Snake plant too tall

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How to divide Sansevieria or Snake Plant. Sansevieria is a slow growing plant but it can become overgrown, this is a great way to get more full grown plants quickly!

Sansevieria is a popular house plant also known as Snake Plant or the politically incorrect ‘Mother in Law’s Tongue’.

It is one of the house plants I have listed in my Clear the Air with House Plants post as an excellent air purifying plant.

In this article I show you how to easily divide Sansevieria or Snake Plant to get more of this power house oxygen producer!

Don’t forget to PIN this post and share or save it for later.

Why You Want Sansevieria In Your Home

There are many on the list of wonderful air cleaning plants but the plus with Snake Plant is it releases oxygen into the air at night making it a perfect candidate for the bedroom.

Recently I had the privilege of seeing these beautiful plants used in the landscape of a mall in Southern California. I had to take a photo and obviously by the response I got to it on Instagram and Facebook many of you loved them too.

Related: Grow in the Dark, best plants for low light conditions!

Not only were they in the ground but in the potted displays as well. Don’t they pair beautifully with other succulents?

Now I can’t keep mine outdoors in the winter but after seeing them used in the landscape I will remember to use them on my deck in the Summer.

Why Divide Sansevieria

This plant was struggling and the owner wanted me to find out what was wrong. I removed it from it’s pot and found this. There was not any soil left in the pot. When your root ball looks like this it is time to divide. (dividing should have been done way before it started to look like this)

Being the roots were so shallow and the top was heavy it kept trying to topple. This is definitely in need of dividing.

Get Started

Gently pull apart by grabbing a section of the thick leaves close to the base and gently tug as much as you can.

Pulling it apart will help give you a good visual of where you can cut apart some of the thicker roots.

Tools for Dividing Snake Plants

Have a sharp garden knife ready to sever the section from its neighbor. Go ahead, you won’t hurt it.

Divide Snake Plant into Sections

Do this to more sections, I prefer to have several leaves per new clump so it looks fuller from the start.

Repot the Sansivieria Divisions

Put your new sections into new pots (I use the one gallon size) with well draining potting mix. Personally I like a custom mix of 50% regular potting soil and 50% Cactus potting soil.

Give Snake Plant Divisions Support

The new sections on mine are so large and top heavy that it is difficult to keep them upright without staking. You can use pieces of bamboo, small stakes or anything that will serve as a support. Tie them up with strips of pantyhose, wire or twine.

I place them in a crock for more bottom weight but you can just plant them up in ceramic pots that have more weight to them than the plastic I use. I also use some decorative stones on top of the soil for added weight, plus it just looks prettier.

Groom your Snake Plant

The brown tips I will cut off at an angle and before I know it these new plants are putting out babies..

So that is one way to get more plants for free. I ended up with 5 plants from the one and they all are filling in wonderfully.

What is your favorite house plant?

More posts you will enjoy
Clear the Air with House Plants
How to Grow Peace Lily
Caring for your Christmas Cactus

More houseplants you can divide

Great Read: Compact Plants for Small Space Gardening

Q. I have a houseplant called a snake plant that has grown too tall for the space. I’m not sure how to prune it back without ruining its appearance.

A. Snake plant, also called mother-in-law’s tongue, is known botanically as Sansevieria trifasciata. For readers unfamiliar with this plant, it is a popular, very easy-to-grow houseplant that has thick fleshy leaves that are 1-4 feet tall and up to 3 inches across. The leaves have interesting patterns that somewhat resemble a snake’s skin, hence the common name. Plants grown in high light will be well-patterned, but plants grown under low light conditions may be almost solid green. In our mild climate, Sansevieria can be grown successfully outdoors too.

To reduce the height of the plant, cut off the tallest leaves all the way to the soil line. The leaves grow in a rosette pattern from the rhizome in the soil, with the newest leaves at the center of the rosette and the oldest, tallest leaves usually around the outside. This makes it a little easier to reduce your plant’s height without altering the character of the plant. Use a thin knife to cut the individual leaves away, being careful not to damage adjacent leaves. Remove all the leaves that you think are too tall. The smaller, younger leaves will continue to grow and preserve the character of the plant.

If you want to grow additional plants, use the pruned leaves to start new ones. It is essential to keep track of which end is “up,” as leaf cuttings planted upside down will not root. You can divide the leaf cuttings into segments 4-6 inches long. Plant the bottom end about 1-1 1/2 inches deep in an artificial soil mix that drains well. Keep the soil mix moist but not wet. At room temperature, roots will start to grow in about a month, and new plantlets will begin to grow in another month or so. Once the plantlets have reached a size that is easy to handle, you can cut them away from the mother leaf, being careful to retain as many roots as possible. You can plant each one into an individual pot or group several together in a single large pot for a bolder effect or even plant some in the garden.

