Snake Plant Care

This blog post on Snake Plant care could be summed up quickly and efficiently–how do you take care of a Snake Plant? If we’re keeping it brief- you don’t. But brevity is not my thing so I wanted to take a couple of minutes to tell you more about one of my favorite indoor plants.

Houseplant enthusiasts often joke that snake plants thrive on neglect, and to some extent, that’s true. When a customer approaches us about troubleshooting a sad Snake Plant in the shop, we most often find that Snake Plants fall victim to being overloved. When I first started collecting houseplants, I learned this lesson very quickly. To understand how to best care for this workhouse, let’s start with some basic information on how this plant operates.

Snake plants, or Sansevierias, grow outdoors in tropical and subtropical climates. They are native to West Africa. There are over 70 different varieties of the plant. They are known for their tall, upright spear-like leaves and contrasting banding. They are drought tolerant because they are one of a few varieties of plants that use crassulacean acid metabolism to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. What does that mean? The plant only does this exchange at night, avoiding the sun quickly dehydrating the leaves.

In the home, Snake Plants will survive in the lowest of lights. To best maintain the plant’s trademark banding and coloration, put yours in a spot with filtered sunlight. This will also help speed up growth, but Snakes are notoriously slow growers. At the shop, we water our Snake Plants about once every two weeks in warmer months, and even less in cooler months. Snake Plants are forgiving of even the most sporadic of watering schedules and should not be soaked when watering time comes. Give them the drought that they’re used to in nature– they’ll appreciate it.

Snake Plants are a perfect plant for beginners, but as avid enthusiasts and plant experts, we like to take the time every now and then to stop and appreciate the nuanced beauty of this no-fuss houseplant. Snake Plants make great company for those of us who are spending more time at home these days, but their hands-off care requirements will be suitable for when life returns to its normal pace.

-Text and illustration by Kate Rath