Whether you grow them in a garden or on a balcony, snake plants will add a tropical touch to any home. They also act as purifiers that improve the air quality of your home, as their leaves soak up carbon dioxide and toxins from the air. With the right care, a snake plant will thrive and last for years. They are virtually indestructible, making them the ideal houseplant, even if you don’t have green fingers!
There are so many varieties of snake plant that it’s difficult to know which one to choose. They can be short or tall, and their leaves can be flat, concave, or round. The leaves are dark green and often patterned or edged with silver, white, light green, or yellow. All snake plants have the same care instructions, so choosing the right plant is simply a matter of which one you like best. However, make sure you choose a snake plant with dark green leaves, as pale leaves are a sign that the plant is not healthy.
Being native to the tropical regions of West Africa, snake plants love sunlight. They can survive in direct sunlight, but your plant will thrive if you give it indirect sunlight, so try placing it close to an east-facing window. Snake plants are versatile, so they’ll also do well in areas of low light.
Snake plants can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, so keeping them in an environment anywhere between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect. Temperatures above 85 degrees may cause your plant to wilt. Snake plants don’t do well in cold temperatures. If you’re planning to keep your snake plant outdoors, be sure to bring it inside at the first sign of frost.
Though snake plants have very low toxicity, they have been known to cause mild nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea if ingested. If you have pets or small children in your home, keep your snake plant out of reach by placing it on a table, windowsill, or stool.
Less is better when it comes to watering your snake plant. Too much water can cause root rot, so allow the soil to dry out between waterings. You will probably need to water it every one to two weeks during summer and only once a month during the winter months. Given how little water they need, snake plants are great if you travel or are in the habit of forgetting to water your plants for weeks at a time!
Snake plants don’t need fertilizer to grow, but feeding your plant will give it a helping hand. During the spring and summer growing season, feed your plant once every six weeks. Use a basic houseplant fertilizer and follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct dosage and method of application.
Snake plants like having their roots pot-bound, so there’s no need for regular repotting. As a general rule, it’s recommended you repot every three or four years. Choose a pot made from terra cotta, clay, or some other porous material to allow good air circulation, and ensure it provides adequate drainage. Get a free-draining soil mix for succulents, or consider using a soil-less potting medium such as peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite.
If you follow the proper care instructions, you may never have to buy another snake plant. They produce rhizomes — horizontal offshoots — that can be easily divided from the main plant. After separating, place the rhizome in a porous pot with a well-draining soil mix. Spring is the ideal time to propagate snake plants, as they grow best during the summer months.
Although they are mostly pest-resistant, in certain conditions snake plants can end up with mealybugs or spider mites. Look for them on the leaves whenever you water your plant. If you notice something that looks like white cotton, then you have mealybugs. Using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, gently rub off the bugs. Spider mites are usually found on the underside of the leaves and can be removed by cleaning the leaf with warm water and a cloth.
The most common species of snake plant is sansevieria trifasciata, identifiable by its dark green leaves with grayish-green horizontal stripes, but there are plenty of other varieties to choose from to decorate your home.
All snake plants are low-maintenance and make ideal houseplants. Whichever variety you choose, give it the right care, and your home will have a tropical feel for years to come.