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Snake plant (Sansevieria)

How to grow snake plant (Sansevieria)

All you need to know about growing snake plant, also known as mother-in-law's tongue.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is at its best in January

Plant is at its best in February

Plant is at its best in March

Plant is at its best in April

Plant is at its best in May

Plant is at its best in June

Plant is at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is at its best in September

Plant is at its best in October

Plant is at its best in November

Plant is at its best in December

  • Plant size

    1m height

    30cm spread

Snake plant (Sansevieria) is a striking house plant, with sword-like leaves. Its pointed leaves have given it the nickname mother-in-law’s tongue. There are several different varieties, all with slightly different shapes and leaf colours.

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The snake plant could be described as the perfect house plant – it always looks fresh but is incredibly low maintenance. It needs hardly any care and can survive a long period of neglect. It isn’t fussy about its location and needs little watering. It’s a great plant for beginners as it’s virtually indestructible.

The snake plant is a good air purifier, too – NASA research has shown that snake plants can remove toxins, such as formaldehyde and benzene, from the air inside your home.

Snake plants are midly toxic to humans, cats and dogs if ingested.

How to grow snake plants

Ideally, grow your plant in a bright spot, out of direct sun. Water only when the compost has dried out. It will benefit from a liquid feed once a month, from April to September.

More on growing snake plants:

Snake plant: jump links


Where to grow a snake plant

How to grow snake plant – Sansevieria trifasciata
How to grow snake plant – Sansevieria trifasciata

Ideally, give your snake plant a bright spot, out of direct sunshine. It will cope in a dark corner but may lose some of the attractive variegation on the leaves.


How to plant a snake plant

You can probably keep your snake plant in its original pot for a while after you have brought it home, 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 it has outgrown its current pot, repot it in spring into a slightly larger one. Use house plant or cactus compost, or ordinary peat-free multi-purpose compost with some horticultural grit added. If your snake plant is tall, you might want to plant it in a heavy pot, to stop it toppling over.


Caring for a snake plant

How to grow a snake plant – Sansieveria fasciata
How to grow a snake plant – Sansevieria fasciata

Snake plants don’t need much water – just water whenever the soil is dry. Make sure you let the water drain away fully – do not let the plant sit in water as this may cause the roots to rot. Snake plants need very little water in winter.

Feed once a month from April to September. Wipe the leaves occasionally, to prevent dust building up. Be careful not to damage the leaf tips – this will stop the plant growing. Snake plants can cope with draughts and dry air, and don’t need misting.


How to propagate a snake plant

You can propagate snake plants by taking leaf cuttings, but the simplest method is by dividing. Using a knife, carefully cut away a leaf and a piece of root, and plant it up in a small pot of compost. Water in well and put the cutting in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight.


Growing snake plants: problem solving

Mealybugs

Yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering, especially in winter. Check the base of the leaves and the roots for rot. Allow the compost to dry out before watering again and always let the water drain away. Snake plants do not need much water, especially in the winter months.

Wrinkled leaves mean you may have under watered your plant. Lightly water it over a few days and it should perk up.

If leaves are falling sideways, you may have under- or overwatered your plants. It may also not be getting enough light. Tall, older leaves do occasionally collapse.

You may spot mealybugs on the foliage. Look out for insects that look like white, fluffy blobs on the undersides of leaves. Wipe them off with a damp cloth or cotton bud that has been soaked in an insecticide that contains fatty acids or plant oils. 


Advice for buying snake plant

Here’s our guide to buying snake plant, or Sansevieria, including where to buy snake plants. 

  • Snake plants are tolerant of low light levels but they may lose their variegation in deep shade. Avoid growing snake plant in humid conditions as it does best in a dry environment.
  • Ensure the snake plant is healthy, with healthy leaves and leaf-tips, and no signs of pests.

Where to buy snake plants online

Varieties of snake plant to grow

How to grow snake plant – Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii'
How to grow snake plant – Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ is the most common type of snake plant, with grey-green leaves and a creamy-yellow border. 
  • Sansevieria cylindrica (African spear) has smooth, cylindrical, upright leaves with grey-green variegation. It reaches around 70cm tall.
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  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’ (bird’s nest snake plant) is a compact plant that reaches around 20cm  tall. Its rosette of leaves are said to resemble a bird’s nest.