The snake plant is a great option for the amateur houseplant enthusiast due to its hardiness. The striking plant can survive without too much love and attention. While sansevieria is a low maintenance houseplant, there are a few things you should know to keep this sturdy upright plant healthy.
One of the biggest benefits of having a snake plant in your home is that the plant is a great air purifier. It absorbs carbon monoxide and emits oxygen making it a great plant for the bedroom or office. It also has the ability to filter toxins from the air.
Soil: Well-drained soil is essential as they are prone to root rot.
Water: Less is more. Plants in low light require infrequent watering while plants in high light will require more water.
Light: Can tolerate low light but will thrive in medium to bright light.
Temperature: Can tolerate a range of temperatures but does not like frost or snow if kept outside.
Fertilizer: All purpose fertilizer during growing months.
Propagation: Easiest way to propagate is to divide this plant. It is possible to take leaf cuttings.
Some alternative names for the snake plant are mother-in-laws tongue or elephants toothpick.
There are around 70 varieties of the snake plant which are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Europe, Africa and Asia.
The evergreen plant has sword like leaves giving it an architecturally striking appearance.The most common reason for plant failure is overwatering. Less is more with the snake plant.
There are a number of snake plant varieties available. Some have long leaves, some have short leaves. Others have round leaves while others have flat, concave shaped leaves. And then there are variations in colour from dark green variegated with light green, silver, yellow or white. See below for popular snake plant varieties.
Long flat upright leaves
Round, dark green leaves with sharp point
Green-striped variety with yellow edges
Short leaves with yellow edges
There are two main ways to propagate sansevieria. As it is a rhizome, the easiest way to propagate a snake plant is by separating or dividing the plant. You’ll want to pot your divided sansevieria into well drained soil.
It is also possible to propagate by taking leaf cuttings. Make sure you use clean sharp scissors or secateurs to take your cutting. You can cut the leaves into 2-3 inch sections.
You can add the cutting to water, submerging around a quarter of the leaf. Once roots start to appear, plant in sand or peat moss.
You can also plant the leaf cutting directly in soil. If following this method, let the cutting callous by leaving it out to dry a day or two before planting. Make sure that the sections are planted with the top side up otherwise they will not grow. Use a stake to keep the leaf upright.
These plants do best in really well drained soil. They are prone to root rot so you want to ensure that water drains quickly and efficiently. You might want to consider using a soilless potting mix or a soil formulated for succulents or cacti.
The snake plant doesn’t require much water as it is susceptible to rot. Aim to water every 4-6 weeks ensuring that the soil drys out between waters. Water at the base of the plant and take care to avoid getting the leaves wet. In winter, this plant will not need as many frequent waterings.
While the snake plant is adaptable to different types of lighting, it will do best in medium, indirect sunlight. It is best to avoid direct sunlight as it will burn.
The snake plant doesn’t require repotting or transplanting that often. If its growing well in well lit environments you may need to repot at most every two years.
It is recommended that you use an all purpose fertilizer during the growing months.
The snake plant is toxic to both cats and dogs. It can cause diarrhea and vomiting if ingested. Even just chewing on the leaves could have an adverse affect so its best to keep these plants away from pets.
As it’s quite a hardy plant, the snake plant can tolerate a range of temperatures indoors. If you’re going to keep your sansevieria outside, we’d recommend that you avoid exposing it to frost or snow.
When the leaves of a snake plant start to turn yellow, this is usually an indication that the plant has received too much water. When this happens move the plant to a warmer position and only water again once the soil has completely dried out.
Snake plants do best in a pot made from porous materials such as terra cotta. This is because they trap less water inside. The snake plant has strong rhizome roots so a robust pot is best.