Ultimate Guide to Caring for Snake Plants

Snake Plant – Basic Info

Snake plants, scientifically known as Sansevieria or Dracaena trifasciata.

Nicknames: Snake Plant, Laurentii Snake Plant, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Bowstring Hemp, Golden Bird’s Nest, Good Luck Plant, St. George’s Sword, Yellow-Edged Snake Plant, Variegated Snake Plant, Devil’s Tongue, African Spear, Magic Sword.

The Snake Plant has long, stiff, and dark-green vertical leaves that are green and white patterned lines with bright yellow. This plant is drought-resistant and low maintenance, making it nearly indestructible. It is a great choice for an air-purifying plant as it can remove 107 different types of toxins from the air, including formaldehyde, benzene, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. It is a great, versatile plant that can be a statement piece in the corner or a tabletop display.

Common NameSnake Plant
Botanical NameSansevieria trifasciata
Light RequirementsLow to bright indirect light
Watering FrequencyEvery 2-6 weeks
Soil TypeWell-draining, sandy soil mix
Humidity RequirementsLow to moderate
Temperature Tolerance50-85°F (10-29°C)
ToxicityToxic to pets if ingested
Common ProblemsRoot rot, pest infestations
Propagation MethodsDivision, leaf cuttings

Different Types of Snake Plants

Snake Plants boast a diverse range of species, each with unique characteristics. Here’s a closer look at some of the most popular varieties:

Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’

  • Appearance: This classic snake plant variety features tall, green, variegated leaves with golden-yellow edges.
  • Growth Pattern: It grows upright and can reach up to four feet in height.

Sansevieria Cylindrica

  • Nickname: Known as the African Spear plant.
  • Unique Trait: This variety has round, stiff leaves that can grow several feet long.
  • Design Use: Its striking form is perfect for a modern, minimalist aesthetic.

Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Hahnii’

  • Common Name: The Bird’s Nest Snake Plant.
  • Appearance: Characterized by its shorter, funnel-shaped leaves forming a rosette.
  • Size: It’s a compact variety, ideal for small spaces or as a desk plant.

Sansevieria ‘Moonshine’

  • Notable Feature: Its silvery-green, almost moonlit foliage.
  • Ambience: It adds a touch of softness and color to any room.

Sansevieria Masoniana

  • Nickname: Whale Fin Snake Plant.
  • Appearance: Known for its wide, paddle-like leaves.
  • Distinctive Feature: Each leaf is unique, adding a sense of rarity to the plant.

Sansevieria Kirkii

  • Appearance: It showcases a patterned, rough-textured leaf surface.
  • Growth: This species tends to sprawl more horizontally, making it a great ground cover or pot plant.

Exploring the diverse world of snake plants reveals that there is a variety for every preference, from the traditional, upright Sansevieria Laurentii to the more peculiar and sprawling Sansevieria Kirkii.

Benefits of Having Snake Plants

Bowstring Hemp Plants are not only visually appealing but also come with a variety of benefits, making them an essential addition to any home or office environment.

Air Purification

  • NASA Study: Snake Plants were identified in NASA’s Clean Air Study as effective in removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air.
  • Oxygen Production: Unlike most plants, Snake Plants convert CO2 to oxygen at night, making them ideal for bedrooms.

Low Maintenance

  • Watering: They require minimal watering and can survive in drought-like conditions.
  • Light Conditions: Snake Plants are adaptable to various lighting conditions, from low light to bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Hardiness: These plants are resilient and can tolerate some neglect, perfect for busy or forgetful plant owners.

Health and Well-being

  • Stress Reduction: Having greenery indoors, especially Snake Plants, can reduce stress and enhance overall well-being.
  • Humidity: They help maintain indoor humidity levels, beneficial for respiratory and skin health.

Versatile Decor Element

  • Design Flexibility: Their architectural form and variety of sizes and colors allow them to fit into any design scheme.
  • Placement Options: They can be used as floor plants, tabletop decor, or in hanging baskets.

In essence, Snake Plants (Sansevieria spp.) are not just visually appealing but also purify the air, require minimal care, and contribute positively to our health and well-being.

Snake Plants Care Guide

Caring for Snake Plants, or Sansevieria, is relatively straightforward, making them a perfect choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.

Optimal Lighting Conditions

  • Tolerance for Various Light Levels: Snake Plants thrive in a variety of lighting conditions, from low light to full sun. However, they do best in moderate to bright, indirect light.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: While they can tolerate some direct sunlight, prolonged exposure can cause the leaves to scorch.

Proper Watering Techniques

  • Overwatering Is a Common Issue: Snake Plants are drought-tolerant and susceptible to root rot. It’s crucial to let the soil dry completely between waterings.
  • Water Sparingly: In the winter months, reduce watering as the plant goes into a dormant state.

Soil and Fertilization Needs

  • Well-Draining Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix, preferably one formulated for succulents or cacti.
  • Fertilization: Feed your Snake Plant with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer), but avoid over-fertilization.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

  • Ideal Temperature: Golden Bird’s Nest prefer temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). They can tolerate fluctuating temperatures but should be protected from extreme cold.
  • Humidity: Average room humidity is adequate. They are not demanding in terms of humidity but can suffer in overly dry air.

