Growing healthy houseplants often requires tight control of humidity, temperature and fertilizer. Fertilizing houseplants is important, because they are grown in containers. Soil nutrients are flushed away with each watering. Beginning gardeners, and those who crave low-maintenance, like the Snake Plant, (Sansevieria Trifasciata) because its fertilizer requirements are not stringent.
You can fertilize your Snake Plant in spring with either slow-release granules or a fast-acting, water-soluble variety. As long the application rates on the labels are followed, these two types of fertilizer can be used together without risk of burning the plant. Fertilizer spikes do not get nutrients to a Snake Plant's entire root system. Spikes can hurt fragile roots by concentrating fertilizer in one spot.
The brand of slow-release granule is not important for the Snake Plant. Look for one with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. The coating on the granules dictates how long these nutrients will be supplied. Pay attention to this, because adding more fertilizer too soon can create levels toxic to plants.
Brands are not important with water-soluble fertilizer either. It is absorbed by the Snake Plant and then has no residual effect. Use this once or twice during the growing season.
Snake Plants tolerate fluctuations in temperature and humidity, but too much water can rot them. When applying water-soluble fertilizer, do not pour the water all in one spot. Evenly coat the entire soil surface. Empty the saucer beneath your Snake Plant's pot immediately after it drains.
Light Exposure and Fertilizer Needs
Snake plants thrive in high and low light, but their needs change. Plants kept in low light require less fertilizer. This is true for plants kept in dim areas, but it is also true as the seasons change and the hours of daylight decrease. Snake Plants rest during this time and prefer to be kept in cool conditions.
Organic fertilizers like seaweed extract and fish emulsion are good sources of water-soluble nitrogen for Snake Plants, but they are not frequently used on houseplants because of their smells. Some garden centers carry brands of fish emulsion labeled as odorless, and they are just as effective.
Corn gluten, blood meal and alfalfa meal are slow-release organic sources of nitrogen that can be used on Snake Plants. These products, however, are typically sold in large bags and users should consider the amount of space they have to store them.
The Snake Plant's Potting Soil
There are many brands of potting soil that contain slow-release fertilizer granules. If you use one of these, read on the label how long they will feed. Do not add more slow-release granules until that time has passed.
When potting soil has been fertilized for long periods it accumulates salt. Too much salt can damage a Snake Plant's roots. Once a year flush the potting soil with water and allow it to drain thoroughly. You may also pot the Snake Plant in fresh potting soil, but first gently rinse the roots with fresh water to remove salt.