If you’re looking for a low-maintenance yet impressive houseplant that can thrive in almost any condition, look no further than the snake plant, formerly known as Sansevieria and now part of the Dracaena genus.
This resilient plant is known for its long, sword-like leaves, and is ideal for those who are new to plant parenthood. This makes it one of the easiest houseplants to grow!
Belonging to the Asparagaceae family, Sansevieria comprises around 60 species native to Africa, notably Madagascar, and southern Asia. Although it was once recognized as its own genus, molecular phylogenetic studies have now included Sansevieria in the genus Dracaena since 2018.
An interesting fact about this is that the debate of whether Sansevieria is actually a Dracaena dates back to the 19th century! Who knew?! But in this article, I’ll refer to it as Sansevieria since many of us are still used to calling it that.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know to keep your Sansevieria happy and healthy as a master gardener. I’ll include growing tips and tricks to help you easily grow this striking houseplant at home.
Botanical Name: Dracaena genus (formerly part of Sansevieria spp.)
Common Name: Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp
Plant Type: Evergreen perennial, common houseplant
Hardiness Zones: 9 – 11 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Bright indirect light
Soil Type: Sandy, well-drained
Soil pH: Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
Height: 6 inches to 2 feet
Native Area: West Africa
Sansevieria (Snake Plant) Care
Sansevierias, also known as Snake Plants, are popular houseplants that are easy to care for and add a touch of greenery to any room. They’re fairly easy to care for once you learn the basics. Let’s go over them in more detail to help you easily care for this stunning plant.
One of the great things about the snake plant is its ability to adapt to a variety of lighting conditions. It can tolerate low light conditions, making it a great plant for offices or dimly lit rooms.
However, if you want your snake plant to thrive, it’s best to place it in bright light. This will help it grow more quickly and produce more leaves. However, too much direct sun can cause foliage to burn.
It’s important to note that direct sunlight can be harmful to the snake plant, so be sure to keep it away from windows that receive a lot of sun. If your plant is not doing well, try moving it to a brighter spot and see if that helps.
When it comes to soil, the snake plant is not picky. It can do well in all-purpose potting soil, as well as cactus or succulent soil. The most important thing is to use a well-draining mix with good drainage, as soggy soil can lead to root rot.
A soil mixture containing pumice, perlite, or wood chips will provide them with the drainage they need to thrive.
It’s also a good idea to repot your snake plant every few years to refresh the soil and give it more room to grow.
The snake plant is used to dry conditions, so it’s important not to overwater it. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out completely before watering, which should happen every 2-3 weeks.
Be sure to water at the base of the plant, rather than on the leaves, to avoid getting water on the foliage. Water this houseplant significantly less during winter months when it won’t need as much water.
Also, make sure to allow excess water from the grow pot to drain properly since overwatering will lead to bacterial issues.
If you’re not sure when to water your snake plant, you can use a moisture meter or simply stick your finger into the soil to see if it feels dry.
Temperature and Humidity
One of the reasons the snake plant is so popular is its ability to tolerate a wide range of temperature and humidity levels. It can survive in temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C), making it a great plant for cooler rooms. However, it will grow best in temperatures between 70-90°F (21-32°C).
As for humidity, the snake plant doesn’t require any special conditions. It can do well in both dry and humid environments, so you don’t need to worry about adding a humidifier to your plant’s space.
While snake plants are not heavy feeders, they do benefit from occasional fertilization. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer that’s diluted to half strength. Apply it during the growing season (spring and summer), and avoid fertilizing during the dormant season (fall and winter).
Over-fertilizing can be harmful to the snake plant, so be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and don’t apply too much.
Types of Sansevieria
Sansevieria, also known as snake plants, are popular indoor plants that come in various types. These plants are low maintenance and are perfect for beginners. They are also known for their air-purifying properties, making them a great addition to any home or office space.
One of the most popular types of Sansevieria is the Sansevieria trifasciata. This plant has long, pointed leaves that are dark green with light green horizontal stripes. It can grow up to 3-4 feet tall and is known for its air-purifying abilities.
The Sansevieria cylindrica, also known as African spear plant, is another popular type of Sansevieria. This plant has cylindrical leaves that grow upright and can reach up to 2-3 feet tall. Its leaves are dark green with light green horizontal stripes, and it is known for its unique look and air-purifying abilities.
The Sansevieria zeylanica, also known as bowstring hemp, is a type of Sansevieria that has long, narrow leaves that grow upright. Its leaves are dark green with light green horizontal stripes, and it can grow up to 2-3 feet tall. This plant is known for its air-purifying abilities and is perfect for those who want a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in low light conditions.
