Snake Plant Care Guide
For Snake Plants, bright light and an hour or so of direct sunlight a day are required. If they aren’t in deep shade, they’ll still produce growth (though a little slower) if there is less light available.
A major advantage of this plant is that even deep shade can be tolerated for several years (yes, years). You may not see any new growth at all provided you accept this and do not overwater your plant.
Watering too much is much more easy than you might think so be extra careful and limit watering to no more than two or three times a month at the very most.
Finally, the plants grown in low light will gradually revert to a darker shade of green and lose some of the colorful markings. This marking needs to be maintained with adequate lighting.
From Spring through Fall/Winter, water moderately, and significantly less in the Winter because it’ll need less water then. If you cut back on the water, you can greatly reduce the chance of your Snake Plant rotting from being overwatered, which is the most common problem people have with these plants.
Despite drought tolerance and ability to withstand months without water, they will soon wither and die if left to sit in permanently sodden conditions. Most plants require water twice a week, although their needs can vary from plant to plant. The frequency of this can increase up to once a week in very warm temperatures. The frequency reduces progressively as the year goes on.
Any variety of Sansevieria will grow anywhere. It does not matter how humid the air is in the home.
A standard cactus or an all-purpose fertiliser is ideal during the Summer months when it comes to feeding these plants. Make sure you read through the instructions and don’t overdo it. Most of our houseplants, including the Snake Plants, are given Miracle Grow and Baby Bio.
Although these plants are extremely tough and hardy, they will have issues in very cold winters. If the soil is dry, the plants may survive as low as 5°C (41°F). Leaves rotting in an environment with damp soil at this temperature can be very dangerous, so be careful.
A good level of new growth and a happy plant require temperatures between 18°C (65°F) – 27°C (80°F).
The roots of a plant can be easily accommodated even with not a lot of space around them. A small narrow pot typically looks best for the plants due to their upright growth habit. You will need a fairly pot bound Snake Plant to produce flowers when you decide you want flowers on it.
In time, as with all houseplants, the soil medium will completely degrade or the plant will not be able to produce new growth. Your plant has grown too big for its container and needs to move into a bigger pot.
Keeping with the easy going theme, Snake Plants can grow in a wide variety of soils without any problem. It would be best to choose a free-draining open mix. Compost you can buy in the store for your garden is fine, peat free is usually the best as it contains lots of materials to help keep it open . You can also use a mix made specially for succulents or cacti .
The soil can be opened up by adding grit or perlite. If it is still too dense, add a granule. You need to avoid having too much water surrounding the roots since this could cause rotting.
Using a free draining and open mix will ensure that the roots have good access to water when needed, but not so much that they are drowned.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have more of these beautiful houseplants? When you repot your plants, you can easily propagate and create more plants by dividing them. Put them into separate containers by separating each clump.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, you can remove the offsets at the base of your plant (the photo in the above section shows a couple of newish offsets that can be removed along with some of their roots and grown separately). New roots should form around the offset in a few weeks or months if it doesn’t have roots already. Let the offset dry for a day or two and then push it into a good drainage potting mix.
Leaf cuttings are also a great choice: Cut off 2 – 3 inches from a mature leaf after waiting one to two days for the edges to dry, push the cuttings one inch deep into an appropriate mix of compost (it must be placed the right way up, that is, according to the original direction of growth. Make sure you mark which way goes up when you create the cuttings).
Be warned that if you try and propagate some plants with fancy markings such as the Laurentii using leaf cuttings you will almost certainly lose the yellow edges as it will revert back to the original all green Trifasciata variety. If you want to maintain the markings and colorings you can only propagate by dividing or removing offsets.
Speed of Growth
All varieties of Snake Plants grow slowly compared to other houseplants. This can be a drawback if you want a large one to screen an area immediately, or if you want yours to fill its pot quickly. If a big plant is what you’re looking for, go large at the time of purchase time.
Height / Spread
Some varieties like the Cylindrica, although rare, have the potential to reach 5ft after many years. Hahnii in comparison will only reach a lowly 4 in. high. Most of the others will fall somewhere in between Laurenti, Trifasciata and “Moonshine” can get to 3ft or more, although this is quite unusual and the normal expected height is between 1ft and 2ft.
Sometimes it’s not about the height though and having a fuller wider plant is the goal. If this is what you’re looking for you can simply remove the very tops of the growing leaf when its reached your ideal height. This then encourages offsets to form at the base which in time will bulk out the plant. Bear in mind if you do cut off the growing tips, that particular leaf will never grow taller.
The Ttrifasciata and Laurentii species are the most likely to flower indoors, whereas most indoor Sansevierias do not. When a plant starts to flower, it’s common for it to happen each year when it reaches maturity. As the Summer approaches, you will typically see a fast growing stem growing from the heart of the plant.
The plants are trying to attract moths for pollination, so during the night they smell strongly of something similar to Ylang Ylang. It has a musky smell during the daytime which is rather unpleasant. You may also notice sticky nectar dripping onto or around the plant which has a resin-like quality (you can see a close up picture above).
We have found that the only way to get your Sans to bloom is to be “cruel”. Plants should be so tightly potted that new shoots cannot emerge out of the dirt (this may be the case in the center of a congested plant that is not fully potted yet).
You also need to nick the top off some of the leaves which prevents it from growing upwards. With absolutely nowhere left to grow you might get the plant trying to propagate itself by seed, i.e. through the elusive flowers.
Is the Snake Plant Poisonous?
Snake Plants will bite back if they are eaten. It is irritable and causes gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your pets will be at risk of becoming sick, so be careful if they are known to nibble on your indoor plants.
The fact that you’re reading this far tells you right away how hardy this houseplant is, and how it can deal with loads of different conditions and treatments without fuss or major complaining about anything along the way. Having shown you optimal growing conditions, we’ve also talked about when you can get away with a few things.
In fact, poor treatment causes plants to fall short of their potential over prolonged periods of time, resulting in an unappealing appearance.
Is the Snake Plant Poisonous?
If snake plants are eaten, they’ll bite back. There is a high level of irritability and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea due to this ailment. Pets that eat your indoor plants may become sick, so keep them away from them.
By reading this far, you know right away how hardy this plant is, and how it can tolerate a ton of different conditions and treatments without fuss or complaining along the way. The optimal growing conditions have already been discussed, but we’ll also talk about when to avoid some of them.
The result of poor treatment is that plants fail to reach their full potential over a prolonged period of time, resulting in an unappealing appearance.
Rot at the base / Leaves are yellow and dying back
You have likely developed a fungal disease known as basal rot. If you can pull out entire leaves with little effort and the bottoms are basically mush, this is what you’re dealing with.
The only time it occurs is during the Winter, as an over-watering event. However, it can occur anytime of the year as well, especially if your plants are grown in very low light locations. Remember to water your plants sparingly in the Winter and in darker spots.
A plant affected by this can undergo no treatment, but it can be trimmed to remove the rot. It will be impossible to save a plant if all the leaves around the bottom have it. It may be worthwhile to try to propagate replacements with leaf cuttings taken from the leaves above the spot of decay.
Rot at the base (not overwatered)
You know you have not over watered a plant if the rotting is due to a drop in temperature. 5°C (41°F) is the lowest safe temperature; lower than this you run the risk of serious damage. Plants that are accidentally left outside during the Winter season are more likely to suffer from this type of damage.
These plants can survive very limited water for quite a while, but they cannot survive long-term droughts. When your plant has wrinkled leaves, it usually means that it’s thirsty and needs a drink.
Leaves falling sideways or bending over
The taller types of plants tend to experience this issue since they are submerged more than other varieties. The leaves can get pretty tall and sometimes they will become top heavy and bend or fall sideways. Some reason, this also tends to occur more in larger, wider clusters, as if the plants want to spread out.
To support a plant when this occurs, we wrap some string loosely around the bottom third of the leaves, keeping things upright and orderly. Please make sure the string is not pulled or wrapped too tightly.
Brown blotches on the leaves
You might observe random blotches on the leaves if you suddenly put the plant outside in the baking midday sun after keeping it in a very dark place. The condition is much worse if the blotches appear on the tips of the leaves and then work their way down; there is no cure or known cause for this disease. Ourhouseplants has not encountered it in real life, and we don’t expect to see it in the near future.
Our Story with this plant
Some collectors and owners of houseplants have their go-to plants. The ones they know will perform well and not cause too much fuss, the ones that, while perhaps a little bit pricey initially, will be well worth the investment in the end. As for me, this is the Sansevieria, or Sans as I call my growing collection.
One of my most long-lived houseplants was a Trifasciata Laurentii, it started small and grew big and filled several pots over the years. It was so full and beautiful and very attractive.
It lost many leaves and lost a great deal of its attraction when a small accident occurred from some overwatering and cold temperatures. That was a huge mistake that cost the plant dearly, and yeah I bring that to my attention and am striving to bring it back to its former glory. Although it has been flanking the doorway of my kitchen for the last four years in pretty gloomy lighting, it still seems to be thriving.
I have collected all varieties mentioned in this article over the years, and actually only lost one. During the past 20 years, I have never faced any pest problems. The versatility lets you grow them in places other houseplants won’t. I have even created a living wall with them in a dark hallway.
During the 1970’s, Trifasciata Laurentii was popular but became unfashionable in a big way. Avocado bathroom suites from that era were also considered a bad buy, and they were refused by people. It’s ridiculous (the plants I mean, those suites were awful) because they’re so easy to grow and make terrific house plants.
I was very excited about five years ago when different Sansevieria varieties and cultivars began to appear in shops. Within no time at all there were many varieties and cultivars available to choose from. We’ve discussed some of these earlier in the article, but even this is just a short list of what you might come across.
Despite falling from fame and gaining popularity again it is truly one houseplant that has endured the hard times. I should have been prepared, perhaps, since they have the “Practically Indestructible” tag for a reason.
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