Many household plants serve as good decoration pieces and help a home look livelier. However, some also offer excellent health benefits by improving your mental and physical health. Sansevieria or snake plants fall in this category. Snake plants are beautiful and improve indoor air quality in multiple ways.
You can enjoy many health benefits because of a purer environment inside your home. The best part is that this plant is readily available on the market and Snake plants are relatively easy to care for and forgiving to even those of us who don’t have a green thumb.
If you want to know more about snake plants, how to care for them, what issues might present themselves, and what benefits Snake plants offer…you’re in the right place. This definitive guide will help you understand their benefits, caring requirements, types, and much more.
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Table of Contents
- What Is Snake Plant?
- Why Is The Snake Plant Also Called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue?
- Benefits Of Snake Plants
- Is Snake Plant Good For A Bedroom?
- Can You Root A Snake Plant In Water?
- How To Know If A Snake Plant Is Healthy?
- How Fast Does A Snake Plant Grow?
- Do Snake Plants Attract Bugs?
- Where Should You Place A Snake Plant In A House?
- Can Snake Plant Purify Air?
- Which Diseases Can Affect Snake Plants?
- What Are Snake Plant’s Spiritual Benefits?
- Is The Snake Plant Low-Maintenance?
- Should I Mist My Snake Plants?
- Types Of Snake Plants
- Other Snake Plants
- Causes of Yellowing In Snake Plants
- How To Grow Snake Plant From Seed?
- How To Get Snake Plant To Bloom?
- Common Pests
- Common Problems With Snake Plants
What Is Snake Plant?
Snake plants are a common option for indoor decoration because of their beautiful, simple, and elegant appearance. They are native to Africa and Asia and you can easily identify snake plants because of their sword-shaped foliage that looks almost artificial. Of course, the leaves are natural and stay erect to offer a neat appearance.
This species is frequently used for home decoration due to its low-maintenance needs. You don’t have to spend several hours daily caring for your snake plants. They also require little water for survival, so you don’t have to worry about missing a watering session.
Snake plants are also pleasing to the eye and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Why Is The Snake Plant Also Called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue?
Snake plants are commonly called mother-in-law’s tongue because of their characteristic features. They are resilient and can grow to 6 inches or several feet.
The succulent also has pointed leaves with sharp margins to resemble a snake. This feature contributes to the name, mother-in-law’s tongue. The leaves are sharp like the tongue of a mother-in-law.
Besides that, the plant’s resiliency also adds to the name. Snake plants also have thick rootstocks from which the pointed foliage grows. However, this reason has been assumed by people. There is no actual record of how the plant got this colloquial nickname.
Benefits Of Snake Plants
Not only are Snake plants easy to obtain, they are easy to care for and offer quite a few benefits around your home or office.
Here are some of the top benefits snake plants offer to homeowners:
Snake Plants Provide Air Purification In Your Home Or Office
Snake plants filter indoor air significantly by removing various pollutants. The Clean Air study by NASA also confirms this claim because this species was used in the research. Snake plants can remove all contaminants from your surrounding air except ammonia. So you can breathe fresher air by adding a Snake plant to your home or office décor.
In small spaces, snakes plants can absorb the following contaminants:
- Carbon dioxide
These harmful toxins can cause airborne allergies in many people. Snake plants can eliminate them from your environment to help you stay healthy.
The best part about this plant is that it can also convert carbon dioxide to oxygen at night.
Snake Plants Can Improve A Room’s Feng Shui
Feng shui is a Chinese practice that helps with balancing a home’s energy to create a positive space. Houseplants such as snake plants play an integral role in this practice. They help brighten an area in your home, contributing to the feng shui design. A better environment also helps with balancing various energies.
NOTE: If you travel a lot or just aren’t good with keeping plants alive, you can consider adding an artificial Snake plant to your décor. Because artificial Snake plants look so much like the real thing, they can help contribute to a sense of balance in a room, enhancing its Feng Shui.
The upright leaves add positive energy to your property for a healthy environment. Air-purifying qualities of this plant also contribute to a better indoor atmosphere.
This also adds a protective touch to your home so that you can remain comfortable. The best part is that snake plants thrive even when you neglect them a bit.
Snake Plants Are Easy To Care For
Snake plants are the best beginner-friendly plants because of their low-maintenance needs. They can withstand various environmental conditions, so the plant will not die easily.
The succulent leaves also thrive even if you don’t pay attention to your collection for a few days. So you can go on trips without worrying about your snake plants.
