Snake Plant 101: Everything You Need To Know About This Hardy Houseplant

Last Updated February 21, 2024 By Bella Zinti

Home » Plants » Snake Plant 101: Everything You Need To Know About This Hardy Houseplant

In the world of indoor plants, the Snake Plant, recognized by the names Sansevieria or Mother-in-Law's Tongue, distinguishes itself as a long-standing preferred choice. Esteemed for its striking, upright leaves and renowned resilience, this plant has carved a niche in homes and offices alike. But what truly sets the Snake Plant apart is not just its visual appeal; it is its forgiving nature and adaptability, making it a top choice for both novice and seasoned plant enthusiasts.

In this guide, we dive into the essentials of how to grow and care for the Snake Plant, unraveling the secrets to nurturing this hardy species. With a focus on the key elements of light, water, soil, and environment, we aim to equip you with the knowledge to not only keep your Snake Plant thriving but to understand its unique characteristics and needs. Whether you're a first-time plant parent or looking to expand your green family, the Snake Plant offers a blend of aesthetic charm and practicality that is hard to overlook.

Botanical Name

Common Name

Plant Type

Mature Size

Sun Requirement

Soil Type

Hardiness Zone

Pet Friendly

Dracaena trifasciata

Snake plant

Evergreen perennial typically grown as a houseplant

6 inches to 12 feet tall in native habitat; typically 2 feet tall when grown as a houseplant

Sun to part shade

Sandy, well-drained

9–11 (USDA) 


What Is Snake Plant

The Snake Plant, known scientifically as Sansevieria trifasciata, is a perennial plant native to West Africa, particularly Nigeria and the Congo. Renowned for its architectural structure, it features stiff, upright leaves that grow vertically, often with unique patterns of green bands and a yellow border. These leaves, resembling the shape and texture of a snake's skin, give the plant its common name.

Typically growing up to a few feet in height, Snake Plants add a striking vertical element to indoor and outdoor spaces. Their resilience and minimal upkeep needs have made them a cherished option in homes and workplaces globally.


Sansevieria Trifasciata 'Laurentii': This variety is easily recognizable by its tall, upright leaves, which are a vibrant green with striking golden-yellow margins. It serves as a timeless selection for interior decoration, introducing a touch of sophistication to any area. The Laurentii variety demonstrates robust growth potential and can attain impressive heights with proper care.

Sansevieria Trifasciata 'Compacta': Often referred to as the Dwarf Snake Plant, the Compacta is a smaller version of the Laurentii. Its modest dimensions make it ideal for confined spaces or as a decorative highlight on shelves and desks. The golden-yellow edges on its leaves offer a charming juxtaposition to the rich green color.

Sansevieria Cylindrica: Also recognized as the African Spear Plant, it showcases cylindrical, erect leaves reminiscent of bamboo shoots. This variety's unique shape and striking appearance make it a favorite among plant enthusiasts. Its potential height varies based on both its age and the level of care it receives.

Sansevieria 'Moonshine': 'Moonshine' is characterized by its broad, silvery-green leaves with a soft, subtle hue. The coloration of its leaves gives it a modern, contemporary look that complements various interior styles. It's an excellent choice for brightening a room with light-colored foliage.

Sansevieria 'Black Gold': Similar in shape to the Laurentii, this variety stands out with its dark green leaves and bold, golden-yellow variegated edges. The interplay of deep green and vibrant yellow imparts a sense of sophistication to any environment. It's a classic choice for those seeking a visually striking Snake Plant.

Sansevieria Kirkii 'Pulchra': 'Pulchra' is known for its wavy, patterned leaves that give it an artistic, sculptural appearance. Unlike the upright growth of other varieties, this one forms a low rosette of leaves. Opting for it is a superb decision to infuse a hint of distinctiveness into your collection of plants.

Sansevieria Trifasciata 'Hahnii': Frequently referred to as the Bird's Nest Snake Plant, it exhibits a compact, rosette-like growth pattern. Its leaves are shorter and broader than other varieties, resulting in a distinct appearance. 'Hahnii' is well-suited for smaller spaces and decorative pots.

Sansevieria Ehrenbergii 'Samurai': This variety stands out with its short, thick leaves that resemble miniature swords. Its robust and compact growth habit makes it an ideal choice for adding a touch of boldness to your indoor garden. The distinctive leaf shape renders it a topic of conversation among aficionados of plants.

Sansevieria 'Whale Fin' (Sansevieria Masoniana): 'Whale Fin' is aptly named due to its large, wide, paddle-like leaves that resemble a whale's fin. The sheer size of its leaves makes it a statement plant, perfect for larger spaces. Its distinctive appearance is certain to capture attention and evoke admiration.

