How to Properly Care for a Snake Plant

Arricca SanSone
·2 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From The Pioneer Woman

Snake plants have been popular for decades because they’re one of the absolute simplest houseplants to grow—and learning how to care for snake plants is even easier. The dramatic upright leaves, which have no stems, have architectural appeal that adds a bright splash of greenery to any room. The plant, also called sanseveria, is native to Nigeria. Different varieties range in height from a tiny six inches to four feet tall. It’s an ideal houseplant in small spaces because of its vertical form. Best of all, it requires very little from you to thrive for years! And because it’s a succulent, which survives drought by storing water in its leaves, it basically thrives on neglect. Most snake plants are relatively inexpensive because they’re so common; you’ll find them for sale at big box retailers and online outlets.

Here’s what else you need to know about this tough-as-nails plant:

What kinds of snake plants can I grow?

There are more than 130 types of snake plants. The leaves can be shaped like flat swords or cylinders, and they may be variegated and have silvery or yellow streaks or stripes through them. Occasionally, very old plants may get fragrant greenish-white flowers, though it’s actually rare for indoor plants to bloom. Make sure you give your snake plant a container wide base so it won’t topple over as it gets taller.

Photo credit: DANIELA DUNCAN - Getty Images
Photo credit: DANIELA DUNCAN - Getty Images

How much light does my snake plant need?

Snake plants like bright, indirect light, but don’t let them bake in a hot window with late afternoon sun. However, they’re one of few houseplants that will get along just fine in low light situations, such as a bedroom or living room, with little natural light.

How do I care for my snake plant?

The biggest mistake with snake plants is overwatering. After all, they're succulents! In summer, water to keep the soil a little moist. In the winter, let it dry out almost completely. Stick your finger in to the first knuckle to tell whether you need to give it a drink. When needed, water until it runs out the bottom, and dump out the saucer under the pot. No plant likes wet feet! Keep it in a room with average indoor temperatures from about 65 to 75 degrees. Dust the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth.

Is my snake plant plant safe around pets?

If you’ve got a nibbler, it’s best to avoid this plant or keep it where your pet can’t get to it. The leaves, which contain saponins, are toxic to dogs and cats.

Can I grow snake plants outdoors?

Yes! It’s winter hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12, so you can keep it outdoors in warm climates. It likes full sun but tolerates shade, especially in the late afternoon. It grows best in potting mix, rather than plunked down into the ground.