Care of snake plant

Snake Plant Info – How To Grow A Snake Plant And Snake Plant Care

If a prize were available for the most tolerant plant, snake plant (Sansevieria) would certainly be one of the frontrunners. Snake plant care is very straightforward. These plants can be neglected for weeks at a time; yet, with their strappy leaves and architectural shape, they still look fresh.

Additionally, they can survive low light levels, drought and have few insect problems. NASA research has even shown that snake plants are able to help keep the air inside your home clean, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. In short, they are the perfect houseplants.

Snake Plant Info – How to Grow a Snake Plant

Growing snake plant from cuttings is relatively easy. The most important thing to remember is that they can easily rot, so a free draining soil needs to be used. Leaf cuttings are the usual method but probably the easiest way to propagate snake plants is by dividing. The roots produce fleshy rhizomes, which can simply be removed with a sharp knife and potted up. Again, these will need to go into a free draining soil.

Snake Plant Care

After they have been propagated, the care of snake plants is very easy. Put them in indirect sunlight and don’t water them too much, especially during the winter. In fact, it’s better to let these plants dry out some between waterings.

A little general purpose fertilizer can be used if the plants are in a pot, and that’s about it.

There are around 70 different species of snake plant, all native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are all evergreen and can grow anywhere from 8 inches to 12 feet high.

The most commonly used species for gardening is Sansevieria trifasciata, often known as mother-in-law’s tongue. However, if you’d like something a little different, the following species and cultivars are worth looking out for:

  • Sansevieria ‘Golden Hahnii’ – This species has short leaves with yellow borders.
  • Cylindrical snake plant, Sansevieria cylindrical – This snake plant has round, dark green, striped leaves and can grow to 2 to 3 feet.
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’ – As the name suggests, this cultivar has twisted leaves. It is also striped horizontally, has yellow variegated edges and grows to about a 14 inches tall.
  • Rhino Grass, Sansevieria desertii – This one grows to around 12 inches with succulent red tinted leaves.
  • White Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ – This cultivar grows to around 3 foot tall and has narrow leaves with white vertical stripes.

Hopefully, this article has helped to explain how to grow a snake plant. They really are the easiest of plants to look after, and will happily reward your lack of attention by giving clean air to your home and a little cheer in the corner of any room.

My plant obsession has gotten a little out of control over the past couple years. Greenery graces every corner of my apartment—on shelves, in big planters on the floor, on my dresser. I’ve got an urban jungle, and I love it. But even with all the different species I’ve collected, one of my favorites will always be the trusty snake plant.

While some plants are pretty fickle—dying if you even slightly overwater them or don’t give them enough light—sansevieria, better known as the snake plant due to its reptilian leaf pattern and shape, are basically the cockroach of the plant world. And I mean that as the biggest compliment. Although they’re much prettier than the insect to look at, they’re just as tough. Even through the long, dark days of winter, my little guy has never wavered. In fact, somehow he keeps on thriving no matter the conditions, happily sprouting new leaves year-round.

“The snake plant is a great option for beginners for a two big reasons,” says Erin Marino, director of brand marketing at The Sill. “First, it’s technically a drought tolerant succulent. This means you’ll be watering it less frequently than other common houseplants, and when you forget a watering (or two!), it’ll be fine. Second, the snake plant is also low light tolerant. Although snake plants prefer medium to bright light, they can tolerate lower light levels than other common houseplants. This means you can pretty much stick it in any room of your room, as long as there’s a window that receives natural light, be it bright, moderate, or low.”

Even though snake plants are definitely one of the easiest plants to care for—making them especially great for beginners!—there are still some important care tactics to keep in mind if you decide to bring one home.

These 4 snake plant care tips will have your plant thriving

1. Make sure the pot has proper drainage

Snake plants aren’t too picky about their soil: Marino says general indoor potting mix should be fine. But when it comes to the pot situation, having a drainage hole is super important. If they get too soggy from being overwatered or water pools at the bottom of the pot, it could result in root rot.

“If you have a heavy pour with your watering can, I recommend opting for a planter with a drainage hole and saucer,” she says. “If you want to opt for a planter without drainage holes—maybe you have something existing at home—you can line the bottom of the planter with a generous layer of lava rocks to provide a spot for excess water to pool into, away from your plant’s roots.”

