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How to Care for Snake Plants

Sansevieria, often called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, offers a great starter plant for any beginner. Amazingly resilient, snake plants thrive outside in full sun or in very low-light indoor conditions. They readily take abuse and neglect in stride. Snake plant's Achilles heel is low temperature. This native South African can’t abide extended exposures below about 45 degrees F.

Pot your snake plant in a well-draining clay container with a potting medium composed of equal parts peat moss, garden soil, coarse sand and perlite. Clay pots are best because they facilitate drainage better than those made of other materials.

Set the snake plant in the sink and water it slowly until you see liquid trickling from the holes in the bottom of the pot. Allow it to drain for a couple of hours. The surface soil should be evenly moist. These plants do best when allowed to dry out slightly in between waterings.

Place your Sansevieria in the brightest spot possible out of direct sun. Provide a warm environment, preferably between 60 and 85 degrees F.

Feed a good quality commercial water-soluble, nitrate-free fertilizer once monthly during the growing season. Don’t fertilize during the winter.

Evaluate your watering practices if the snake’s leaves droop, bend, wilt or begin to look wrinkly. Too much water causes wilted, drooping or bent foliage. Leaves will wrinkle if the plant doesn’t receive enough water.

Move your snake up two or three pot sizes only when it becomes root-bound, or if it keeps tipping over. While these plants like having their roots crowded, foliage tends to become top-heavy, eventually necessitating a larger, weighty clay container.


Always use heavy containers for snake plants. Since they’re related to succulents, they hold a lot of water. This adds significantly to the overall weight of the specimen, making it top-heavy and likely to tip over.

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