Snake Plants Care: Guide & Tips

Snake Plants Care: Guide & Tips

Snake plants, known also as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” and Sansevieria, are one of the easiest houseplants to take care of. This awesome plant is very easy to grow and beginner friendly.

About Snake Plants

Native to southern Africa, snake plants are well adapted to conditions similar to those in southern regions of the United States or in Southern Europe. Because of this, they may be grown outdoors almost all year round in USDA zones 8 and warmer. Snake plants spread by sending out underground runner roots and may become quite invasive, so treat snake plants like you would do with bamboo or other invasive species: only plant it in contained areas or garden beds.

Too much water and freezing temperatures are two of the very few things that can really affect this plant in a negative way. Soggy soil will cause root rot almost certainly, and extended exposure to cold temperatures can severely damage the foliage.

 

Common Name

Snake plant, viper's hemp, St. George's sword

Botanical Name

Dracaena trifasciata (formerly Sansevieria trifasciata)

Family

Asparagaceae

Plant Type

Evergreen, perennial

Mature Size

Six inches to 8 feet tall

Sun Exposure

Shade to partial sun

Soil Type

Sandy, well-drained

Soil pH

Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline

Bloom Time

Spring

Flower Color

White

Hardiness Zones

9–11 (USDA) 

 

Snake Plant outdoors

How to Plant Snake Plants

  • Choose a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. Terra cotta pots work well for snake plants, since they allow the soil to dry out more easily than plastic pots.

  • Use a well-draining potting mix. A potting mix designed for “cacti and succulents” is ideal, as it will be more resistant to becoming oversaturated with water.

  • When repotting snake plants, don’t bury them too deep. These plants should be planted as deep as it had been in its old container.

Choosing the Best Location at Home

  • Snake plants prefer bright, indirect light and can tolerate some direct sunlight. However, they also grow decently (though very slowly) in shaded areas and low-light parts of the home or office.

  • Tip: Try to avoid moving your plant from a low-light area to direct sunlight too quickly, as this can shock the plant. Whenever you move plants from a darker to a lighter spot (or vice versa), do it gradually, slowly exposing the plant to brighter and brighter light over a week or so. Also be sure to adjust watering habits accordingly as plants will use more water in warmer, brighter areas.

  • Keep the plant in a warm spot with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). In the winter, and be sure to protect it from windows.

Snake Plant indoors

How to Care for Snake Plants

Watering Snake Plants

One of the most common problems people face with snake plants (and most other succulents) is overwatering. These plants do not tolerate soggy soil well; they tend to develop root rot. To avoid this, you should follow these simple practices:

  • Do not water too frequently. Let the soil mostly dry out between waterings. 

  • Water from the bottom of the pot, if possible. This encourages the roots to grow downward and deep, helping to stabilize the thick, tall leaves. 

  • During winter, while the plant isn’t actively growing, water less often than you would in spring and summer.

Tip: To know when it’s the right time to water, don’t just rely on how the surface of the soil looks. Instead, carefully stick your finger or a wooden chopstick a couple inches into the soil. If you feel any moisture or see soil stick to the chopstick, don’t water for a few days, then repeat the test.

Caring for Snake Plants

  • The large, flat leaves tend to collect dust; wipe them down with a damp cloth as needed.

  • In good conditions, snake plants are rapid growers and may need to be divided annually.

  • Divide and repot in the spring. Cut out a section containing both leaves and roots and place in a pot with well-draining potting mix.

  • If a snake plant is pot bound, it may flower occasionally. Fragrant, greenish-white flower clusters appear on tall spikes

Snake Plant Pest and Diseases

  • Root rot due to overwatering is the most common issue.

If this occurs, remove any dying leaves and allow the plant to dry out more than usual. Snake plants are resilient and typically recover. However, if the plant continues to die, remove it from its pot, discard of any rotted roots and leaves, and repot in new, fresh, well-draining soil.

root rot

Snake Plant Varieties

  • Sansevieria trifasciata is the most common species of snake plant. It has tall, dark-green leaves with light grayish-green horizontal stripes.

  • ‘Bantel’s Sensation’— Narrow leaves have white vertical stripes and grow to about 3 feet long. This variety can be hard to find.

  • Sansevieria hahnii:

    • ‘Bird’s Nest’— Short, wide leaves of dark and light green form a tight nest shape, like that of a bromeliad. Leaves only grow 6 to 8 inches long. This variety does need much light to grow well.

    • ‘Golden Hahnii’ — Like the standard ‘Bird’s Nest’, but with leaves variegated along the edge in yellow.

  • Sansevieria cylindrica:

    • ‘Cylindrical Snake Plant’— As its name suggests, this species of snake plant has cylindrical leaves that end in a fierce point. 

    • ‘Starfish Snake Plant’ — The starfish snake plant has cylindrical leaves that fan out from its base, giving it a starfish-like shape.

  • Sansevieria masoniana: 

    • ‘Whale Fin’— These interesting snake plants have large, wide leaves that resemble the fin of a whale breaching the water’s surface.

Snake Plant rare variety

Snake Plants Did You Know

Snake Plant bowstring hemp Snake Plant Summary

Dracaena trifasciata, also known as the snake plant, is one of the most popular and hardy houseplants. Until 2017, it was actually classified as Sansevieria trifasciata, but its commonalities with Dracaena species were too many to let go by.

This plant has strong, sword-like leaves and can range anywhere from 6 inches to 8 feet tall. Snake plants can have some variety in color although mostly have green-banded leaves and usually feature a yellow-ish border.

These plants are very easy to grow and, in many cases, are nearly indestructible. They will thrive in very bright light as well as almost dark corners of the house, so they are a great option for virtually any room, including dark offices, bedrooms or bathrooms. Snake plants generally grow slowly in indoor light, and increasing their exposure to light will make them grow much faster.

Planting and repotting snake plants is best done in the spring.

When it comes to automated plant care systems, snake plants are one of the ones that usually struggles the most, as they only require unfrequent but deep watering cycles. Only truly smart plant care systems like KORU can adapt to each plant's different needs, helping them to thrive by measuring light, temperature, humidity and soil moisture.