Want a plant that’s easy to care for, looks beautiful and removes 107 known toxins from the air?
What if I told you I knew one that was all that and it doesn’t mind if you forget to water it now and then? It’s called a snake plant, and you need one for your house — stat. (You may also know it as mother-in-law’s tongue or sansevieria.) This post is all about snake plant care!
I’m a believer that everyone should have indoor plants in their home. Ideally three per room, but at least one! (That’s not too much to ask, right?) That’s why I love sharing easy, low-maintenance plants that everyone, green thumb or not, can enjoy.
The snake plant, officially know as Sansevieria trifasciata, is also sometimes called the mother-in-law tongue, due to the shape and sharp margins of its dark green leaves. (Sorry, mother-in-laws!) It’s also one of the top purifying air plants, according to NASA’s Clean Air Study, filtering the air of 107 known air pollutants, including formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene
Snake plants are produce tons of oxygen at night, making it a perfect plant for your bedroom! I’m slowly getting enough of these to put one in each of our bedrooms given the fact that they do so much to clean the air and add oxygen to your space.
Another fun fact about snake plants is they’re actually succulent plants! One main characteristic about succulents is their ability to store water. Snake plants are able to store water in their leaves and rhizomes (which is the type of root they have).
Types of Snake Plants
There are over 70 different varieties of snake plants. These tropical plants all have long sword shaped leaves. They have upright leaves that are flat (not round). Most of them are green while some also have some yellow, red or purple hues to them.
The most common plant is the Sanseviera trifasiata. This one was my first snake plant! Mature leaves on this plant is usually around 3 feet tall. Another one that I own is the Sansevieria gracili. This is a slow growing plant with rounder leaves that’s smaller in size. Another interesting one is the Sansevieria cylindrica (common names include African Spear and Cylindrical Snake Plant).
Now, on to all the ins and outs of snake plant care. These plants are so easy, but the following is what you should know for them to look their best!
HOW TO CARE FOR A SNAKE PLANT
How often do you water a snake plant?
One of the easiest ways to kill your snake plant is to give it too much water! Truth be told, you could not water a snake plant for weeks and it would still look happy and perky! Because they’re succulent plants, snake plants are very drought-tolerant and require very little water.
Like mentioned above, one thing you don’t want to do is overwater them – they don’t like to have too much water. Ideally you want your snake plant in a pot with a drain hole using well-drained soil. When you do water your plant, be sure to empty the excess water out of the tray under your pot.
Don’t tell the plant police, but I actually have three of my snake plants in pots without drain holes and they do just fine. (One is in a hanging pot so there really can’t be a drainage hole or our walls would be ruined!) I put my finger in the soil to check how wet or dry it is before watering.
These plants typically like to be watered once every two to eight weeks. I know that sounds like an extreme difference, so just rely on your finger test before watering it. Test to see how wet the soil is by sticking your finger in it – you’ll want the top inch of soil to be dry before watering.
Be careful to not to overwater or let water build up on any of the leaves. This can cause your snake plant to get root rot. If you see wilted leaves on your snake plant that’s a sign of either too much water or not enough. Keep an eye on the soil and only water it when it’s dry!
Another thing to note, plants in terra cotta pots usually need more water while plants in plastic or ceramic pots need less water.
How much light does a snake plant need?
Snake plants can adapt to most light environments to low-light conditions to brighter, indirect light conditions. Snake plants will do fine in a windowsill that gets plenty of filtered sunlight or in a darker corner. I know, because that’s where I have two of mine! 🙂
For optimal growing conditions and lots of growth, put them in a spot where they get indirect light most of the day. This can be right next to a window so they’ll get plenty of indirect sun but not full sun.
However, these easy-care houseplants will adjust to wherever you put them. If they ever seem to look a little sad, move them to a spot where they get more indirect sun; that will revive your snake plant.
The more natural light, the more your mother-in-law’s tongue will grow, so keep that in mind when choosing its home! Just be sure to not put your snake plants in direct bright light or they will be at risk of burning.
How fast do snake plants grow?
So often we get a plant and it never seems to grow. Sometimes that’s just because they’re slow growers, not because you’re doing anything wrong!
Snake plants have a slow-to-moderate growth rate. You won’t see your sansevieria shoot up quickly every spring or have to repot them every year, but don’t let that worry you – they’re still growing!
They’re known to grow better in strong natural light as opposed to lower light, so keep that in mind if you want your snake plant to grow faster. We’ve had the most growth in our plant that’s in the corner of a room that gets sunlight from both the north and west.
What is a snake plant’s temperature tolerance?
Snake plants are incredibly hardy house plants so they can tolerate both hot and cool weather. The only climate they can’t handle is frost or snow, so be sure to bring them inside if you live in a climate that has cool enough weather for either of those.
Are snake plants pet safe?
This is the one downside to snake plants: if you have a dog or cat, be warned that according to the ASPCA, they are toxic to dogs and cats. Mother-in-law plants contains saponins which protects it from bugs and fungi, but this can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in our four-legged furry friends.
It likely won’t kill your animal, but will cause them a lot of irritation. Keep this in mind when bringing a snake plant into your home!
When should I repot my snake plant?
You won’t need to worry about repotting your snake plant too often. They actually like to be root bound a bit, just like spider plants! I still haven’t repotted my mother-in-law plants, and I’ve owned them for a few years.
If you see roots popping through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, roots popping through the top of the soil or it’s not growing much, it could be time for a new pot.
Find a plant pot that one size up from the size it’s currently in (so if it’s in a 6″ pot, get an 8″ pot). Potting it into a pot that’s too big (despite sounding like a great idea) won’t be the right growing conditions for your snake plant.
What is the best soil for snake plants?
Snake plants do best in a free-draining soil or fast-draining soil. You want to make sure your snake plant doesn’t get root rot!
A soilless potting mixture or succulent soil is best for snake plants to make sure they can drain properly. Planting snake plants in a terracotta pot also ensures they drain well.
How do I propagate a snake plant?
There are a few different ways to propagate a snake plant. I’ve actually never propagated mine (yet!) but will try out one of these and report back when I’ve done it!
Propagate a snake plant with clippings.
Simply cut one of the leaves (preferably healthy and not too old) near the bottom. Fill a jar with water and place the bottom of the leaf in the water. Put the jar in indirect light and change the water once a week or so.
Propagate a snake plant by dividing it.
If your plant is getting too big for your pot, dividing it is a great method to use to propagate.
First remove the entire plant from the pot. Depending on the plant, there may be a natural place to divide it. If that’s the case, pull apart the sections and cut the roots if necessary.
If there isn’t a natural place to divide it, you can choose where to cut it. Ideally both sections would still have an ample amount of leaves to keep them looking full.
Tug the base away of the section you want to separate as well as you can, then cut it with a sharp shears or knife. Then repot both sections.
Where do I buy snake plants?
There are lots of places you can buy snake plants and since they’re so hardy, there’s little risk to buying them online without seeing them! You can find them:
I hope this helps you learn and understand all about snake plant care. It truly is an easy, lovely plant to have in your home and ideal for beginners!
As always, thanks so much for reading and please share this with your friends!