This plant is also not susceptible to a high number of diseases and pests. Overwatering is the most prevalent issue that you may face due to excessive care. Luckily, it is easily avoidable by giving water only when the top inch of soil is dry.
It’s also important to note that you do not have to repot Snake plants each year.
Snake Plants Provide Some Mental Health Benefits
Houseplants offer various health benefits because of their natural appearance and unique features. Snake plants are no different as they can boost your mental health significantly.
They can reduce stress by decreasing cortisol levels in your body. As a result, it makes sense that you would experience an improved mood when surrounded by snake plants.
Caring for the plant can be therapeutic and help you stay calmer during the day. It will also keep your mind occupied to prevent you from overthinking. Having a single houseplant on your study desk can reduce stress levels significantly and help you focus better.
So you can enjoy high productivity by keeping a houseplant in your cubicle or office.
Snake Plants Can Help With A Few Physical Ailments
The physical benefits of snake plants have not been scientifically proven, but many experts accept them. You can use this species for healing skin wounds such as burns. Snake plants can also decrease inflammation and maintain standard blood pressure to improve your cardiovascular health. They also strengthen your immune system and keep you safe from various toxins.
You can apply the plant’s sap to skin wounds to prevent scarring. Applying the solution to an inflamed area will also relieve pain. Aromatherapy using snake plants is also famous for getting rid of headaches. However, you must be careful when using a variety for healing.
Please note, though that the leaves of Snake plants also contain saponins which are poisonous when consumed in large quantities.
Snake Plants Allow You To Save Water
Some houseplants require frequent watering in large quantities to keep the plant moisturized. However, you don’t have to worry about this when growing snake plants. They don’t require much water, so you can easily miss a week or two. This will also prevent you from excessive watering.
You can also save water by growing this plant because of the low watering needs. There is no need to worry about giving a large amount to snake plants. The best part is you can place the plant outdoors to save more water during the rainy season.
Rainwater is highly beneficial to snake plants.
Is Snake Plant Good For A Bedroom?
Snake plants are ideal for bedrooms because of their various properties. They can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, improving air quality significantly. If you suffer from allergies after dark, the plant will help you remain comfortable. The oxygen will purify the air more and remove additional toxins.
The best part is that this plant also has a beautiful appearance to improve your mood. So having it in the room can help you enjoy a good night’s sleep and decrease restlessness. The better air quality will also be soothing if you have sensitive skin. The snake plant will also maintain healthy air circulation and offer high breathability.
REMEMBER: If you don’t have a green thumb and just can’t seem to keep plants alive, you can always look into artificial plants as a suitable alternative for decorating your bedroom.
Can You Root A Snake Plant In Water?
You can easily root a snake plant in water because it is a highly safe method. Typically, overwatering can kill your plant, but that is not an issue when rooting the plant. You can place the cutting in a water jar and ensure that the leaves are above the water surface.
The plant also does not have to touch the jar’s bottom. It can take four to six weeks for the new roots to grow. After the specific duration, you can transfer the plant to a pot with soil. Rooting in water is an excellent way to grow more snake plants without buying new ones.
How To Know If A Snake Plant Is Healthy?
Snake plants are relatively easy to decode when they are not feeling well or are experiencing issues.
Here are the top things that will help you know whether your snake plant is healthy or not:
The Color Of A Snake Plant’s Leaves Can Indicate Its Health
The color of your snake plant’s foliage is the top way to know if the plant is healthy. Dark green leaves indicate your plant is being taken care of well and getting the right nutrients. However, you must be alert if the foliage is variegated.
Tints of yellow indicate the plant is unhealthy and may be dying. This can occur due to nutrient deficiency, overwatering, or excessive light exposure. If you fix these conditions by meeting the standard requirements, the leaves will regain a dark hue.
The Texture Of A Snake Plant’s Leaves Can Indicate Its Health
Typically, you should avoid touching your plant frequently because it may transfer contaminants to the foliage. However, you can use your hand to feel the texture every once in a while. Healthy snake plants have strong and firm leaves that are soft to touch.
If your snake plant has brittle or crispy leaves, the plant is dehydrated. You can resolve the issue by giving adequate water. Soggy and mushy feel also indicate an unhealthy plant. This can happen due to overwatering or a disease.
The Color Of A Snake Plant’s Root Ball Can Indicate Its Health
The root ball is the heart of a snake plant, but most homeowners neglect it by not inspecting it. However, checking this part is essential to avoid root rot. This issue can kill your plant promptly and leave a bad odor. So you should check the root ball when repotting your snake plant in a new container.
