Snake Plant Care – What is a Snake Plant
Snake plants are succulent-like species that are native to tropical areas in and around West Africa. They are resilient and can survive extended periods of dryness, making snake plant care a breeze.
Snake plants receive their name due to their appearance, which looks like snake skin. However, they are also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, Saint George’s sword, cow’s tongue, tiger tails, and more.
The resilience of snake plants to drought and warm temperatures makes them perfect house plants. As a result, they are hardy and easy to care for.
Snake plants thrive in dry environments. They need water when the top inch of soil is dry. Water once every two to three weeks.
Their native environment often experiences drought, so forgetting to water them isn’t the end of the world. In fact, infrequent waterings will benefit the plant in the long run.
Surprisingly, snake plants are more likely to be given too much water than not enough. It is usually better to not water if unsure.
Water snake plants by soaking the top of the soil gently. This prevents water from becoming trapped inside of leaves. Trapped water will cause the leaves of the plant to quickly rot.
Similar to most other plants, (succulents especially) snake plants need less water in the winter. This mimics their native environments and lets the plant go dormant for a few months.
Dormancy will slow growth and allow the plant to prepare for the next growing season. Dormancy periods reduce stress and create healthier plants.
Go to gardenforindoor.com to learn more about snake plant water requirements.
Snake plant care is easy and this is true for light requirements. Snake plants are able to survive in almost any kind of light.
However, they prefer indirect sunlight. For example, a room with a window will provide plenty of light for the plant to survive.
Their native location in Africa (as well as spreading to Australia) means that they tolerate full sun. Too much sun will stunt their growth, so bright areas should be avoided.
Snake plants with white leaves are receiving too much sun. The white coloration indicates bleaching by over exposure to light rays.
On the other hand, if they do not receive enough light they will stop growing. Avoid placing them in a dark room that gets little to no sun.
The best temperature for snake plants is between 70-90°F (21-32°C). Room temperature will be sufficient.
Plants will suffer and begin to wilt below 50°F(10°C). They need to be brought inside if the outdoor temperature reaches 50°F(10°C).
Avoid placing snake plants next to air conditioning units and other drafty areas. This will dry out leaves and chill the plant.
As a result of their hardiness, snake plants will survive sharp fluctuations of temperature, as long as its within the range of 60-90°F (15-32°C).
Snake plants live in areas with sandy and rock soils. This soils drain fast and prevent water from sitting near roots.
Fast draining potting soils are the best option for snake plants. On the other hand, adding sand or perlite to most soils will be suitable.
Cactus mixes or other well-draining soils will also work for snake plants.
Snake plants should be placed in pots that quickly drain. This will stop water from sitting and prevent root rot and other diseases.
Pots housing snake plants should always have drainage holes on the bottom to allow water to escape. If the plant is currently in a pot without drainage holes, then it needs repotted. If repotting is not possible, cutting holes in the pots will also work.
Keep plants in terracotta pots. Terracotta is a porous material that allows air to pass through and dry out soil. Water will seep down and out of the pot, preventing water from sitting and causing rot or disease.
Stone and ceramic pots are also porous and act similar to terracotta pots. They are a great second option if terracotta isn’t available or looks unattractive to a viewer.
To learn more about the types of pots and their uses, click here: sunspotnursery.com
Snake Plant Propagation
(For an in-depth guide on snake plant propagation, visit out webpage at sunspotnursery.com. Otherwise, the following section is a summarized guide.)
Snake plants can be propagated to create new plants in a variety of different ways.
Rooting Leaves in Water
The easiest and most common way is by using leaves. Cut off a healthy leaf and place it in a container of water. Use a cutting tool that has been sterilized in alcohol. The container should be large enough to hold the leaf cutting up right.
There should be enough water to cover a quarter of the leaf. Too much water will cause the cutting to rot, however, too little will prevent roots from forming.
Place the cutting in a spot that gets indirect light. Unlike rooted plants, cutting should receive more sunlight to promote root growth. The water in the container needs changed every few days to prevent bacterial spread and lack of oxygen.
In a few weeks roots will form on the lower end of the cutting. Once they are large enough the cutting can be potted and cared for like a normal plant.
Rooting Cuttings in Soil
Another way to propagate snake plants is by allowing cuttings to callous over. Take leaf cuttings using a sterile tool and allow them to sit in a sunny location for a few days.
The cutting will form a callous to hold in water. Directly place it into damp, well draining soil. Lightly mist the soil every day to prevent it from drying out, but never let the soil become soaked.
After a couple of weeks the cutting will produce its own roots. It can be cared for like a normal snake plant. Reduce waterings to prevent rot and disease after the plant has rooted.
Snake plants will naturally spread by growing horizontal stems (rhizomes) under the soil. As a result of rhizome growth, a new plant will be produced at the end of the underground stems.
The new plant is an identical clone to the mother, and it will have the same traits. After some time, the new plant will emerge from the soil. Later, it will produce its own root system.
Once the new plant (called a pup) is a few inches tall, a sterile cutting tool can be used to separate it from the mother plant. Cut the rhizome near the mother plant to give the pup the most rooting material. This will help it grow faster and reduce the risk of wilting.
Pot the pup in well draining soil and care for it like a normal snake plant. Eventually, it will produce new pups of its own.
Go to smartgardenguide.com to learn more about snake plant propagation tips and methods.
When to Repot Snake Plants
Snake plant care is easy and low maintenance. Plants prefer crowded root systems, so don’t worry about repotting every year or two. They will happily survive in the same pot fro 3-6 years before needing a transplant.
Avoid repotting snake plants during the winter time. The plants are in a resting/dormant phase, and interrupting this can cause them stress. Repot plants during early spring or summer.
They will need repotted once the plant has filled out its entire container and can no longer produce new pups.