Learn how to propagate snake plants using five different methods—through rhizome, through division, using water, in LECA, and in soil! Propagating snake plants is easy, even if you just have a single leaf cutting.
How to propagate snake plants from cuttings: 5 easy ways
Hey all, this post is a follow-on to my how to care for your snake plant post! Now that you have all of the care tips, let’s talk about how to propagate snake plants. I love snake plants, so why wouldn’t I want to grow more? After all, I’ve owned 18 Sansevieria varieties you can check out here!
And snake plants are one of the absolute best plants to propagate. It’s easy, and there are five different ways to do so that I’ll cover in this post: by rhizome, by division, by cuttings rooted in well-draining soil, by cuttings rooted in water, and by leaf cuttings in LECA.
Table of contents
This is a pretty long post. So if you’re just interested in one of two of these methods, you can skip ahead to that one by clicking below. Enjoy!
- How long does it take to propagate a snake plant?
- Propagating snake plants by rhizome cuttings
- Propagating a snake plant by division
- Propagating snake plants in water
- Propagating snake plant cuttings in LECA
- Propagating snake plant cuttings in soil
How long does it take to propagate a snake plant?
In my experience, it takes anywhere from 1–3 months to propagate a snake plant. To root a snake plant in water or LECA, I’ve found it takes a while. I have not had a ton of luck propagating snake plant cuttings in water lately and instead have switched to LECA to avoid rot on the cuttings.
The cuttings also take a while to propagate in soil. About the same amount of time, but it feels like longer because you can’t see anything happening! In water or LECA, you can see the roots beginning to sprout, so it’s motivating. In soil, you have to wait for the roots to sprout and for the new babies to grow.
With propagating a snake plant for division, of course, it is quick—you just have to cut the baby plants off from the mother plants at the rhizome and plant them. But snake plants are generally pretty slow growers, so in order to get baby plants that are mature enough to chop off the mother plant, you have to wait a while.
This all comes with a big disclaimer, though—in the winter, it takes a much longer time to propagate any plant. Snake plant included. In the spring and summer—and in the right growing conditions—snake plants can actually grow pretty quickly. So that’s the best time to propagate these plants.
1. Propagating snake plants by rhizome cuttings
One way to propagate snake plants is by rhizome. Rhizomes are the whiteish root-like stem structures that connect the mother plant to its new babies. The rhizomes spread just above or below ground and sprout new plants. (I have never had a rhizome grow above the soil in my potted snake plants.)
To propagate a snake plant by its rhizome, use a clean knife to cut off the rhizome from the plant it’s growing off of. Try to avoid the roots, but it isn’t a huge deal if you cut some of them. This is a resilient plant!
Let the rhizome dry out for a day or so and then plant it; this is to help the cut area harden over to better regulate water intake. Keep the freshly planted rhizome cutting moist for a few weeks until you see new growth!
I’ve taken a few pics of a small rhizome starting to sprout from the mother plant below. They kind of look like garlic at this point. To propagate a snake plant by rhizome, use a clean, sharp knife to cut the rhizome off of the main plant. Best practice is to let the rhizome callus over for a few days before planting it.
You can actually see two rhizomes in the picture above. The big one near the bottom, and another slightly pointy one in the middle of the root ball. Maybe even more. It’s hard to tell with the perlite mixed in.
Here are two more photos of what things look like below the surface of a snake plant:
Here are another two photos of what those rhizomes will look like when they start sprouting back up through the soil. This plant is actually the one in the plywood planter downstairs—the one I divided in half (see later in this post!). So it’s doing really great. In the second picture below, I’ve dug some of the dirt out so you can see what it looks like a bit better.
2. Propagating a snake plant by division
If you have a very large snake plant, the best method is likely to propagate it by division. This is similar to propagating it by rhizome and is the method I used recently on my very large snake plant in the living room. The first photo below is the plant before I divided it.
It’s beautiful, but it was getting really big and some of the interior leaves weren’t doing as well. So I decided to divide it. I took the entire plant out on a tarp in the living room, brushed off the dirt, and found that the plant was connected by two very large rhizomes. (No pics of that—it was super messy.)
What do you do when a snake plant grows babies?
Snake plants reproduce by growing pups or babies. These babies will grow out from the mother plant via a rhizome under the soil’s surface, develop roots, and eventually sprout. If you let the plant do its thing, the baby will turn into its own plant that you can easily cut off.
Should you remove snake plant pups?
