Snake Plant

The snake plant, is a slow-growing, evergreen perennial plant native to tropical parts of West Africa from Nigeria to the Congo. It belongs to the plant family Asparagaceae or the asparagus family. It is most commonly known as the Saint George's sword, mother-in-law's tongue, and viper's bowstring hemp, among other names. This plant’s genus was Sansevieria until 2017 when it was reclassified under the genus Dracaena. The plant features stiff, sword-like leaves and can vary in color although many have green-banded leaves and commonly feature a yellow border.



These plants are easy to grow and, in many cases, are nearly indestructible. They will thrive in very bright light or almost dark corners of the house. Snake plants generally grow slowly in indoor light, but increasing its exposure to light will boost growth if it receives a few hours of direct sun. The leaves of the snake plants are poisonous that causes swelling and numbness on the tongue if eaten in large doses. It is advisable to keep the snake plant out of reach of children and pets.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

6 inches - 12 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

6 inches - 3 feet


Approximate pH

4.5 - 8.5


Types of Snake Plant


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Bantel’s sensation’



This cultivar grows up to 30-32 inches tall, making it an apt choice as an indoor plant. With a faint white line running at the border on its narrow leaves, it makes quite a statement.


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Black Gold’ (Viper’s Bowstring Hemp)



The sword-like, dark-green leaves on the viper’s bowstring hemp can be up to 2.5-inches wide. They are outlined in yellow. Compared to many snake plants, this option prefers bright light, and it will reward you with more yellow on its leaves when it gets enough sunlight. The viper’s bowstring hemp can grow up to 4-feet tall and spread out to 2 feet.


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’


One of the tallest varieties of sansevieria trifasciata is the ‘Laurentii’ cultivar. This snake plant has tall elegant variegated yellow and green leaves. The grayish-green leaves have stripy patterns along their length. The yellow band running the length of the ‘snake’ leaves gives style and elegance to this sansevieria variety.



Expect this striped snake plant to grow to between 2 and 4 ft. (60 – 120 cm) tall. This robust type of leafy plant grows well in most conditions. Due to its tall-growing nature, it is a good type of tropical houseplant to place in corners where some height is needed.


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Futura Robusta’



Futura robusta is an easy-to-maintain and this option grows to be about 24-inches tall. The green leaves on this plant are striped with grayish lines. Unlike many options, this one has sword-shaped leaves that twist around each other instead of growing upright.


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Golden Hahnii’



The golden hahnii that is often referred to as the golden bird’s nest is a dwarf variety. It seldom grows over 10-inches tall. This option forms low rosettes. The oval gray-green leaves stand erect. They have dark green crossbands and are outlined in yellow. Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers appear in the late summer or early fall.


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Futura Superba’



The sansevieria trifasciata looks like an immature black gold snake plant. It will grow to be about 24-inches tall, and its upright leaves will spread in a rosette to be about 12-inches across. The leaves are mottled with dark green. This option handles brighter light better than many other varieties.


Sansevieria or Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Twisted Sister’


The snake plant ‘Twisted Sister’ gets its name from the way the green and yellow leaves curl around to give them a distorted shape. The striking look of this sansevieria plant comes from its bright golden yellow and lime green variegated leaves. You will also notice silvery-green markings in the center of the leaves. Many describe the look of the ‘Twisted Sister’ as a bird’s nest in a container.



This is also a dwarf variety of sansevieria trifasciata as the leaves only grow to between 12” and 15” (30 – 38 cm) tall. Because of its bright green and yellow colors, this snake plant can brighten up a dull corner of any room.


Sansevieria or Dracaena pearsonii ‘Desert’


Sansevieria pearsonii is an attractive houseplant also known as the rhino grass, thanks to its pointed succulent leaves with a red tint. It grows in an upward direction, reaching a height of 20-24 inches.


Sansevieria Ehrenbergii (Blue Sansevieria)


The blue sansevieria snake plant grows its leaves in two parallel rows. Each leaf can grow up to 5-feet tall and be up to 2.5-inches wide. These dark-green leaves have a rounded appearance. As it matures, it will put off rhizomes. These rhizomes allow this plant to form a clump. Small grayish-white flowers tinged in purple appear in the late summer or early fall.


