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The snake plant, also known as sansevieria, has had a renaissance over the last few years. Its sharp, flat, upright leaves look fantastic in a minimalist home. It’s also a great choice for small spaces as it grows up to a meter tall without spreading out into the room.
But this plant is most famous for its air-purifying qualities. It can oxygenate a room more efficiently than any other house plant. What’s more, it’s almost impossible to kill, so it’s the perfect plant for those of us with less-than-green thumbs.
|AKA||Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue.|
|Similar to||Spear sansevieria|
|Native to||African tropics|
|Shape||Clump of long, vertical leaves|
|Maximum size||Usually 2 – 3’, some varieties can reach 12’ outdoors.|
|Watering requirements||Low – moderate|
|Light requirements||Tolerates everything from low light – moderate direct sun|
|Preferred humidity||Low – moderate|
|Preferred temperature||50 – 85 (10 – 27C)|
|Soil||Cacti and succulent mix|
|Fertilizer||All-purpose house plant fertilizer applied in the spring|
|Propagation method||Division or leaf cuttings|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
|Vulnerable to||Root rot|
Sansevieria is very low maintenance. It’s one of those rare plants that actually grows better if you forget about it for a week at a time. In its natural habitat in Africa, it’s considered so indestructible that its fibers are used to make ropes, baskets and even bowstrings.
You hardly need to feed it, it doesn’t need to be repotted very often, and it likes to dry out significantly between waterings. Taking care of plants indoors doesn’t get much easier than this.
Best Snake House Plant Care Guide
The only thing that will kill a sansevieria is overwatering, so check the pot before you give your plant a drink. You should let the top 2 – 3 inches of soil dry out between waterings.
Snake plant care becomes a little easier if you remember that this plant is technically a succulent. As well as keeping the soil quite dry, you should do everything you can to stop water from collecting on the leaves.
If you can water from the bottom, so much the better. It makes your life much easier since the leaves grow in a thick clump that makes it difficult to get to the soil. It also encourages the roots to grow deeper and stronger.
Remember to adjust your watering routine according to the season. In the winter, you may only need to water it once a month.
Read more: How to care by watering your plants properly
Sansevieria is a great choice for almost any location in your home. It thrives in everything from shadowy corners to moderate direct sunlight. The only thing to consider is that its growth will slow down in low-light conditions.
It’s important to rotate your plant a quarter turn every week. If it starts to grow toward the light, the sculptural, vertical leaves will lose a lot of their impact.
Because this plant is a succulent, it doesn’t need high humidity. The air in your home suits it perfectly without a pebble tray or humidifier. You should also avoid misting the plant so that the leaves stay dry.
Although a snake plant will survive outside in temperatures above 50, it doesn’t respond well to the drafts which can chill and dry the air. Keep it away from doorways or broken window frames and make sure that the leaves don’t touch your windows in the winter.
Plant Food and Soil
Sansevieria will grow well in a regular potting-mix, but cacti and succulent mix is an even better choice. This soil mix is sandy, well-draining and will reduce the risk of overwatering the plant.
Like all succulents, these plants aren’t that hungry. On the other hand, if your plant is in the sun and growing quickly, it might enjoy a little food, especially in the spring. Any well-balanced liquid fertilizer will give your snake plant what it needs to thrive.
Additional Snake Plant Care Tips
The tips above are a great place to start when you’re getting to know your sansevieria. As you can tell, snake plant care is not difficult to master. But, if you’re anything like us, nothing makes you happier than watching your plants get bigger.
If you follow the tips below, you’ll get maximum growth from your plant.
If your plant is in ideal conditions and it’s getting lots of light, it might grow so fast that it needs to be repotted every year. Unfortunately, the roots are very delicate and transplanting can be traumatic for it. If it’s in the shade and growing more slowly, you’ll be able to wait for up to 3 years before you give your plant a new home.
Once you can see the roots coming out of the bottom of the old pot, it’s time to upgrade. Choose whether you want to divide your sansevieria and plant it out into 2 pots, or whether you want to put it in a pot 1 – 2 sizes larger and let it grow even more.
Because this plant hates to stand in water, a terracotta pot is a great choice. The stone lets the water evaporate from the soil much more easily than a plastic nursery pot.
This plant grows straight up, so you shouldn’t have to do too much pruning to keep it under control. In fact, if you cut the leaves, they’ll scar and stop growing altogether, so it’s best not to reach for the shears unless you really have to. If your snake plant does outgrow your space and you don’t want to divide it, simply remove whole leaves from the clump to thin it out.
The only other job is to remove any dead or damaged leaves so that the plant puts all its energy into new growth.
This plant is very resistant to common house plant pests like aphids, spider mites and mealybugs. If you have a pest problem with some of your other plants, you should check your sansevieria too, but it’s unlikely that an infestation will start with this plant.
Because the leaves are smooth and shiny, you’ll need to dust them. If you check for insects at the same time, you should be able to avoid any problems.
Snake plants are easy to find and there are lots of different varieties on the market.
The most common variety is the sansevieria trifasciata. It has long, broad leaves with a pattern of green, grey or yellow that looks like snakeskin.
The Golden Hahnii variety is more strongly variegated, and its leaves have a yellow border. This plant needs more light to maintain its color, but it’s popular because it’s more compact than other cultivars.
The sansevieria twist looks more like a classic succulent. Its name comes from the way the new, low growing leaves emerge in spirals from the center of the plant.
All varieties of snake plants are toxic to pets and will cause vomiting and diarrhea if they’re eaten. It’s not as poisonous as many other common house plants, but you should still take your pet to the vet if you notice bite marks on your sansevieria.
Where can I buy a sansevieria?
It’s sometimes difficult to buy the trendiest plants we see online, but the snake plant is an exception. Although we’re seeing it everywhere at the moment, it’s actually been popular for several decades and is a staple in most stores selling indoor plants.
Because it’s so easy to care for, it’s easy for stores to stock. You should be able to find one in a florist, interiors store or garden center. Make sure to choose a healthy plant with dark green leaves. If you can do that, it should thrive when you bring it home.
Why is my snake plant turning yellow?
If the leaves are starting to yellow, your plant is probably too dry or too cold. Check that the tips of the leaves aren’t curling over before you make your diagnosis. Curled leaves confirm that the plant is too dry.
Make sure that it’s had enough water and that it’s protected from drafts. This should prevent any further damage to the leaves.
If the plant is turning yellow from the base or from the bottom of the leaves, the problem is overwatering. Thankfully, if you catch it in time and give your plant the chance to dry out, it should recover well.
Why is my snake plant drooping?
Drooping leaves can show that your plant is either too wet or too dry. But, if there’s no yellowing, it’s more likely that the plant needs light.
Although sansevieria can grow in the darker corners of your home, all varieties need a certain amount of sun to photosynthesize and will start to droop if the conditions are too dark.
How fast does a snake plant grow?
We can’t say for certain since the speed of any plant’s growth depends on the variety you have and its location in your home.
Snake plants are sometimes marketed as slow-growing plants but, if they have enough light and warmth, they can surprise you. You may find that your sansevieria puts on a lot of new growth in the summer. The leaves of the most common varieties can get up to 3’ long when they’re grown inside.
Snake plants are a perfect choice for almost every home. Whether it’s your very first house plant standing against a white wall, or it’s part of an apartment jungle, sansevieria makes a statement and brings a new dimension to your room
They’re sculptural, easy to care for, clean the air and can even promote restful sleep. What’s more, they’re so easy to find that you’ll be able to get one for yourself and one for your friend who can barely keep a plastic plant alive.