Sansevieria 'Golden Hahnii': This variation of the Bird's Nest Snake Plant features leaves with striking golden-yellow borders. It retains the compact growth habit of 'Hahnii' while adding a touch of brightness to the mix. 'Golden Hahnii' is an eye-catching choice for smaller pots and decorative arrangements.

Sansevieria cylindrical: The Cylindrical Snake Plant is characterized by its sleek, upright leaves that resemble cylindrical spears or bamboo shoots. Distinguished by its unique appearance, it stands out among other Snake Plant varieties, earning it favoritism among plant enthusiasts. It's prized for its striking architectural beauty and low-maintenance nature.

Green Snake Plant in white pot

Snake Plant Care Requirements


The Snake Plant, a versatile and hardy indoor favorite, exhibits remarkable adaptability in its lighting requirements. Flourishing in a spectrum of light conditions, from low to bright indirect light, proves forgiving to individuals with limited access to abundant natural light.

While it prefers indirect, moderate light to maintain its vibrant leaf coloration and growth, the Snake Plant can endure lower light environments, distinguishing it from more light-sensitive species.

When planting the snake plant outdoors, offering shading during the peak of the day's heat is advisable. Extended exposure to direct sunlight has the potential to scorch its leaves. This flexibility in light tolerance underscores the plant's reputation as an ideal choice for varied indoor settings.


The Snake Plant's water requirements are a testament to its resilience and low-maintenance nature. Adapted to endure arid conditions, this plant demands minimal watering, rendering it a perfect selection for those searching for a drought-tolerant houseplant. The essential aspect of successful watering lies in moderation, allowing the soil to thoroughly dry out between each watering.

Excessive watering can result in root rot, a prevalent problem encountered with Snake Plants. It is recommended to decrease the watering frequency throughout the winter months, aligning with the plant's diminished growth rate during that season. This conservative approach to watering not only ensures the plant's health but also accommodates busy lifestyles and forgetful waterers.


The Snake Plant exhibits a robust tolerance to a wide range of temperatures, aligning with its reputation as a hardy and adaptable houseplant. Optimally, it thrives in temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 27 degrees Celsius), a span commonly present in most indoor environments.

While it can withstand fluctuations outside this range, extreme conditions should be avoided. It's notably resilient to the warm, dry conditions of heated homes in winter but less tolerant of cold drafts and temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), which can cause damage. Its ability to tolerate various temperatures makes it a versatile option for various indoor settings.


Native to arid climates, snake plants can be well-adapted to thrive in environments with low to average humidity levels, typical of most indoor settings. This makes it a hassle-free option for areas that may not naturally have high humidity, such as offices or homes with central heating and air conditioning. While it tolerates a range of humidity conditions, excessive moisture should be avoided, as it can lead to problems such as rot. Its adaptability to varied humidity levels makes it appealing as a versatile and durable houseplant.


Snake plants prefer well-draining, sandy soil that allows for quick water runoff, preventing moisture retention that could lead to root rot. A standard cactus or succulent potting mix, readily available in garden centers, is ideal, providing the right balance of drainage and nutrient support. Adding perlite or coarse sand can enhance drainage in regular potting soil.


Snake plant benefits from occasional fertilization, but excessive feeding is unnecessary and can be detrimental. In the growing season, usually during spring and summer, applying a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every six weeks is recommended. This provides sufficient nutrients to support its growth without overwhelming the plant.

It's crucial to avoid fertilizing in the dormant winter months, as this can lead to nutrient build-up and potential damage. This restrained approach to fertilization aligns with the plant's overall easy-care nature, making it suitable for busy or forgetful owners.

Green Snake Plant Beside a Couch


Propagate Snake Plants provides a captivating and fulfilling experience for plant enthusiasts, allowing them to easily create new plants from existing ones. Here's a guide on how to propagate snake plant:

Leaf Cuttings Method

  1. Select a robust and mature leaf from the parent plant. Make a straight cut across the base of the leaf using clean, sharp scissors or a knife.

  2. Cut the removed leaf into 2-3 inch long segments, each with at least one horizontal stripe. Let these segments dry for a day or two to develop a callus on the cut ends.

  3. Plant the segments in well-draining potting soil, with the cut end down. Bury about half an inch of the cut end in the soil. Water lightly.

  4. Place the pot in indirect light, maintaining a consistent temperature. Keep the soil lightly moist.

  5. Root development may take a few weeks to a few months. Fresh shoots will gradually appear from the soil.

Division Method

  1. Carefully extract the Snake Plant from its container, shaking off surplus soil to expose the roots and natural divisions.