Sansevieria Ehrenbergii ‘Banana’


The sansevieria ‘Banana’ is a type of succulent that gets its name from its banana-shaped fleshy leaves. Belonging to the sansevieria species Ehrenbergii, this plant has similarly shaped leaves to the ‘Blue Sansevieria.’ One of the differences is that the thick leaves are shorter as it’s a dwarf variety.


The leaf shape is also described as ‘boat-shaped.’ They have a rounded bottom and an inwardly curved topside. In some ways, the color of this sansevieria resembles that of succulents such as agave plants. The leaves are a light bluish-green color with faint striped marking running their length.


Sansevieria Ballyi (Dwarf Sansevieria)



Dwarf sansevieria struggles to grow to 6-inches tall. This option grows in almost a perfect symmetrical rosette. Each of the light-green leaves that can be up to 4-inches tall is banded with dark green lines. Whitish-green flowers that can be up to 1-inch long grows on upright stems on this option. Typically, two flowers appear together in a cluster, but single options exist.


Sansevieria subspicata


This Sansevieria variety originally comes from Mozambique. The lanceolate leaves grow upright and are slightly bent back. They have a length of 20 to 60 centimeters, taper to a point and are green to slightly bluish in color. The leaf margin is green and discolored white with age. The greenish-white flowers stand together in panicles. The inflorescences are 30 to 40 centimeters high.


Sansevieria Masoniana F. Variegata


Also called ‘Mason’s Congo,’ this variety of sansevieria has some of the widest and attractive leaves you will find on any snake plant. This type of sansevieria is recognized by its long leaves with an almost oval shape. The large leaves grow to 4 ft. (1.2 m) long and are about 10” (25 cm) at their widest point.


The beautiful variegation is one of the attractions of this semi-succulent plant. Bright golden yellow and pale-yellow stripes contrast well with the dark green leaf coloring. The large blade-shaped foliage will make for an eye-catching feature in any room.


Sansevieria Kirkii


One of the largest snake plants species, sansevieria kirkii grows in a rosette that can be up to 2-feet across. The wavy-edged leaves grow up to 6-feet long and can be up to 3.8-inches wide are spotted with a coppery-bronze color. The more sunlight this plant gets, the more colorful the leaves are on the sansevieria kirkii. It will also grow faster when it gets plenty of sun.


Sansevieria Patens (Kenya Hyacinth)


While many snake plants have straight upright leaves when they are mature, the leaves on the sansevieria plant continue to go in multiple directions. These dark green leaves that can be up to 1-yard long are cylinder in shape. The leaves have light-green blotches that are outlined in black. Gray-white flowers appear in the late summer and early fall.


Sansevieria Zeylanica (Ceylon Bowstring Hemp)



The Ceylon Bowstring Hemp produces upright leaves up to 2.5-feet long and up to 1-inch wide. These sword-shaped leaves have white spots on them, and they have dark-green bands. Avoid putting this option in the bright sunlight, or the edges of the leaves will turn yellow. Out of each rosette’s middle grows a flower stem up to 2-feet tall with a white flower on it in the late summer.


Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Cylindrica’



You may be confused when you look at the sansevieria trifasciata cylindrica, which is also called African Spear, because you may wonder if you are looking at a variety of lucky bamboo or a snake plant. This plant that loves sandy soil grows short cylinder shoots. You can braid the shoots on this option by holding the ends together with a plant nail to create a unique shape or let it go natural. Place it in direct sunlight to encourage the most color in your plant.


Sansevieria Cylindrica ‘Boncel’ (Starfish Sansevieria)



The sansevieria cylindrica boncel has a unique fan shape. Dark concentric circles appear on each of the light green leaves. Each leaf that can grow up to 7-feet long can be up to 1-inch wide. One-inch-long tubular flowers appear on this option if allowed to grow in the bright sunlight. The greenish-white flowers have a sweet fragrance.


Sansevieria ‘Cleopatra’


One of the most attractive varieties of sansevieria is the ‘Cleopatra’ cultivar with its delightful patterns on succulent leaves. The leaves have a crisscross of dark green lines on a light green background. Its beauty is enhanced by the rippled edges that are highlighted by a reddish-brown line.



Another of the attractive features of this sansevieria species is its perfect rosette pattern. Because this snake plant succulent only grows to about 11” (27 cm) tall, you can place it almost anywhere in a room, office, or patio.


Sansevieria Eilensis


The bluish-green leaves on the sansevieria eilensis can be up to 5-inches long. These leaves have a downward arch. Immature leaves have reddish-brown margins and a deep channel down the middle. Each immature leaf also has a papery, brown cuticle. As the plant matures and new leaves appear, they have more of a cylinder appearance. Flowers appear in the late summer on spike-like racemes.


Sansevieria Moonshine



The moonshine snake plant is an eye-catching sansevieria plant with pale, silvery-green, spear-shaped leaves. The moonshine snake plant has broad, pointed succulent leaves that have an attractive dark green margin. Common names for Sansevieria Moonshine include sansevieria silver queen, sansevieria moonglow, and moonlight snake plant.


Planting Snake Plant


How to Plant Snake Plants

  • Choose a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. Terra cotta pots work well for snake plants, since they allow the soil to dry out more easily than plastic pots.

  • Use a well-draining potting mix. A potting mix designed for “cacti and succulents” is ideal, as it will be more resistant to becoming oversaturated with water.

  • When repotting snake plants, don’t bury them too deep. The plant should be planted as deep as it had been in its prior container.


Choosing a Location in the Home

  • Snake plants prefer bright, indirect light and can even tolerate some direct sunlight. However, they also grow well (albeit more slowly) in shady corners and other low-light areas of the home.

  • Tip: Try to avoid moving your plant from a low-light area to direct sunlight too quickly, as this can shock the plant. Whenever you move plants from a darker to a lighter spot, do so gradually, slowly exposing it to brighter and brighter light over a week or so. Also be sure to adjust watering habits accordingly; plants will use more water in warmer, brighter areas.

  • Keep the plant in a warm spot with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). In the winter, be sure to protect it from drafty windows.


Growing Snake Plant


How to Grow Snake Plant From Seed


Snake plants can be grown from seeds, but it's easier, quicker, and more reliable to propagate by other methods. Snake plant seeds tend to have low germination rates. It can take between three to six weeks before you see a seedling.


To grow from seed, fill a three-inch pot with a well-draining cactus potting mix or seed starting mix. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the starting mix. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot. Cover the pot with plastic wrap or a clear plastic dome to retain warmth and humidity. Once you notice seedling growth, remove the plastic covering. Keep the soil lightly moist but not too soggy or wet throughout the germination process. The seedling will be ready to repot when it is three to four inches tall.


How to Get Snake Plant to Bloom


Snake plants develop creamy-white, tubular flowers that look similar to lilies. It flowers annually when its water, sun, and humidity needs are ideal. However, when these plants are grown indoors year-round, they rarely flower. The change of seasons, namely advent of spring, kickstarts the plant out of dormancy and spurs its growth. Its flowers are fragrant, and like other dracaena species, it blooms at night. There is no need to deadhead these flowers; they drop on their own.


Snake Plant Care


Snake plant is an ideal choice for beginner gardeners because it is difficult to kill. It's great in a container and grows well on the floor or on tabletop displays. Snake plant thrives in warm weather and struggles in cold conditions. This plant is drought-resistant but is susceptible to overwatering which lead to root rot. Only water the plant if the soil feels dry. These plants can go two months between waterings in the winter months. In warmer months, water no more than every two weeks.


Light


Snake plants prefer indirect but steady light with some direct sun. They can adapt to full sun conditions and will also survive dimly lit situations.


Soil


Snake plants prefer a loose, well-drained potting mix. This plant will do well in sandier soils. Use a potting media low in peat content. Peat works well in many situations, but it can become tightly packed and sometimes has problems rehydrating or draining. An all-purpose cactus potting soil is a good choice.


Water


Let the soil dry between waterings. During the winter, reduce watering to monthly, or whenever the soil is dry to the touch. Err on the side of under-watering; too much water can harm the plant.


Temperature and Humidity


Snake plants prefer warm conditions and will suffer if exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the plant in a place where it will be protected from drafts. A temperature range between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Frost will kill this plant.


