Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s Tongue is a simple, elegant houseplant that is extremely low maintenance. These plants can withstand droughts and fluorescent light without a second thought. There are several different colors and varieties, so there’s a snake plant that appeals to everyone. Snake plants are excellent in corners or areas with limited space requirements, as they are nearly vertical with little to no horizontal branches or growth. New plants appear from roots that are sent underground and appear as new sprouts in the same plant as the original. These beloved plants are known for their sharp architectural shape, and have the added benefit of cleaning air indoors. Snake Plants are known to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene from the air inside homes.
Growing Zone: 9-11
Mature Height: 30″ – 36″
Mature Width: 10″ – 18″
Classification: Colorful Foliage
Sunlight: Fluorescent light to bright, indirect
Flower Color: Does not flower often
Foliage: Green, sometimes variegated
Soil Condition: Well draining, cactus or succulent mix (part sand)
Water Require: Likes to go dry
Uses: Does well in narrow spaces and in low light conditions
Does Not Ship To: AK, AZ, CA, HI, OR, WA
Snake Plants have beautifully variegated foliage that reaches a maximum of about 36 inches. It stays fairly compact, and growth is near vertical without branching. Pups, or new Snake Plants appear in the same container as the mother plant and are sent out on runners underground. These new plants can be dug up and divided to yield new small pups that can be planted in their own container. Snake Plants are very slow growing, and handle extremely low light conditions.
These plants do extremely well in offices or buildings where they can live away from windows or natural light. They are frequently found in atriums indoors as they pair well with many different plants and add a vertical element to mixed containers. They can be moved outdoors during the summer months and into part sun as long as they are transitioned to handle higher levels of light. Snake Plants do not require very much water, and do well in small spaces.
Light Requirement of Snake Plants:
Snake Plants thrive in the lowest light conditions indoors, living with just fluorescent light. They can handle some bright, indirect light too, but too much light will cause browning and their variegation to fade.
Watering Snake Plants:
Snake Plants like to dry out almost completely between watering. It does not like to stay or sit in water. Plants that are watered too often will not survive. If unsure, do not water. Snake Plants can go weeks before being watered again.
Fertilizing Snake Plants:
Any all purpose, foliage fertilizer will work for Snake Plants. Indoor houseplant fertilizers fall into two groups: water soluble, liquid quick release, and granular, slow release fertilizers. Jack’s Classic Indoor plant food works well as a powder, quick release fertilizer that is mixed with water to quickly provide nutrients to a plant that has been in a container for an extended time. On the other hand, Biotone Starter or Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor is an option as a granular, slow release fertilizer that can be applied while potting and planting. Any type of fertilizer offers nutrients that help plants with the transition to a new environment. All of these fertilizers may be used when planting Snake Plants.
Best Growing Soil for Snake Plants:
Snake Plants need a very well draining soil, and prefer to have dry conditions. Regular potting mix with sand mixed in works well for plants potted in containers, otherwise a cactus potting mix would work. The cactus potting mix already has sand and other ingredients to encourage drainage.
History and introduction of Snake Plants:
Snake Plant is native to western Africa, and belongs to the asparagus family. The other nickname for this plant, Mother in Law’s Tongue, comes from the fact that the leaf tips are sharp and pointed. Snake Plants can be propagated by either removing the new rhizomes that appear above ground or by taking cuttings of mature leaves. These plants were first introduced to North America during Spanish colonization between 1765 and 1820. Fiber in the plant is so strong it was used to make bow strings. Florida began commercially exporting this plant to Europe, nurseries in North America, and Australia in the 1920s. From there, Snake Plant found its way into peoples homes because of its ease of care. Because it’s in the cactus and succulent family, it can handle little to no water.
Sansevieria trifasciata is the Latin name for Snake Plant. Sansevieria is named after Raimundo di Sangro, an Italian scholar from San Severo. Trifasciata means three bundles, which refers to the rosette leaf growth.