How to Care for a Snake Plant

Updated on November 30, 2017
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Kate graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology. She currently resides in Sonoma, California.

The snake plant is a beautiful evergreen plant. This unique plant even improves indoor air quality through the passive absorption of many bad things, such as nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, and other toxins (according to a recent NASA study). Yes, your snake plant will actually absorb these things and reduce or eliminate them from the air you breathe! That is one of the many reasons this plant has become so popular in homes across the globe. It is a hardy member of the Sansevieria genus and flourishes in cool climates as a houseplant as well as in warm climates when it is kept outdoors.

If possible, start off with a vigorous looking specimen. Look for a deep green plant with firm upright leaves. Pale wilted leaves indicate that the plant is diseased or maltreated and may require considerable effort to recover.

Aspect of Care:
Ideal Conditions:
Lighting
The more light the better! Snake plants love plenty of light.
Soil Conditions
Tight pots to grow in are best. Cramped quarters are preferred.
Watering
A good soaking every 2 to 3 weeks is enough. Let the soil dry out in between.
Fertilizer
A small amount of fertilizer during the warmer months of the year.
Use the leaves of the snake plant as an indicator of how healthy it is.
Use the leaves of the snake plant as an indicator of how healthy it is.

1. Roots

Matted and tangled roots usually mean that a plant is root-bound and has outgrown its container. A snake plant is different. It prefers being root-bound and is more likely to bloom in this situation. Wait until your snake plant becomes so tall that the container won’t stand upright. When it’s time to re-pot your plant, transfer it to a slightly larger container and add fresh soil. Make sure that you use a pot that allows the water to drain properly. Poor drainage will cause the snake plants roots to rot.

2. Sunlight

Snake plants flourish in a sunny window and direct light. The more sunlight this tropical plant receives, the better it grows. You can place it in a north facing window or another low light location, but give it sunlight whenever you get the chance. They are generally very forgiving plants and will survive in wide range of light and temperature conditions. The ideal temperature range is 60 to 80°F. Move your plant to a warmer location if the foliage turns yellow.

3. Watering

It is better to err on the side of under-watering your snake plant. This species is a succulent and stores water in its leaves. It will rot if it is given too much water. Allow the soil to thoroughly dry between watering. Think of the leaves as a barometer for your plant’s water status. Drooping leaves means that you are over watering. Wrinkled and bent foliage means that you are under-watering. Try poking your index finger about one inch into the soil. Do not water your plant if the soil is moist. The snake plant needs water if the soil is very dry and does not cling to your finger.

Use room temperature water to drench your soil once every two to three weeks. Avoid pouring the water inside the ring of leaves. Pour the water on the soil near the base of the plant to avoid damage to the plant and increase water absorbtion. Don't be afraid to regularly check the soil’s moisture content to avoid over watering your plant.

Important Tip:

A snake plant in a sunny location requires more water in the summer than the winter.

4. Use of Fertilizer

It is usually best to fertilize your snake plant with an all purpose plant food during warm weather. This is the time when it needs the extra nutrients the most. You can eliminate the fertilizer completely in the winter and fall because snake plants don’t need the extra nutrients in cold weather.

Conclusion

Not many plants out there can boast that they remove multiple toxins from the air you breathe in your home, but this one can! A little care and attention can ensure that you enjoy your snake plant for years to come. Lucky for you that these plants are generally pretty hardy and you will likely have great success!

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References:

NASA Clean Air Study - Wikipedia. (2017). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

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