Dracaena trifasciata, or Snake plant, has a myriad of names. It was previously classified as a Sansevieria trifasciata but was reclassified to the Dracaena genus. You may, however, know it by its common names; Mother in law's tongue or Snake plant.
Snake plant is a type of hardy houseplant with the most common variety having long, tall leaves coming from the central crown. Snake plants have grown in popularity due to their ease of care and being the perfect plant for first time plant parents.
Snake Plant Care: How to Grow this Diehard Houseplant
Whether kept as indoor plants or outdoor plants, snake plants can endure almost anything.
Proper soil is key to making your snake plant live longer and happy. Snake plants have fragile, small roots that can fall to root rot easily. So making a chunky, airy mix is key. Using fresh soil and mixing equal part of perlite and orchid bark would be ideal.
Always use a pot with drainage holes. If you tend to over water plants, pot your snake plant in terracotta. Use a ceramic pot if you underwater.
Chunky soil for snake plants
When it comes to light, snake plants can handle a range of light - bright light to low light. Keep in mind, your snake plant may need to be slowly acclimated to bright light to prevent foliage burn. And when kept in bright light, your snake plant sansevieria may need more frequent waterings.
In low light, a snake plant will still thrive but may be significantly slow in growth. You'll also need to be careful with watering. If your snake plant is watered too often with low light, it'll sure have root rot. Snake plants have small, fragile roots that are easily susceptible to root rot.
Water your snake plant when the soil is completely dry. My rule of thumb is to water your snake plant as often as you pay your rent or mortgage. And if it's more than that, your snake plant might get root rot.
For root rot, completely unpot your snake plant and cut back any rotting roots. Always make sure to plant your snake plant in an airy soil mix.
Temperature and Humidity
For temperature, snake plants aren't particular as long as it's above 55 degrees F. Anything colder will shock them and possibly kill your snake plant, they don't tolerate frost well. They'll thrive best in warm temperatures ranging 75 degrees F to 90 degrees F.
Average household humidity is perfect for snake plants. Even if you have dry air, no need to break out the humidifier for any of the types of snake plant.
Continue to feed your snake plant as long as it's pushing out new growth, especially during the growing season. A well balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer will suffice, either slow release or dilute liquid fertilizer.
Click here to learn more about fertilizing your plants.
What are the most common snake plant varieties?
Dracaena trifasciata 'Hahnii'
One of the most common snake plants you'll see in big box store. It's a bird's nest type of snake plant and can have dark green leaves or yellow variegated edges.
This snake plant is a cylindrical snake plant with long, smooth cylindrical type leaves.
Dracaena trifasciata 'Laurentii'
This snake plant is the one that comes to most peoples mind when thinking of snake plants. This snake plant has long sword like leaves that can grow up to 6ft long and have creamy yellow leaf margins.
Dracaena trifasciata 'Bantel’s Sensation'
Bentel Sensation is a variegated variety of snake plant. With the sword like leaves having white vertical stripes and slightly thinner leaves than the typical snake plant.
This snake plant is commonly known as Rhino grass. This snake plant grows in clumps and has long vertical leaves. The leaves are typically thinner than the cylindrical snake plant, and makes a nice statement type plant.
Common houseplant pests for snake plants
In my experience, snake plants don't really attract pests like other popular houseplants. However, you should still be on the look out for common pest and be proactive with pest prevention.
Spider mites would be the first common houseplant pest you may notice on your snake plant, especially if you have your snake plant in an area where it may be neglected a lot. Dusty and neglected plants will be prone to spider mites and pests more than a plants kept in prime, happy conditions
Thrips are dark thin bodied insects that fed on the insides of any type of foliage. In the adult stage, thrips can fly, so catching an outbreak early is key. If you notice thin bodied crawlers on the underside of leaves or a outbreak of yellowing leaves, it's time to treat for pests.
Click HERE to read about common houseplant pest and how to treat them.
Propagating Snake Plant
Snake plant propagation is much different than the everyday houseplant. They can be propagated a couple different ways.
Propagate via root division
Snake plants will often put out pups or off shoots that can be easily divided. First unpot the snake plant so the roots and pups are exposed. Next, using clean shears or a sharp knife, cut the pup off the mother plant. Most times, these pups already have roots. But incase it doesn't, simply stick the pup in soil and on a sunny window. In a few short weeks, it'll grow roots and be a its own plant.
One of the most fun ways to propagate a snake plant is through leaf cuttings. Simply cut a leaf from your snake plant and prop it in water or soil. Sometimes, it helps to cut the leaf cuttings in a V shape at the base. And placing the leaf cuttings in water will give you the chance to see the roots grow. Snake plants don't need nodes in order to propagate like with other common houseplants.
Always make sure to stick fresh cuttings in a sunny window or under a grow light. Give the plants 6-8 weeks to fully develop. Then, you can put your baby plants in their own pots.
Pro tip: If you have a variegated snake plant, the variegation won't carry over from leaf cuttings. To continue the variegation, you'll have to propagate by root division.
Click here to read our top tips on propagating cuttings.
Common Problems With Snake Plant
The most common problem you may notice with your snake plant is rotting leaves. As mentioned earlier, snake plants are prone to root rot. You always want to err on the side of under-watering your snake plant rather than overwatering. If you notice a rotting leaf, cut the leaf off at the base and check the roots. Cut the rotting roots off and repot in a well draining soil to prevent root rot.
Snake plant in terra cotta pot
Another cause for rotting leaves is from water being trapped in the middle of the snake plant after watering, especially in the bird's nest varieties. To prevent this, avoid watering the middle of the plant or placing the snake plant in a warm spot to dry out.
Wrinkles on leaves
On the other hand, if you notice a few leaves on your snake plant stay wrinkled a day or two after watering, your snake plant might be suffering from too much under-watering. In this case, unpot your snake plant, cut the dead roots and repot in a more dense potting soil.
Floppy or droopy leaves happen most times with older, larger snake plants. This is something that's inevitable as the leaves get too large for the plant to support it. Placing it in brighter direct sunlight can help the snake plant produce more energy and possibly help the leaves from drooping over. Alternatively, you can tie the leaves together using twine or plant velcro. And if the droopy leaves are too much of an eye sore, you could just prune the leaves off.
You can also use a Cactrella to support the droopy leaf and add an aesthetic backdrop to the plant.
More plant related articles: