Snake plants (also known as Sansevierias) are one of the most popular houseplants found in plant nurseries today. Though they may be native to tropical West Africa, snake plants have taken the world by storm with their uniquely architectural structures and easy-going natures.
Plant-parenting beginners may be ecstatic to learn that these succulents are one of the easiest plants to care for! However, Sansevierias still have their own special needs that you will need to accommodate to. With a little help from this guide, we’re confident that you’ll become a snake plant expert in no time!
Snake plants come in a variety of sizes. This miniature Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ is photographed by Gabriella Claire Marino.
This guide will cover:
- How to choose your snake plant
- Ideal soil mixes and fertilization
- Lighting conditions
- Temperature and humidity
- How to propagate your snake plant
- Repotting your snake plant
- Troubleshooting snake plant problems
How to choose your snake plant
There are many varieties of snake plants to choose from, including variegated species and darker varieties. In most cases, you should feel confident in choosing whichever species looks best in your home. However, darker varieties (such as the Sansevieria trifasciata) tend to fare better in low lighting conditions. Though variegated species can survive in low light, they will often lose their patterns.
Depending on the variety, snake plants can grow up to 8 feet tall, though most grow up to 4 feet. If you’re looking for a specific height for your space, make sure to do some research and keep this fact in mind!
Image of a Sansevieria trifasciata by Jake Goossen.
Ideal soil mixes and fertilization
A fast and well draining soil is crucial for snake plants, because root rot is one of the most common issues that plague them.
One easy way to create the perfect snake plant soil is by combining succulent and cactus mix together with regular potting mix in a one to one ratio. To lighten up this soil even further and provide more drainage for pots with small draining holes, you can also add perlite or pumice.
It’s important to remember that snake plants are not too needy when it comes to fertilizer. This means that once in the spring or once in both spring and summer should be sufficient in terms of nutrients. Make sure that you do not fertilize them during fall or winter or when your snake plant is undergoing stress, as these are periods of rest.
Snake plants are extremely accommodating when it comes to their lighting conditions, which make them very versatile when it comes to placement. Though they prefer medium light, they can also tolerate low light and high light conditions.
An ideal location for a snake plant is around 10 feet away from a south or west-facing window in the northern hemisphere, or north or west-facing window in the southern hemisphere. You could also place it at medium distance away from a grow light. This is 24 – 36 inches away from the small Aspect grow light, or 36 – 48 inches away from the large Aspect grow light.
If you can not find a medium light location for your snake plant, err towards a lower light location rather than a direct light location. Putting a snake plant in direct sun can cause them to burn!
As mentioned earlier, root rot is one of the most common causes of snake plant death. Because of this, you should always make sure that a snake plant’s soil is almost dry before watering.
Watering should occur every 2-8 weeks depending on factors such as soil mix, pot size, and environment. This is also what makes it especially important to test the dampness of your soil before watering. Note that snake plants require less frequent watering in the winter compared to in the summer months as they undergo a winter period of rest.
Lastly, try and keep water away from the center of your snake plant’s leaves. Stagnant water held inside these folds can cause leaves to turn mushy and rot.
Temperature and humidity
A humid bathroom or a dry, air-conditioned office? No problem! Snake plants have a tough reputation amongst common indoor plants, and their tolerance to varying levels of humidity is even further proof of their versatility.
Snake plants are also most comfortable in rooms with a temperature above 50°F. In the winter, make sure to keep them away from cold drafts.
How to propagate your snake plant
Snake plants have rhizomes, which are underground stems that allow them to propagate themselves when growing in a garden. When pot-bound in an indoor environment however, your plant will need some assistance.
Fortunately snake plant propagation is almost fool-proof! Simply take a 2-3 inch cutting of a healthy leaf and place the cut end in water. For a more thorough tutorial on snake plant propagation, we highly recommend this article by Mod and Mint!
Repotting your snake plant
Repotting should not be done too often, because snake plants actually tend to be happier when they are pot-bound! This means that a big plant can do well in a small or medium sized pot. Depending on how quickly it grows, you may want to repot your plant every 2-5 years. Snake plants in low light conditions that are slow growing as a result may be able to last even longer between re-pottings.
Troubleshooting snake plant problems
Although most plant-parents will rarely find issues with their snake plants, it is possible for them to suffer due to root rot, exposure to extreme temperatures, pests, and fungal diseases. If you ever come across issues with yours, you might find this article by Smart Garden Guide on how to troubleshoot common snake plant problems useful!