Snake plants are one of the most recognizable species of house plants. I was drawn in by their structure and the growth pattern of the stalk-like leaves. A great plant for beginners, snake plants are very hardy and will tolerate a wide range of conditions. The scientific name for snake plants is sansevieria, and they’re also called “mother-in-law’s tongue” for reasons that I don’t understand. This is how I care for snake plants, specifically my sansevieria laurentii.
My Snake Plants
The snake plants that I have are both sansevieria laurentii, and I’ve had them for about three years. The laurentii can be recognized by the striped leaves with yellow-golden edges. I’m pretty sure I got mine at Ikea, or possibly at Home Depot. It doesn’t really matter, because snake plants are some of the most common house plants so you shouldn’t have trouble finding them.
You’ll probably see the laurentii, robusta, or cylindrica subspecies just about anywhere that you can buy plants. I’d look for other varieties at nurseries or specialty plant shops. I like that they come in a few different sizes, so you can start with a smaller plant as I did, or get a mature plant that’s bigger and will fill a larger space. They should also be fairly inexpensive, depending on the subspecies and size.
I’ll be honest, in college I would talk to my snake plant as if it were a friend. My trusty Snakey was a low-maintenance pal that added a pop of greenery to my fairly dark bedroom. It brought me a lot of joy for not a lot of effort, and I liked that I never needed to worry about it (and I still don’t).
Snake Plant Care
Snake plants are notoriously easy-care plants. They don’t require much from you at all, except for some affection every so often. Sansevieria are tolerant of most light conditions besides bright, direct sunlight. They will survive in a low-light corner of your room, but don’t expect much growth there! In my experience, they’re pretty slow growers. A lack of light will slow them down even more.
Water and Soil
Water snake plants sparingly, especially in the winter. They should dry out almost completely between waterings. If you’re like me, it’s hard to water your plants consistently if you’re not on a schedule, so I do it once a week. (My plant watering day is Tuesday, btw) I usually water my snakeys every week in the summer and every other week in the winter.
In terms of soil, you want to go for a mixture that won’t retain a ton of moisture. I potted my sansevieria so long ago that I don’t remember what I used, but I would recommend a succulent/cactus type of soil mix. You can definitely do some more research and mix your own, but a store-bought soil should work fine too.
Another care tip I have is to dust your plant! I’ve noticed that the leaves can easily accumulate a layer of dust on their larger surface area. I dust mine by wiping both sides of each leaf with a damp cloth, usually about once a month, making sure that the leaves aren’t too wet when I’m finished.
From what I’ve seen, sansevieria are pretty slow growers. Mine will sometimes go for several months without really doing anything in the growth department. This may be due to the weather, because growth will obviously slow down in the winter. When your snake plant does decide to put out a new leaf, you’ll be able to see it growing out of the center of the rosette. (Therefore, the leaves around the outside of your plant are the oldest.) You may have more luck than I do, but I would suggest not expecting a ton of growth with your snake plants.
I haven’t had any problems with pests on my snake plants, but it is always a possibility. It’s important to check your plants regularly for signs of infestations.
I only have experience with laurentii, but I imagine care should be about the same for most sans varieties. Be sure to research your specific plant once you’ve identified it!
If you’ve ever looked up some information about your plant, and then forgotten it immediately, this care sheet is for you. Plants all have different needs. Keep track of the various requirements for lighting, water, and other things; as well as any other notes you want to take.
Print out copies for each plant you have, and create your own plant care binder! All of your information will be easily accessible in one place.
My Accidental Propagation
I haven’t been specific so far. To make things clear, I only bought one snake plant, but now I have two! I had my snake plant potted in a glass candle jar originally. About a month after I got it, I noticed a small green thing buried in the dirt. I definitely wouldn’t have seen it if it wasn’t in a glass container. I didn’t really know what to make of it, so I just left it for a while. Mind you, I was very new to plants at this point and I had no idea that propagation was even a thing. Eventually, it grew enough to poke up through the soil. I figured it out; it was growing a plant baby!
I probably did a bit of research then to better understand what my plant was doing. I knew that I wanted to separate the offshoot if possible and pot it on its own. Looking back, I think this little journey got me more interested in plants. The thought of getting more plants from the ones you already have was very exciting. It was hard not to think, ‘hey, infinite plants!’ And it’s still hard not to think that way haha.
Anyway, I left the baby alone until it was sticking up out of the soil by about an inch. I got another pot ready for it. I took the whole plant out of the glass jar and brushed away some soil to get a better look at the roots. I used, get this, a butter knife to cut the pup’s stalk away from the mother plant, which felt SO HORRIBLE. I was terrified I was killing it the whole time. I also highly recommend using actual pruning shears to cut it instead of hacking away with a butter knife like I did. Live and learn, I guess.
I put the mother plant back where it was and potted the baby on its own. Surprisingly, it began to grow and I didn’t kill it after all. It did remain a single leaf for a good long time, earning it the nickname ‘Baby Groot’. I wish I had some pictures from this phase, but I don’t think I took any.
Both plants are still doing great! They’re both about 8 inches tall, and the baby plant has three leaves now.
I am not at all sure if this is the right way to propagate snake plants by division, but I wanted to share what worked for me. I also don’t know how to encourage your snake plants to put out babies because this one was already growing when I bought it. I think that any sansevieria that is happy and growing in the right conditions will eventually grow an offshoot. It’s also totally fine to just leave the babies attached, which will result in a bigger, fuller plant. If you have any tips for propagation, please let me know!
Why You Need a Snake Plant
I’ll start with why I needed a snake plant. I bought mine in a 4-inch pot for my dorm room in college. I was moving into a room that I had never seen before, so I couldn’t count on having a lot of light or space. I was drawn to the look of my sansevieria, glanced at the care requirements on the tag, and I was good to go!
I highly recommend snake plants to basically everyone, because they’re stunning low-maintenance plants. They’re also accessible, they should be easy to find at any home improvement store.
You should get a snake plant if…
- You travel often or for longer periods of time. A snake plant will be okay with being on the dry side.
- You’re worried about having enough light for a plant in a certain spot. It will probably be enough light for a snake plant.
- You’re okay with not seeing a ton of new growth all the time.
- You want a plant for your dorm room or office. (Sansevieria will survive with artificial light!)
- You’re just starting and you want a plant that’s hard to mess up.
- You just love the way they look!
That wraps up my experience with snake plants so far and my tips for how to care for them! My snakeys are some of the few plants that have not caused me issues since I’ve had them (besides the stress of propagating). I’d love to add more subspecies to my collection; the whale fin and golden hahnii sansevierias look super cool.
Leave me a comment letting me know what you think of snake plants, or if you have any tips to share!