Sansevieria Care : How To Care For Snake Plants

Sansevieria are popular succulent plants often known commonly as Snake Plants. They are known as low-maintenance plants that are easy to care for and hard to kill. The key points of Sansevieria care are:

  1. Light: They prefer bright indirect light, but they are tolerant of low-light locations
  2. Water: Drought-tolerant and, like most succulents, they do not require much water. Summer dormant, they only need moderate water in summer and very little water in winter.
  3. Temperatures in the range of 60 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15 – 30 degrees Celsius) and average humidity, but they are very tolerant of other conditions
  4. Do not expose to frost and very low temperatures. They are not cold-hardy.
  5. Plant in airy, gritty, quick-draining soil
  6. Considered toxic to cats, dogs and other pets
  7. Slow growing and won’t need repotting often
  8. Great for bedrooms, offices and bathrooms

Sansevieria Snake Plant Collection

Sansevieria is a genus of succulent plants with over 50 species most of which have thick, green fibrous leaves with pointy tips. Many grow straight and tall, although there are dwarf varieties and variations in leaf color and patterns.

Sansevieria are native to western and southern Africa and the Malay Archipelago, growing in dry, rocky areas.

The Sansevieria genus is part of the larger genus of plants categorized as Dracaena, and you will see Sansevieria plants referred to as Dracaena. The Dracaena name is the most technically correct for species in the Sansevieria family, but they are still most commonly referred to as Sansevieria, and that’s what we’ll call them in this blog post.

There are several common names for Sansevieria plants. The most widely used is the Snake Plant, which is often used for many Sansevieria varieties. Other common names include Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (because the leaves are long and sharp), African Bowstring Hemp, Spear Plant, Bowstring Hemp and Viper’s Bowstring Hemp. The fibers from the plant have been used traditionally to make ropes, matting and bowstrings.


Sansevieria plants do not have visible stems. The leaves appear to grow straight from the ground, clustered around a central point. The leaves are upright, thick, and fibrous.

Sansevieria plants in window

Leaf shapes can vary from narrow, cylindrical tubes to flat and triangular at the end. Leaves are smooth, fleshy and stiff. Most are dark green, but there are varieties with lighter shades of green. Some have mottled patterns with paler areas or yellow edges to the leaves.

We’ve got details of different varieties later on in this article.

None have spines or spikes, although the leaf tips can be sharp.

Snake plants vary greatly in height and size. Most are tall, slim plants, with some varieties growing up to 6 ft (1.8m) tall, but there are dwarf varieties that are more compact and rounded.

Sansevieria are slow-growing plants. Don’t expect major growth or many new leaves each year.

They are long-lived succulents – Sansevieria can live for up to 10 years or more in the right conditions.

Snake Plant Flowers

Sansevieria snake plants bloom with small, delicate flowers spaced all the way along long stalks that grow from the base of the leaves. Blooms can be white or tinged with pink or green.

Flowering sansevieria plant

Image credit: Pinterest

They are, however, notoriously difficult to get to bloom when kept indoors, and snake plants are usually kept for their foliage and decorative looks rather than for their flowers.

Sansevieria Plant Benefits

It’s been proven that Sansevieria plants can cleanse the air and improve air quality in indoor spaces, according to the NASA Clean Air Study where the Snake Plant was discovered to successfully clear the air of various pollutants, including benzene and formaldehyde.

I’m hoping there’s not too much benzene and formaldehyde floating around my home, but the air-cleaning qualities make Snake plants popular for bedrooms and living rooms.

Sansevieria Care

Sanseveria are resilient, low-maintenance plants and, as one of the easiest succulents to keep alive, they are very popular house plants. They will tolerate some neglect and should still be alive when you return from your holiday!

Having said that, they do have some preferences for light and water, and we’ll guide you through those below. Plus, we’ll show you some of the most popular Sansevieria varieties and how to propagate your snake plants easily.

Sansevieria Light Requirements

Sansevieria plants are known for their adaptability and can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, which makes them an excellent choice for indoor environments.