2. Find the optimal lighting situation

Sure, snake plants are fine in low light situations. But do they love it? Well, that’s a different story. If you want your snake plant to grow like crazy, your best bet is giving it a little more sunshine.

“Often positioned as a ‘low light plant,’ snake plants actually prefer medium to bright indirect light. That being said, they’ll tolerate low light if they need to,” Marino says. “There’s a reason you see snake plants in a multitude of different spaces, from restaurants to doctors’ offices: They’re hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. If you can give your snake plant medium or bright indirect light, awesome. If you’re looking for a plant for a low light spot in particular, that’s fine too. Your snake plant might not thrive there, but it’ll most likely survive—especially in comparison to other common houseplants.”

3. Don’t overwater your snake plant

Snake plants are succulents, and that means you don’t need to water them near as often as you would some of your other houseplants.

“Exactly how often you water your snake plant will be largely dependent on how much light it’s receiving, as well as what time of the year it is,” Marino says. “Generally speaking, more sunlight and spring/summer means watering more frequently, while less sunlight and fall/winter means watering less frequently. My snake plants receive moderate to low indirect light and need to be watered about once every three to four weeks. I usually look for signs of thirst before watering, and for snake plants those signs are visibly wrinkling and/or curling leaves.”

4. Be aware of potential pests

The quickest way to ruin a plant mom’s day, hands down, is discovering your baby has been affected by a pest that can seriously harm its health. “With snake plants, you have to watch out for overwatering and root rot before pests. However, they may get scale and mealybugs—especially if another plant in the home has them,” Marino says.

Another common pest? Spider mites, which spin webs and crawl around on the plant’s leaves and leaf joints. Once there’s an infestation, it doesn’t take long for them to damage or kill your houseplant due to sucking the sap out of their leaves. No matter which pest you identify, treat the affected plant as quickly as possible. Also make sure to quarantine them so the pests don’t spread to other plants.

You definitely don’t want to drink “worm tea,” but here’s why your houseplants will love it. Also, this is the easy mistake most people make when caring for air plants.

About Snake Plant:

Sansevieria Trifasciata is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae,native to tropical west Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo.It is most commonly known as the Snake plant or mother in law tongue.
If you’re looking for an easy-care houseplant, you can’t do much better than snake plant. This hardy indoor is still popular today — generations of gardeners have called it a favorite — because of how adaptable it is to a wide range of growing conditions. Most snake plant varieties have stiff, upright, sword-like leaves that may be banded or edged in gray, silver, or gold. Snake plant’s architectural nature makes it a natural choice for modern and contemporary interior designs. It’s one of the best houseplants around!

Additionally, they can survive low light levels, drought and have few insect problems. NASA research has even shown that snake plants are able to help keep the air inside your home clean, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. In short, they are the perfect houseplants

Types of Snake Plants:

There are around 70 different species of snake plant, all native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are all evergreen and can grow anywhere from 8 inches to 12 feet high. The most commonly used species for gardening is Sansevieria trifasciata, often known as mother-in-law’s tongue. However, if you’d like something a little different, the following species and cultivars are worth looking out for:

Sansevieria ‘Golden Hahnii’ – This species has short leaves with yellow borders. Cylindrical snake plant,

Sansevieria cylindrical – This snake plant has round, dark green, striped leaves and can grow to 2 to 3 feet.

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’ – As the name suggests, this cultivar has twisted leaves. It is also striped horizontally, has yellow variegated edges and grows to about a 14 inches tall.

Rhino Grass, Sansevieria desertii – This one grows to around 12 inches with succulent red tinted leaves.

White Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ – This cultivar grows to around 3 foot tall and has narrow leaves with white vertical stripes.

Health Benefits of Snake Plant:

1. A Great Oxygen Producing Houseplant:

An abstract of the study published in Harvard University Extension observes that snake plant is one of the most oxygen producing houseplants. Ficus and pothos are other plants that made to the list.

2. It Removes Air Pollutants:

One of the best snake plant health benefits is it can make its small contribution to get rid of toxic air pollutants. Other than CO2, it can absorb benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. These cancer-causing pollutants are harmful to our health, a well-known proven fact.

The famous NASA experiment of 1989 on indoor plants proved that plants with more leaf surface area (leafier and bigger plants) do better air purification, and snake plant is one of them.