  2. Look for natural divisions and gently separate these clusters, ensuring each has a good amount of roots.

  3. Plant each division in a new pot with a well-draining potting mix at the same depth it was previously growing.

  4. Give the new plants a gentle watering to help settle the soil around the roots.

  5. Position the pots in indirect light, maintaining the soil lightly moist during the initial few weeks. Then, revert to normal Snake Plant care.


Pruning snake plants is a minimal but beneficial task in their care routine. These resilient and undemanding plants seldom need extensive pruning. Nevertheless, trimming any damaged or yellowing leaves is crucial to uphold the plant's visual appeal and overall well-being.

Using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears, snip off unwanted foliage as close to the base as possible, ensuring a neat cut. This improves the plant's visual appeal and stimulates new growth. Thanks to their resilience and forgiving characteristics, snake plants are uncomplicated to prune, making them an exceptional choice for both novice and seasoned indoor gardeners.

Pot And Repot

The Snake Plant, known for its adaptability, has specific but straightforward potting and repotting requirements. Initially, it should be potted in well-draining soil within a pot that has adequate drainage holes to prevent water accumulation.

As a slow-growing plant, repotting Snake Plant is typically needed only every few years, usually when the roots begin to crowd or break through the pot. When repotting, opt for a pot that is only slightly larger than the previous one to prevent an excessively large soil volume, which could retain unwanted moisture. This process ensures the health and longevity of the plant, accommodating its growth while preventing root rot and other moisture-related issues.

Snake Plant

Common Problems And Troubleshoots


Overwatering is among the most prevalent issues, resulting in yellowing leaves, mushy stems, and potential root rot. To tackle this problem, it's crucial to let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions. Ensure your pot possesses adequate drainage to prevent water accumulation at the bottom and opt for a well-draining potting mix. In the winter months, decrease the watering frequency to prevent excess moisture in the soil.


Conversely, underwatering may manifest as wrinkled, droopy leaves or brown tips. To address this, ensure you water your Snake Plant thoroughly when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry. Sufficient watering guarantees the plant has access to the moisture required for its well-being. Confirm that your pot features drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil.


Snake Plants are typically robust against pests, but occasionally, they may face issues with mealybugs, spider mites, or other invaders. Indications of a problem include discolored or damaged leaves, webbing, or visible pests. If you observe these symptoms, isolate the affected plant to prevent the infestation from spreading. If feasible, manually remove pests or use insecticidal soap to eradicate them. Regularly inspect your Snake Plant to catch and address pest issues early.

Root Rot

Root rot is a serious concern and is characterized by a foul odor, blackened or mushy roots, and wilting leaves. To address root rot, trim the affected roots, transplant the plant into fresh, well-draining soil, and confirm that the pot has adequate drainage. Steer clear of overwatering, as excessive moisture primarily contributes to root rot.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves, especially older ones, can be a natural part of a Snake Plant's growth cycle. Just trim the yellowed leaves in such instances to uphold the plant's visual appeal. Removing older leaves can also encourage new growth.

Leaf Spots

Brown or black spots on the leaves can result from overwatering or fungal issues. To tackle this issue, modify your watering schedule to avoid waterlogged soil. Guarantee proper air circulation around the plant to minimize the likelihood of fungal problems.

Flowering (Rare)

Snake Plants typically do not flower indoors, and flowering is considered a rare occurrence. If your Snake Plant does flower, enjoy it as a unique and beautiful event.

Yellow Leaves at the Base

Older leaves at the base of the plant may naturally yellow and eventually die off. This is a natural phase in the plant's growth cycle. Prune these yellow leaves to maintain the plant's neat and healthy appearance.

Lack of Growth

If your Snake Plant is experiencing slow or no new growth, it may need adjustments in care. Ensure that it's receiving adequate light. Consider repotting if it has become root-bound or refresh the soil with nutrients to encourage healthy growth.

Brown Tips

Brown tips on the leaves may indicate low humidity or dry air. To address this problem, boost the humidity around the plant by regularly misting it or employing a humidity tray. Trim brown tips for a neater appearance.

Is Snake Plant Pet-Friendly

The Snake Plant is generally considered a pet-friendly houseplant. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) categorizes it as non-toxic to dogs and cats. While ingesting in small amounts is not harmful, monitoring pets near the plants is recommended. Some animals might chew on the leaves out of curiosity, leading to mild gastrointestinal discomfort. To ensure the safety of your pets, you can place the Snake Plant in a location that's less accessible to them.

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About the author

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui.