How to Grow a Snake Plant
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), a common houseplant also known as mother-in-law's tongue, produces stiff, upright, strap-shaped foliage and enjoys fame for its tolerance of low light and neglect. Snake plant became popular in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s, when Woolworth's, an American department store, began offering the plant for sale. Available in several shapes and colors, the plant's foliage typically appears in some combination of green, gray, white and yellow. Snake plant reaches up to 30 inches in height and requires only minimal care to thrive indoors.
Plant snake plant in a container filled with a growing medium made of one part potting soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite to provide the proper fertility and drainage. Keep in a location that receives indirect sunlight throughout the day.
Water snake plant once every 7 to 10 days during spring, summer and fall, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between applications. Snake plant can tolerate drought more easily than soggy soil. Reduce watering frequency to once every 14 days during winter.
Feed the plant once per year during spring, just as active growth resumes. Use an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer to provide proper nutrition for rapid growth. Follow the manufacturer's application instructions for the best results.
Transfer the plant outdoors to an area that receives partial to full shade during summer to maximize growth, as long as temperatures remain below 80 degrees F. Bring the plant back indoors temporarily prior to any severe weather such as strong winds or thunderstorms. Transfer the plant back to its original location indoors before temperatures drop below 65 degrees F.
Propagate snake plant by cutting a leaf into horizontal pieces about 2 inches in length, then placing each piece in a container filled with potting soil. Place the entire container in a plastic bag with several holes to increase humidity; the leaf cuttings will take root in a few weeks. Once roots form, remove the container from the plastic bag and resume normal care.
Many gardeners consider fertilizing an optional step, though snake plant grows more rapidly with an annual application.
- Many gardeners consider fertilizing an optional step, though snake plant grows more rapidly with an annual application.
- Potting soil
- Peat moss
- Houseplant fertilizer
- Plastic bag
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Plant of the Week: Mother-in-Law's Tongue or Snake Plant
- University of Illinois Extension Houseplant Needs: Mother-in-Law Tongue, Snake Plant
- “Encyclopedia of Houseplants”; Nico Vermeulen; 1999