Carbon Dioxide

A study published in 2015 on Indoor CO2 consequences indicates that humans who breathe more carbon dioxide in the home, workplace, classroom, etc. face difficulty in performing and learning. Raised CO2 levels directly affect our cognitive skills and productivity, dizziness and nausea are other consequences.

Snake plant aka Mother-in-Law’s tongue absorbs CO2 effectively. A study conducted at Naresuan University, Thailand with 60-80 cm tall snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) revealed that CO2 level in offices was reduced with 4-5 snake plants. Check it out here!


Exposure to benzene in the indoor environment is very common. From heating and cooling systems, solvents, paints, smoking cigarettes, etc. Check out this educational article from WHO. Headaches, nausea, and vomiting can be caused if you are exposed to benzene. Chronic exposure to benzene causes cancers related to blood cells, proved in a lot of medical research.

Besides, taking other measures, you can grow snake plant in your home. It absorbs benzene. If you look at NASA study, you’ll see that snake plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) removed 52.6 percent in a sealed chamber. The initial p/m was 0.156, which reduced to 0.074 p/m in final reading after 24 hours.


The significant sources of formaldehyde emission are cooking, smoking, cosmetics, paints, fuel combustion from traffic, etc. Newly-made home, flooring, furniture, and new products must be considered as well. Formaldehyde is also on the list of WHO guidelines for indoor air quality. This educational article at ATSDR on formaldehyde provides great information. Raised level of formaldehyde causes breathing problem and irritation in eyes, nose, throat. Chronic exposure to it can cause rare nose and throat cancers.

Snake plant is one of the finest indoor plants that lowers the formaldehyde levels! In the NASA experiment, a single plant removed 31,294 micrograms in a 24 hours exposure.


Xylene is hazardous to human, and it has been reported well here. You can get exposed to it from paint, varnish, rust preventives, paint thinners, removers, and pesticides. You’ll experience nose and throat irritation if xylene is present in a small concentration in the surrounding.

Here again, snake plant and many other houseplants like mum and areca palm are your friends, when it comes to xylene removal.

Trichloroethylene & Toluene

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is found in printing inks, lacquers, paint removers, varnishes, and adhesives. Here’s a list of some TCE products. TCE is carcinogenic, besides cancer, short-term exposure can irritate the upper respiratory tract, and cause nausea, fatigue, and headache.

Toluene affects mental health and causes dysfunction in the nervous system. Long-term exposure to toluene is also known to cause necrosis. It also affects the reproductive system of females and causes development problem in children. Gasoline, solvents in paints, plastic and soda bottles, paint cosmetics are its major source.

To lower the risk of Trichloroethylene and Toluene exposure grow a few houseplants like snake plant, indoors. In the experiment, it removed up to 13.4 percent of TCE in 24 hours exposure.

3. It Absorbs CO2 in the Night:

It’s a question of confusion and disbelief that snake plant or any other plant releases oxygen in the nighttime continuously. We don’t find any substantial evidence to prove that. However, it’s true that snake plant reduces the CO2 even in the night. It is due to the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), the capability to perform a particular type of photosynthesis. CAM plants are drought tolerant, dry climate plants, for example, succulents. They open their stomata from evening to minimize the water loss in hot conditions.

Snake Plant Care:


Easy does it with the watering. You want to be careful not to overdo it because your plant will rot out. Always make sure the soil is almost completely dry before thoroughly watering again. Water your Snake Plants every 2-6 weeks, depending on your home’s temperature, light levels, and humidity. So, if you travel or tend to ignore plants, this is the 1 for you.


Even though Sansevierias prefer medium light (which is about 10′ away from west or south window), they’ll also tolerate low light and high light. How versatile they are! Just be sure to keep them out of the direct sun because they’ll burn in a heartbeat.

Air Circulation:

These plants don’t mind the dry or stale air in our homes and offices. They’ll also do well in bathrooms where the humidity tends to be much higher. This is another versatility factor which gives this houseplant the label: “diehard”.


Sansevierias will tolerate a wide range of temperatures in our homes. I have a few in pots outdoors and we get very hot in the summer and cool in the winter. If your summer outdoors, just know they don’t tolerate frost or snow so get them indoors before the temperatures drop too low.


