Snake plants are often used as home décor. They’re pleasing to the eye, require little water to survive, and snake plant care is super easy.
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or sansevieria, snake plants have become a staple house plant. They are low-maintenance plants, so, even those not gifted with a green thumb will have a hard time killing them.
With their characteristically thick, sword-shaped leaves, snake plants almost resemble artificial plants. And their lack of branches makes them ideal for the aesthetic improvement of small spaces. Native to Asia and Africa, this common houseplant also acts as an air purifier. However, they are mildly toxic and can cause swelling and numbness of the tongue if consumed in large amounts. It is best to keep this plant away from children and animals.
Still, the snake plant’s popularity as home decor has grown steadily over the years. If you are looking to spruce up your home with this type of plant, here is the ultimate guide on how to take care of snake plants.
Types of Snake Plants
Snake plants commonly look like a bunch of thick yet slender leaves standing upright with yellowish-green or silver streaks. They can grow several feet tall. While they do not need too much watering, they can also thrive in low-light conditions. Listed below are some common types of snake plants.
With its curling leaves giving it a unique shape, the Twisted Sister snake plant is a famous snake plant among interior designers. It has striking silvery-green markings in the center and comes in various golden yellow and lime green colors. This plant is sure to bring color to any room.
This snake plant only grows between 12 to 15 inches and belongs in the dwarf variety of snake plants.
The Golden Hanhii snake plant is also categorized as a dwarf variety of sansevieria. Its leaves feature two shades of green horizontal markings. The leaves form in clusters, and these become leafy funnels. If viewed from the top, you can see the rosette pattern of this plant. It only grows up to 12 inches high.
If you want to have the full effect, grow this plant in clumps. This method showcases the plant’s intricate design better.
This type of snake plant has green leaves with yellow, striped patterns. Also called an evergreen sansevieria, the Futura Robusta snake plant can grow up to 24 inches. It is the most suited for indoor conditions and can thrive even if you water it infrequently. Prune this plant occasionally to make it look its best.
Known for its dark green leaves with classic yellow edges, this perennial snake plant is popular among indoor plant enthusiasts. Its tall, stiff leaves give the viper’s bowstring snake plant its distinct, elegant look, perfect for the minimal black and white home aesthetic.
This variety grows up to 35 inches tall, and its leaves grow to about 2.5 inches wide. Small tubular flowers grow during summer or fall.
Because of its excellent filtering capabilities, most people place this plant in their bedroom or living room. Plus, this snake plant is considered lucky in Chinese Feng Shui. Pick this snake plant to invite good energy into your home and have fresh, clean air as well.
Snake Plant Care Basics
Use Free-Draining Soil Mix
Snake plants are prone to rot when overwatered. For best results, use a well-draining soil mix to ensure adequate drainage, like a potting mix specifically for cacti and succulents. These mixtures are resistant to becoming overly saturated with water.
Terra cotta pots work best for snake plants. They help the soil dry out quicker than plastic pots. Make sure to use a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom. Your indoor plants will thank you for that.
Place Your Snake Plant in Indirect Light, and Keep It Warm
The best thing about having a snake plant as a houseplant is that it doesn’t need direct sunlight. It can grow just as well, although a lot slower, in your home’s low-light areas. However, if you want to have an optimal setup for your plant, place it somewhere with bright, indirect light.
Snake plants do best in warm environments. Keep the plant warm and place it somewhere with temperatures above 50°F or 10°C. Also, be sure to protect it from drafty windows during the winter.
Snake Plant Care 101: Don’t Overwater
Root rot due to overwatering remains the biggest problem for snake plants and other succulents. To prevent overwatering, you must let the soil dry out between waterings.
Gauging whether the soil has dried enough is easy. Stick your finger or a wooden toothpick a couple of inches into the soil. Then, if it comes out dry, proceed to water. However, if it comes out moist with dirt clinging to it, you might want to hold off watering for a few more days. Alternatively, consider using a soil moisture meter.
As much as possible, water from the bottom of the pot. In doing so, you encourage the roots to grow deeper into the soil, stabilizing the thick leaves.
It is also vital to water less often during winter. Your plant isn’t actively growing during this period, so it needs less water than it does during spring and summer.
Propagate Your Snake Plant
Snake plants can be fast growers in the right conditions. You may have to propagate them. Propagating snake plants is effortless, and soon you will have a bunch of snake plants displayed in your house. You can even give some to family and friends.
To propagate, cut two to three inches of leaves containing roots. Place these leaf cuttings about one inch deep in the soil and wait for them to grow.
Propagation works best during springtime. However, newly propagated plants grow faster during summer. If you want to grow snake plants, choose the right season for it.
Snake Plant Care Secret: Replace the Soil Every 8 to 12 Months
To prevent root rot, you can opt to take this extra snake plant care step. Every eight to 12 months, replace your snake plant’s soil. As you transfer your plant, check if the roots press against the pot. If they do, you might want to get a bigger pot to give the roots more room to spread. Get a new well-draining plant pot that is one to two inches wider only if the roots don’t have enough space to spread.
Also, watch out for wilting new leaves. If your snake plant’s new leaves start to wilt before they can grow, or if the older ones appear to be unhealthy, your snake plant needs repotting.
The care routine is very minimal for snake plants. However, repotting at least once every two to three years can help them flourish and maintain their health.
Prune Your Snake Plant when Needed
Pruning snake plants is easy. And it’s necessary for plants that are overgrown or have damaged leaves. Cut off the damaged stalks at the base using a sharp, clean plant knife. Make sure to slice as close to the soil as possible.
If your plant is experiencing leaf dropping, you can tug the leaf and pull it out from the root. If it is time to go, it will come out quickly.
