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The snake plant is primarily an indoor plant, but if you are lucky enough to live in Zones 8-11 you can also plant them outside, or take them in and out in pots as the weather changes. If you would like to add a tall green plant to your office, bedroom or patio containers, but you do not consider yourself much of a gardener yet, the snake plant is for you.
These plants are very easy to grow and virtually indestructible, and some varieties can grow as tall as 12 feet high. Since they are tropical plants that hail originally from West Africa, the one caveat is that if they grow outdoors they need to be in a warm climate. If you love the plant but live somewhere cooler, they also make great indoor plants!
How Often to Water Snake Plant
Snake plant is drought tolerant so it does not need much water to survive. Water your snake plant every other week and ensure that you do not overwater. If plants are in direct sunlight or warmer temperatures, they will want to be watered once a week. Watering times can even be stretched to six weeks if your plants are not in direct sunlight.
Snake Plant Information
Poisonous – Poisonous to adults, children, and animals
Scientific Name – Sansevieria
Life Cycle – Treat like an annual if planted outside, or keep in a pot and treat like a perennial, taking it outside as the weather in your area allows.
Soil Type – Well-drained soil
Plant Hardiness – Zones 8-11
Light Requirements – Bright but indirect
Water Requirements – Needs very little water
Planting Date – After the last frost
Flowering Season – Tiny flowers in the summer
Height – Normally 24-48 inches
Colors – Green and variegated leaves
Pests – Spider mites, scale, and mealybugs
Propagation – Cuttings from leaves and transplanting offsets
Snake Plant Varieties
There are over 60 varieties of snake plants, and they are usually known for their tall leaves that look like a snake’s tongue, rather than for their flowers. Although they do flower sometimes, they are tiny white flowers that most often come out because the plant is under stress.
And when it says 60 varieties, horticulturists mean variety! Snake plants can be a dwarf variety that grow to only 4 inches tall, or they could have snaked leaves that reach 12 feet high! Their leaves can be tinged with light green, dark green, yellow, grey, and all the colors in between. There is truly something for everyone! Especially if you are a new gardener.
Snake Plant Sansevieria
Types of Snake Plant
Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-law’s tongue)
This is the most common cultivar of the snake plant, with its variegated leaves and easy to grow long body. Although it can flower with beautiful, white, lily-like flowers, it is often a sign of stress when it does flower. Most people who enjoy a snake plant in their home or office have a mother-in-law’s tongue.
This cultivar, native to India, has broader and shorter leaves than the typical snake plant, and is more sought after. This plant is known as being “bulletproof”, as it needs very little in terms of care.
This fun cultivar will give you just what it sounds like, twisted leaves that are one to two feet tall. With green and yellow variegated leaves, this makes a nice addition to your office or garden because of its whimsical shape.
This dwarf variety will only top the height chart at 6 inches tall, but grows a beautiful, symmetrical rosette. The light-green leaves feature a band of dark green, and this variety can grow whitish-green flowers that are up to one inch high, typically with two together.
Propagation of Snake Plant
Snake plant is known as St. George’s Sword or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and is quite easy to grow. The Snake Plant grows most easily in two ways: From the tiny offsets it creates next to the mother plant, or from cuttings of its leaves.
Offsets: The snake plant itself grows offsets, which can be left alone to create a “mega” snake plant that can spread, or can be transplanted into other bigger pots. The offsets, for their part, will be growing near the base of the original and can be carefully separated and replanted. They are easy to grow and perfect for a new gardener.
Leaf Cuttings: You can also propagate snake plants from cuttings. To do this, cut small sections of the leaves and place them in water before transplanting them into a new pot. When the plants grow roots into the water, it is time to transplant them. If you try to do the leaf cuttings, be advised that this method will not work for variegated leaves.
With either method, use well-drained soil and understand from the beginning that they do not need too much water. Many snake plants are happy to be watered every other week, and some can happily go longer between waterings.
Troubleshooting with Pests
There are a few pests that will enjoy your snake plants even more than you will! Mealybugs, for instance, are white fuzzy looking bugs that will wreak havoc on your plants. Scale is a small brown insect that will look like a lump on your leaf. Spider mites also like the snake plant, and appear as yellow or brown spots. All of these pests will chomp on the leaves of your beautiful snake plants, leaving them wilted and hole-filled, unless you take immediate action with them.
In order to deal with these pests, use a damp cloth to wipe away as many of the bugs as you can. Then spray neem oil on the leaves once a week, or another insecticidal soap, in order to keep the bugs away. Spraying the neem at night is more beneficial because it will be cooler and you will not burn the leaves.
Is the Snake Plant Toxic
Yes, although the snake plant is beautiful to look at, they can be toxic to adults, children, and animals. If ingested they can cause an animal’s tongue to swell, and additionally they can induce vomiting, nausea and diarrhea in small animals and even children. Experts say it is wise to avoid these plants if you have pets, or at least keep them out of reach of small children and animals.
Repotting a snake plant is a fairly simple proposition. They only require repotting about once every two- five years, and you will need a pot that is two-four inches bigger than the one it is in now. Put some new, well-draining potting soil into the new pot, and make sure to loosen the root ball on the plant before you repot it so that it will thrive. You can take the pots inside and outside as the weather changes, and enjoy your snake plant on the patio as well.
Snake Plant Close up
Snake Plant Benefits
A snake plant has many benefits to gardeners. As an indoor plant, it can filter polluted air, and is especially good at doing that during the night. By converting CO2 to oxygen, the snake plant is literally making your air easier to breathe, so it is a great plant to have in your bedroom. Many people put a potted snake plant in their office as a type of air filter, and it can make the air cleaner. Plants are also known for their calming properties, and if nothing else they are relaxing and beautiful to look at.
Besides a snake plant’s ability to filter the air, it is also very easy to grow. You will get the benefits of the plant, without a lot of worry to keep it growing. In this way, this plant will not cause you stress, but will add to your overall quality of life.
With its ease of growth and the air and oxygen benefits it can offer you, this is the perfect starter plant for those interested in the hobby of gardening. And with so many diverse varieties to choose from, you can enhance your entire house and yard without even repeating a plant.