Snake Plants are highly pest-resistant but in poor conditions, they can get mealybugs and/or spider mites. If yours gets mealybugs, I’ve got you covered with this post on how to get rid of mealybugs and aphids. Here you can find spider mites control.


Once you’ve got a Snake Plant you may never need to buy another one. They’re very easy to propagate. You can check this post and video I did about the 3 Ways To Propagate Sansevierias. In the garden they’ll propagate on their own, spreading by underground rhizomes. As a houseplant, division followed by leaf cuttings are the easiest ways.


Snake Plants are easy going with their soil nutrients requirements. Because root rot is one of its main issues that kill these plants, I’d recommend a fast and well-draining soil to help prevent this. I use succulent and cactus mix combined with potting soil.


I’ve never fertilized my Snake Plants. I feed them every spring with a topping of worm compost and compost. If you prefer fertilizing, then an organic all-purpose houseplant food would be fine. Just be sure to fertilize in the spring and/or summer, twice at the most.


You don’t need to rush to transplant your Snake Plants. They actually do better when pot-bound and I’ve seen quite a few with broken grow pots. Yes, the rhizomes and roots are that tough. Generally, I repot mine every 2-5 years at the most. If yours is growing in low light, transplanting every 5-10 years will be fine.

Safe For Pets:

My cats have never ever chewed on any of my Sansevieras, indoors or out. Their leaves are pretty tough so I imagine they’re not as appealing as a crunchy leaf like a Spider Plant. I don’t test how toxic plants are on my kitties (thank goodness for them!) and rely on reputable sources to get info on this subject.

Most sources say Snake Plants are mildly toxic to cats and dogs and can cause nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. A couple of sources say they can kill them, but for that, I imagine your pet would have to ingest quite a bit. On this subject, I say do a little more research and come to your own conclusion.


Yes, they do, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the flowers to appear. It doesn’t happen very often and seems to be hit or miss. 1 of the varieties of Snake Plants growing in my garden in Santa Barbara would flower almost every year but the others wouldn’t. The flowers are whitish to greenish and smell oh so sweet

A primer on snake plants, part 1: Common varieties

The snake plant is a common household plant preferred by many because of its sturdy nature because of its tolerance to underwatering and low light conditions, as well as its sleek design characterized by erect, fleshy, and sword-shaped leaves that brings a splash of green to any room in the house without the need to fuss over its maintenance.

Commonly known as the snake plant, the Sansevieria trifasciata is also referred to by other names such as bowstring hemp plant, devil’s tongue, snake tongue, and mother-in-law’s tongue.

It also has different varieties that are familiar to gardeners and plant enthusiasts alike. The following are the varieties that buyers are most likely to encounter:

  1. Bird’s nest snake plant (Sanservieria trifasciata): Also known as “hahnii,” this variety only grows six inches high. It gets its name from its leaves, which form a cluster-like shape that resembles a bird’s nest.
  2. Cylinder snake plant (Sansevieria cylindrica): As the name implies, this snake plant variety produces round, sturdy leaves that can grow up to several feet long. The leaves also seem to arch outward from the central crown.
  3. Variegated snake plant (Sansevieria trisfasciata): This type of snake plant has three different descriptions where one has a distinct feature over the other.
    1. The first one is known as “Laurentii,” which has creamy, yellow margins forming its deep green leaves. This species grows successfully through division rather than propagation from leaf cuttings.
    2. Second is the “twist” variety, which can grow up to 14 inches high and is characterized by curving leaves adorned with horizontal stripes and yellow variegated edges.
    3. Lastly, the “Bantel’s sensation” grows up to three feet high and has sharp, narrow leaves that are decorated with white vertical stripes.
  4. Rhino grass (Sansevieria desertii): This snake plant variety can reach up to a foot tall and has succulent-like leaves that have a red tint.

Now that the different types of common snake plant have been identified, the next article will tackle the general proper care for the sansevieria, from planting to regular maintenance.

Sansevieria: Snake Plant

Sansevieria; Snake Plant/Mother in Law’s Tongue

The Sansevieria (san-suh-veer-ee-uh), often called an Elephants toothpick – which is so fitting for these statement plants with interesting sword like leaves – has succulent like adaptations and is virtually indestructible. This makes this wonderful focal plant adaptable to different conditions and low maintenance. With their robust, textured green, partially spiraled leaves that extend vertically from the pot in a striking shape this indigenous plant is the ideal addition to your indoor spaces.

