This post shares my top tips about how to take care of a snake plant (otherwise known as a Sansevieria trifasciata or a mother-in-law’s tongue plant). The snake plant is an easy-to-grow plant. Follow these simple snake plant care tips, and your plant will thrive.
How to Take Care of a Snake Plant
Hey guys, today I’m talking all about how to take care of a snake plant! Otherwise known as Sansevieria trifasciata or mother-in-law’s tongue (who really calls it that, tho?), the snake plant has been a houseplant staple for a long time. Thanks to houseplant chic and the millennial obsession with plants, it’s enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Oh, and it’s super easy to take care of, which doesn’t hurt.
It’s a striking plant with a variety of different patterns and color variations, and it’s incredibly easy to find at your local nursery or online. Plus, it’s probably one of the absolute easiest plants to care for. So let’s chat about what your snake plant needs to thrive, as well as a few snake plant care tips!
Snake Plant Light Requirements
First let’s talk about what kind of lighting conditions snake plants need. I have a snake plant in almost every room in my house because it tolerates and can even thrive in a variety of different conditions. They vary in size from a small tabletop plant to a large plant that is about 4 feet tall from its roots (my pride and joy!).
Snake plants tolerate everything from low to high light. You’ll sometimes see them indoors in doctors offices (much like the pothos, learn how to propagate golden pothos from cuttings). You’ll also see it outside in areas that get a lot of sun all year round, like Florida.
While I find that my snake plants in high-light areas grow the fastest, my snake plants in low-light areas also do very well. I have snake plants in our bedroom, Ramona’s nursery, and the living room—all spots that get great light. But I also have them in lower light areas like the kitchen and dining space, as well as in the basement (see the beautiful planter I made for the snake in our basement!).
Snake Plant Care Indoors: Temperature and humidity
Snake plants also do well in a variety of humidity conditions and temperatures. However, they are best suited for an environment that stays above about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They don’t tolerate frost well. Cold temperatures can lead to scarring on their leaves, which cannot be reversed.
Snake Plant Watering: How Often and How Much?
The only thing snake plants are picky about is water. I generally water mine once every week and a half-ish. During periods that are cold and dry (my winter here in Maryland), you only need to water about once a month. Let the soil dry out completely between watering.
Over-watering can lead to root rot and can kill a snake plant. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. I’d even go so far as to say a snake plant would prefer neglect over over-watering. If you typically forget to water your plants, snake plants are perfect for you!
Snake Plants and Common Houseplant Pests
Snakes plants are vulnerable to the run-of-the-mill houseplant pests: mealybugs, spider mites, and fungus gnats. You can simple wipe off spider mites and treat mealybugs with rubbing alcohol. Fungus gnats are a bit trickier. Years ago I had a bad infestation of fungus gnats in one of my snake plants (due to over-watering). I got rid of them by doing the following, and the plant is now healthier than ever:
- Removing the plant from the pot, taking it outside, and laying it on its side.
- Gently removing as much soil as possible from the roots and rhizomes.
- Pouring a concentrated solution of dish soap and water over the roots, rhizomes, and bottom quarter of the plant.
- Letting it dry for a few hours.
- Cleaning out the pot and letting it dry, then replacing it with fresh, well-draining soil and replanting.
The Best Soil for Indoor Snake Plants
Any well-draining cactus or succulent soil will do just fine. (See a recipe for well-draining soil here.) I also use a lightweight houseplant soil with some perlite and peat moss added to it. You can buy both of those separately.
Because snake plants prefer well-draining soil and are prone to root rot, having a planter with a hole and drainage saucer is best. However, my experience proves that snake plants can thrive in pretty much any planter. I have them in a variety of planters without holes in them.
For those planters, I simple add a layer of perlite or pebbles to the bottom of the pot (bigger pots get a thicker layer). This ensures the roots aren’t sitting in a puddle of water. See my full post about how to plant in pots without drainage holes.
Snake Plant Growth Rate & Fertilizer
Snake plants can grow anywhere from a foot to several (even 7!) feet tall depending on the variety. The most popular varieties you’re likely to find in stores grow to be around 2 feet, with some surpassing 3 feet. (Some of mine are definitely past 3 feet!) The Sansevieria cylindrica (or cylindrical snake plant) is the one that can grow up to 7 feet. New wish list item.
Generally snake plants grow slowly indoors. However, if you give them a good amount of sunlight, that can help them grow faster. However, my snake plant in our basement (the one in the DIY plywood hairpin leg planter) is actually doing really well and showing the most new growth!
As for snake plant fertilizer, I generally give all of my snake plants a bit of the indoor houseplant fertilizer I’m using on my other plants. I generally fertilize every few months—I don’t have a strict schedule.
As for a brand, I usually just use concentrated drops from a local nursery. My plants seem to love it. But honestly any houseplant fertilizer will do. However, it isn’t necessary to fertilize them—I just like giving all of the gang a little love.
How to Repot a Snake Plant
Unlike a lot of houseplants, snake plants love to be pot bound, so they don’t necessarily need to be repotted frequently. Have you ever taken a plant out of a pot and seen that the roots have totally taken over the soil, leading to what seems like more roots than soil? That’s a pot bound plant.
I don’t repot my snake plants until they look way too big for the pot they’re in. I also repot when I am dividing my snake plants. Since they can grow very quickly under the right conditions, you may need to divide your snake plants every year or so.
As far as how to repot a snake plant—it’s just like any other plant. In fact, I think it’s easy because the leaves are so much thicker and sturdier. Simply take the plant out of its existing pot and gently knock off all of the loose dirt. Then just put a layer of soil down, set the plant in, and add fresh well-draining soil all around the plant, covering the roots.
I like to plant my snakes a bit deeper than my other plants so the taller leaves have a lot of support. And since snake plants like to be pot bound, I’d recommend repotting to a plant that is only a bit bigger.
Types of Snake Plants
There are many different snake plant species—about 70, in fact. Some snake plants are dark green with whitish stripes—both vertical and horizontal—while others have yellow edges or a red tint. Some are lighter green, while others are quite dark. “Twist” varieties have twisted leaves.
Depending on the variety, snake plants can grow up to several feet tall. I prefer the darker varieties of snake plants for that reason. The yellow-edge, red-tinted, and twisted varieties tend to not grow as tall.
All snake plant varieties are poisonous to pets. However, my cats don’t bother them, so I don’t worry about having them in the house. One cat has no teeth, while the other goes after exceptionally leafy plants like ferns and grass. 🙂
How to Propagate a Snake Plant
Snake plants can be propagated in a number of ways: by division, by cuttings that form new growth, and by putting snake plant leaves in water. This is a post in itself, and you can read all about how to propagate snake plants here.
Love houseplants? Check out my post of 15 of my DIY planters to help you decorate with plants, my hanging stainless steel bowl planter DIY, my indoor hanging garden DIY, and my top indoor succulent care tips!
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