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

  1. I stumbled upon your website to check out info on my new snake plant……my daughter lives in East Falls Philly! Anyway, what can I do to get my snake plant to flower (if they do)? I have the futura Superba. And where can I get a Whales Tail?!! Thank you!

    1. Hi Melissa! East Falls is the best!

      It can take a while for a snake plant to flower, but optimal conditions will give you the best chance of getting a snake plant to flower. Optimal conditions for a snake plant is partial sun and very little water! They also love to be root bound, so keeping your snake plant snug in the pot will help stack the odds in your favor.

      We have a Whalefin here in our shop right now, if you’re local 🙂

  2. I received a Whale tail as a gift. It was shipped , well packaged and I opened it immediately and placed it in a filtered light window. The tips of the tails appear to be wilted and browned. Any advice? Should I trim them? This may be from my cat who just loves to rub/ chew on plants but I am not certain.

    1. Hi Laurie!

      Browning on the tips is how snake plants express stress so it could be any number of things. If its not from over watering (the most common issue Snakes face), it may just be stress or cold damage from it’s journey. Snake plants are pretty resilient and it will scab over if trimmed, so we do recommend cutting off the damaged parts. And maybe keeping your eyes on your feline friend, as Snake Plants are mildly toxic and will cause stomach issues if consumed!