Snake Plant: Care & Propagation Guide

Dracaena trifasciata, also known as “Snake Plant” and “Mother-in-law’s tongue” is one of the best plants for beginners. You must know that this plant is nearly indistructible, so if you want your first plant and you aren’t sure if you’re a plant person, this is the right plant for you. Maybe you know it as Snsevieria trifasciata, but if you didn’t know, in 2017 its botanical name was changed to Dracaena trifasciata due to its similarities with the Dracaena species.

Snake plants are native to dry habitats in tropical Africa and they feature leaves that resemble swords and they usually are between six inches and eight feet tall. If you live in the soutern part of the United States you are lucky and you can plant it even outdoor thanks to the similarities between the conditions in the South of the US and its native habitat.


Be careful when you plant it outdoor. The snake plant can spread and become invasive similar to the way bamboo does. If you’re a novice plant it first in a pot or a contained area.

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    Snake Plant Care & Propagation Guide
    Common Names Snake plant, viper's bowstring hemp, St. George's sword, Mother-in-law's tongue
    Botanical Name Dracaena trifasciata (formerly Sansevieria trifasciata)
    Family Asparagaceae
    Plant Type Evergreen, perennial
    Mature Size Six inches to 12 feet tall
    Sun Requirements Shade to partial sun
    Soil Type Sandy, well-drained
    Flower Color White
    Underground Structures Rhizome
    Propagation Division, stolons and runners
    Containers Suitable in 1 gallon. Suitable in 3 gallon or larger. Needs excellent drainage in pots. Prefers to be under-potted
    Native Area West Africa (tropical)
    Toxicity Toxic to cats and dogs

    Snake Plant Sunlight Requirements

    Snake plants require abundant sunlight, yet they will be able to survive and even grow with some light shade. You should protect them over the summer from the powerful sunlight. They can survive in dimly lit situations, but they will certainly not grow without moderate sunlight and also will certainly not blossom without sun exposure.

    Snake Plant Soil Requirements

    The most common reason that will kill your snake plant is root rot. This is way it’s very important to use a well-draining soil to avoid root rot which is cause by too much water. You can use a succulent potting soil and you can also add perlite to promote a better drainage. It’s even better if you also use a pot with drain holes.

    Snake Plant Water Requirements

    Dracaena trifasciata should be watered as soon as the potting mix dries out. You may need to water a snake plant as often as once a week during the summer. Reduce the watering frequency to once a month or less throughout the winter. The most important aspect of care is to keep the soil from becoming too wet.

    Dracaena trifasciata should only be watered until half of the potting mix is dry. Poke your finger 2″ (5 cm) into the dirt to see if it’s time to water the mother-in-law’s tongue. It’s time to water it if it’s dry.

    Drenching the soil and allowing the excess water to run out is the best way to water Dracaena trifasciata.

    Snake Plant Humidity Requirements

    Dracaena plants do not require misting because room humidity is ideal. You rarely have humidity problems if you cultivate snake plants in bright sunshine, warm temperatures, and water them occasionally. Wipe the leaves of the Dracaena snake plant with a moist towel every now and then to keep it looking good.

    Snake Plant Temperature Requirements

    Temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for growing Dracaena Trifasciata (10 degrees Celsius). Maintain a constant temperature of 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 32 degrees Celsius) for optimal plant development.

    The snake plant can withstand temperatures below freezing. And although your Dracaena Trifasciata will not suffer outside during winter, it’s better not to try this. However, it’s good to keep it away from drafty windows to avoid damage from the cold.

    Snake Plant Fertilizer Requirements

    Dracaena trifasciata is a slow-growing plant that can benefit from fertilizing on a regular basis. For cactus plants, use a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength. During the growing season, apply once a month. When the plant’s development is dormant in the winter, don’t fertilize it. Organic fertilizer is also an option because it is gentler on the roots.

    You may not need to fertilize Dracaena trifasciata at all because it isn’t a heavy feeder. In general, if you take good care of your snake plant, you won’t need to add any more nutrients to the soil.

    Types of Snake Plants

    Dracaena trifasciata ‘Hahnii’, popularly known as the bird’s nest snake plant, is a little snake plant that grows to approximately six inches tall. Its leaf clusters form a bird’s nest clump.

    The cylindrical snake plant Dracaena angolensi (previously Sansevieria cylindrical) has spherical, rigid leaves that can grow to be several feet long. From a central crown, the leaves arch outward.

    Dracaena trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ has creamy yellow leaf borders and is a variegated snake plant. This plant must be divided rather than propagated from leaf cuttings to be propagated.

    Dracaena trifasciata ‘Twisted Sister’ has twisted leaves with yellow variegated edges that are striped horizontally. It reaches a height of 14 inches.

    Dracaena trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ is a snake plant with narrow leaves with white vertical stripes that grows to about three feet tall.

