Today we’re looking at one of the most popular and easy to care for houseplants; the snake plant. Also known as “mother in laws tongue”, the snake plant is a hardy succulent that looks great and brings some fantastic air-purifying benefits to its home. This article will look at how to grow snake plants and the care involved. We’ll also touch on some warnings and benefits to keep in mind when growing this plant in your home. Let’s jump right into it.
Snake Plant Overview
- Snake plants are easy to grow and require little day-to-day maintenance.
- They prefer sandy soil that is well draining. Succulent/cacti soil is a great choice.
- For lighting, give them lots of indirect light for the fastest growth. They also do well in shade but will grow more slowly.
- Water when the soil is dry to touch about 4-6 inches deep. They like infrequent but thorough watering.
- Snake plants are easy to propagate through the pups they shoot out during the growing season.
- Its mildy toxic to pets and should NOT be ingested.
Snake Plant Warnings
First off, we want to touch on a couple of things to keep in mind when growing snake plants.
The first thing to keep in mind is that snake plants grow by shooting out underground runners. These will spread into the nearby area if not contained. If you’re growing these outdoors you’ll want to make sure that you contain them as they will quickly become invasive. This can result in them sucking off nutrients intended for nearby plants.
The other warning regards pets, snake plants are mildly toxic to both cats and dogs. Most of the issues are more about comfort than being life-threatening, but a cat/dog eating a large amount of the plant needs a trip to the vet. Luckily, it is usually only toxic when ingested. Take care to keep this plant out of reach of your furry friends.
Clean Air – Snake Plant Benefits
Another quick aside before we dive in is that snake plants are great purifiers of the air. This, along with their ease of care, makes them extremely popular house and office plants. Snake plants are also one of the few plants that release oxygen at night making them a great choice for bedrooms.
Snake Plant Soil and Container
Snake plants are technically succulents, and therefore it’s best to start with a cacti or similar soil mix. You can use regular potting soil, but you’ll need to be very careful not to overwater. Going with cacti or a similar coarse soil mix is best for those looking for the lowest-effort method to grow a snake plant.
We have a full article that breaks down different snake plant soil mixes. This can help you decide which soil to use, and also includes a few recipes to make your own at home.
For a container, the best choice is often a clay or terracotta pot. This is due to their moisture-wicking properties which help with overwatering. Plastic or other containers can work just as well, just make sure to be very careful in your watering habits. In any case, make sure that your chosen container has proper drainage holes so that it doesn’t hold onto excess water.
Watering Snake Plants
Without a doubt, overwatering is the biggest issue most growers face when learning how to grow snake plants. As they are technically succulents, you want to make sure that you water them appropriately.
Like most succulents, snake plants enjoy lots of water infrequently. You want to thoroughly saturate the soil, and then wait until it’s completely dry before watering again.
Before you water, check the soil to a depth of about 4-6” to ensure that it is completely dry. You can use a small wooden object like a pair of chopsticks or toothpick to help minimize the amount of soil you disturb when doing so. If it shows any signs of moisture then hold off watering.
This can seem like a long time between waterings, but rest assured it’s what the plant needs. In many cases, you might go upwards of 14-21 days between waterings, and even less during the winter when it will go dormant. This is perfectly okay, any more and it can cause root rot, a serious disease that can kill your plant.
Sunlight For Snake Plants
In terms of light, snake plants are very accommodating and forgiving. For the fastest growth, you’ll want to put them in a location that gets lots of indirect sunlight. You don’t want to give them direct sunlight as this can burn out the leaves.
Snake plants are also perfectly happy to grow in shady or low-light areas, albeit more slowly than normal. This means you can keep them in a more shady bedroom or inner room of your home and still have a healthy plant. This is also a good way to control growth if the plant is growing faster than you like.
Feeding and Propagation
If desired, you can use a half-strength, liquid-based, cacti fertilizer during the growing season to feed the plant. During the growing season, you can do this once per month or every other month. You should stop during the winter as the plant will likely grow dormant and grow more slowly
Propagation is also very easy as new shoots will frequently emerge from the soil. You can simply take these and repot them, and they will grow into their own full-fledged plant. Gently pull them from the soil, plant them in a fresh container, give them a healthy dose of water, and stick them in a sunny place. It’s that easy!
How To Grow Snake Plants
With the ability to grow in almost any lighting and the need for infrequent watering, it’s easy to see why snake plants are so popular. They make a great, green addition to any home or office while also being extremely low maintenance. If you’re looking for a low-commitment plant to try out then look no further than the snake plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Snake Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Are Snake Plants Poisonous to cats?
Yes, snake plants are poisonous to both cats, usually only when ingested. There are generally only mild symptoms, but if a lot of the plant is ingested then it can potentially be more dangerous.
What is The Most Important Part of Snake Plant Care?
By far the biggest issue people have when caring for their snake plant is overwatering. Snake plants do not need much water, and often times once every two weeks is more than enough. Soil that is too moist for too long can harm or kill your plant.
What Are the Benefits Of Snake Plants?
Outside of having some beautiful greenery, snake plants are known as one of the best air-purifying plants. Snake plants will naturally remove harmful chemicals from the air and help create a healthier environment. This is why many office buildings have snake plants.
Where Should I Place a Snake Plant In My House?
Snake plants grow well in a variety of locations and that gives you a lot of options. For the quickest growth, look for an area that gets indirect light like an eastern-facing window. You can also keep them in a shadier location, but expect them to grow more slowly.
Do Snake Plants Need To Be Repotted?
On occasion, but very infrequently. Snake plants like to be slightly pot bound, therefore don't need to be repotted more than once every 3-4 years.