Better known as the Snake Plant, members of the Sansevieria genus are best known for their hardy, seemingly unkillable nature and ability to clean the indoor air. Although these plants are technically succulents, Snake Plants boast long, broad leaves that stick straight upward like a houseplant. Indoors, these lovely succulents can grow about six inches, but with enough space and time, they can get up to eight feet tall!
To learn more about how you can care for these excellent starter houseplants, read on:
Before getting into general care, it’s important to note how a new plant will affect your household, especially if it’s toxic. Fortunately, Snake Plants aren’t toxic to animals or people, and they’ll survive a few nibbles from a curious pet. Still, keeping your houseplants out of reach is best to avoid any potential accidents!
As a succulent, Snake Plants have several care needs similar to any other succulent.
In terms of light, Snake Plants can survive a wide range of light levels, from direct sunlight to mostly shade. However, they prefer bright, indirect sunlight over all else. To ensure your Sansevieria gets plenty of sunlight, keep it near an east-facing or south-facing window to get plenty of indirect light. Outdoors, make sure your Snake Plant gets a shaded reprieve during the afternoons.
For soil, you’ll want to stick with something well-draining. We recommend using a cactus potting mix or other succulent soil mixes, but if you want to make your own soil, make sure you use peat, perlite, coir, and compost to get the most drainage. You can also add some coarse sand into your mix to give the soil a grainer texture that Snake Plants love!
When it’s time to water your Snake Plant, stick your finger into the soil to check for moisture. Only water your soil when it’s completely dry to the touch to avoid root rot. If possible, use the bottom-watering method to water the plant deeply, but you can also use a watering bottle or single-hole watering can get right at the plant’s roots.
Temperature and Humidity
Temperature-wise, Snake Plants thrive in USDA agricultural zones 9-11. While they aren’t frost-hardy and don’t do well in temperatures below 60 degrees, these succulents are excellent just about anywhere indoors. In the winter, keep your Snake Plant away from drafty windows. Snake Plants aren’t super picky about humidity but will become more susceptible to root rot and mold growth in high humidity environments.
As a succulent, your Sansevieria won’t need fertilizer often, just a little at the beginning of the springtime growing season. Use a slow-release or water-soluble cactus fertilizer, or add some compost to your soil.
Potting and Repotting
Snake Plants are unique succulents in that they like to be a little bit root-bound. So, when you repot your Sansevieria, ensure your pot is big enough to support new growth and gently hug the roots. Your pot should also prioritize drainage and should contain a drainage hole. To further improve drainage with your pot, use one made from a material like concrete, terracotta, or ceramic.
Only repot your Snake Plant during the growing season, so it has plenty of energy to adjust to its new home and recover from any potential damage that may occur during the moving process.
Snake Plants are polycarpic, meaning they bloom each year without any risk of dying. The plants produce small, white blossoms on bright green stalks that peek out from between the leaves during the springtime. To encourage your Sansevieria to bloom, slowly increase the amount of sunlight it receives and cut back on water and fertilizer by just a little bit. This will put the plant in a semi-stressed state to make it flower.
Keeping your Sansevieria slightly root-bound will also help promote new growth and flowers!
Pruning and Propagation
You’ll only need to prune your Snake Plant if you want to propagate it, promote new growth, or remove injured or infected leaves. To prune, use a clean, sharp pair of scissors to cut the leaf down as close to the root as possible. Any healthy cuttings you can use for propagation later. Remember, only prune your Snake Plant during the growing season!
To propagate your cutting, let it be callous for a day and dip it in your rooting hormone. Then, place your cutting in a jar of clean water near a windowsill. Every few days, check your cutting for root growth every few days and refill your jar. After two weeks, rinse and refill the jar with fresh water to avoid bacterial growth.
After a few weeks, you should see some root growth. Once these roots reach an inch long, transfer your cutting to a pot of fresh soil.
Sansevieria succulents are a genus that goes dormant in the winter to conserve energy during colder months. During this time, your Snake Plant’s growth will slow, and it may look wilted or dead. However, your Snake Plant is still very much alive! To keep it happy during dormancy, avoid fertilizing your Snake Plant, keep it out of bright light, and cut back on watering by about half.
Common Pests and Complications
Snake Plants are susceptible to the usual succulent pests, including mealybugs, spider mites, scale, and aphids. However, most Snake Plant complications revolve around overwatering. Fungal gnats, mold growth, and root rot are all common with a Snake Plant that doesn’t have enough drainage or has been sitting in water for too long. To avoid these complications, make sure your Sansevieria has well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to release excess water.