Clean the Leaves
While it’s best to avoid watering the leaves, ensure the cleanliness of your plant. Take the time to rub the top of your plant’s leaves using a soft cloth. As you wipe off accumulated dirt and dust, you help reveal the plant’s healthy shine. Clean leaves also help the plant absorb more light.
Like any other plants, snake plants can significantly benefit from a high-quality, organic fertilizer. Many indoor gardeners prefer to use compost instead of fertilizers. However, if you are a beginner at growing snake plants, start with commercial fertilizer.
Use an all-purpose, organic fertilizer made specifically for house plants, available at most gardening stores and online. Fertilizing helps give your snake plant the extra love and boost it needs.
Since snake plants grow the most during warmer seasons, it is best to fertilize your plant once during spring then once more in the summer. Snake plants are typically slow growers. Fertilizers help trigger their growth. However, same as with water, you don’t want to over-fertilize your plant. Only fertilize once per two seasons and never in winter.
Watch Out for Snake Plant Care Warning Signs
Because snake plants are tough and resilient, common problems often require simple, quick fixes. Watch out for any signs that your plant is not doing well and administer the right snake plant care.
- Yellowing snake plant leaves indicate overwatering: Allow the plant to dry out thoroughly and remove dead leaves as close to the base as possible. Get your snake plant on track by letting the soil dry out completely between waterings.
- Soft, mushy, discolored leaves are a sign of root rot: Healthy roots are yellow. Dark, smelly roots signal rot. Divide the plant and replant the healthy leaves in new soil. Discard the unhealthy parts of the plant.
- Watch out for brown leaf tips: Browned leaf tips can mean several things, including improper watering, sunburn, or exposure to cold temperatures. While snake plant care is relatively easy, you must still make necessary tweaks in their environment to keep them healthy.
- Leaning snake plants can have a few causes: If your plant is leaning to one side, it might need more sunlight or repotting. But take note that if the leaves are on the verge of collapsing, you may be facing advanced root rot. Check the roots and make the necessary adjustments.
- Look out for discolored or damaged leaves: Shear these unhealthy leaves off. Be careful and follow the leaf shape for a more natural look. Broken or cut tips stop growing. However, you can plant the damaged leaf back to the soil and wait for a new one to come up.
Use Pest Control Solutions in Your Snake Plant Care If Needed
Mealybugs and spider mites can bother snake plants. While they are annoying, they are not too difficult to control. Put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spritz away on snake plants with pest problems. Organic, safe commercial pesticide solutions are also a good option.
If you prefer a milder solution, use a soap and water mixture instead and be more liberal when it comes to spraying. Continue administering this solution until your plant is pest-free.
Other gardeners choose to keep their indoor plants pest-free with a mixture of neem oil and water. They spray it on compost and add it to the plants, keeping the plants pest-free naturally.
Benefits of Proper Snake Plant Care
Filter Indoor Air
Snake plants help filter indoor air. It is one of the few plants that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen even at night. If you want to regulate a healthy airflow and create an awesome home decor, this plant is the best for you.
Snake plants can absorb toxic air pollutants such as CO2, formaldehyde, toluene, and many more. With their ability to absorb harmful toxins, having snake plants in the room is even reported to prevent some airborne allergies.
If you are frequently on the go and do not come home often, snake plants are perfect. In short, you don’t have to worry about regularly watering them. Snake plants can stay healthy even if you only water them once a month during the winter.
Aesthetically Pleasing and Symbolic
Open concept has become a popular interior design over the years. Because of their tall foliage, snake plants can act as natural partition walls and are also great for brightening up corners.
According to Chinese Feng Shui, this plant brings good luck. They say it can invite prosperity and good health to your home. Indeed, this no-fuss, no-frills plant will not only purify the air in your home but may also bring you good energy.
Final Thoughts on Snake Plant Care
With the immense benefits snake plants can provide, it’s no wonder they have become the go-to indoor plant for so many. If you’re going to care for your snake plants well, always remember that less is more. Give them just enough water and provide them with bright, indirect light. They will continue to thrive, even when you are not paying close attention to them. Aesthetically pleasing, useful, and hassle-free, snake plants are great to have at home.
FAQs for Snake Plant Care
Some of the signs of a sick snake plant include yellowing leaves, dark and smelly roots, wilting, and discoloration. Snake plants are typically sturdy and can thrive when neglected. However, if you spot some of these signs, take some precautionary steps. These signs typically indicate overwatering, root rot, or exposure to cold temperature. Make the necessary adjustments to correct these conditions and save your plants.
You can use an all-purpose, organic fertilizer found in gardening stores or online. While some gardeners skip this step or prefer to use compost, fertilizing your snake plant gives it the boost it needs. Fertilizers trigger your snake plant’s growth. If you want healthy and tall snake plants, use fertilizers.
Cut two to three inches of healthy leaves from your plant. Make sure these leaves contain rhizomes. Place these leaf cuttings an inch deep into the soil and make sure they’re facing up.
Water your snake plants less than most of your other house plants. Snake plants are sturdy plants whose only weakness is overwatering. Give an ample amount of time in between watering for drying. Before watering, check the soil by inserting a wooden toothpick to see if it is still moist or not. If the toothpick comes away clean, the soil is dry, and you can water your plant. If the toothpick comes out wet, let the soil dry all the way through before watering your plant again.
Make sure you use a pot with a hole at the bottom for a more efficient draining system. Terra cotta pots usually work best with snake plants. Avoid watering the leaves and opt to only water the roots instead.
Use a well-draining soil mix to provide adequate drainage for your plant, like the potting mixes available for cacti and succulents. This type of compound is more resistant to becoming overly saturated with moisture. Using a well-draining soil mix reduces the risk of root rot that commonly occurs with overwatering snake plants.