The specific light requirements for Sansevieria can vary depending on the variety, but in general, Sansevieria’s sunlight needs are:

  1. Low Light: Sansevieria plants are often called low-light plants because they can survive in low-light conditions. However, they will grow more slowly and might not produce as much variegation or coloration in lower-light situations. They are popular for offices with low light levels.
  2. Bright Direct Light: Sansevieria prefer bright, indirect sunlight and varieties like the Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ and ‘Moonshine’ can display more vibrant colors and patterns with a bit more light.
  3. Avoid Prolonged Direct Sunlight: Although Sansevieria can tolerate bright light, it’s essential to avoid prolonged exposure to direct, intense sunlight and they need shelter from afternoon sun, particularly if grown outside. Too much direct sunlight can scorch or damage the leaves. If you place your Sansevieria near a window with direct sun, make sure it receives filtered light (through a sheer curtain, for example) or some protection from the intense midday and afternoon sun.
  4. Rotate the Plant: To ensure even growth and prevent the plant from leaning toward the light source, rotate your Sansevieria every few weeks to distribute light evenly to all sides.

Overall, Sansevieria plants are quite forgiving when it comes to light, and they can adapt to different conditions. If you’re unsure about the right light level for your specific Sansevieria variety, it’s often best to start with bright, indirect light and adjust based on how the plant responds.

If the leaves become pale or elongated, it may indicate that the plant needs more light. Conversely, if the leaves start to turn yellow or develop brown spots, they may be receiving too much direct sunlight.


Like most succulents, Sansevieria plants do not need much water. They store water in their roots and leaves, allowing them to tolerate drought conditions and unpredictable rainfall in their native environments.

How often should I water Sansevieria?

You should only water your snake plants when the soil is completely dry.

You can check the soil’s dryness by putting a chopstick a few inches into the soil. If it comes out clean, it’s time to water again. If not, wait a few days and check the soil again before watering.

How quickly the soil dries out will depend on the temperature, the size and material of the pot, plus the size of the plant, so it’s impossible to give an exact time frame. It could be anywhere from seven days to three weeks or more. The key to getting the watering of your Sanseviera right is to check if the soil is dry rather than sticking to a rigid schedule.

Summer dormancy

Sansevieria plants are summer dormant succulents – meaning they tend to slow their growth in the summer heat to conserve their energy for growth in the fall, winter and spring when the conditions suit them better.

You should water at about half your usual frequency in summer. Your plant will still need some water even though it’s dormant, as the summer heat will cause evaporation from both the soil and the leaves, but it needs less water in its dormant state.  Sansevieria is a winter grower, but lower temperatures in winter mean slower evaporation, so again, aim to water at half your spring and fall frequency in winter or even less (always check the soil is completely dry first and wait to water if not).

How much water?

Water your snake plants deeply to thoroughly soak the roots and allow them to absorb as much water as they need. They’ve evolved to absorb water quickly. Allow any excess water to drain away from the bottom of the pot, and make sure your plant is not left sitting in a tray of water.

If your plant is in a pot with drainage holes, use the bottom-soaking method and allow the pot to sit in a shallow container of water for 15 – 30 minutes. If your pot does not have a drainage hole, or your sansevieria is planted in the ground, water from above. Use enough water to moisten the soil, but don’t waterlog it, as there is no way for the excess to drain away.

Always use water at room temperature and avoid getting water on the leaves.

If in doubt, it’s better to underwater than overwater your succulents. Overwatering can result in root rot, which can be fatal to your plants.

Temperature And Humidity

Sansevieria plants are very tolerant of a range of temperatures, but they prefer temperatures between 70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 – 32 degrees Celsius).

Your snake plants will cope with lower and higher temperatures than this for short periods, but do not leave them outside in frost and very low temperatures. They are not cold-hardy and will not survive temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).

Sansevieria prefer low to mid-range humidity. Normal household humidity is just fine for them. However, they tolerate other conditions and will survive in more humid conditions such as a bathroom. There is no need to mist them.

