How to Care for Snake Plants (Sansevieria)

If you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for houseplant that adds a touch of green to your space, a snake plant may be just what you need. It’s easy to learn how to care for snake plants, from watering and sunlight to fertilizing and propagating. 

Snake plant in pot in front of wall

Why Choose a Snake Plant (Sansevieria)?

These hardy plants not only require minimal effort but can also improve indoor air quality by removing toxins from the air. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about how to care for a snake plant, from planting to propagation, lighting requirements, and pest control. 

Basic Snake Plant Care Tips

Snake plants, also called Sansevieria or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, are known for their hardiness and low-maintenance qualities, making them ideal for novice gardeners. However, they still require some consistent care to keep them healthy and looking their best. 

  • Proper watering: Snake plants need drier soil, so allow the soil to dry out before watering again. During the growing season (spring and summer), water once every 1-2 weeks. In the dormant season (fall and winter), water once every 4-6 weeks. Overwatering can cause root rot and damage to the plant, so it’s better to err on the side of underwatering.
  • Soil and fertilizer: Snake plants thrive in well-draining soil, like a succulent or cactus mix. Avoid using soil that is too nutrient-rich, as this can damage the roots. Fertilize snake plants once a month during the growing season with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to burned leaves and damaged roots.
  • Cleaning and trimming: Regularly dusting the leaves with a damp cloth helps keep the plant clean and healthy. Trimming and pruning dead leaves and foliage helps improve air circulation and keeps the plant looking its best.

Remember to choose an appropriate location in your home and keep an eye out for any signs of pests or disease. 

How to Plant or Repot Snake Plants

If you’re bringing home a snake plant, you’ll probably need to transplant it to one of your planters. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Snake plants prefer well-draining soil. Make sure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Propagation with cuttings is the easiest and quickest way to grow snake plants.
  • Choose a pot that is slightly bigger than the root ball. Snake plants like to be a bit tight in their pots.
  • When planting, gently press the soil around the plant and water thoroughly.

Choosing a Spot in Your Home

Snake plants are versatile and can tolerate a wide range of light conditions. They can thrive in both low and bright indirect light. However, it’s important to avoid placing snake plants in drafty areas or near heating vents. These conditions can dry out the leaves and cause damage.

If you live in a humid climate, snake plants can also thrive in a bathroom or kitchen. The extra moisture in the air can benefit the plant. 

How Much Light Do Snake Plants Like?

Snake plants can tolerate low light conditions but will thrive best in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, so it’s best to avoid placing them in south-facing windows that get intense, direct sunlight for prolonged periods.

If a suitable location in the home with natural light is not available, you can also use artificial lighting. LED lights are the best option for supporting snake plant growth and can be used in combination with natural light if needed.

Be sure to monitor the amount and intensity of light the plant gets to ensure it is not too much or too little. One way to tell if your snake plant is getting enough light is by checking the color of its leaves.

If the leaves are a brighter green color, they are getting enough light. If they are turning a paler green or yellow, it may indicate that the plant is not getting enough light.

Watering Snake Plants

Proper watering is essential to keeping your snake plant healthy and thriving. Snake plants prefer drier soil, so it’s important not to overwater.

Allow the soil to dry out almost completely before watering again. During the growing season (spring and summer), water once every 1-2 weeks.

In the dormant season (fall and winter), you can water less often, around once every 4-6 weeks. Remember that snake plants are native to arid regions, so they will require less water than some other houseplants.

When watering your snake plant, make sure to give it enough water to thoroughly wet the soil. Don’t just give it a little bit of water on the surface. Water until it starts to drain out of the bottom of the pot, then stop.

This ensures that the water is reaching the roots where it’s needed. Using a pot with drainage holes can help prevent overwatering and waterlogging.

It’s also important to avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can cause spotting and potentially lead to disease. Water the soil directly instead of using a spray bottle or misting the leaves.

