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All about Snake Plants

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Snake plant

Snake plant care is easy. We get into all the details and understand their cultural requirements like water, light, humidity, soil, nutrients requirements, pests control, propagation, pruning, and much more.

Snake plants, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Sansevieria (now included in Dacaena Genus) is native to tropical West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo and belongs to the family Asparagaceae

It is known for its ability to purify the air and one of the few indoor plants which release oxygen in the night time. As per NASA, Snake plants remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, Xylene, and toluene from the air.

This succulent plant which is also known as Bowstring Hemp, Saint George’s Sword, and  Viper’s bowstring hemp are one of the easiest houseplants to grow with little care.

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It is a succulent plant and holds a lot of water in its leaves. Its leaves will become soggy if we over water it and droopy if we provide less water. Watering once in 14-15 days is fine but, it depends on factors like Potting material and Season.  

The terracotta pot is better in the case of overwatering because of its porous nature. Normal plastic nursery pot takes a lot of time to dry. Water the plant until water drips from the drain holes. Do not water the plant again until the soil dries out completely.

We should allow the soil to dry between watering and try not to rot the roots.  Snake plants can sustain even if we water it once a month. In winter, watering once a month is fine. So, water less frequently in winter and more in summer.

If edges of Snake plants are becoming brown, it indicates that water is too little or more.

A moisture meter is a handy tool to check the soil moisture. 

Click here for more information on a moisture meter.

Snake plant low light

Snake plants prefer bright indirect light. It cannot withstand direct sunlight. Place the plant about 5 to 6 feet away from the window for better growth. Though this plant can sustain in dark, it can grow faster and healthier in a well-lit place.

If only one or two leaves are drooping, then it is due to insufficient light and not because of less water. So, change the location of the plant to a better-lit place.

What temperature do Snake plants prefer?

Snake plants can handle wide range of temperatures. It can do best in 60-80 degrees.

Try to keep away this plant from freezing temperatures. It won’t grow much in winter. Snake plants are intolerant of freezing temperatures and temperature above 105 degrees.

Snake plant laurentii

Does the pest attack Snake plant?

Snake plants are resistant to most of the pests. Watch for mealybugs and spider mites. We can control mealybug by handpicking them or by dabbing it with cotton drenched in rubbing alcohol. Spider mites can be eliminated by washing them off the plant.

Propagating snake plant

Snake plants can be propagated in water, soil, or by division.

Snake plant propagation by  Division

Rhizome division is the easiest way to propagate a snake plant. A rhizome ( meant for the storage of food) is an underground stem that grows underground and horizontally. Pull the plant from its pot and gently remove the soil so that we can see the Rhizome and roots clearly. Gently cut the Rhizome in half without damaging the roots. Plant each new section into a pot

Propagating snake plant in water

Cut the entire leaf of the mother plant or cut the leaf into 2-3 inch pieces. Place the cutting in the water ( bottom part of the cutting should be down). Change the water every alternate day or at least once a week. It takes about 30 days to get the roots. Shift it the pot after roots grow to about 2 inches.

Propagating snake plant in soil

Cut the leaf of the mother plant from the base of the plant and cut the leaf into 2-3 inch pieces. Keep the cutting for 2-3 days in a dry area or use the dry soil if planning to pot immediately. When we planting into the pot, we should see that the bottom part of the cutting is facing down. It can be noted that all the cuttings may not make it through so, planting multiple cuttings is a good idea.

Propagation can be done anytime of the year. Snake plant does best in small pots though we have to water more often.

How often we should prune the Snake plant?

As such, pruning is not mandatory. If we want additional plants or if the plant is growing tall or if there is a bacteria attack, we can think of pruning. 

Repotting Snake plant

Snake plant does best in smaller pots. They are happy to be root-bound and being tight in the pot.

You can think of repotting Snake plants if you observe any of the following signs:

  • Roots are growing out of drainage holes
  • It looks stressed due to wilting
  • Grow pot is cracking

You can repot the Snake plant one year after purchase and about 3-4 years thereafter.

Although repotting of snake plant can be done any time of the year, the best time to repot is during February-March when the plants go dormant.

When repotting, use a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger than your current pot.

Best soil for snake plant

It depends on how much water and drain we are providing to the plants. Since Snake plants are prone to rot, it is better to use a free-draining soil mix.

A mixture of 50% perlite soil ( for aeration) and 50% peat moss and compost combination is good. Basically, water has to seep in through. After watering, if the water is sitting on top and not draining then it is not the best soil

Fertilizing snake plant

Snake plants can sustain well even without fertilizer. We can use general house plant fertilizer diluted once a month in the growing season. If we over-fertilize or fertilize when the soil is dry, the burning of leaf happens. So, we should see that the soil is not dry while applying fertilizer.

Snake plants

snake plant toxic to cats

The snake plant contains a toxic compound called Saponins. Ingestion may cause vomiting, rash, diarrhea, nausea, anorexia. This plant causes more problems for animals So, keep this plant away from pets (especially cats).

Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish. Hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes, etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish

Snake plant varieties

  • Sansevieria  Bantel’s Sensation (White Stripped Sansevieria)
  • Sansevieria Cylindrica(African Spear plant)
  • Sansevieria Laurentii(Striped Mother-in-law’s Tongue))
  • Sansevieria Hahnii (Birds Nest Snake Plant)
  • Sansevieria Masoniana (Whale Fin)
  • Sansevieria Kirkii ( Star Sansevieria)
  • Sansevieria Zeylanica (Bowstring Hemp)
  • Sansevieria Moonshine (Silver Snakeplant)
  • Sansevieria Ehrenbergii ( Samurai Dwarf)

Snake plant Cylindrica (cylinder snake plant)

Sansevieria cylindrica (Dracaena Angolensis) is a perennial succulent plant native to Angola. It is also called African spear, Spear Sansevieria, Brazil Saint Bárbara Sword.

This hardy plant has dark green-gray and smooth subcylindrical leaves that can grow up to 2 meters tall. 

You can propagate Sansevieria cylindrica by Rhizome Division or by cuttings. 

To grow from cuttings, You can cut the leaves about 3-4 inches, dip in rooting hormone and plant them (see that bottom part of the cutting should be down) in a cactus mix or sandy soil or free-draining soil mix. It takes about 6-7 weeks to get roots after that, you can transplant them into a new pot.