They will benefit from some gentle airflow to encourage any surface water to evaporate but avoid strong drafts. Excessive surface moisture can lead to fungal infections and rot – neither of which you want.


Like most succulents, Sansevieria need loose, well-draining soil that dries quickly and allows some aeration of the plant’s roots. Succulent-specific potting mixes are ideal.

Compact soils and clay-based mixes that retain water are not good for this plant species. Overwatering and poorly draining soils can lead to root rot.

Read our guide to soils for succulents.


Snake plants are known for their slow growth, and they don’t have high nutritional demands. They do not need regular fertilizer, but if you do want to give your plant a nutrient hit, use a succulent-specific fertilizer and only use it sparingly in the spring.


Sansevieria plants only need pruning if you need to remove damaged leaves or wish to control the growth or shape of your plant.

To prune your snake plant:

  1. Use a sharp, sterile cutting tool
  2. Cut leaves at the soil level
  3. Leave your sansevieria plant to rest in a location with bright, indirect light and wait a couple of days before watering.

The best time to prune is in the spring.

Are Sansevieria Toxic To Cats And Dogs?

Sansevieria is poisonous to cats and dogs. Its leaves contain a compound called saponin, and eating them can cause digestive symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea.

Snake plants are not pet-safe and should be kept away from cats and dogs.

Pests and Diseases

Sansevieria are susceptible to the usual succulent pests, such as mealybugs, aphids, spider mites and scale insects. They attack the plant’s sap causing yellowing and stunted growth.

White fluffy looking Mealybug infestation on a leaf,

These pests are tiny creatures that hang out on leaves and the underside of leaves. You might see a white cotton-wool substance on the leaves (mealybugs), small, dark lumps (aphids and scale) or feathery webs (spider mites).

The infestation can be removed by rubbing the affected area with rubbing alcohol or by spraying with neem oil. You will need to repeat treatments a few times to remove new bugs that emerge from unhatched eggs.

If you think you have a pest problem, see our guide to common succulent pests for pictures to help your diagnose what type of infestation you have and details of effective treatments.

Root Rot

Root rot occurs when a plant’s roots are left in waterlogged soil allowing fungal and bacterial growths to attack and kill the roots.

Succulents are particularly susceptible to root rot and Sansevieria plants are no different. They need to be planted in conditions that allow their roots to be dry and well-aerated for most of the time. That means well-draining, loose soil that drains rapidly and watering deeply but only when the soil is completely dry.

Root rot starts, as the name suggests, in the roots and really isn’t visible until it advances to the leaves. The bottom of the leaves will start to turn yellow and brown and mushy. They may even smell bad. You can see root rot in a snake plant in the photograph below.

Sansevieria Snake Plants with root rot

Unfortunately, once it gets to that stage, it can be curtains for your plant. You can try to salvage it by trimming away rotted roots and repotting it in dry soil. However, your best bet might be to try and propagate a new plant from parts that are still healthy.

Your plant will recover more easily from underwatering than overwatering so always err on the side of underwatering if you are unsure.

When To Repot Sansevieria Plants

Sansevieria succulents are slow growers and do not need repotting often.

You should only need to repot your snake plants when they have outgrown their current pot and have become root bound, or if you wish to replenish the soil after 2 – 3 years.

However, they will tolerate being left in a pot they’ve outgrown – they just won’t grow bigger. It’s up to you whether you are happy for your plant to stay the same size or whether you’d like it to get bigger. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to repot.

Always repot in a container that’s only a couple of sizes larger than its current pot, use well-draining soil and choose a pot with a drainage hole (it’ll make your watering life much easier, we promise!).

How to Propagate Sansevieria

Sansevieria are relatively easy to propagate to produce new Snake Plants. The best time to propagate is during the active growth phase in spring.

The three most common propagation methods are:

  1. propagating from leaf cuttings placed in soil
  2. propagating from leaf cuttings placed in water
  3. propagating by division – dividing the mother plant

The best propagation method for Sansevieria is by division, provided you have a large plant. You’ll create a new plant that is already well-developed, and there’s a high probability of successful propagation.