Q. I have several 4-year-old citrus trees that just finished blooming. It looks like they set far more fruit than they could possibly support. Should I thin the fruit?

A. I know how the sight of what is obviously too many tiny fruits covering a little tree can trouble a gardener, but it is rarely necessary to thin citrus fruit.

Although your trees set a large number of fruits, the trees will naturally abort many of them before they grow much more. This process is sometimes referred to as “June drop,” but often occurs long before June and is triggered by the onset of warm weather. In addition, windy spring weather may do some thinning for you.

If your trees still have too many fruits after these natural processes have occurred and you want maximum-sized fruit, you can do some thinning at the beginning of summer. As you would with other fruits, you should do the thinning before the trees have put too much of their effort into growing the fruit. Therefore, I would remove any undesirable fruit by the time it reaches the size of a walnut.

Ottillia “Toots” Bier has been a UC Cooperative Extension master gardener since 1980. Send comments and questions to [email protected]

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Snake plants can grow to an impressive height of well over 4 feet tall if you let them, and the plant will spread outwards as new leaves sprout up from the rhizome below the soil. At some point, you may have to tidy things up, and it’s important to know how to prune a snake plant correctly, to keep your plant in good health and looking well.

How to prune a snake plant: Inspect the plant for signs of damage or poor health. Prune to restore shape, reduce size and improve the appearance of your snake plant. Use a sharp, sterile pair of pruners or a sharp knife to cut chosen leaves off at the soil line. Remove damaged and mature leaves in preference to new foliage.

When To Prune A Snake Plant

Snake plants are notoriously hardy and quite slow growing, so will likely tolerate pruning very well at any time of year. However, to give your plant the best chance of thriving after pruning, it is best to do this when the plant is actively growing, ideally in spring or early summer.

Pruning does put a snake plant under stress, so if your snake plant is in poor health, it is better to improve general care measures first, encourage some new healthy growth, and then prune your snake plant, to promote rapid recovery.

Why Should You Prune Your Snake Plant?

Snake plants don’t need pruned as often as some plants, but there are three main reasons why you should prune yours from time to time;

Maintain The Size Of Your Snake Plant

Snake plants increase in size by spreading out from a rhizome under the soil. New leaves will progressively enlarge the spread of the plant, and you will soon find that it completely fills the container it is in. This can lead to your plant becoming root bound, which will impact the health and stunt the growth of your snake plant.

Snake plant roots can be quite substantial in comparison to the size of the plant as a whole. A plant that looks reasonably comfortable in its pot can have roots that are tightly wound round the inside of the pot.

If you want to maintain the size of your plant, without having to repot it into a larger pot, then regular pruning is an important thing to do.

In addition, the leaves of a snake plant continue to increase in height for quite some time, and a plant that is relatively small when purchased, can soon have leaves that are several feet tall. One way to counter this is to prune off the tallest leaves. This helps to maintain a more moderate height.

To Remove Damaged Or Old Foliage

The leaves of a snake plant are such an interesting feature, and individual leaves can last for years. However, any damage that develops on them stays on the leaves permanently. Minor lapses in care, such as excessive sun, overwatering or a pest infestation can lead to damaged leaves that start to look unsightly after a while.

Thankfully, you can restore the good looks of your snake plant by pruning off any leaves that are starting to look a little unsightly, and new, perfectly formed leaves will soon sprout up to replace them, providing you look after your snake plant well.

To Improve The Shape Of Your Plant

Although snake plants have a reputation of being hard to kill, they are relatively challenging to keep in perfect condition. The leaves have a tendency to curl, droop or bend in a variety of directions, which can impact the look of your plant.

If your snake plant starts to look like the leaves are all doing there own thing, pruning is a great opportunity to tidy it up, restore some symmetry, and quickly fix a variety of issues quickly and easily.

Read my article about why snake plants get curled leaves for more info and to learn how to prevent this issue.

What Equipment Do I Need

Thankfully, very little. Here’s what I use to make the process as simple as possible.

A sharp knife, pruners or scissors. I usually get both a knife and a pair of scissors or pruners ready for this job, as the knife helps me cut the leaves off right at the soil line, and the scissors or pruners are easier to prune leaves in the central portion of the plant.

Use rubbing alcohol or boiling water to sterilize your tools, even if they look cosmetically clean. Your tools should be sterile, as it is very easy to spread disease from one plant to the next when pruning your houseplants.

Choose a clean surface with plenty of space to prune your snake plant. Pruning can be a little messy, as you will probably disrupt some of the soil, and you will also be left with plenty of cut leaves at the end. A clean bench or kitchen counter will do fine, but put down a few sheets of newspaper if you are pruning your snake pant on any surface that could stain or get damaged.

How To Prune A Snake Plant

Pruning a snake plant is a fairly easy process. Start by inspecting your plant to check the health, shape and size. Think about what shape and size you would like your snake plant to be at the end of the process. This will help you target which leaves to prune.