Perfect for office and home spaces, with a multitude of benefits, minimal care requirements and a striking appearance, all you need to do is pair this plant with a heavy pot of choice and you have made the best first step in Discovering Your Wild and learning how to #livein!

Visit our Potting Indoor Plants blog by clicking |here| to learn how to pot up your new indoor plants. The Sansevieria can grow over 1m tall so a strong pot is essential for this plant, however you can always start relative to its current size and repot into a bigger pot as the plant grows bigger.

The Sansevieria is commonly referred to as:

Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s Tongue

Water Requirements for Sansevieria/Snake Plants:

Does not need a lot of water. So a good watering once a week will suffice. It is important not to over water, so always feel the soil with your fingers and only when it is dry water it again.

Ideal Light Conditions for Sansevieria/Snake Plants:

These plants will appreciate a light area, but can survive in very low light conditions. They can tolerate from low light areas to bright light areas. They are also often used outdoors in shady spaces and are very adaptable to most conditions.

Benefits of Sansevieria/Snake Plants:

The Snake Plant cleans air better than most other indoor plants as it has the ability to absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. Additionally, it emits oxygen and filters other toxins from the air such as benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. When placed in office and home spaces Snake Plants can assist in increasing productivity, decreasing stress, fostering happy vibes and enriching overall well-being and health.

General Care for Sansevieria/Snake Plants:

These remarkable plants are low maintenance and easy to keep alive. Just give them some occasional TLC, a little bit of light and avoid overwatering.

If the leaves start turning yellow, this is usually an indication that you have watered too much. Move the plant to a warmer spot and be cautious to only water as the plant needs (when the soil is dry to the touch – stick your finger about a cm into the soil and test for moisture)

At Lifestyle Home Garden we sell a number of varieties of Sansevieria’s which can be found both in our indoor plant section, as well as our outdoor nursery. Visit us and look for one of our friendly Sales Team members in green Lifestyle golf shirts to assist you in finding what you need!

We also understand that shopping for indoor plants can be daunting when you are not sure exactly how or what to do, so we have put together a Shopping for Indoor Plants Guide to help you Discover Your Wild with indoor plants.

Click |HERE| for your downloadable version of our Shopping for Indoor Plants Guide

Sanseviera trifasciata is an herbaceous, succulent, perennial plant, growing to a height of 90 centimeters. Leaves form a basal rosette, are flat, thick, leathery, sword-shaped, and variegated with grayish white transverse markings Flowers are whitish green, up to 5 centimeters long.

– Widely distributed in towns and cities throughout the Philippines.
– Introduced.
– Native to India.
– Mostly ornamental cultivation.

– Yields sapogenin.
– Phytochemical screening of water and ethanol extracts yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, glycosides terpenoids, tannins, proteins, and carbohydrates.
– Phytochemical screening of leaves extract yielded flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, phenols, steroids, and saponins. (see study below) (11)
– Phytochemical screening of ethanol extract of leaves and rhizomes yielded alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, glycosides, tannins, sterols, and triterpenes