Soil and Fertilizer for Snake Plants

Choosing the right soil and fertilizer can be crucial for the health of your snake plant. Here are some tips on how to keep your snake plant thriving:

Soil

  • Snake plants thrive in well-draining soil, like a succulent or cactus mix.
  • Avoid using soil that is too nutrient-rich, as this can damage the roots.
  • Consider adding perlite or sand to the soil to help with drainage.

Fertilizer

  • Fertilize snake plants once a month during the growing season with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.
  • Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to burned leaves and damaged roots.
  • During the dormant season, it’s best to avoid fertilizing altogether.

Propagating Snake Plants

Propagating snake plants is a great way to increase your collection or share with friends and family. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose a healthy mother plant to take cuttings from.
  2. Use a clean and sharp knife or scissors to cut a small section of the mother plant, making sure to include at least three leaves and a healthy root system.
  3. Plant the cutting in a small pot with well-draining soil mix, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
  4. Water the cutting thoroughly and keep the soil consistently moist until roots develop (around 4-6 weeks).
  5. Once the roots have developed, you can transplant the cutting into a slightly larger pot or keep it in its current pot until it outgrows it.

Snake plants are relatively easy to propagate and can tolerate a range of soil and light conditions. With a little bit of patience and consistent care, you can have a thriving collection in no time!

Are Snake Plants Toxic to Pets?

Unfortunately, snake plants are toxic to pets, especially dogs and cats. If ingested, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. It is best to keep snake plants in areas that pets cannot access or consider moving them to another room if needed.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested any part of a snake plant, contact a veterinarian immediately. They can provide guidance on how to address the situation and help your pet get the necessary treatment.

While snake plants can be a beautiful addition to any home, pet owners should take precautions to ensure their pets’ safety and well-being.

Recommended Types of Snake Plants

If you’re looking for a snake plant to add to your collection, consider one of these popular varieties:

  • Sansevieria Trifasciata: Also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue, this variety has long, upright leaves with green and yellow variegation.
  • Laurentii: This variety has tall, sword-shaped leaves with a yellow border that fades to green.
  • Golden Hahnii: This variety is smaller than other snake plants, with compact rosettes of green and yellow leaves.

There are over 70 different species of snake plants, each with its own unique appearance and hardiness. Choose a variety that fits your space and lighting conditions, and research its specific care needs to ensure its health and longevity.

Snake Plant Pests: Common Issues and Solutions

While snake plants are generally resistant to pests and diseases, they can still be affected by a few common pests:

  • Spider mites: These tiny, spider-like pests suck sap from the plant, causing yellowing and wilting leaves.
  • Mealybugs: These small, white, cotton-like pests also feed on the plant’s sap, causing stunted growth and yellowing leaves.
  • Scale insects: These small, round pests can attach to the leaves and stems and produce a sticky sap, which can lead to fungal growth and damage to the plant.

To prevent and treat pest infestations in your snake plant, follow these tips:

Regular Inspection

Regularly inspect your snake plant for any signs of infestation, such as webbing, tiny white cotton-like spots, or unusual discoloration or wilting.

Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil Spray

If you notice any signs of infestation, use an insecticidal soap or neem oil spray to treat the pests. These products can be found at your local nursery or garden center.

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use the product as directed.

Pruning Affected Leaves or Stems

If infested leaves or stems are beyond saving, prune them carefully with a clean, sharp pair of scissors or garden shears.

Prevention

The best way to prevent pest infestations in your snake plant is to keep the plant clean and dust-free. Avoid overwatering, as this can attract pests and lead to fungal growth.

By following these tips, you can help keep your snake plant healthy and free from pests.

Your Easy to Care For Snake Plant

Overall, snake plants are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance, hardy, and attractive plant for their home. With proper planting, care, and attention to lighting, watering, and soil and fertilizer needs, you can keep your snake plant thriving for years to come.

 And always take precautions around pets, as snake plants can be toxic when ingested. With a little bit of knowledge and care, your snake plant can be a beautiful addition to your home and a source of pride for your green thumb.