Complete guide to snake plant care
If you’re a new plant parent, or don’t have much time to look after one of our more fussy friends, a snake plant is the perfect choice.
As plant care goes, snake plants are very low maintenance and almost impossible to kill. Follow this checklist to keep your snake plant satisfied:
- Water fortnightly, or when the top two inches of soil feels dry
- More sunlight is better, but anything is fine
- Keep your snake plant in a warm spot, ideally above 10°C
- Repot in spring, if needed, using houseplant compost
- Wipe the leaves once in a while with a clean, damp cloth
- Feed with liquid fertiliser once a month in spring and summer
About snake plants
Snake plants are also known by the more exotic botanical name, ‘sansevieria’, but you might also see them referred to as mother-in-law’s tongues, viper’s bowstring hemp or tiger’s tail orchids.
These stunning succulents originate from western and southern Africa, but are also found wild in more tropical climates, like Florida and Hawaii. Snake plants often have wide leaves that grow straight up and taper to a spike at the top. They might sit in the same family, but each type of snake plant can look very different. Zey’s distinctive tiger stripes and height give him extra drama, while Mikey is a bit more compact, making him ideal for a shelf or a desk. Apollo might be the rarest of our snake plant family, but he’s just as easy to care for as Susie, who’s a good all-rounder and comes in lots of sizes.
Are snake plants easy to care for?
Snake plants are well known for thriving on neglect. They respond best to the lightest of watering and then just being left alone. That’s why we call them (almost) unkillable, making them a great beginner plant or ideal if you enjoy some green company around your busy schedule.
If you have a baby, young children, or pets, you should be aware that snake plants can be mildly toxic if ingested. While this doesn’t mean they’re cold blooded killers, it’s sensible to keep them out of reach of small humans and furry family members.
How often should I water my snake plant?
Snake plants don’t need much water. Simply top them up with a tipple to moisten their soil whenever it feels very dry or crumbly - about every two weeks, and less often in winter. Make sure you allow your snake plant’s soil to dry out completely between waterings, as this helps to prevent root rot.
Naturally, a larger snake plant will need more water, and watering more often.
How much light does my snake plant need?
Snake plants are easy going and will thrive in almost all light conditions - though they draw the line at being locked in a windowless room for decades.
The lighter and brighter the place you pick for your snake plant, the happier they’ll be. But really, don’t sweat it too hard. Your snake plant will adapt to whatever light life sheds on them.
What’s the best temperature for my snake plant?
Snake plants can survive at most temperatures, but enjoy being kept in a warm spot, ideally with temperatures above 10°C. In the winter, be sure to protect your plant from drafty windows.
Avoid keeping your snake plant in the bathroom, as they prefer dry conditions. They'll be much happier in your bedroom or living room.
Should I repot my snake plant?
You can probably keep your snake plant in its original nursery pot for a long while, unless its roots are bursting out of the bottom of the pot. Snake plants are relatively slow growers so won’t need repotting that often.
If yours looks like it’s outgrowing its original pot, move it into a larger nursery pot in spring, using a specialist houseplant or cactus compost. You can find our guide to repotting here.
Some snake plants grow pretty tall, so make sure your decorative pot is heavy enough to stop it from toppling over.
Does my snake plant need any extra love?
Your snake plant really is a forgiving soul and doesn’t need much in the way of tender loving care. Giving their leaves a gentle wipe with a clean, damp cloth every once in a while will help keep them free from dust and debris. This will help your snake plant to breathe freely, absorb light and keep them looking shiny.
During spring and summer, your snake plant will also thank you for feeding them with a little good quality liquid fertiliser once a month. Consider this a special treat, rather than a necessity; they’ll do just fine without this extra step.
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