– Detoxifying, heat-clearing.
– Studies have shown insecticidal, analgesic, antipyretic, air-purifying, anti-algae, anti-allergic, antibacterial, anthelmintic, antidiabetic properties.
Parts used
Rhizomes, leaves.
– No recorded folkloric use in the Philippines.
– In China, decoction used for detoxification, as anti-inflammatory, and for treatment of sores and snake bites.
– Also used for boils, cough, bronchitis, traumatic injuries.
– In Sri Lanka, rhizomes used for coughs and colds; leaves used for snake bite.
• Bowstring hemp: Yields bowstring hemp, a strong plant fibers once used to make bowstrings.
• Air-Purifying Plant: Sansevieria trifasciata is in NASA’s list of air-purifying plants, improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins (formaldehyde, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, xylene and toluene). (4) (8)
• Analgesic / Antipyretic: Study of ethanol and water extracts of Sansevieria trifasciata leaves showed dose-dependent and significant (P<0.05) increase in pain threshold in the tail-immersion test. The water extract showed not significant effect on brewer’s yeast-induced fever in rat; however the EtOH extract significant reversed yeast-induced pyrexia.(2)
• Insecticide: Study evaluated the efficacy of insecticides on the growth of string beans. Study showed that Sansevieria trifasciata insecticides are as effective as commercial ones. (3)
• Fiber Extraction: Study reports on the extraction of fiber from S. trifasciata plant using water retting method. Results showed a fiber with good strength and fineness with low elongation. Results suggest a fiber source of good strength, with cost-effective and renewable source, with a potential for use in the manufacture of products like sacks, ropes, handicrafts, mattresses and other textile applications. (6)
• Treatment of Callosities of Fingers and Toes: Study evaluated the use of ointment formulation of S. trifasciata in the treatment of corns. Results showed extract of S. trifasciata can be a good alternative for the treatment of callosities of the fingers and toes. Increasing concentration did not cause irritation and also reduced recovery time. (7)
• Anti-Diabetic / Leaves: Study evaluated the effects of Sansevieria trifasciata leaf decoction on blood glucose levels and pancreatic ß-cells in alloxan induced hyperglycemic rats. Results showed all test doses of the leaves decoction decreased the level of blood glucose and increased the granule density in the ß-cells of the islets of Langerhans of alloxan induced diabetic rats. (9)
• Carbon Dioxide Absorption in Offices: Study evaluated the application of snake plant to absorb carbon dioxide in offices. At control room, empty room, the percentages of carbon dioxide absorption were 27.28, 28.36, 27.31, and 23.51 respectively for snake plant 5, 4, 3, and 2. (10)
• Anthelmintic / Leaves: Study evaluated the in vitro anthelmintic activity of Sansevieria trifasciata leaves extract against Fasciola hepatica. In-vitro assay showed different doses of the extract resulted in the death of the parasites at different mean time. (see constituents above) (11)
• Indoor Air Pollutant Ozone Reduction: Study evaluated three common indoor houseplants viz., Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant), Chlorophyllum comosum (spider plant) and Epipremnum aureum (golden pothos) for effectiveness in reducing ozone concentrations in a simulated indoor environment. Ozone depletion rates were higher within chambers that contained plants than within control chambers without plants, but there were no plant species differences. (12)
• Mechanistic Explorations / Antidiabetic Potential / Leaves and Rhizomes: Study evaluated the mechanistic anti-diabetic potential of leaves and rhizomes of S. trifasciata. Flow cytometric data revealed the beneficial role of plant extract in preventing apoptotic cell death under hyperglycemic conditions and results of WB analysis showed reduced expressions of vascular inflammation markers. (13)
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated the potency of S. trifasciata methanol extracts and fractions through antibacterial testing against Gram negative (E. coli) and Gram positive (S. aureus) bacterial. The methanol extract showed no activity against the tested bacteria. Of 10 fractions, two showed activity for both test bacteria, five against Gram positive bacteria and three showed no activity. (14)
• Potential to Inhibit Algae Bloom: Malaysia is one of the countries that have been affected by harmful algae bloom (HAB) causing human health problems like food poisoning and loss to aquaculture industries. Study evaluated crude extracts obtained from fresh and dried material for potential to inhibit growth of HAB species i.e. A. tamiyavanichi and A. tamarense. Results showed removal efficiencies and suggests S. trifasciata has potential in mitigating HAB. (15)
• Antiallergic / Anti-Anaphylactic / Leaves: Study evaluated the antiallergic anti-anaphylactic activity of ethanolic extract of S. trifasciata on various animal models viz. milk induced eosinophilia and leukocytosis,compound 48/80 induced mast cell degranulation, active and passive cutaneous anaphylaxis and histamine induced pedal edema. Results showed promising antiallergic and anti-anaphylactic activity of EEST, together with potent antioxidant activity. Activity may be due to inhibition of release of chemical mediators from mast cells by phytoconstituents like steroidal saponins, triterpenoids, and flavonoids. (16)
• Toxicity Testing of Leaf and Root Parts: Study evaluated the toxicity level of S. trifasciata roots and leaves using brine shrimp lethality assay and ten-fold serial dilution of powdered plant material in artificial seawater. The toxic potential of the plant extracts was greater than the recommended LC50 value, with a positive linear relationship between concentrations of extract to the mortality rate using nauplii. The more concentrated the treatment, the higher the mortality. (17)
• Insecticidal Potential: Study showed the leaves and rhizomes can be a source of organic insecticides, cheaper, safer, and more effective than carbamate. (see constituents above) (18)


Sansevieria Trifasciata (aka Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)

Ever wonder why you never see artificial snake plants? It’s because you don’t need artificial versions. The real thing is pretty much unkillable and survives in almost any growing condition.

