If you kill plants through neglect, then the tough-as-nails snake plant is right for you!
The snake plant, or Sansevieria, is one of the most common houseplants in the United States.
One of the main reasons is that they are really easy to take care of, especially when compared with other indoor plants.
Since snake plants have fleshy leaves that retain water very well, they are considered succulent plants.
Therefore, if you often forget to water your plants or take frequent trips out of town, this plant may be perfect for you.
On top of that, in this article, you will learn everything you need to know about this snake plant.
Interesting facts about snake plant
|Common name||Snake plant, viper’s bowstring hemp, St. George’s sword|
|Botanical name||Dracaena trifasciata (Sansevieria trifasciata)|
|Plant type||Evergreen, perennial|
|Size||6 inches to 8 feet tall|
|Light||Shade to partial sun|
|Soil type||Sandy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline|
|Blooming time||Spring (blooms rarely)|
|Hardiness zone||9–11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||West Africa (tropical)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats and dogs|
Types of snake plants
According to Shamshur, the Sansevieria genus has around 70 species. The most common types of snake plants are listed below,
1. Bird’s nest snake plant
This plant is also referred to as Hahnii. This snake plant is small, it grows to only 6 inches tall. Its leaves forms clusters that closely resemble a cup. That is quite similar to a bird’s nest.
2. Cylinder Snake plant
This Sansevieria has round leaves. It can grow several feet tall. The leaves of the cylinder snake plant reach outward to resemble a crown.
3. Laurentii Sansevieria
This snake plant is popular for its green-colored center and yellow margins.
4. Twisted sister
This is a dwarf cultivar of the Sansevieria trifasciata. And it only reaches about 15 inches in height. Moreover, this is a hard-to-find plant, that consists of twisting variegated gold and green leaves.
5. White snake plant
This is another unique cultivar of Sansevieria. It has dark green leaves with white vertical stripes.
6. Sansevieria desertii
Also known as Elephant’s Toothpick and Rhino grass, this plant typically has a fan-like effect. One of the attractive houseplants with a tight clump of vertical leaves.
How to propagate snake plants
The best time to propagate the snake plant is during the growing season in the spring or summer. You can easily divide the snake plant during repotting (if the snake plant is at least 4 inches tall).
Alternatively, new shoots will emerge from the soil and you can pot them independently. Also, you can propagate the snake plant from cuttings. Follow the methods to propagate the snake plant.
Step 1: Get a sharp knife, a clean pot, and potting soil (cactus)
Step 2: Pull the root ball of the snake plant and place it on a flat surface. Next, use your hand and gently brush away the soil from the root.
Step 3: With the help of a knife, divide the snake plant into sections. Keep the roots of each section intact. (Cutting through the plant will not kill the sansevieria)
Step 4: Now, re-pot the new snake plant sections into a new clean pot. Add the cactus potting soil.
Step 5: Water it deeply. And place the plant in a partly sunny spot.
Propagate new offshoots
Step 1: if you see any new pups or baby offshoots that the snake plant has developed, you can separately plant those offshoots.
Step 2: Similar to root division, you will need a knife, pot, and potting soil.
Step 3: Pull the root ball locate the baby offshoot’s root, cut off the pup, and plant the cut root end in the cactus potting soil.
Step 4: Water it deeply. And place it under indirect bright light.
Step 1: Use a sterilized scissor, sharp knife, or pruning shears and slice off a long and healthy leaf from your snake plant.
Step 2: Place the leaf-cutting in a clean jar of water. Submerge the cut end in the water. Next, place that jar in a partially sunny spot and wait for root growth.
Step 3: Every few days provide watering, keeping it level. And every two weeks, dump the old water and refill it with clean water to prevent bacterial or algae growth.
Step 4: Once the roots get develop (at least an inch), plant the root end in a well-draining cactus potting mix.
Step 5: Water it and locate it in a partially sunny spot.
You can skip the water rooting method if you wish. If you have cut a healthy leaf from your cactus, let the cut end callous for 24 hours and then pot it, cut-end down, in a cactus potting mix. It could take two months before new growth is evident since it is a slow-growing plant.
How to Grow Snake Plant from Seed
Step 1: Although snake plants can be grown from seeds, it is easier, quicker, and more reliable to grow the snake plant by other methods.
Step 2: Seeds of snake plants have low germination rates. It takes between 3-6 weeks before you see a seedling.
Step 3: To grow sansevieria from seed, fill a 3-inch pot with a well-draining cactus potting mix or you can use a seed starting mix.
Step 4: Sprinkle the Sansevieria seeds on top of the starting mix.
Step 5: Now, Place the pot in a sunny spot. You can cover the pot with plastic wrap or a clear plastic dome to retain warmth and humidity.
Step 6: Once you see seedling growth, remove the plastic covering. Throughout the germination process Keep the soil lightly moist but not too soggy or wet.
