Craving a green thumb but don’t know where to start? If you’re new to gardening a drought tolerant and sun loving plant might be perfect for you. Snake plants make becoming a plant parent a breeze, and with these simple tips you’ll be on your way to a houseplant owner’s paradise in no time.
What is a Snake Plant?
A snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is a perennial broadleaf evergreen plant native to the tropical zones of Africa. The leaves are thick and vertically erect and bear resemblance to a cactus or succulent. The stiff leaves will often have horizontal stripes scaling both sides of the leaf, and alternating between deep and light green colors, but can also appear pale green, yellow, tan, and even white. Its resulate leaves appear stemless and resemble the shape and texture of a snake, hence the name.
A snake plant’s tall pointed leaves are guaranteed to spice up any room as a head-turning centerpiece, but don’t get too overwhelmed by its striking image. They tend to do better when they are left to their own devices, meaning less work for you!
Being native to the dry tropics of Africa means if there’s one thing to remember, it’s the less water the better! Always make sure to let the potting soil dry out before watering your snake plant again. To ensure your soil is dry before watering, stick a finger into the soil and feel for dampness; if you feel moisture wait a few days before watering.
Remember, overwatering is the main cause of snake plant failures. If there are no drainage holes, or the plant is being watered too often, the roots will rot and the erect leaves will wilt and feel squishy to the touch.
Generally sticking to a watering regiment of once every two weeks will suffice, but in the winter switch to watering monthly.
Terra cotta pots with drainage holes are ideal because the soil can aerate more easily than in alternative pot materials. Potting with a dry soil mixture such as a mix for succulents will set your new plant baby up for success because these soil blends are more porous.
When potting make sure the base of the plant is relatively close to the rim of the pot to avoid planting your snake plant too deep and obstructing its growth.
These pointy pals will flourish in an area that gets approximately two to six hours of sunlight a day, but will tolerate anything from low-light to high light.
A basic trick of the trade is to put this houseplant near a window facing east so it will receive moderate light as the day passes by. Place your snake plant in a shaded area with minimal light if you want it to grow slower over time (they can grow up to four feet!)
Temperature and Humidity
Snake plant’ s favor temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Anything colder could risk discoloration and even curling leaves. Even brief interactions with the cold can damage your snake plant so avoid frigid weather if you can. If you notice whitish marks on your snake plant that are mushy to the touch, it’s a sign that the environment is too cold.
Similar to water, the lower the humidity levels the happier your plant will be. Since they’re native to a dry arid climate they prefer humidity levels of 30 to 50 percent which is a normal level for most houses naturally. An easy fix for too high or too low humidity is to use a dehumidifier or a humidifier as needed.
Vertical leaves will occasionally get dusty which can easily be remedied by misting the leaves with water and wiping them down with a soft piece of fabric. This should be done whenever you notice a dull coating over the majority of your plant. Your plant will thank you with a vibrant glow!
How to Encourage “Pups”:
If a snake plant is not generating new shoots it’s likely because there is not enough sunlight. If the plant is moved near a window with more direct sun and is still not producing pups, try adding some more water.
How to Encourage a Bloom:
Outside of its natural environment, snake plants don’t blossom often. In all likelihood your snake plant will not bloom, but where’s the harm in trying? If you would like to persuade a blossom, your best bet is giving your plant a lot of direct sunlight and leaving them in a pot. If the plant does flower, pale green flowers extend from a tall rod from the center of the plant.
Dividing your Snake Plant:
A general rule of thumb is to divide your snake plant annually if you have noticed substantial growth. To do this, remove your plant from the pot and begin separating independent clusters (you should be able to feel through the soil which clusters are connected) from one another.
If your plant is in good condition chances are the pot will be packed tight with small roots, don’t be afraid to rip through them, the plant can take it. Once you have the clusters separated, re-pot them with the same conditions.
The plant will most-likely need to be repotted every five years or so.
Sit Back and Admire!
Now that you have some of the basics of snake plant care under your belt, you’re one step closer to welcoming a new plant into your home. As long as you remember to keep your snake plant in the correct conditions by ensuring it’s exposed to some light throughout the day, and taking extra care not to overwater it, you’re guaranteed to succeed in raising your plant baby.
All that’s left to do now is search for a cozy nook or cranny in your house to display your new plant pal. A snake plant offers a unique decor aspect in any room and is guaranteed to flourish under the right conditions, especially under the protection of such a well prepared owner!
If you’ve had a snake plant or are new to these splendid plants, leave a comment below. Happy Planting!