How To Look After Snake Plants
Snake Plants are a regular favorite here with us at The Geometric Planter. We know them as Snake Plants, but they can also be referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue or their official name, Sansevieria.
It gets its most commonly known name, Snake Plant, from the shape of its leaves which look like a snake in a raised standing position.
The Snake Plant is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae (the group of plants it’s related to), which are native to tropical West Africa.
We are seeing more and more of these plants in peoples homes and that’s definitely a good thing, just as long as you know how to look after them.
That’s what we are going to help you with today, we'll cover everything you need to know to have a beautiful, healthy and tall Snake Plant.
With their tall sharp lines and shear willpower to survive they really are the perfect house plant even for the laziest of plant owners.
Not only do they look great, they also purify and filter the air in your home.
Check out our article on the best indoor plants for purifying the air in your home here.
With so many options it can be a task in itself to know which Snake Plant to bring home. How do you know which one is healthy, strong and the best candidate for your home?
Here’s some things to keep in mind.
You’re going to want to choose one that has nice dark green leaves. Leaves that are too pale are a quick indication that the leaves are already starting to lose their strength.
Have a look to see if the plant needs to be re-potted. If it does need to be re-potted it's best to go for a strong pot like a nice terra cotta pot, one that allows for good drainage. Combine that with some potting mix and you’ll have a healthy, strong and tall plant in no time.
Ok, so how do you know if the Snake Plant actually needs to be repotted?
Basically, what you are looking for is to see if its roots are overcrowded in its current container.
Here are some signs that it’s going to need to be repotted soon:
- You see the roots coming thought the drain hole.
- You can see matted roots near the soils surface.
- If you pull the pot away from the plant and you see more roots than soil.
These are all signs that the plant has outgrown its current pot. These signs don’t just apply to Snake Plants, they apply to all plants.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn't choose one that does need to be repotted, it’s just good to know before you bring it home.
Choosing the Soil
Once you have chosen the perfect Snake Plant, the next task is choosing the best type of soil and with the huge selection that is on offer this can get overwhelming quickly.
Snake Plants are prone to rotting, so they love to be planted in a free draining soil mix which helps to maximize drainage.
It’s important to use a pot that won’t trap water inside of the pot, so you’ll want something that has drainage holes and a saucer. Be sure to go ahead and remove any standing water from the saucer to reduce their chance of rotting.
When you first get your Snake Plant knowing where to put it, how much water to feed it and how much sun they need are all questions that we’ve asked before in the past.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at these points now.
These plants are tough! Like super tough and extra resilient. These guys will fight to stay alive even if you forget about them.
That being said, follow these watering tips. Water along the sides of the plant and avoid watering the center of the spiral of the leaves and keep watering until water starts to drain from the bottom. Then, empty the drained water from the tray.
Cold tap water isn’t really ideal for most indoor plants, they like tepid water. Imagine the temperature of rain water, it’s never freezing cold, more just slightly cold than freezing kind of cold.
That is the temperature your plants like the most.
Leaving some water to sit out for a while is best, this allows the water to acclimate to the room temperature, usually the longer its left the better but we go for 48 hours. This ensures that the water standing out has enough time to not only shake itself of that coldness from the tap but to also dissipate chlorine and fluorides and anything else your water contains that can harm your plant.
During the winter months you can reduce the amount of watering your Snake Plant needs. Feel the soil, if it feels quite dry then that’s your biggest indication that it needs to be watered again, if the leaves start to droop then that another universal indicator that it needs watering.
Like we mentioned, Snake Plants are fighters. They do well when you almost forget about them. During watering’s try not to get those big leaves drenched in water, a little mist is great but too much on their leaves isn’t good for them.
A little mist is perfect for when your Snake Plant needs a wipe clean. Spray some mist onto their leaves and use a soft cloth to wipe the water away, this will keep the leaves healthy and squeaky clean at the same time.
This also doubles as a way to keep nasty pests away from your plant, we'll dive into more detail on this later.
It's common for a few brown spots to pop up here and there on your Snake Plant, as long as they are small and not prominent then you have nothing to worry about.
If your plant starts to display reddish-brown areas, sunken lesions or a white web-like growth that turns brown and hardens over time, then you most likely have a fungal problem. The most common ones are southern blight and red leaf spot.
Avoiding these should be a huge priority as these problems can wilt, rot and kill your Snake Plant.
Monitoring your watering is step one, don’t over-water, keep touching the soil to feel whether it feels dry or not, if it does then it can be watered. (A good rule of thumb to follow is water every 2-5 weeks).
Keeping the leaves dry is the next step to avoiding fungal issues, followed by good soil that provides good drainage and keeping your Snake Plant warm and not too cold.
Good practices for your Snake Plants
Sun: They can definitely withstand full sun exposure and even low levels of light. Indirect sunlight is the best and the most ideal situation for Snake Plants.
Just find an area in your home that lets the sun through for a small portion of the day.
Tip: We have big glass doors that open on to a balcony, they are great for letting light into the middle of our lounge but not so great for everywhere else, so corners hidden by furniture often don’t get much indirect sun light.
If your home is anything like ours, what we like to do is occasionally put our Snake Plants outside on the balcony, there are lots of other houses and apartment buildings around us so the sunlight only hits a small part of the balcony for a short amount of time.
The plants love it because it gives them the perfect amount of sun for a short period of time.
Water: Snake Plants can quickly rot if water is left undrained in their pot, so don’t water it too much and reduce that amount even more in the winter months. Wait for the soil to dry between watering’s.
Use only about a 1/4 cup of water every few weeks. Always water on the edge of the base of the plant – never pour water directly over its leaves.
Temperature: If we get really technical about the best temperatures for your Snake Plant we would advise 55=85℉ is best for them. If you live in colder climates anything below 50℉ can cause harm to your plant so you may want to look into heating methods to keep your plant comfortable and warm.
Pests: Pests can be the worst thing about house plants. If you find yourself suddenly dealing with pests, don’t worry you are not alone!
Overwatering is the most common reason. Luckily Snake Plants have very few known insect problems.
The main ones that they deal are, mealybugs and spider mites. These pests cause small wounds and sometimes leaf shedding by sucking at the sap from their leaves.
Fortunately dealing with them isn’t a big deal.
All you need is some alcohol to tackle the mealybugs, just add some alcohol to a cloth and dab them.
To get rid of the spider mites you’ll just want to wash the leaves occasionally. Best way to do this is to use a spray bottle and slightly dampen the leaves then using a soft cloth run up and down the big beautiful leaves ensuring that you dry them after wiping.
Keeping them clean like this will drastically reduce spider mites.
One final thing you can do is to increase the humidity around your plant.
Snake Plants are easily one of the best choices for new gardeners or for anyone looking to introduce some green in their home without wanting to be tied down by more needy plants.
We love them and know you will too!