When choosing a Sansevieria plant, it is important to consider the care needs of each variety. While all Sansevieria plants are low maintenance, some may require more sunlight or water than others. Be sure to research the specific type of Sansevieria you are interested in before bringing it home.
How to Propagate Sansevieria
If you’re looking to expand your collection or share your plant with friends, propagating sansevieria is a great option.
Propagation via Division
The easiest way to propagate Sansevieria is through division. To do this, start by removing the plant from its pot and gently separating the roots. Look for natural divisions in the plant, such as where multiple shoots are growing from the same root system.
Use a clean, sharp knife to cut through the roots and separate the sections. Be sure to use a clean knife to prevent the spread of disease between plants.
Once you have your sections separated, plant each one in a new pot with fresh soil. Sansevieria prefers well-draining soil, so choose a pot with drainage holes and use a soil mix that contains perlite or sand to improve drainage.
Water your newly potted sansevieria sparingly at first, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
Propagation via Leaf Cutting
If you don’t want to divide your sansevieria, or if you don’t have enough plants to divide, you can also propagate through leaf cuttings. To do this, select a healthy leaf from your plant and use a clean, sharp knife to cut it into sections. Each section should be at least a few inches long and should include a small section of the main stem.
Plant your leaf cuttings in a pot with soil and water sparingly, as with the divided sections. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and place the pot in a bright, indirect light. Over time, your leaf cuttings will develop roots and new shoots will emerge from the soil.
Propagation is a great way to share your love of Sansevieria with others, or to expand your own collection of these beautiful and easy-to-care-for plants. With a little patience and care, you can easily propagate sansevieria through division or leaf cuttings.
Potting and Repotting Sansevieria
When it comes to potting, it’s essential to choose the right container and soil. Sansevieria is a succulent, so it prefers well-draining soil that doesn’t hold onto moisture.
A mix of potting soil, sand, and perlite is an excellent option. As for the pot, choose one that’s only slightly larger than the current one. Sansevieria is a slow-growing plant, so it doesn’t need a lot of room to grow.
When repotting your Sansevieria, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure the plant is in its active growing phase, which is typically in the spring or summer.
Next, gently remove the plant from its current pot, being careful not to damage the roots. If the roots are tightly packed, you may need to loosen them a bit to encourage new growth.
Before placing the plant in its new pot, add a layer of fresh soil to the bottom. Then, place the Sansevieria in the pot and fill in the gaps with more soil, being sure not to bury the plant too deeply. Water the plant thoroughly, and allow the soil to drain before returning it to its usual spot.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Sansevieria
While Sansevieria is a resilient plant, it’s still vulnerable to a few common pests and diseases. Some common issues include spider mites, mealybugs, root rot, and leaf spot.
To prevent these issues, make sure your plant is in a well-draining pot with well-draining soil, and allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering. If you do notice signs of pests or disease, treat your plant immediately with the appropriate method (such as an insecticidal soap for spider mites or a fungicide for leaf spot).
Spider mites are a common pest for Sansevieria plants, and they can cause serious damage if left untreated. These tiny pests are difficult to see with the naked eye, but you may notice a fine webbing on your plant or yellowing leaves. To get rid of spider mites, try using an insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Mealybugs are another common pest that can affect Sansevieria plants. These insects are small and white, and they tend to congregate in clusters on the leaves and stems of your plant. To get rid of mealybugs, try wiping them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Root rot is a fungal disease that can affect Sansevieria plants if they are overwatered or if they are planted in soil that doesn’t drain well. To prevent root rot, make sure your plant is in a well-draining pot with well-draining soil, and allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering. If you do notice signs of root rot (such as brown, mushy roots), you may need to repot your plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
Leaf spot is a fungal disease that can cause brown or black spots to appear on the leaves of your Sansevieria plant. To prevent leaf spot, make sure your plant is in a well-ventilated area with good air circulation, and avoid getting water on the leaves when you water your plant. If you do notice signs of leaf spot, try using a fungicide to treat the disease.
With proper care and attention, your Sansevieria can be a beautiful and low-maintenance addition to your home or office. These plants are known for their air-purifying properties, so they can help improve the air quality in your space.
As we learned in this article, sansevieria plants are also very easy to propagate, so you can share your love of these plants with your friends and family by giving them cuttings from your own plant. Happy growing!
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.