Fertilizer


Feed with a mild cactus fertilizer during the growing season or a balanced liquid slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer or a 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half strength. Do not fertilize in the winter.


Pruning


Using sterile pruning shears, scissors, or a sharp knife, remove leaves at the soil line or cut off damaged or mature leaves to encourage new growth. The best time to prune is during the growing season—usually spring or summer. You can prune during the off-season, but because pruning can stress out a plant, it is best to do it when the plant is in a growing period. To control the height of your snake plant, remove the tallest leaves. Also, remove any leaves that are marred. Removing leaves spurs new leaf growth.


Propagating Snake Plant


It's best to propagate during the growing season in the spring or summer. Dracaena plants can be divided easily during repotting if the plant is at least four inches tall. Alternatively, new shoots might emerge from the soil and can be potted independently. You can also propagate snake plants via cuttings. Follow these instructions for both methods.


Propagate via root division:

  1. Gather a sharp knife, a clean pot, and cactus potting soil.

  2. Pull the root ball out of the old pot and place the plant on a flat surface. Using your hand, gently brush away the soil from the root structure or rhizome.

  3. Using the sharp knife, divide the plant into sections, making sure the roots for each section remain intact. Cutting through the plant will not kill the plant.

  4. Replant the new snake plant sections into a clean pot with cactus potting soil.

  5. Water it and place it in a partly sunny location.


Propagate new offshoots:

  1. If you notice any new pups or baby offshoots that the plant has developed, you can plant those separately.

  2. As with root division, you'll need a sharp knife, a clean pot, and cactus potting soil.

  3. Pull the root ball out of the pot, locate the offshoot's root, cut off the pup and plant the cut root end in the cactus potting soil.

  4. Water it and place it in a location with indirect bright light.


Leaf-cutting propagation:

  1. Using sterilized scissors, a sharp knife, or pruning shears, slice off a long, healthy leaf from your snake plant.

  2. Root the leaf cutting in water by placing it in a clean jar of water, submerging the cut end. Place it in a partially sunny spot and look for root growth.

  3. Every few days, top off the water, keeping it level. Every two weeks, dump the old water and refill with clean water to inhibit bacterial or algae growth.

  4. Once roots develop at least an inch long, plant the root end in a well-draining cactus potting mix.

  5. Water it and place it in a partially sunny spot.


Optionally, you can skip the water rooting method. After cutting a healthy leaf from your plant, allow the cut end to callous over for 24 hours, and then pot it, cut-end down, in the cactus potting mix. It is a slow-growing plant, so it could take two months before you notice new growth.


Potting and Repotting Snake Plant


When potting, choose a sturdy pot material as strong roots can easily crack and break weak pots. Dracaena is a generally slow grower that rarely needs repotting, but if given ample sunshine, they might grow rapidly and require repotting or dividing. The best time to repot these plants is in the spring. When repotting, always use fresh potting soil, a cactus potting mix, or a mixture of both.


Overwintering


Snake plant is a tropical plant that can die in temperatures consistently lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit or if affected by a wintery frost. Bring the plant indoors before temperatures drop that low. Keep the snake plant in a warm room, protected from cold drafts, and maintain the soil on the drier side. During the winter, snake plants enter dormancy and will stop growing. In the winter, you will only need to water the plant every six weeks or so.


Common Pests and Diseases


Snake plants are susceptible to many common houseplant pests such as scales, gnats, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies. You can avoid an insect invasion if you keep your plant healthy. Insects usually attack a plant when it suffers from environmental issues like incorrect water levels, humidity, and air circulation. If you notice insects on your plant, remove the insects by picking them off, by using a gentle spray of water, or with an organic neem oil to keep the insects at bay.


Root rot due to overwatering is the most common issue. If this occurs, remove any dying leaves and allow the plant to dry out more than usual. Snake plants are resilient and typically recover. However, if the plant continues to die, remove it from its pot, discard of any rotted roots and leaves, and repot in fresh soil.


Common Problems With Snake Plant


Snake plants are one of the easiest plants to maintain, multiply, and keep for years, whether you've got a green thumb or not. The biggest snake plant health problems center around watering. Overwatering causes plant diseases like fungal infections and root rot.