Heck, as I was putting this together I realized our readers don’t need a growing guide for Sansevieria. All we need to do is to look at what we don’t want to do with a snake plant. Like many houseplants, it thrives on neglect and suffers from too loving a hand.

Thrives on Neglect

Yep, that’s right. Snake plants don’t need a tender hand to prune their foliage, and they don’t want much to drink. They can tolerate deep shade and full sun, and they’ll even put up with a few nights of freezing temperatures.

It doesn’t need to be repotted often, either. My aunt had a colony of snake plants in every corner of her home and would never repot them until their root-bound rhizomes cracked their clay pots.

However, it’s worth nothing that you can easily break the plant up and divide it into multiples, each ready for a new home as an individual potted plant.

This species thrives in poor conditions because they evolved in the jungles of the Congo. Despite being cradles of life and biodiversity, jungles tend to have very poor soil quality. That’s because those minerals and nutrients are locked up inside the overwhelming amount of greenery.

Costa Farms 12-Inch Snake Plant via Amazon

Snake plant wants a cramped, poor quality home to mimic the soil conditions of its native habitat.

Care and Water Requirements

My wife loves the houseplants decorating our home, and she’s got an artful hand when it comes to propagating clones from our established greenery. But she’s given up the duty of watering our indoor foliage to rest squarely on my shoulders.

Many of the houseplants we’re familiar with need an articulate watering schedules to ensure their best health. But even a schedule of “once or twice a week” could stretch out into several weeks without a drink if conditions are right, and that’s where a watchful eye comes into play.

But snake plants? Nah, they’ll get by. You could toss one into a closet during the winter and forget about it until you stumble on it during your spring cleaning. Guarantee you’ll find the plant in the same condition.

Sansevieria is very easily overwatered during the winter. I give mine a little splash of water every few weeks during the winter, just enough to keep the soil from cracking too much, but that’s it. Snake plants thrive on ounces of watering during the entire winter, and too much will easily waterlog and rot them.

Costa Farms Snake Plant with 6.5-Inch Wide Planter via Amazon

During the warmer months you can still get away with watering the plant every few weeks, sometimes stretching out over a period of a month between drinks.

The exact timing between watering depends on the conditions of where you’ve got your container situated. Sunnier locations during very warm periods of the summer will dictate more regular watering, but a snake plant tucked into a shady corner can go for weeks without needing a drink even during the summer.

I’ve never fertilized my collection and they seem to be happy as can be, but if you’re interested in giving them a bite to eat you can! I’d suggest using applications at half the recommended rate and at half the frequency. If a fertilizer suggests 1 ounce of material applied every two weeks, I’d go with 1/2 ounce once every four weeks.

Never fertilize them in the winter, or they’ll really suffer from it.

Why So Little Water?

It’s because snake plants are one of the few species that have evolved a metabolic process known as crassulacean acid metabolism.

Plants exchange gases through their stomata and release water vapor in the process. For many plants their stomata can be opened or closed as a reaction to the environment, but Sansevieria opens its stomata only at night to conserve water.

However, that process of gas exchange is often called a “necessary evil” for plants. Plants use very little water in their metabolic processes and expel as much as 95% of it through this process of transpiration. But snake plants?

Their stomata are open only at night, which means they hold onto water far longer than your other houseplants. If we provide too much for them to drink they become waterlogged and begin to rot.

Give Me Light! Or Don’t, Whatever

Many homeowners have a few really great windows for plant growth, but an abundance of locations in the home without adequate light to grow most houseplants. While a good number of houseplants enjoy the shade and many enjoy bright light, few thrive under any light condition at all the way Sansevieria does.

You can throw these guys in full sun or deep shade conditions and they’ll keep on truckin’ all the way.

Something’s Bugging Your Sansevieria?

The only pests I’ve seen bother snake plants are mealybugs and spider mites, both annoying pests but not terribly difficult to control. I’ve become reliant on a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol inside for spritzing on plants with pest problems, but chemical solutions work too.

