Snake Plant Care

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Growing plants indoors can be challenging, even for those of us with green thumbs.

Fortunately, the snake plant (aka mother-in-law’s tongue, Sansevieria, however now part of the Dracaena genus) is very easy to grow in almost any environment.

It could be the easiest houseplant to grow!

I have seen snake plants in vacation homes we have rented.

In spite of neglect, they looked great!

Snake Plant




Snake Plant

Get to Know Snake Plants
Common NameSnake Plant, Mother-in-law's tongue
Botanical NameDracaena spp. (previously Sansevieria)
Native Tropical Africa, Nigeria
Houseplant TypeSucculent
Garden Plant TypeHerbaceous perennial
Hardiness Zones10 to 12 (U.S.)
Mature Heightvaries by variety
Mature Spreadvaries by variety
Overview of Snake Plant Care
Light RequirementsBright, indirect light, acclimate to direct sunlight, tolerates low light
MoistureWater soil thoroughly allowing all excess moisture to drain, tolerates drought
Watering FrequencyAllow soil to thoroughly dry without becom ing hard and compacted
Water TypeDistilled, rainwater or low mineral, no fluoride water
HumidityTolerates lower humidity
AirDoes well in home and office environment
SoilSucculent mix, well-draining
Fertilizer NeedsLow, 1 time per month in growing season
ContainerWith drain holes, remove excess water from saucers, doesn't mind being slightly pot bound

Light Requirements

Its adaptability makes it great for rooms with low, medium, or high light levels.

In low-light conditions, it will grow slowly.

This is ideal for apartments, offices, dorms, or other small spaces.

Conversely, expect the plant to grow more quickly and flower when it receives bright light.

The sword-like leaves that resemble a snake will grow taller and multiply, filling its container.

Snake Plant in white pot on light brown hardwood floor against sun shadowed white wall

Water Requirements

As a succulent with thick leaves and a rhizomatous root system that stores water, snake plants can go longer between watering than a tropical plant can.

Actually, overwatering especially in the presence of low light, is the main way to cause it to decline.

Water when the pot feels light and most of the soil in the container is dry, but not hard and compacted.

Snake Plant Sanseveria in white pot next to white bed with brown head board


Plants in the Dracaena genus have been found to be sensitive to fluoride and chlorine in water.

This appears as discoloration on the leaf edges.

Although snake plants rarely seem to have this problem, if it does appear, use distilled water or rainwater.

When watering, add water to the container until it drains through the holes. Repeat.

This will provide adequate moisture and promote deep root growth.

 Remove all excess water from saucers and never allow snake plants to sit in excess water.

Bag of Espoma Succulent Potting Mix

It’s important to use a good draining soil when repotting snake plants

Dividing and Repotting a Snake Plant

The snake plant requires very little maintenance to keep it looking healthy and vibrant.

It doesn’t mind being pot-bound or filling up its pot completely with roots.

However, over time as the plant grows, it may be necessary to divide the clump and repot it.

This is very easy as there are natural separations between the leaves to create natural dividing points.

The root system is fleshy and thick rhizomes that spread throughout the container.

If needed, use a sharp knife or pruners to cut through the roots.


Snake plants are hardy and resilient, so no worries about harming them during this process.

Use soil designed for cacti and succulents when repotting.

This will allow for quick drainage and keep your snake plant healthy.

Since snake plants do not like to be wet, it is highly recommended to use containers with drainage holes.

There are so many decorative containers available, so it is a great way to express your decorating style!

Snake Plant in White Pot on Table




Décor Options

Smaller pots (4-6 inches) of snake plants are ideal for desks, kitchen counters, or bathrooms.

Larger pots (8-10 inches +) work well as floor plants in any room.

Some varieties of snake plants can grow to 4 feet tall.

Therefore, they are often used to create vertical architectural interest next to a couch or to fill a corner.

Snake Plant Sanseveria in orange clay pot against white back drop

As with many houseplants, they can be moved outdoors in the summer to decorate decks, patios, and outdoor living spaces.

They will require an acclimatization period both when bringing the plants outdoors in summer and when returning them indoors in fall.

This is placing the plant in its new surroundings for short periods of time each day to allow it to adjust to the change in environment.


Snake Plant Varieties

Since snake plants have become more popular, more varieties have become available to consumers.

Plant breeders are working to find new and unique color patterns and leaf shapes for snake plant collectors.

Here are some of the different snake plant varieties that are available.

Snake plant in a pot.

Snake Plant Laurentii

Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)

This is one of the most common and popular varieties of snake plants.

It’s known for the lemon-yellow band on the leaf edges and lime and apple green leaf center.

This variety grows to about 18 inches high when mature.

Known to flower at unusual times of the year.

When it does, they are pale green and very fragrant.


Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata ‘Superba’)


Cylindrical Snake Plant (Dracaena cylindrical)

Snake Plant’s Top Qualities:

  • Has a modern architectural shape


  • Many different varieties are available- many with striking, yellow, gray, and white variegated leaves for unique visual interest


  • Very pest and disease-resistant


  • Adapts to low light, but thrives in higher light levels and will flower


  • Doesn’t mind being pot-bound




  • Can thrive without regular fertilization


  • Easy-to-grow- an ideal plant for the beginner indoor gardener


18 thoughts on “Snake Plant Care”

  1. Thanks for sharing these tips! I have always loved snake plants and all of my friends told me how easy they are to maintain. But let me tell you, my thumb is anything but green. However, I need to breathe some life into my apartment this winter. I brought in a carpet cleaner to help freshen up my home, and even though they really helped with the aroma of my home, the place is still missing that natural greenery that can truly brighten a mood. I’m going to buy a few plants today for that very reason, and one of them will certainly be a snake plant. I’m trusting wholeheartedly in your tips to help me keep it alive haha

  2. Are these pet safe? I work in a veterinarian office. I had to take my pothos home. i got a Spider plant (safe), but the cat thought it was in the catnip family and ate the whole thing!! Now I have nothing and miss the live greenery on my desk. Will this be safe for the cats?

  3. I have a snake plant. It doesn’t get a lot of natural light. It looked the the leaves were tipping over. I went to look and i can pull the leaves out one by one. What can I do?

    • Hi Cheryl, it probably has a soil-borne fungus or root rot. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to save a plant that has this. The best thing to do is water it as infrequently as possible as overwatering makes it worse. You can try to repot it into dry succulent soil (clean the pot in a 10% bleach to water solution). If there is a brighter, warmer location to move it to, it may push out some new leaves. Best wishes! -Shannon

  4. My mother-in-law plant is fighting for survival. At first I thought it was because of overwatering but now that I have ignored it, the leaves flop over and start dying. When I pull them out of the soil there is very little root ball. What should I do to help it? It is still too cold here to go outside yet. I have tried to propagate in water and it turned to mush.

    • Hi Shirley, this is a tough one as it appears a root rot or fungus of some sort has set in. I would recommend gently removing the plant from the soil with as much of the root system as possible and letting it air dry for a couple of days. Wash the pot in a 10% bleach solution (let it soak for a couple of hours) and then repot with brand-new succulent mix. Throw away all the old soil. This may work, but it may be too late to save the plant as root rot and fungus are hard to eradicate once in a succulent. If you want to chat more about it, feel free to send me an email and photos at [email protected] Best wishes! -Shannon

  5. I have had a snake plant since the early 70s. It moved with me from New York to Maryland I have neglected it. I have overwatered it. But it is a fighter. (Thank goodness ). Every now and then it will bloom. Tiny white flowers on thin stems. Thats when I know it is pleased

  6. I have three snake plants, one in my foyer that despite ignoring it so i don’t overwater it has died leaf by leaf. There are two leaves left. I have one that I keep on my porch but my husband doesn’t bring in soon enough and freezes every year, it always comes back though. And another in my dining room which has filtered light. It is doing the best. I wish I could figure out the foyer plant…

  7. I have a snake plant that was in my house growing up and I am in my 60s now. Every few years we divide it so now family have plants also. As someone with a “black thumb”, I am here to tell you they are very easy to grow.

  8. Oh! I have too much water than! Thank you for the quick response Shannon!! Thanks for enlightening us with your plant wisdom 🌵🌱

  9. I have a snake plant cutting…will it take root in water so I can plant it?

    • Hi Francie, Yes, you absolutely can propagate the cutting in water. Before putting the cutting in water, give the edge a fresh. clean cut. Use a cup/glass that will hold the leaf so that only an inch or so is submerged in water. Change the water every 3-4 days and when you see roots that are 1-2 inches long, you can plant it in soil. Happy Gardening! Shannon


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