Container Selection

  • Pot Size and Material: Choose a pot that allows room for growth. Terracotta or other porous materials are excellent choices as they allow the soil to dry out more efficiently.

Snake Plants Propagating and Pruning

Pruning for Health and Aesthetics

  • When to Prune: Prune your Snake Plant to remove damaged or overgrown leaves. This can be done at any time of the year but is best during the growing season.
  • Method: Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Make a clean cut at the base of the leaf, near the soil line.

Propagation Techniques

  • Leaf Cuttings: One of the easiest methods is propagating through leaf cuttings. Cut a healthy leaf near the base and allow it to callous over for a day or two.
    • Water Propagation: Place the calloused end in water until roots develop.
    • Soil Propagation: Plant the cutting in soil, ensuring it stays upright.

Division Method

  • Best Time: The best time to divide a Golden Bird’s Nest Plant is during repotting.
  • Process: Gently separate the plant into smaller sections, making sure each has a portion of the root system. Repot each division into its container.

Pups and Offsets

  • Natural Propagation: Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plants often produce pups or offsets. These can be separated from the parent plant and potted individually.


Repotting is a key aspect of maintaining the health and vitality of your homeplant. Understanding when and how to repot will ensure your Sansevieria continues to flourish.

When to Repot

  • Frequency: Plants generally require repotting every 2-3 years. The best time to repot is during the spring or early summer.
  • Signs to Repot: Look for signs like roots crowding or protruding from the drainage holes, soil drying out too quickly, or the plant becoming top-heavy and unstable.

Choosing the Right Pot

  • Material: Terracotta or clay pots are ideal for these plants as they allow soil to dry out more effectively than plastic or glazed pots.
  • Size: Select a pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current one. Ensure it has adequate drainage holes to prevent water accumulation.

Repotting Process

  • Step-by-Step Guide:
    1. Gently Remove the Plant: Carefully take the plant out of its current pot, shaking off excess soil and inspecting the roots.
    2. Root Pruning (If Necessary): Trim any rotten or excessively long roots.
    3. Fresh Soil: Fill the new pot with well-draining soil, suitable for succulents or cacti.
    4. Replanting: Place the plant in the new pot and add soil around the roots, pressing down lightly to stabilize the plant.
    5. Post-Repotting Care: Water the plant lightly and keep it in a shaded area for a few days to recover.


Overwintering plays a vital role in the care of Snake Plants, especially in regions where temperatures significantly drop. During these colder months, these robust plants demand extra care and attention to ensure their well-being.

Creating the Ideal Winter Environment

  • Temperature Requirements: Snake Plants prefer temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). During winter, it’s important to protect them from temperatures below 50°F (10°C).
  • Reduced Watering: In winter, reduce watering as the plant’s growth slows down. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings to prevent root rot.
  • Light Exposure: Although Golden Bird’s Nest Plants can tolerate low light conditions, providing bright, indirect light during winter will keep them healthy. A south-facing window is ideal.

Avoiding Cold Drafts

  • Location: Keep your Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plants away from drafty windows or doors. Cold drafts can stress the plant, leading to leaf damage or stunted growth.
  • Humidity Considerations: While Snake Plants don’t require high humidity, extremely dry indoor air during winter can be detrimental. Consider using a humidifier if your home’s humidity drops significantly.

Preparing for Spring

  • Gradual Transition: As winter ends, gradually increase watering to encourage new growth. This transition from dormancy to active growth is vital for the plant’s health.

Pests and Diseases

Even the hardiest plants like Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plants can succumb to pests and diseases if not properly cared for. Understanding these challenges is key to maintaining a healthy plant.

Common Pests

  • Mealybugs and Spider Mites: These pests can infest the leaves, sucking sap and weakening the plant. Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or a solution of water and rubbing alcohol.
  • Preventive Measures: Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pests, especially under the leaves and along the stems.

Disease Management

  • Root Rot: Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common issue with Snake Plants. Ensuring proper drainage and avoiding excessive watering are crucial steps in prevention.
  • Fungal Problems: Fungal issues may arise in overly moist conditions. Improve air circulation around the plant and reduce humidity if necessary.

Effective Treatment

  • Isolate Infected Plants: To prevent the spread of pests or diseases, isolate affected plants.
  • Appropriate Treatment: Use fungicides for fungal problems and insecticides for pest control, following the product instructions carefully.

Common Issues

Even with their easy-care nature, Devil’s Tongue Plants can experience a few common issues. Identifying and addressing these problems early is essential for a healthy plant.

Yellowing Leaves

  • Causes: Overwatering is a common cause of yellowing leaves in Snake Plants. Ensure that the soil is dry before watering again.
  • Solution: Adjust your watering schedule and check for proper drainage in the pot.

Drooping or Curling Leaves

  • Underwatering and Low Light: While drought-tolerant, prolonged underwatering or insufficient light can cause leaves to droop or curl.
  • Remedy: Increase watering frequency slightly and move the plant to a brighter location.

