How to Grow, Care For & Propagate Snake Plants

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two snake plants on a dresser

Snake plants are a low-maintenance houseplant that’s easy to grow while making a striking statement with their architectural leaves . Learn more about how to grow, care for, and propagate sansevierias!

How to Grow, Care For & Propagate Snake Plants

What is a snake plant?

Snake plants, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue and viper’s bowstring hemp, are a striking plant with stiff, upright leaves that can add a modern or architectural element to your home.

Snake plants were previously classified under the genus Sansevieria but were reclassified as Dracaena in 2017.

Snake plants are also unique in that they release oxygen at night – making them great air purifiers.

Are snake plants easy to grow?

Snake plants are a hardy, low-maintenance houseplant that’s easy to grow – they’re great for beginners because they’re resilient enough to bounce back if you make a mistake or two.

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Dracaena (formerly Sansevieria) laurentii

Dracaena (formerly Sansevieria) trifasciata

Dracaena (formerly Sansevieria) zeylanica

snake plant in a bedroom

How to Care for a Snake Plant

Snake plants are a low maintenance plant – they’re often said to thrive on neglect!

Sansevierias can adapt to several different light sources and only need water once they’ve thoroughly dried out, making them a great houseplant for people who travel, don’t have a lot of outdoor space, or are just learning to grow plants at home.

How much light do snake plants need?

Sansevierias are often listed as low light plants but they really want steady and bright indirect light. They can survive (but not necessarily thrive) in low light and can adapt to full sun – although their leaves can get burnt in direct sunlight.

If your snake plant is in full sun or direct light and the tips turn brown it may be due to too much sun or excessive heat and you should move it into another area where the light isn’t so direct.

If your snake plant has drooping leaves or is turning pale or yellowy where leaf patterns are no longer prominent it might not be getting enough light.

Learn more about types of light and how to care for plants >>

What kind of soil do snake plants need?

Snake plants are prone to rot from overwatering, so they prefer a loose, free-draining potting mix – soilless mixes or sandy soils like cactus or succulent mixes work well.

You should not use a heavy potting medium like one that contains clay, peat moss, or any soil that stays moist.

You can mix perlite or sphagnum peat moss into your potting mix to promote drainage and aeration.

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Superfly Bonsai

Succulent & cactus mix

Espoma

Organic perlite

Better-Gro

Sphagnum Moss

How much water do snake plants need?

Sansevierias need very little water – you’re more likely to cause damage by overwatering! You should only water your snake plant when the soil is completely dry.

You can see how dry the soil is by sticking your finger a few inches into the dirt to see if it feels dry or moist.

I usually water my snake plants every 4-6 weeks, but the time between waterings will depend on how big your plants are and how large the pot is.

What do I do if I overwatered my snake plant?

If your snake plant’s leaves are falling over or are easily pulled off you may be overwatering. Overwatering can cause root rot – you can see if you have root rot by looking at your Sansevieria’s root system – if it pulls right out of the soil, doesn’t have long roots (or any roots), has mushy roots, or smells you may have root rot from overwatering.

If you suspect root rot you can try repotting your plant into a more suitable container – either a smaller pot (if your pot is too big), a pot with better drainage, or by changing the potting mix to something that promotes better drainage.

If you think your plant is too far gone from root rot to repot, you can attempt to save your plant by propagating new plants from cuttings.

What do I do if my snake plant isn’t growing?

Snake plants are slow growers, but if your snake plant happy try looking for the following signs:

If your snake plant has drooping leaves, is turning yellow, or its leaf patterns are no longer prominent, it might not be getting enough light. Try moving it to another area with bright indirect light.

If your snake plant’s leaves are turning brown at the tips it might be getting too much light and you can try moving it a little bit further away from its current light source.

If your snake plant pulls right out of the soil or has droopy leaves it might be getting too much water – you should try giving it a break from water for several days. If your pot doesn’t have drainage or you’re using a very compact, moist soil you might consider repotting your plant, amending the soil with perlite or sphagnum moss to improve drainage, or using a potting mix that’s for cactuses and succulents.

If your snake plant’s leaves are getting wrinkled and droopy your snake plant might not be getting enough water – you can give it a good drink and reassess in a few days.

If your snake plant has outgrown its pot and is rootbound, you can try repotting your snake plant.

How to repot a snake plant

When should I repot my snake plant?

Snake plants are slow growers – they only need repotting every few years, and only if they’re very root-bound.

In fact, snake plants like to bit root-bound, so you should only repot if your container has little to no soil or if it starts getting droopy or pale leaves.

While repotting, you might also decide to divide your snake plant to propagate more.

What size pot should I use to repot my snake plant?

Remember – snake plants like to be a bit root-bound, so repot your snake plant into a container that’s only one size larger than its current container. Using a pot that’s too large can also cause root rot from excess potting soil.

You should look for a pot with drainage or, at the very least, make sure you add a layer of rocks at the bottom and use a potting mix that encourages drainage like cactus and succulent mix or something that includes perlite or sphagnum moss.

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6″ + 4.5″ concrete dot planter set

8″ white ceramic hobnail textured pot

Mid century plant stand with 10″ pot

propagate a snake plant in water

How to propagate snake plants

You can propagate snake plants by either dividing the plant at the rhizome or by propagation from a leaf cutting in either soil or water.

How to divide your snake plant

To divide your snake plant, pull the plant out of its container, brush away the dirt, and look at its base – you should see its rhizomes, which are whitish root-like structures that connect the mother plant to its babies. Using a sharp, clean blade, cut the base into sections.

Leave the plant out to let the rhizome callous over for a few days. After a few days, plant each section into a loose, well-draining potting mix.

How to get a cutting from a snake plant leaf

To propagate snake plants from cuttings, you should select a healthy leaf that isn’t too old and cut it from the plant using a sharp, clean blade. Cutting a v-shaped notch at the bottom of each cutting can increase the surface area where roots can grow from.

You can propagate an entire leaf or cut the leaf into 3-4″ long segments to propagate several plants from a single leaf.

You should leave the cuttings out for 1-2 days to callous over before putting them into water or soil.

Can I propagate snake plants in water?

propagating snake plants in water

Propagating snake plants in water can take several weeks to see the first few roots and several months before producing a new leaf.

To propagate a snake plant in water, take your cutting (which should have been left out to callous over) and place it in enough water to cover the cut edges of the cutting.

Change the water every few days and monitor for root and new leaf growth. Once you’ve established roots that are about 2 inches long, you can plant your cutting into a loose, well-draining potting mix.

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Mkono

Wood propagation station

Gentlecarin

Metal glass vase frame

Modern Botanical

Propagation frame bundles

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Can I propagate snake plants in soil?

To propagate a snake plant in soil, take your cutting (which should have been left out to callous over) and place it in a loose, well-draining potting mix.

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