If you position the snake plant in chilly temperatures for too long it could develop scarring on its leaves. I’ve found this condition to be largely cosmetic and not something that needs to be rectified, but if you want your plant neat and tiny you can snip away browned tips on leaves.

Most of the conditions aside from a handful of pests and scarring from cold weather are caused by too much water or moisture on the plant. In fact it’s the only way a snake plant could be considered “sensitive”. Always err towards underwatering and you’ll find more than half of the conditions afflicting Sansevieria eliminated.

But Wait, There’s More

One of the fringe benefits of growing an easy-to-care-for houseplant like this is that it’s quite beneficial to the air quality of any indoor space. The NASA Clean Air Study tested a variety of familiar houseplants, and snake plant was found to remove four of the five toxins the study targeted.


Propagating whole plants is easy. The plant responds well to a few different methods of cultivation to include leaf cuttings, root division, from offsets, from “pups,” and from seed. We’ll explore this topic in an upcoming guide.


A lot of these guys will actually crack the pots they’re contained in, so don’t place it in one you’re too attached to. When it’s time to repot, it’s a similar scenario for other houseplants.

Remove the plant from the container and repot it into another container one size up; an 8-inch plant should go into a 10-inch pot, and a 10-inch plant into a 12-inch pot. A potting mix for cacti like this one is a good choice to use when repotting your snake plant.

Common Snake Plant Types

You’ll find many different types of S. trifasciata for your tastes and preferences. There are over 70 recognized subspecies of Sansevieria and hundred of varieties and cultivars of Trifasciata (snake plant / mother-in-law’s tongue), but the selections below represent a few of the most common ones that you’ll be to find at your local green house or find online to order.

S. Trifasciata

S. trifasciata is an all-green variant and my personal favorite. It’s more tolerant of deep shade than other varieties of snake plant. It certainly looks more like a snake than other varieties and is the original from which most other cultivars originated from. The leaves tend to be on the thinner side, but it seems to have a much more vigorous growth rate.

Hirt’s Garden Trifasciata Snake Plant – 6″ Pot via

The almost-mottled color is appealing but not striking and makes this plant perfect as a shapely accent plant without stealing too much attention from the others in the room. I’ve used these plants in dry, outdoor containers during the summer in Philadelphia and they take right to the conditions.

S. Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (Golden)

The most recognizable variety is Sansevieria trifasciata ‘laurentii,’ the yellow-edged and variegated snake plant. In zones 9 to 11 it can be grown outdoors. That vivid yellow is at its strongest in the sun and will grow less pronounced the more it’s in the shade.

Sansevieria laurentii superba (Golden Snake Plant) via Burpee

That yellow edge is really lovely and helps the plant pop visually when in a shady corner. My only hangup with this variety is how obvious any damage to the leaves becomes, but otherwise it’s a hardy and handsome plant. The leaves feel thicker and fleshier too.

S Trifasciata ‘Gold Hahnii’

Hanii is a tiny version for cramped spaces and windowsills. I love this plant and find it to be as hardy and forgiving as its bigger cousins. The tiny, compact shape allows for multiple specimens in homes where every inch needs to count.

Green Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’ – 4″ Pot via Amazon

You may be familiar with its nickname “Birdsnest” on account of how much it looks like… well, like a bird’s nest. Pairing these plants with hens and chicks and creeping thyme in containers is a surefire combination for hot and dry conditions.

S. Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’

S. ‘Moonshine’ has a very different look from other cultivars with it’s silvery toned upward pointing dagger shaped leaves. As a specimen, it can give a modern vibe and would work well with white, contemporary furnishings or mid-century modern.

‘Moonshine’ Snake Plant via Burpee

It can also lend to a bit of pop of contrast when set among other snake plant varieties while still keeping an overall theme of shape and form.

So Long, Sanesiervia

Gotta love these guys! Easy to care for, difficult to kill, air purifiers, and readily propagated. What more could you ask for? Sanesiervia makes an awesome gift for people because of all of these attributes, and an excellent addition to your own menagerie.

While the snake plant is handsome on its own, maybe you’re looking for something a bit more colorful like the croton, or perhaps one of these non-toxic options for your home with pets that are just too curious? We’ve also got our handy guide on the basic care of houseplants for your other questions about indoor gardening.

Thanks for reading, please share your tips, comments, and questions in the comments below!


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© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Hirt’s Garden and Burpee. Uncredited photos via .

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.

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