Leaf Tips Turning Brown

  • Dry Air and Over-Fertilization: Low humidity and excessive fertilization can cause the leaf tips to turn brown.
  • Prevention: Use a humidifier in dry conditions and fertilize sparingly, especially during the growing season.

Toxicity: A Concern for Pets and Children

Devil’s Tongue plants are mildly toxic when ingested. They contain saponins, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets and children. It’s essential to keep them out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion.

Caring for Dracaena trifasciata is rewarding and straightforward. Their resilience, air-purifying qualities, and aesthetic appeal make them an excellent addition to any indoor space. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can ensure your snake plants thrive.

Remember, the key to successful snake plant care is understanding their basic needs and avoiding common pitfalls like overwatering.

snake plant

FAQ: All About Sansevieria (Dracaena trifasciata) 🌿

Is Snake Plant Toxic to Dogs and Cats?

  • Yes, It Is: Sansevieria, or Bowstring Hemp, contains saponins that are toxic to pets. If ingested by dogs or cats, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s advisable to keep this plant out of reach of your furry friends.

How Often Do You Water Snake Plants?

  • Infrequent Watering: Golden Bird’s Nests, being succulent plants, require minimal water. The key rule is to let the soil become completely dry before re-watering. Overwatering can lead to soggy soil, which is a common way to kill a Snake Plant.
  • Checking the Soil: Before adding water, check that the soil at the bottom of the pot is dry to avoid over-saturating the roots.

How Fast Do Snake Plants Grow?

  • Growth Rate: Snake Plants are not the fastest growers but can grow steadily under the right conditions. On average, they can grow several inches tall each year, up to a few feet in height.
  • Factors Influencing Growth: Adequate bright light and proper watering will contribute to a healthier growth rate.

When to Repot Snake Plant?

  • Signs to Repot: When your Snake Plant outgrows its pot or when the roots start crowding, it’s time to change the water and move the plant to a larger container. This is often every few years.

Do Snake Plants Need Sun?

  • Light Requirements: Devil’s Tongue plant, thrives in a range of light conditions, from low to bright indirect sunlight. However, they grow best in moderate to bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can sometimes scorch the leaves.

What Are Snake Plants Good For?

  • Air Purification: One of the many benefits of having a Snake Plant in your home is its ability to purify indoor air, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene.
  • Low Maintenance: They are also highly recommended for plant parents due to their easy-to-grow nature.

Can Snake Plants Live Outside?

  • Outdoor Growth: Yes, Magic Sword plant can be grown outdoors in summer in temperate climates. They prefer a range of growing conditions but should be brought indoors when temperatures drop.

Do Snake Plants Flower?

  • Rare Blooming: While not common, Snake Plants can produce flowers. These small, fragrant blooms are typically white and grow on a slender stalk.

Why Is My Snake Plant Drooping?

  • Causes of Drooping: If your Yellow-Edged Snake Plant, starts drooping, it might be due to overwatering, poor drainage, or insufficient light.
  • Solution: Adjust your watering schedule, ensure good drainage, and move the plant to a brighter location if necessary.

Why Is My Snake Plant Turning Yellow?

  • Yellowing Leaves: Yellowing of leaves in varieties like the silvery-green-leaved Snake Plant can be caused by overwatering, poor soil drainage, or nutrient deficiencies.
  • Remedial Steps: Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and consider changing to a well-draining soil mix.

Is Sansevieria Easy to Grow?

Absolutely! Sansevieria is an easy-to-grow plant, ideal for plant parents of all experience levels. It adapts well to a variety of indoor environments and requires minimal care.

How Big Can a Sansevieria Grow?

The growth of a Sansevieria can vary:

  • Size Range: Some like the cylindrical snake plant can grow several feet tall, while others like the Golden Bird’s Nest remain small.
  • Growth Rate: Typically, they grow slowly, adding a few inches each year.

How Do I Take Care of a New Sansevieria Plant?

Caring for a new Sansevieria involves:

  • Proper Placement: Place it in a spot with bright, filtered light.
  • Watering: Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry completely between waterings.
  • Soil: Use well-draining soil to prevent water accumulation at the roots.

What’s the difference between a Snake Plant and a Spider Plant?

While both snake plants and spider plants are popular choices for houseplant enthusiasts, they have distinct differences in appearance and care needs. On one hand, spider plants are characterized by their narrow leaves and the unique offshoots they produce, often referred to as “spiderettes.” On the other hand, snake plants are known for their thicker, sword-shaped, or cylindrical leaves. When it comes to their growing conditions, spider plants usually require more moisture and a bit more light compared to snake plants.

Should I fertilize my Snake Plant?

Snake plants don’t require much fertilizer. Feeding them with a half-strength balanced fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer) is sufficient. Avoid fertilizing in the winter.

Sansevieria, with its many varieties and species, is a versatile and attractive choice for houseplant enthusiasts. By understanding its care requirements and appreciating its diverse forms, from plants with narrow leaves to those with cylindrical foliage, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of these remarkable plants in your home.