Encyclopedia of Houseplants

Chill, Low-Maintenance Snake Plants are Perfect for People Who Can’t Keep Anything Alive

updated Sep 6, 2022
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Snake plants, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or sansevieria, have become increasingly popular, and rightly so. With their striking lines and hardiness, snake plants are the houseplants even black thumbs can keep alive. They also act as air purifiers to improve your home’s air quality. Here’s how to keep them happiest.

Choosing a Snake Plant to Bring Home

When shopping for snake plants, select one that has dark green leaves; leaves that are too pale indicate that the plant may already be faltering. Check to see if your plant needs to be re-potted, and choose a terra cotta or porous material pot and a potting mix that allows for good drainage.

Soil for Snake Plants

Snake plants do best with a free-draining soil mix because they are easily prone to rot. A soilless potting mixture is best to ensure adequate drainage. Also, be sure to use a terracotta pot that won’t trap water inside and promptly remove any standing water from the saucer.

Water, Light, and Food

Snake plants do well when you almost forget about them. Allow soil to dry between waterings and take extra special care not to overwater in winter. Try to avoid getting leaves wet when you water. Place your snake plants in indirect light (although they are tolerant of a variety of light conditions) and fertilize during the growing season with all-purpose plant food.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Propagating Snake Plants

Snake plants produce rhizomes and are easily divided. Although this can be done any time, spring is best. Your newly propagated plants will also grow faster as summer is the growing season.

You can also propagate snake plants through leaf cuttings. Just cut 2 to 3-inch pieces of a leaf and place them about 1 inch deep in soil appropriate for snake plants. Make sure to plant cuttings facing up, the same direction they were growing. Enjoy! Snake plants look great in varied-height clusters.


According to the ASPCA, this plant is toxic to cats and dogs. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting and diarrhea.

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