can grow in small spaces, are low light, are easy to care for, etc.
The snake plant is a common houseplant that comes in several varieties, all of which are relatively low-maintenance and tolerant; if you’re a beginner plant parent, the snake plant is a great choice.
This guide is intended to give you more information on snake plants and how to best care for and grow them.
Snake Plant Information
The snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), also sometimes called mother-in-law’s tongue, is a succulent plant belonging to the agave family native to arid regions of tropical Western Africa.
It is characterized by long, stiff leaves that stretch upwards and end in sharp points. Reflecting its hardy origins, the snake plant can survive in a variety of conditions.
Snake Plant Growing and Care Tips
Snake plants are easy to care for and grow, and they make such great houseplants because of their ability to thrive in several growing environments.
Their resilience also makes them an excellent plant to buy if you tend to move regularly, as the plants are easy to transport, can be kept in smaller pots, and are not shocked by moves.
In their native habitat, snake plants grow in rocky, dry areas and do best when planted in sandy, free-draining soil.
They are tolerant of a relatively wide range of soil pHs, so there’s no need to test your soil’s pH levels to make sure it’s suitable. Still, they thrive in soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.
Growing in naturally dry areas, snake plants are known to be drought-tolerant, which is part of what makes them such low-maintenance plants to own.
It’s best to let their soil dry out completely between waterings in the spring through fall months, as they are subject to root rot. Then, they will only need to be watered monthly over the colder winter months.
Another contributing factor to their low maintenance is the snake plant’s ability to survive in virtually any lighting. They can tolerate everything from bright sun to near darkness which is why they are commonly seen in office buildings.
However, for ideal growth, place your snake plant in bright, indirect light.
For optimum results, fertilize your snake plant with a mild cactus fertilizer during the growing season; all-purpose fertilizer is an acceptable substitute if preferred.
Unlike many other tropical houseplants, snake plants do not require much humidity. Therefore, they will be fine at your house’s humidity level and do not need to be regularly misted.
While snake plants can endure a tremendous amount of neglect, they cannot withstand frost, and your plant may be damaged or even die in temperatures below 50°F (10°C).
They do best in slightly warmer climates and will flourish in temperatures ranging from 70 to 90°F (21 to 32°C).
Repotting Your Snake Plant
Repotting your snake plant is an easy process. In particular, it may benefit from repotting if you bring your snake plant home from the nursery or if it has outgrown its current container.
However, snake plants typically grow slowly and only need infrequent repotting, so don’t feel like you need to repot it every few years.
When repotting your snake plant, simply shake off excess dirt and plant it in a new pot with well-draining soil, preferably a cactus soil mix.
Choose a pot with a drainage hole to prevent root rot and solid walls so that the plant’s roots don’t break it.
How to Propagate a Snake Plant
The easiest method of propagating a snake plant is by division. To divide your snake plant, you will need:
- A fresh pot
- Mild cactus soil
- A clean knife or cutting shears
- A surface to cut on
Then follow these steps:
Pull your rootbound snake plant out of the pot it’s currently in and shake off any excess dirt.
Place your snake plant down on the clean surface.
Cut your snake plant roughly in half, making sure each half of the plant has a rhizome (the large, bulbous-looking roots that run horizontally that smaller roots grow from) and at least three roots.
Place each new section into a sturdy pot with a drainage hole and fill it with mild cactus soil.
Propagating snake plants via division is not only the easiest method, but it ensures that each propagated plant will retain the physical attributes of the parent plant, and it gives you two mature plants right away.
If you do not want to divide your snake plant, you may also propagate via a leaf-cutting method or rooting a cutting in water.
Snake Plant Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions about snake plants.
Can snake plants grow in low light?
Snake plants are extremely low-maintenance houseplants that can grow in a variety of conditions.
While you may not see tremendous growth if you keep your snake plant away from sunlight, it will likely maintain its current size and remain perfectly healthy.
However, if you want your snake plant to grow more quickly, consider moving it to an area that receives at least bright, indirect sunlight.
Are snake plants toxic to cats and dogs?
Snake plants are considered toxic to cats and dogs, with the most common symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. While your pet is likely only to develop an upset stomach, it can cause swelling of the tongue and airway in large enough doses. If your cat or dog has ingested your snake plant, monitor them to see if they develop any symptoms and contact your veterinarian with concerns.
How long will my snake plant live?
With proper care, your snake plant can live for up to 25 years and continue to grow and thrive the entire time. However, the typical lifespan for a snake plant used as a houseplant is five to ten years.