And many people wonder if they should remove snake plant pups. The answer is…it depends! You can keep them on if there is enough room in your pot. Because the rhizomes grow out horizontally and then up, sprouting pups can quickly make a snake plant outgrow its home.
You can keep the babies attached to mom if you want. You’ll just need to size your pot up and add some fresh soil. Or you can chop those babies off, and that’s how you can propagate them by division. In the pics below, you’ll see very clearly what I mean. The main plant begins sprouting rhizomes, and the rhizomes eventually sprout and turn into new snake plants.
It’s actually pretty hard to tell which plants are mothers and which are babies when they are all grouped so closely together. It begins to look like one plant, so leaving it be is a perfectly way to proceed. Here’s an example of what I mean. See this snake plant?
Here it is removed from its planter and separated by each individual plant! I could have easily potted these up separately and they would have grown just fine. I took a few out, but I put most of them right back into the planter with fresh soil.
In the second photo below, you can see that the pup is relatively well developed. You can easily just take a clean knife or shears and cut the pup off of the mother plant right in the middle of the rhizome. It’s that easy.
So back to my massive living room plant…essentially this snake plant was two very large plants connected by a massive u-shaped rhizome. I couldn’t even tell which one was the mother plant! There were also loads of smaller rhizomes (the kind you’d cut off in the previous example).
I simply cut the plant in half at the main rhizome and gently separated all of the roots. Then I replanted them. Again, best practice is to wait a few days for the freshly cut bottom to harden over a bit. But I didn’t want dirt hanging out everywhere on the floor for a few days.
So I just repotted half the plant back in the white pot (first pic below) and the other half in my new modern hairpin leg planter build (second pic below)! They are both still doing great.
And here is another example of a snake plant I propagated through division. I wanted to keep this plant in this same pot, so I decided to cut off the babies and pot them up separately. You can clearly see where the pups grew from the mom in these pictures.
All I did was take this out of the soil, gently removed as much as I could to expose the rhizome, and severed the babies off with a knife. This is a beefy variety of snake plant, so even the pups were super thick!
3. Can you propagate snake plant in water?
This method is easiest (if you can avoid rot) but generally takes the longest. I like to propagate snake plant cuttings by rooting them in water when one plant has a wonky leaf I want to snip off. Because why waste a good leaf when you can use it to grow a new plant?!
Can you grow a snake plant from a single leaf cutting?
Yes! Absolutely. Pruning is often necessary with most houseplants. But sometimes snake plants can just get leaves that go astray. I simply cut the leaf off down near the soil—just below the soil line, if I can—and put it in water.
Mason jars or vases are both good options, especially since the cuttings can sometimes be top heavy. I keep mine in indirect light and change the water every week or so when I water my plants. You can plant your cutting when roots begin to sprout.
The first photo below is a vase I use for cuttings a lot. The second photo shows what one of the cuttings looks like after about two months of rooting. I told you it could take a while! I did have these in a really low light area though.
Once your leaf cutting sprouts roots, you can plant it in soil and keep the soil moist. Cut back on watering once can gently pull on the leaf cutting and get some sort of resistance. That means the cutting is starting to spread its roots! You’ll see new growth sprouting soon.
Can I keep snake plant in water forever?
But then about 8 or so months later of ignoring this plant, never checking it, and occasionally adding a bit of water to it…and one day I noticed this! It’s growing an entire new snake plant in water. Crazy. I cut it off and gave it to a friend to see if she could get it to live.
Unfortunately it died, but it didn’t have much of a root system. And as you can see, it’s a very pale green from little to no nutrients—just whatever it was getting from my unfiltered tap water, which can sometimes do more harm than good.
If you want to keep your snake plant in water forever, you’ll need to look into hydroponics. It’s not my thing, but it’s pretty cool, and maybe people swear by it. Your plants live in water, but you need to at liquid nutrients to the water to ensure the plant can grow just as it would in soil.
Why won’t my snake plant propagate in water?
While water propagation is probably the easiest propagation method—because it only uses water—it also takes the longest. And, honestly, it seems to produce the weakest results from my experience. It doesn’t not work, but it isn’t my favorite method.
I will say, however, that occasionally trying to root snake plant leaf cuttings ends in rot. If you don’t see roots after several weeks and the end of your leaves are beginning to get brown and mushy, water rooting might not be working out. I had this happen recently with a whale fin snake plant (masoniana) leaf cutting I was trying to root in water.
