Snake Plants: How to Grow them in Water


Snake plants are some of the easiest plants to care for indoors. Also known as Sansevieria and “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue,” these lush houseplants are incredibly forgiving and are well-suited for beginners. Because they’re southern African natives, snake plants thrive in living conditions similar to those of America’s southern regions.

Unfortunately, they spread through the use of underground runners and have the potential to become invasive. It’s best to plant them only in pots or contained areas. Luckily for plant lovers, snake plants are easy to propagate with and without water. Here, we discuss two simple ways to grow your snake plants in water.

Splitting Your Snake Plants

splitting snake plants
Astonished male gardener trims snake plant with pruning shears, looks with embarrassement at camera, arranges flowers at home, wears yellow hat, grey apron, isolated over purple studio background
  1. Find or purchase a snake plant that already has multiple plants growing from the same area. You can commonly find these in many stores like Home Depot or online. Snake plants grow from rhizomes (a big root that produces various shoots). This one root system connects many individual plants. You can divide these plants to turn them into separate snake plants.
  2. There are two methods for splitting the plant. You can remove the whole plant from its pot and divide it from the very bottom of each plant. The other option is to do this by using a cutter or wiggling each of the shoots free.
  3. Place the individual snake plant into a jar or container. Then, fill the jar with water until up to an inch of the stem is submerged. Leave the jar in a sunny area until you see roots appear. It may take some time for roots to show and will require patience. It’s also best for you to keep the water supply clean and continuous during this period. Transfer the new plant into some soil when you see roots growing about an inch long. After potting, you’ll want to give it some water.

Cutting the Leaves

Astonished male gardener trims snake plant with pruning shears, looks with embarrassement at camera, arranges flowers at home, wears yellow hat, grey apron, isolated over purple studio background
  1. Pick out a big leaf from your snake plant along with many other leaves.
  2. Cut every leaf into three separate parts, giving you three individual plants to propagate. To make crisp cuts, make sure to use a clean and sharp pair of scissors.
  3. Keep each snake plant in an upright position according to the cuts you’ve made. The bottom side needs to stay at the bottom while the top side stays at the top.
  4. Place the pieces of your snake plant into a jar or container and cover the bottom 2 centimeters with water.
  5. Place your cuttings in a sunny area and leave them until small roots appear. While waiting for roots, ensure there’s always enough water inside the jar.
  6. Once the roots appear, transfer the cuttings into a pot of soil. You can also leave them in the water until new shoots appear.

Both methods are straightforward and will work every time. Even if you’re a beginner and aren’t confident in your gardening skills, you will be able to put these techniques to work. Just remember to trust the process and be patient while providing the plants with clean water.

Routine Maintenance for Snake Plants

Once you’ve established your growing techniques, it’s time to move on to maintenance for snake plants growing in water. Here are a few tips to keep your snake plants happy and growing.

  • Always keep your eye on your plant’s water levels. While it’s acceptable for some of the water to evaporate, it’s not OK for them to dry out completely. Remember to top the container off with fertilizer regularly.
  • During winter, stop using fertilizer and stick to water instead. In winter, the light levels are low, and plants don’t do a lot of growing. When Springtime comes, resume giving them fertilizer.
  • If the water has turned smelly or cloudy, there’s a chance that something is rotting. When this happens, eliminate any rotten debris and water, and thoroughly clean the pot/container. It’s also good practice to add charcoal to keep the water fresh and clean.
  • It’s a good idea to change the water entirely once or twice a month rather than just topping it off. Doing so will help to keep your water fresh.
  • The algae will likely grow, but this isn’t necessarily bad. However, if it gets out of hand, take the plants out of the container. Gently clean the container with mild soap and warm water. When done, rinse it out and put your snake plants back into the container. 

FAQs for Growing Snake Plants in Water

If the water contains too much algae, empty the container and clean it with warm water and soap. Rinse it out, put the plant back in, and provide it with fresh water.

If you start to notice this is happening, there’s a big chance that something is rotting. Be sure to replace the water completely, thoroughly clean the container, and remove any rotting parts. 

A rhizome is a big root that produces various shoots. This root system is present in snake plants.

There are two methods to grow snake plants in water; splitting the plant and cutting the leaves. Both of these methods will help you grow your snake plant without the use of soil. However, because water is the primary source of food supply, keep them watered continuously. 

Other names for the snake plant are Saint George’s sword, viper’s bowstring hemp, mother-in-law’s tongue, etc.


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