Snake Plant (Sanseveria trifasciata)

 
How to keep your snake plant alive - Sanseveria care guide - Is a low light houseplant best for you? Take the quiz and find out!

Common Name

Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tounge

Botanical Name

Sanseveria trifasciata

(san-suh-VER-ee-ug try-fah-see-AH-ta)

Family

Agavacea

Origin

Tropical or subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and Europe.

Type

Semi-succulent

 
 

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Sunlight

MEDIUM OR BRIGHT INDIRECT SUNLIGHT.

Though your snake plant will tolerate lower levels of light and is often advertised as a low-level houseplant, it is from tropical regions where sunlight abounds! It would much prefer bright to moderate indirect sunlight. However, that being said snake plants will put up with pretty much anything and are my top suggestion for the forgetful plant person. If you want your snake plant to truly thrive place it in the brightest room in your home. If you want it to just survive and look pretty then put it literally anywhere that has some level of sunlight. If you keep it in a less brightly lit place it will lose some of its variegation and coloring, this isn't a bad sign, and there is nothing to worry about. It is simply adapting to its environment.

 

Water

Low: Water when the soil dries out completely. Check weekly.

Until you get into a good routine I suggest checking your snake plant weekly. I water mine every 20 or so days with a glass full of water, about 6 ounces in a 10-inch terra-cotta pot. I pour the water slowly so the water soaks up a bit as I water it. Snake plants should never sit in water, they are very susceptible to root rot. Water less during the winter. For snake plants, it is safer to err on the side of to dry than too wet.

Keep in mind the amount of water your snake plant gets is directly related to the amount of sunlight it gets. Less sunlight means less water.

 

Soil + Pot

Half cacti/succulent mix and half potting soil in a terra-cotta pot.

I have mine planted in a half cacti mix and half all-purpose potting mix (mostly because I ran out of cacti mix) but I am actually thrilled with this combo! Snake plants are technically a succulent, though not all varieties may not look the part. Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves rather than their roots, which means they have smaller root bases. The small root bases mean you should use a smaller pot than you would for other plants. Too big of a pot can actually be damaging for snake plants because the soil won't dry out evenly and can potentially lead to root rot. In addition, Snake Plants prefer to be snugly potted and grow best in tight spaces. Do not repot up a size until it's literally too top heavy to stay in the pot it's currently planted in. I suggest ever 2-3 years during Spring.

In addition, it means that you want to give it a soil that will help it to hold water, but not too much so that it stays on its roots. Make sure you provide ample drainage to whichever planter you choose. 

Note: I have also heard that using an African Violet potting mix is the best for snake plants, though I have never done this so I can't speak to how well it works.

 
Snake Plant Houseplant Care guide
 

Fertilizer

Snake plants are slow growing, this in mind I suggest using a liquid, slow release all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month. Stop feeding during fall and winter.

This is the fertilizer I use!*

 

Propagation

DIVIDING

The best and easiest way to propagate your snake plant is simply by dividing it. If your Snake Plant is growing happily you'll eventually have some pups coming up, these are the little baby snake plants that pop up through the soil. When you repot your snake plant every 2-3 years I suggest not going up in size but instead dividing your plant into 2-3 pots of the same size. this will encourage more growth and help to keep the roots nice and tight. I suggest doing this during Spring when your plant is putting out more growth and could use a boost of new, nutrient-rich soil.

LEAf CUTTING

You can also propagate your snake plant using the leave cutting methods any time of the year. A leaf cutting will also encourage new pups. Read more about this in the "Special Instructions" section.

To take a leaf cutting simply cut 3-4 of the tallest leaves about 3-4 inches from the top. Lay your leaves out somewhere safe, a table or counter top where they won't get bumped around too much. Leave them there, without any soil or water, for about one to two day. This will make the end callous up.

SOIL METHOD: If you are opting to use a rooting hormone dip the bottom 1/4 inch in your rooting hormone and stick your cutting, about 1/2 inch deep, in a nursery pot filled with moist soil. Keep soil moist and plant placed in soft, indirect sunlight. Plant will root within 3-5 weeks.

WATER METHOD: Take your now calloused leaves and place them in a tall vase with approximately 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Keep the water at this level and wait patiently. Place in soft, indirect sunlight. Plants will root within 3-5 weeks. 

 

Varieties + Cultivars

There are over 70 varieties of snake plants, most all are easily recognizable as a snake plant because of their long, thick, sword-like leaves. Some are thicker, thinner, wider, variegated, or more tubular but all need the similar care.

 

'Futura Robusta'

First photo in gallery above. Dark green with creamy silvery-green variegation.

'Futura Superba' 

Second snake plant pictured above. A dwarf variety with leaves rimmed with a rich yellow and a green and silvery variegated center.

'Moonshine'

Not pictured. Silvery green leaves shaped similarly to the 'Futura Superba' 

'Black Robusta'

Not pictures. Thick, wider leaves with dark green leaves and horizontal silvery variegation.

'Cylindrica Snake Plant' Sansevieria cylindrica

Not pictured. This snake plant may be harder to recognize as a snake plant at first due to it's tubular, thin leaves rather than wide flat leaves like the varieties listed above. The leaves are a darker green and look like arched drum sticks.

'Gold Hahnii'

Not pictured. This variety has much more compact leaves that open outward more than upward. They are bright yellow-green with yellow variegation.

"Bantel's Sensation' Snake Plant

Not pictured. Bantel's sensation is a patented variety of snake plant that has incredibly thin, tall dark green leaves with a creamy white variegation.

β€œWhale Fin”

Not pictured. Whale fin have very wide leaves with a slightly rounded top. Typically they are a silvery, greening-blue color.

 

Pests + Warning signs

SOGGY, BLACKENING LEAVES

Too much water. Stop watering, cut back dead leaves and don't water until the soil is bone dry. I also suggest using a different soil mix that provides more drainage and making sure your planted provides ample drainage.

DULL GREEN LEAVES

Needs more water, but water cautiously.

NO GROWTH

Too big of a pot. Or possibly not enough sunlight. Snake Plants are pretty slow growing, so don't over stress it unless it's been prolonged.

 
 

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