Healthy roots are firm and white, so you don’t have to worry about this appearance. However, if the roots are brown or black, the plant is unhealthy. The system may also feel mushy, indicating root rot. The best way to tackle this issue is by trimming dead roots and repotting. You should also avoid overwatering to prevent the disease.
How Fast Does A Snake Plant Grow?
Snake plants can grow 4 to 12 inches every year, but the exact rate is not fixed. Varying external factors determine the optimum growth rate.
The plant will give one to two new leaves every year. Most also max out at 6 leaves every rosette.
You should note that snake plants are slow-growing, so it will take a few years to reach the maximum height. Most types primarily reach maximum growth at 75cm or 1m. Watering the plant as per its requirements and meeting the sunlight needs will help with better growth.
Do Snake Plants Attract Bugs?
These plants are not susceptible to various pest issues because they don’t attract specific bugs or insects. Snake plants also have spooning in their leaves which is a chemical substance. It is insecticidal and keeps bugs away from your plants.
So you don’t have to worry about your species attracting insects.
However, sometimes bugs may appear on your snake plant. This depends on your house’s indoor environment. So you should always keep an eye for small insects on leaves.
If you spot one, you must remove the bug using your fingers. Misting some water will also help with getting rid of insects.
Where Should You Place A Snake Plant In A House?
The appropriate level of lighting is one of the most critical elements to keeping any live plant healthy. If you’re growing the plant indoors, you must keep it near a window facing the west or east. This will allow your snake plants to benefit from the morning or afternoon sunlight.
Meanwhile, you should keep the plant in a bright spot outside to get maximum exposure.
You must also ensure the plant remains shaded during the hottest time of the day when outside. The top thing to remember is that sunlight exposure should always be indirect. Otherwise, the heat and sun’s rays can scorch the leaves, causing irreversible damage.
Can Snake Plant Purify Or Humidify The Air In Your Home?
Snake plants can easily purify the air by removing carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen content. This will help you breathe in a better environment and suffer from fewer health issues. The plant can remove various harmful organic compounds from the air. Benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene are a few pollutants that snake plants eliminate.
Unlike other plants, the snake variety also produces oxygen at night, offering more flexibility. You can enjoy fresher air at all times of the day. The best part is that you don’t have to invest much money to get this plant.
Snake plants can also maintain humidity levels to some extent.
Which Diseases Can Affect Snake Plants?
While Snake plants are very hardy and easy to care for, there are some diseases that target them so you’ll need to check on them periodically.
Here are the top diseases that affect snake plants:
Root Rot Can Be Damaging To Snake Plants
When a snake plant gives a foul soil odor, it means the plant is suffering from root rot. You can check this by taking some soil in your hand and sniffing it. The pungent smell will be hard to miss helping diagnose the plant. Luckily, you can resolve the issue if the roots are not severely damaged.
You must carefully remove the root ball from the pot and check its appearance. A brown or mushy appearance indicates rotting, so you must cut the damaged roots. Then, repotting the healthy system will allow you to help your plant thrive.
It is also advisable to pot the plant in drier soil because root rot occurs due to overwatering. You must also water the new container moderately to avoid root rot again.
Southern Blight Is A Fungus That Attacks Snake Plants
This is a serious fungal disease that can kill your snake plant easily. The fungus attacks the plant’s stem and eats it away gradually. So you must notice the signs early because the microorganism can kill your snake plants within seven days. You can identify infection by spotting white areas on leaf surfaces.
The foliage may also turn brown slowly over the next few days, indicating infection. An excellent fungicide such as methyl bromide will help you kill the pathogen. You can apply the solution to the plant weekly to kill all fungi attacking the stems. The infectious agent should die within days after applying the fungicide.
Red Leaf Spot Can Be Detrimental To Snake Plants
Red leaf spot is another fungal disease that affects snake plants severely. It primarily occurs in the warmer months because the pathogen becomes more active in such an environment. You can identify the disease by noticing brownish-red spots on your plant’s leaves. The dots may expand and cause lesions on the foliage.
The best way to eliminate this disease is by cutting all the affected leaves and spraying the rest of the plant with a fungicide. A copper or sulfur-containing solution is helpful for preventing new spore formation. You can also avoid the disease by keeping your plant out of stagnant water.
Do Snake Plants Offer Spiritual Benefits?
Snake plants help with Feng Shui practice by removing negative energies from your home. It also makes the space more positive by brightening the property and helping it feel more positive. So you can enjoy a greater inner peace by keeping snake plants near you.
The plant also offers protective benefits by removing toxins from indoor air. Upright leaves and dark green foliage also increase the positive energies within your home. This depends primarily on the plant’s position.