I normally follow these three steps to prune a snake plant;

Reduce The Spread Of Your Snake Plant

Start by pruning the leaves around the edge of the plant, assuming you wish to reduce the size of the plant by pruning, rather than just remove damaged leaves. Use a sharp knife to cut each leaf off as close to the soil line as possible. Removing the leaf as close to the base will improve the cosmetic appearance of your snake plant. Stubby leaf stumps do not generally look great, so it is worth the extra effort to cut the leaves off as low down as possible.

The best way to do this is to hold the top of the leaf, apply a little upward pressure, hold your knife parallel with the soil and make a single horizontal cut across the leaf.

Snake plant leaves can be quite tough, so it may take a little effort to cut through each. Try to make a clean cut, rather than a series of jagged cuts. A ragged leaf edge can increase the risk of disease entering the cut leaf stump.

Using a knife to remove outer leaves at the base

Reduce The Height Of Your Snake Plant

Once you have removed the outer leaves to your satisfaction, concentrate on the height of the plant. Target each leaf that is taller than you wish the plant to be and cut each off the plant.

For leaves in the interior of the plant, you will find using pruners or scissors easier than a knife, but it is harder to cut the leaf off right at the base. Don’t worry about this, as no one will see the leaf stumps in the interior of the plant, so your plant will still look beautiful.

Remove Damaged Leaves

Once you have trimmed your snake plant down to the required size, identify any damaged or deformed leaves that you wish to prune to improve the cosmetic appearance of your plant. Ensure that removing these will not leave your plant looking lopsided or sparse. It’s OK to have a houseplant that doesn’t look perfect, so don’t fret about removing every single leaf with a tiny imperfection.

When pruning your snake plant, try not to reduce the size of the plant by more than one third at a time. Pruning is a stressful experience for your snake plant, and pruning back too much can leave it vulnerable to disease or it may just struggle for some months after pruning if you go too far.

Another thing I would advise against is pruning parts of leaves. It is very tempting to cut off brown tips and leave the rest of the leaves, but this doesn’t tend to be effective, as the cut end often becomes brown itself, and it does increase the risk of disease for the plant.

How Often Do I Need To Prune My Snake Plant

Assuming you cut your snake plant back by one third or less, you can expect your snake plant to need pruned again in 2-3 years. Snake plants don’t grow particularly quickly, and it will depend on the conditions you are growing your plant in. Many people grow snake plants in lower light conditions indoors, which will slow their growth down significantly.

There are no hard and fast rules about how often to prune your snake plant. In fact, if you wish to let your snake plant grow to its full potential, you can repot it into a larger pot as it grows and, as long as the plant looks well to you, you need not prune it at all.

Can I Grow New Snake Plants From The Cuttings?

Absolutely. Snake plants are very easy to propagate in soil or water from leaf cuttings. It does take a bit of time, but is really easy. Read my article on propagating snake plant cuttings for more info. This is a great opportunity to grow a few extra snake plants for your home or to share with your friends and family.

If you’ve found this article helpful, you may like to read my other snake plant care articles for further information.

  • How to care for a snake plant.
  • Why do snake plant leaves droop?
  • Why do snake plants get curled leaves?
  • Why is my snake plant dying?
  • Why snake plants get brown tips on their leaves.
  • How to propagate a snake plant.

How to Care for and Grow Your Snake Plant

  • Pruning – Whether your Snake Plant is overgrown or it has some damaged leaves you’d like to remove, pruning a Snake Plant is very easy. Using a sharp, clean blade, simply cut off the stalks you’d like to remove at the base, closest as possibly to the soil. If the leaf drooping, dry, or otherwise on its way out, you may also try tugging the leaf and pulling it out from the root. It will come out easily if it’s time to go!

  • Cleaning – Take each leaf between two soft tissue cloths and wipe off the top to reveal a healthy shine (also helps the plant soak in more light!).

  • Repotting – Houseplants grow much slower than they would in the wild. Depending on the size of your plant and the density of the roots, this is nice to do every 2-3 years to provide fresh nutrients and encourage new growth.

    • When to repot – Snake Plants have extremely strong roots and will begin to literally bust out of its pot when it’s time to repot.

    • Pot sizing – if you want your plant to grow taller, find a nursery pot that’s 2” in diameter larger than the current pot. If you want your plant to stay the same height, you can reuse the same pot and simply change the soil. If the latter is the case, you may need to separate some of the stalks of your Snake Plant, as they most likely will no longer all fit in the pot.

    • Get your hands dirty – spread out newspaper on the floor, remove the plant from the pot and shake off as much of the old soil as possible so that you have clean roots. Place the plant in the center of the pot, add new soil and pat down firmly. Water the soil thoroughly and place the plant in an area with bright indirect light. Your plant will take 2-4 weeks to settle from the shock and adjust to its new home.

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