Check it out…some tiny roots, but it was staying like this FOREVER. And it seemed like it was starting to show some browning, so I was a bit paranoid. So it could just be that you are being impatient…it can take months for a snake plant cutting to root in water. Or it could be that your cutting is rotting, which means it won’t root.
4. Rooting snake plant leaf cuttings in LECA
Since this wasn’t just any variety of snake plant, I really didn’t want to lose this leaf. So I decided to try LECA for the whale fin leaf cutting pictured above. I have been experimenting a lot with propagating cuttings in LECA lately.
So the whale fin leaf cutting was a perfect experiment. If you have no idea what LECA is, check out my post all about how to root cuttings in LECA. In a nutshell, they are clay balls that hold moisture.
To root a snake plant leaf in LECA, rinse your LECA thoroughly and put a layer in the bottom of a mason jar. Then add the leaf cutting in and fill in around it with LECA for stability. Add water to the bottom of the jar—just enough to create a reservoir. The water shouldn’t come up to the bottom of the leaf cutting.
And after a few weeks in LECA…an explosion in root growth! I gasped when I dumped all of the water and LECA out to see these roots! I ended up gifting the cutting to my lovely friend Kaitlyn at Take Root, a plant shop in Frederick, MD. At this point, you can plant the rooted cutting in well-draining soil and watch it grow!
5. Rooting snake plant leaf cuttings in soil
Propagating snake plants using a single cut leaf can also be done in soil. So if you’re not into water or LECA propagation, soil is an option! To propagate a snake plant in soil using cuttings, snip a leaf off of an existing plant. Cut it off near the soil line.
Then cut that leaf in to smaller pieces a few inches long. Note: It’s very important to keep track of which end was the bottom! They won’t grow if you put the top end down in the soil 🙂 Just line them up on a table.
Let the cut leaf callus over for a few days, then plant each cutting with the bottom end down in well-draining soil. They’ll begin to root, but it can take a month or so to root and then another month or more to get new leaf growth.
You can’t see anything going on under the surface of the soil, so it feels like it takes forever. The roots needs to develop, then the babies. The babies will eventually begin sprouting their own roots and then sprout above the surface of the soil. New plants! Yes, it takes forever, but it’s a super cheap way to grow new plants.
Here’s an update of a few of these cuttings a few months later. It took about 4 months for the cuttings to root and begin to sprout new growth—new plants! Once I saw the new growth sprouting, I pulled the cuttings out and cut down the original cutting, burying it in fresh soil. Now we wait for the new plants to emerge!
And here are those same snake plants a few months later! You can see two in this picture. One is still really small and near the soil line—that is the third. The second, third, and fourth pictures below are updates from about 2 months later (the terracotta pot pics).
Can you replant broken snake plant?
You might be wondering if you need to cut your snake plant leaf up before planting it. And the answer is no. I have actually cut pieces and stuck them right back into soil as a test. They not only lived but thrived and blended right in with the plant I added them to!
You may want to let them callus over for a day or so before replanting them. Also, because you will generally want to keep the soil a bit more moist to encourage root development, it might be too much water for your larger snake plant.
So while it isn’t fool-proof, it’s totally possible. And if a leaf has already broken off, why not chance it?! You can stick it back in the same pot or pot it up separately.
Can you plant a snake plant without roots?
And they don’t even need to have roots. You can simply plant the single leaf with no roots. That leaf itself won’t grow; what will happen is that it will sprout roots below the surface. Eventually, it will also grow a rhizome.
It’s that rhizome that will then produce an actual snake plant. You can choose to sever the baby from the single-leaf mother once it is large enough to live on its own. Or you can just let it ride 🙂 Below is an example of this process. See the little baby that grew from the leaf? Magic.
Is it better to propagate a snake plant in water or soil?
Generally I am not a fan of straight-to-soil propagation for cuttings. That’s because I like to monitor root development, either through LECA, water, or moss propagation. However, for snake plants, I favor soil.
That’s because these plants are so hardy and generally easy to propagate that soil makes sense. Sure, you can’t see what’s going on below the soil line, but you ensure healthy and faster growth by propagating cuttings in nutrient-rich soil.
Time to propagate those snake plants!
Now that you know all the different ways to propagate snake plants, you can fill every room in your house with them for free! Snake plants are some of my favorites, so propagating them is definitely near and dear to my heart.
I hope you have success propagating your snake plants! Here’s a final picture of one of my favorite snake plants…another whale fin 🙂