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How to Care for a Snake Plant

Updated on January 28, 2014

The snake plant is an herbaceous perennial evergreen plant. It is a hardy member of the Sansevieria genus that flourishes in cool climates as a houseplant and outdoors in warm climates. According to a NASA study, the snake plant improves indoor air quality through the passive absorption of nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde and other toxins. Snake plants thrive best in settings that mimic their natural habitat. It is found in semi-tropical, tropical and dry rocky environments.

You can enjoy the aesthetics and health benefits of the snake plant by starting with a vigorous specimen. Look for a deep green plant with firm upright leaves. Pale wilted leaves indicate that the plant is diseased or maltreated and may require considerable effort to recover.

Watch the Roots: Matted and tangled roots usually mean that a plant is root-bound and has outgrown its container. A snake plant is different. It prefers being root-bound and is more likely to bloom in this situation. Wait until your snake plant becomes so tall that the container won’t stand upright. When it’s time to repot your plant, transfer it to a slightly larger container and add fresh soil. Make sure that you use a pot that allows the water to drain properly. Poor drainage will cause the roots to rot.

Sunlight: Snake plants flourish in a sunny window and direct light. The more sunlight this tropical plant receives, the better it grows. You can place it in a north facing window or another low light location, but give it sunlight whenever you get the chance. They are very forgiving plants and will survive in wide range of light and temperature conditions. The ideal temperature range is 60 to 80°F. Move your plant to a warmer location if the foliage turns yellow.

Watering: It is better to err on the side of under-watering your snake plant. This species is a succulent and stores water in its leaves. It will rot if it is given too much water. Allow the soil to thoroughly dry between watering. Your foliage is a barometer for your plant’s water status. Drooping foliage means that you are overwatering. Wrinkled and bent foliage means that you are under-watering. Poke your index finger about one inch into the soil. Do not water your plant if the soil is moist. The snake plant needs water if the soil is very dry and does not cling to your finger.

Use room temperature water to drench your soil once every two to three weeks. Avoid pouring the water inside the ring of leaves. Pour the water on the soil near the base of the plant. Analyze the soil’s moisture content to avoid overwatering your plant. A snake plant in a sunny location requires more water in the summer than the winter.

Feeding your Snake Plant: Fertilize your snake plant with an all purpose plant food during warm weather. You can eliminate the fertilizer in the winter and fall because snake plants don’t need the extra nutrients in cold weather. Snake plants can bring beauty and health to your life.

Also See: How to Care for a Money Tree


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