You should keep it in a less crowded area for the best spiritual benefits.
Is A Snake Plant Low-Maintenance?
This is one of the most forgiving plants you will encounter. You don’t have to water it frequently because of the low needs.
Snake plants also don’t need direct sunlight exposure, so you can choose a sheltered spot. Of course, the light must still be bright to facilitate photosynthesis.
You also don’t have to worry about repotting the plant every year. Typically, you should change the container after every 18 months or two years. Sometimes only changing the potting mix will also be suitable if the container is not bending the roots.
Should I Mist My Snake Plants?
Misting snake plants is not a prevalent practice because this plant prefers a humid and hot environment. So spraying water can lead to overwatering, which may cause root rot. This is why you should not mist the leaves normally to care for your plant.
Typically, misting is only recommended for a short period when spotting and controlling insects. You can spray some water on the affected part to get rid of the bug.
Drying the leaves with tissue or cloth will also help with minimizing the watering effect. Neem oil is also a good substitute for water when misting.
Types Of Snake Plants
There are multiple types of snake plants you can purchase for your home. Here are some of the top varieties that are easy to find:
Sansevieria cylindrica is succulent with upright variegated leaves and a few stripes. It is classified as succulent because it has thick leaves adapted for water storage. This is the primary feature that makes a plant succulent. It can retain water like a cactus to thrive in different conditions.
It is native to Angola, so the plant is also called the African Spear plant. Sansevieria is the old genus of this variety, so Sansevieria cylindrica is the former name of this plant.
The actual scientific title is Dracaena angolensis, so you should not get confused when seeing the two names being interchanged.
Sansevieria Trifasciata Moonshine
The Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ is one of the most popular snake plants you will encounter. Its leaves are upright and broad with a green-silver color that gives it a moonshine appearance. The plant is tough and hardy to withstand various environmental conditions. Like all other snake plants, this type is also low-maintenance.
This variety is also rarer than the other snake plant types because of its striking appearance. It also has many common names, including silver moonshine, moonlight snake plant, and moonshine snake plant.
Keeping this variety in a well-drained pot will help you grow it easily. You must also water infrequently to avoid diseases such as root rot.
Sansevieria Black Coral
This Black Coral plant has dark green foliage with some light green markings. The light area gives a similar appearance to horizontal stripes on the plant. What’s great about this variety is that it was also used to produce bowstrings because of its strength. However, now the type is mainly used for home decoration.
You may also experience white flower blooms on this plant in summer. The flowers are relatively small, but they still produce significant fragrances. So this snake plant can help your home feel fresher in the summer heat. It will also help you get rid of foul odor in some parts of your house.
In USDA zones 9 to 11, this plant can be grown outdoors.
Sansevieria Bantel’s another striking snake plant that will mesmerize you. The plant has dark green leaves with vertical white striping. A unique feature of this type is that its foliage is thinner than that of other snake plants. Despite that, this plant can withstand prolonged drought periods, and it is easy to take care of.
This snake plant can tolerate dim to bright indirect light for photosynthesis. However, you should avoid extremely low light conditions. The white variegation makes the plant less tolerant of low light. Meeting this requirement will help you accelerate growth and prevent unnecessary damage.
Other Species Of Snake Plants
The earlier four species are the major types of snake plants you will encounter. However, the Sansevieria genus has about 70 types in total. Here are some other common snake plants you can purchase:
- Sansevieria Hahnii: This plant only grows up to 6 inches and is smaller than other types. The leaves form clusters that resemble a bird’s nest or cup.
- Sansevieria Laurentii: Yellow margins and green center is the key highlight of this popular snake plant.
- Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’: This is a dwarf variety with gold and green leaves that stops growing after reaching 15 inches. However, it is difficult to find on the market.
- Sansevieria pearsonii: This attractive plant has vertical leaves that form clumps.
Causes of Yellowing Leaves In Snake Plants
Yellowing occurs due to overwatering or excessive sunlight exposure. So maintaining the right conditions will help you resolve this issue.
If the plant is dying, you can try saving it by cutting the yellow leaves. Then, repotting the plant in dry soil is necessary to reduce the overwatering effect.
Meanwhile, you don’t have to repot if the issue is caused by sunlight exposure. You may cut the damaged parts and change the plant’s position.
Keeping your snake plant in a sheltered location with indirect light will be suitable. You should keep the exposure minimum initially.
Should I Grow A Snake Plant From Seed Or Propagate From An Existing Plant?
Potting and repotting is the first step of growing snake plants from seeds. After having one mature plant, you can grow new ones by propagation instead of buying new seeds.