Step 7: You can re-pot, once the seedling grows 3-4 inches tall.
Snake plant care
Sansevieria prefers bright and indirect light. Also, it can tolerate some direct sunlight. However, you can grow them in a shady corner (they will grow slowly) and in a low-light area of the home.
Tip: Avoid moving your snake plant from a low-light area to direct sunlight too quickly. This will shock your plant. Whenever you move the snake plant from darker to lighter areas, do it gradually. Slowly expose them to sunnier and sunnier spots over a week. Also be sure to adjust the watering schedule accordingly, as plants use more water in the warmer and brighter area.
Keep the snake plant in a warm spot with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). In the winter, make sure to protect it from drafty windows.
Snake plants enjoy indirect but steady light with some direct sun. Moreover, they can adapt to full sun conditions and will also survive dimly lit situations.
Sansevieria prefers a loose and well-drained potting mix. This plant thrives well in sandier soils. You can use a potting media low in peat content. Because Peat works well in many situations. But peat can become tightly packed and sometimes has problems rehydrating or draining.
An all-purpose cactus potting soil is a good choice for snake plants.
Allow the topsoil to get dry between watering. In winter, reduce the watering to monthly or whenever the soil is dry. Moreover, too much watering can harm your snake plant.
Temperature and Humidity
Snake plants like warm conditions. But this plant will suffer if exposed to temperatures below 50 ℉. Also, locate the snake plant in a place where it will be protected from drafts.
A temperature range between 70 ℉. and 90 ℉. is ideal. Also, protect your plant from frost, otherwise, it will kill the plant.
Feed a snake plant with a mild cactus fertilizer during the growing season. Or you can use balanced liquid slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer or a 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half-strength. However, do not fertilize Sansevieria in the winter.
Use sterile pruning shears, scissors, or a sharp knife to remove the leaves at the soil line. Also, cut off damaged or matured leaves to promote new growth. The best time for pruning is during the growing season–usually spring or summer.
You can do pruning in the off-season, but as pruning causes stress to the plant, it is best to do it when the plant is in a growing season.
And to control the height of your plant, remove the tallest leaves and any leaves that are marred. This will spur new leaf growth.
Potting and Repotting Snake Plant
While repotting, get a sturdy pot material as strong roots can easily crack and break weak pots. However, the snake plant is a generally slow grower that rarely needs repotting. But if provided enough sunlight, the snake plants might grow rapidly and require repotting.
The best time to re-pot the snake plant is in the spring, also, while repotting, use fresh potting soil, cactus potting mix, or a mixture of both.
As the snake plant is a tropical plant it can die in temperatures consistently lower than 50 ℉. Also, it can die if affected by a frost. So, it is wise to bring your snake plant indoors before temperatures drop that low.
Locate the snake plant in a warm room and protect it from cold drafts. Additionally, maintain the soil on the dry side. During the winter, your snake plant will enter dormancy and stop growing. So, in winter, consider watering your plant every six weeks.
The snake plant is susceptible to pests such as scales, gnats, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies.
However, you can avoid this insect invasion, if you keep your snake plant healthy. Usually, insects attack the plant when it suffers from environmental issues such as incorrect watering, humidity, and air circulation.
Whenever your notice any insect on your plant, remove the insect by picking them off, or you can gently spray it with water, or organic neem oil to keep the insects at bay.
Common Problems with Snake Plant
Sansevieria is one of the easiest plants to maintain, multiply, and keep for years. One of the biggest problems with snake plants is watering. If snake plants are overwatered, fungus infections and root rot can occur.
In case the soil smells like it’s rotting, it probably has root rot. Poke some soil up to your nose and smell it closely. Rotted roots odor awful.
Trying to save the plant is possible, but you must examine the roots to determine if the roots were saved.
Remove the root ball from the container. If there are brown or mushy roots or leaves, remove them. Re-pot a portion of healthy root in fresh cactus potting mix or a well-draining potting mix. If you can’t save the root system, discard them. Propagate a new plant from leaf cuttings.
Yellow or Brown Leaves
The healthy snake plant has green leaves with some silver or yellow streaks. Yellow or brown leaves indicate conditions such as overwatering, pests, and root rot.
However, you can remedy each of these conditions by managing the plant’s watering. Too much watering causes root rot and stresses your plant out which makes them more susceptible to pest’s attack.
Curling of snake plant leaves is commonly done by Thrips, a pest infestation. For this, use a magnifying glass to inspect your snake plant leaves closely. You will notice tiny black bugs; however, they are easy to deal with.
Cut the severely curled leaves and spray the plant with neem oil or vegetable soap. After a few days, new leaves will grow.
Leaves Falling Over or Drooping
A healthy snake plant leaves grow upward and stand erect. But overwatering, insufficient light, or poor potting material can make the snake plant’s leaves droop or flop over.