    Dracaena pearsonii, often known as rhino grass, is a 12-inch tall plant with succulent red-tinted leaves.

    Pruning your Snake Plant

    The large, variegated leaves of this decorative plant are pretty popular. Because this is a broadleaf evergreen, the leaves stay green throughout the year.

    However, to preserve the general size and beauty of your plant, you’ll need to do some care every few months. You should clip the yellow or fading leaves for a healthy growing environment.

    Repotting your Snake Plant

    Although the plant has a dense root system, it does require repotting on occasion. For example, if the roots of your snake plant have begun to grow through the drainage hole in its pot, it’s time to repot. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to repotting your snake plant.

    In the winter or early spring, repot your plant. When the plant is not actively developing, it is advisable to repot it.

    It’s time to repot your plant if it doesn’t budge from the dirt when you flip it over. Use a pot that is one or two inches larger than your existing container for repotting.

    Suppose your plant has grown significantly in height. In that case, you might consider repotting it in a larger pot to prevent it from becoming too top-heavy.

    Repot the plant by carefully removing it from its current container, being careful not to damage the root ball. If you notice any areas of root rot, carefully cut them away with a sharp knife. Your plant should not require frequent repotting. Instead, every three to six years, repot the plant.

    How to propagate your Snake Plant?

    Propagation is best done in the spring or summer while the plants are actively growing. Dracaena plants that are at least four inches tall can be easily separated during repotting. Alternatively, fresh shoots may grow from the ground and be potted on their own. Snake plants can also be propagated by cuttings. For both approaches, follow the steps below.

    Root division is an excellent way to propagate a plant.

    A sharp knife, a clean pot, and cactus potting soil are all you’ll need.

    Remove the plant’s root ball from the old pot and set it on a level surface. Brush the earth away from the root structure or rhizome with your hand.

    Divide the plant into portions with a sharp knife, making sure the roots of each section remain intact. The plant will not be killed if you cut it through.

    Replant the new snake plant pieces with cactus potting soil in a clean pot.

    It should be watered and placed in a partially sunny spot.

    Plant new offshoots: If the plant has generated any new pups or baby offshoots, you can separate them and plant them individually.

    You’ll need a sharp knife, a clean pot, and cactus potting soil, just like you would for root division.

    Remove the root ball from the pot, find the root of the offshoot, cut off the pup, and place the cut root end in cactus potting soil.

    It should be watered and placed in an area with indirect bright light.

    Leaf-cutting propagation:

    Slice off a long, healthy leaf from your snake plant using sterilized scissors, a sharp knife, or pruning shears.

    Submerge the cut end of the leaf-cutting in a clean jar of water to root it in water. Check for root growth in a partially sunny location.

    Top off the water every few days to maintain its level. Then, to prevent bacterial or algal growth, dump the old water and replace it with clean water every couple of weeks.

    Plant the root end in a well-draining cactus potting mix once the roots have grown to be at least an inch long.
    It should be watered and placed in a partially sunny spot.

    Is the Snake Plant toxic?

    Cats and dogs are poisoned by snake plants. Dracaena trifasciata is on the ASPCA’s list of poisonous houseplants. If dogs or cats eat the fibrous Dracaena leaves, saponins in the plants can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    Common Snake Plant pests

    Snake plant pests include scales, gnats, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies. If you keep your plant healthy, you can avoid an insect infestation. Insects are attracted to plants that are suffering from environmental problems such as low water levels, humidity, or poor air circulation. If you find insects on your plant, remove them by picking them off, spraying them with water, or applying organic neem oil to keep them at bay.


    Snake plants are one of those plants that require very little care once you've found the right area for them. As a result, they're easier to care for and hard to kill than many other houseplants.

    The snake plant is a slow grower in general; however, it may undergo a growth spurt if you bring it outside during the summer.

    Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) leaves commonly have brown tips due to watering difficulties, especially overwatering. When standing in moist, soggy soil, the rhizome roots of Dracaena trifasciata rot. Rotten roots cannot absorb nutrition, causing the leaves to turn brown. Excess fertilizer salts, cold stress, or watering plants with chlorinated water are all possible causes of brown tips in Dracaena trifasciata.

    Snake plant leaves with brown tips that have been chopped off will not regrow. Cutting the leaves might sometimes cause greater harm to the plant. To improve the plant's appearance, it's best to clip off the entire leaf at the soil line.

    Overwatering and too much direct sunshine cause snake plant leaves to become yellow. Dracaena trifasciata does not require a lot of water to survive. As a result, only water them when the earth is completely dry. Also, make sure the snake plant in the pot doesn't get too much direct sunlight, as this will scorch the leaves.

    Root rot is probably causing the death of your snake plant, and it's the result of too much water in the growing medium. Repotting the plant will solve the problem. After removing the rhizome from the pot, check for damage and chop off the unhealthy, mushy part. Unfortunately, if the damage is severe, you may have little choice but to cut your losses and discard the plant.

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