Foul-smelling Soil


If you notice that the soil smells like it's rotting, it likely has root rot. Scoop out some of the soil and put it up to your nose. Root rot smells foul. You can try to save the plant, but you need to inspect the roots to determine if you've saved the root system in time. Pull the root ball out of the container. Cut away any brown, mushy roots or leaves. Repot a portion of healthy root rhizome in fresh cactus potting mix or a well-draining potting mix. If you can't save the rhizomes, discard them. Propagate a new snake plant from leaf cuttings.


Yellow or Brown Leaves


Healthy snake plant leaves are green with some silver or yellow streaks. Yellow or brown leaves can indicate several conditions, including overwatering, pests, and root rot. You can remedy each of these conditions if you manage the plant's water level appropriately. Overwatering causes root rot and stresses out the plant, making it more susceptible to pests.


Curling Leaves


Thrips are a common pest infestation that can cause curling leaves. Use a magnifying glass to inspect your plant's leaves closely. These tiny black bugs are easy to deal with. Cut away severely curled leaves and spray the plant with neem oil or vegetable soap to keep the pests at bay. New leaves will eventually grow.


Leaves Falling Over or Drooping


Healthy snake plant leaves grow upward and stand erect, but too much water, insufficient light, or poor potting material can make the plant's leaves droop or flop over. If you don't use a well-draining potting mix, the soil becomes soggy and affects the foliage. Move the plant to a brighter location, reduce the frequency of watering, and change the soil to one that drains better, if necessary.


Benefits of Snake Plant


Air-Purifiers


Snake plants are NASA recommended air-purifiers, one of the best. They clean the air from toxic substances, particularly benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene. While cleaning the air, it also provides high levels of humidity and oxygen to the room. These properties of snake plants keep the surroundings clean and fresh.


Home Decor


There are ways to decorate your home with plants, but with snake plants, there are so many. The architectural and tall shaped leaves of the snake plant make it perfect for corners of the home and office. There are various kinds of snake plants; smaller ones like cylindrical or bird’s nests are appropriate for an office desk or darker areas of the house.


Drought Tolerant


Snake plants require very less water. Overwatering is the major cause of its death. It is a high drought-resilient plant, even in summers. Snake plants are ideal to have, even if you are facing scarcity of water or in offices where regular watering can be difficult.


Grows in a Wide Range of Humid Conditions


Snake plants can grow in a wide range of humid conditions. They do well in humid climates such as bathrooms and drier ones in the office. When placed in a humid environment, waterless and have extra drainage to reduce stagnant water. In dry areas, water deeply and more but only between soil drying.


Easy To Propagate


Every species of snake plant is easy to propagate which means you can share them as gifts, or multiply them to decorate more spaces in your home.


Symbolic of Good Virtues


It is believed that the first snake plant was cultivated in China and was greatly treasured by the nurturers for its symbolism. The one who cares for the plant is granted eight virtues of longevity, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, health and strength.


Effective for Allergies


Snake plants absorb carbon dioxide and toxin particles from the air while releasing oxygen into the air. When you breathe fresh air, there are fewer chances of developing allergies and airborne diseases. Thus snake plant naturally decreases the onset of allergies.


Low-Maintenance


Snake plants are low-maintenance plants. They can thrive without water and sunlight. They are the best low-maintenance plants you could nurture. Place them in any condition, and it would bless you with its rare beauty and air-purifying properties.


Dust filter


Its large, wide leaves trap dust and collect it in the center of the leaf bundle. If you live in a big city and your house is very dusty, a snake plant or two might help you keep the air a bit cleaner.


Absorbs CO2 at Night


Snake plants reduce Co2 levels at night by absorbing it. It is because of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), the capability to perform a certain type of photosynthesis that drought-tolerant, succulent plants like Sansevieria Trifasciata perform.


Anti-Cancer plant


As you have come to know that snake plants clean the environments of cancer-causing agents like toluene, xylene, benzene, formaldehyde make it an effective anti-cancer plant.


Hard to kill


Snake plants are very hard to kill houseplants. Indifference or forgetfulness are the common causes why houseplants die off, but snake plant thrives on it. It is also very resilient and bounces back from almost anything you can put it through. As long as the root is fine, so will the plant.


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