Here’s what you need to know about the two methods:
Potting And Repotting Snake Plant
You must purchase snake plant seeds from a reliable supplier and plant them in moist, well-drained soil. Set some distance between the seeds in one pot to avoid overcrowding. Using a succulent indoor potting mix will also help you improve the soil and offer nutrients to the seeds.
The seedlings will appear in three to six weeks. If they germinate to give leaves, you should treat the plant as a mature type. This means you must meet the necessary light, water, fertilizing, and temperature requirements. You should also prepare to repot the plant as the root system develops.
If the roots are circling in the container or bending, repotting is essential. You should choose a large pot this time to help the plant grow without any damage.
How To Get Snake Plant To Bloom?
Not all snake plants bloom flowers because of the varying conditions. You can get your species to bloom by meeting the necessary care requirements.
Fertilizing the plant adequately is also essential for producing flowers. The mixture will offer the necessary nutrients and energy the snake plant needs to bloom.
Propagating Snake Plant
You can carry out propagation using two following two methods:
The division process involves dividing your snake plant into two to three sections using shears or scissors. Each division must have at least one node. This is the part from where new foliage grows. Some roots must also be present in each section. Place the division in a new pot with the well-drained mix. Growth will occur after a few weeks.
You must choose a healthy leaf from your plant and cut it near the base. Be sure to cut the leaf into multiple pieces, each of 4-inch. This is the best length for propagating snake plants using leaf cuttings.
Then, place the pieces in a pot of moist and well-drained soil. Keep the cutting a bright spot with indirect light and meet the watering needs. It will take a few weeks for new growth to begin. You can repot the plant after it has grown sufficiently.
Tips For Snake Plant Care
As I have mentioned earlier, Snake plants really are a relatively low maintenance house plant once you learn what they like and need.
Here are some of the top care requirements you must fulfill when growing snake plants:
Snake Plant Soil Mix Recipe
Snake plants require moist, well-drained soil for the best growth. You can meet this need by purchasing a standard indoor succulent potting mix for your plant. This will offer essential nutrients to the plant and keep the foliage healthy.
You can also use your own snake plant soil mix recipe. Typically, you should add equal parts of perlite, peat moss, and coarse sand to one part of potting mix. This will help you create the ideal soil to keep your snake plants healthy.
The plant grows best in a bright place with indirect sunlight exposure. Some types can withstand low light while others cannot. So you should research the care requirements for your specific snake plant variety when keeping in dim light.
Four to six hours of daylight is adequate for healthy growth. You can also offer indirect light by placing the pot near a window and using a curtain as a barrier.
Artificial grow lights can also help if you want your Snake plant to grow in an area without enough sunlight.
Snake plants are succulents, so they retain a good amount of water in their leaves and stems. This means you don’t have to frequently water the plant. A single watering every one or two weeks is suitable to keep the plant healthy.
You must let the soil dry between the various waterings to avoid overwatering. The best way to determine when you should give water is by checking the plant using your fingers.
If the top one inch of soil is dry, you should give water.
Temperature And Humidity
The temperature range for each variety differs, but 18 to 30 degrees Celsius is suitable for most snake plants. They do well in warm environments because their natural habitats are also hot. So your standard room temperature will be suitable for plant growth.
This plant also prefers relatively humid conditions. You can maintain the levels using a humidifier.
Of course, excessive humidity may harm the plant. So you should strive to monitor the humidity in your room and create a balance.
Snake plants do not require much fertilizer because they can thrive in lean soil. Feeding excessive fertilizer can also harm the plant significantly. This rule applies to almost all succulents. The best time to feed your plant fertilizer is during the growth phases in spring and summer.
You should use a diluted succulent fertilizer to feed the plant monthly in spring and summer. Fertilizing is not necessary for winter because the plant should remain dormant.
Common Pests That Impact Snake Plants
Here are some common pests that affect snake plants:
- Spider mites
- Fungus gnats
Keeping an eye out for them will help you prevent various diseases. You may also remove the insects from leaves by misting neem oil.
Common Problems With Snake Plants
Yellowing of leaves is a common problem that happens due to overwatering or high sunlight exposure. Meanwhile, lack of watering can lead to the browning of leaves. Root rot may also develop if you excessively water the plants.
There are some of our favorite tips and some (hopefully) helpful information for caring for your Snake plant. As someone who doesn’t have a green thumb, I find Snake plants to be some of the easiest plants to care for in both my home and work office.
Have experience or tips with Snake plants? Be sure to share them in the comments to we can all benefit from them.