If you do not use a well-draining potting mix, the soil becomes soggy and affects the plant’s foliage. Move your snake plant to a brighter location, reduce the frequency of watering, and change the soil to one that drains better, if required.
Benefits of snake plant
The snake plant popularly known as mother-in-law’s tongue is a resilient succulent that grows anywhere between 6 inches to several feet.
In addition to providing a bit of ambiance, snake plants have a number of benefits, including
1. Purifies indoor air, even at night
Similar to other indoor succulents, snake plants help to purify indoor air. What’s unique about this Sansevieria is that it is one of the few plants that can convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen at night.
This quality makes it an ideal plant for bedrooms since it can help regulate healthy air circulation.
2. Remove toxic pollutants
Additionally, this plant is well known for its ability to remove harmful air pollutants. Even in small amounts, it can remove pollution that can cause cancer, including,
With the ability to absorb and remove harmful toxins, snake plants also act as an effective defense against airborne allergies.
3. Mental health booster
Scientific research has proven the benefits of indoor plants on mental health.
Horticultural therapy uses plants in mental health treatment, due to its therapeutic effects.
Moreover, Indoor plants can be added to workplaces, schools, and medical facilities as a low-cost and low-risk way to improve these environments.
4. Easy to care for
The Sansevieria is a common houseplant for many reasons. One is that it’s
low maintenance plant.
“Potted snake plants are common for all continents,” says NatureID botanist Halina Shamshur. Being very undemanding, snake plants are generally grown on windowsills in houses, apartments, and different public buildings.
Moreover, snake plants can tolerate both shade and direct sunlight, underwatering, drafts, and dry air. They also do not require frequent repotting and hardly ever get infested if properly taken care of.
5. Prevent allergies
By releasing oxygen and adding moisture to the air, this plant help lessen the impact of airborne allergens like dust and dander.
Since poor indoor air quality can cause many health-related issues like allergies and asthma, this is a definite benefit.
6. Feng Shui
Shamshur explains that the Chinese are drawn to the snake plant for its ability to absorb negative energy. Snake plants are considered beneficial to learning in feng shui.”
Shamshur believes that snake plants are believed to absorb negative energies and eliminate bitterness and jealousy. Therefore, she suggests placing snake plants in a room where people tend to argue or near appliances that emit harmful radiation.
While this is not backed up by scientific evidence, there’s no harm in giving it a try.
7. Relieves physical ailments
There are numerous other snake plant benefits that are not scientifically proven but are widely accepted by plant experts.
For example, snake plants are said to
- Heal burns and skin wounds
- Reduce inflammation
- Maintains blood pressure
- Help strengthen the immune system
- Help flush out parasites
- Reduce headaches
You can apply the leaves sap to burns, wounds, and inflammation. Additionally, aromatherapy helps to reduce headaches.
However, be careful while using snake plants for healing purposes.
Because their leaves contain saponins, which are poisonous substances, in large quantities. They are commonly part of many diuretics, choleretic, and laxative drugs.
Are snake plants toxic to cats and dogs?
Snake plant leaves contain a toxic chemical called saponin. It is toxic to cats and dogs. Both dogs and cats should be kept away from it. If your dog ingests any part of the snake plant, it can cause gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, drooling, nausea, and diarrhea.
How often to water the snake plant?
It only needs to be watered fortnightly, allowing its soil to completely dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering and root rot. In the winter months feel free to only water your sansevieria plant once a month if the soil is still moist after 2 weeks.
Which type of soil do snakes plant like?
Snake plants prefer free-draining soil mix because they are easily prone to rot. A soilless potting mixture is highly suitable to ensure adequate drainage. Also, make sure to use a terracotta pot that won’t trap water inside and promptly remove any standing water from the saucer.
Are snake plants toxic to humans?
Snake plants have been used as herbal remedies in some parts of the world. But the plants are also poisonous if consumed. Large doses might cause nausea and vomiting, and the poison found in the plant has a numbing effect that can cause the tongue and throat to swell.
Does the snake plant need sunlight to grow?
This plant offer versatility that’s tough to beat, especially when it comes to light needs. Sansevieria (snake plant) thrives in any light level, from low to high. Typically, they grow more quickly in brighter light, but strong direct sunlight may burn their leaves, especially when plants are outdoors.
What is the average life span of a snake plant?
The average lifespan of a snake plant is 5 to 10 years however, they can live up to 25 years or more.
How do grow snake plants faster?
The snake plant is a slow-growing plant. However, if you place it outdoors in summer, it may experience a boost in its growth.
It is proven that snake plants are useful and visually appealing. You can grow them indoors as well outdoors, with little to no maintenance.
What’s more, they help to filter indoor air, a quality that will keep you safe and healthy.
So, consider adding a snake plant to your home for both aesthetic as well as for health reasons.
Please share your insights about the snake plants in the comment section below.
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