If you have a cultivated Sansevieria variety – one of the ones with variegated leaf colors or leaf edges – propagation by leaf cutting may result in your plant reverting to its original DNA (not the cultivated type), resulting in a new plant that does not display the variegated colors or cultivated look. In these cases, the best propagation method is by division, which should retain the cultivar properties.

Propagating Snake Plants From Leaves

You can propagate leaf cuttings from a plant of any size, but it will take much longer until you have a reasonably sized new snake plant using this method. Sansevieria are slow-growing.

Sansevieria propagation using leaves in soil

Soil propagation has a higher success rate than water propagation, which can result in rot. However, water propagation is more fun, especially for kids, as you can see what is happening and watch the new roots grow.

Leaf Cuttings In Soil

  1. Select a healthy leaf from the outer edge of the plant – pick one that is easy to get to.
  2. Using a sharp, sterile knife, cleanly slice the leaf from the plant at the soil’s surface.
  3. Allow the cut end to callous over for a couple of days in a room temperature area with bright light but out of direct sun.
  4. Place the cut end in a pot of well-draining succulent soil and put it in a spot with bright, indirect light and a warm, room temperature. Keep it out of direct sun.
  5. Allow the cutting to rest for a couple of days before watering with a tablespoon of room-temperature water.
  6. Wait until the soil has completely dried out before adding another tablespoon of water. This could be a week or so later.

After a few months, a new plant should have started to grow from the base of the leaf. Once you are happy it is large enough, transplant it to a permanent pot and start to water in the usual way.

Leaf Cuttings in Water

  1. Select a healthy leaf from the outer edge of the mother plant.
  2. Use a sharp, sterile knife to cleanly slice the leaf from the plant at the soil’s surface.
  3. Place the cut end in a clean, clear jar with room temperature water in a warm (room temperature) area with bright light but out of direct sun.
  4. Replace the water every few days.
  5. Roots should start to grow from the bottom of the leaf.
  6. Once the roots are a few inches long, move the cutting to soil.
  7. Place the cut end in a pot of well-draining succulent soil and put it in a spot with bright, indirect light and a warm, room temperature. Keep it out of direct sun.
  8. Allow the cutting to rest for a couple of days before watering with a tablespoon of room-temperature water.
  9. Wait until the soil has completely dried out before adding another tablespoon of water. This could be a week or so later.

After a few months, a new plant should have started to grow, and you can transplant it to a permanent pot and start to water in the usual way.

How to divide Sansevieria

The leaves of Sansevieria plants grow from an underground bulbous root, known as a rhizome. It looks like a large piece of ginger under the soil.

Sansevieria rhizome

To divide a Sansevieria:

  1. Carefully remove the plant from the soil and gently clear any potting mix away from the rhizome (root system).
  2. With a sharp, sterile knife, cut a leaf section from the rhizome (see photo above). Pick one that has at least two healthy leaves emerging from it. (You can repeat this process to make several divisions if you wish).
  3. Repot the mother plant.
  4. Put the cut section out of the sun and at normal room temperature for a couple of days to allow the cut to dry out and callous over (this helps prevent rot in the root once it is placed in soil).
  5. Fill a suitable pot with succulent potting mix and make a well in the center large enough for the root to fit.
  6. Place the root in the soil, gently back fill with soil and press the soil down gently around the base of the leaves until the leaves can stand upright independently. Don’t over-compact the rest of the soil.
  7. Put the plant in a warm area (normal room temperature) in bright, indirect light. Don’t put in direct sun.
  8. Let the new plant rest for a week before watering as usual.

Popular Sansevieria Varieties

Some of the most popular types of Sansevieria include:

Sansevieria trifasciata (Common Snake Plant)

Sansevieria trifasciata Snake PlantThis is the most common and widely recognized variety. It features upright, sword-shaped leaves with green banding and is extremely hardy.

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’

Variegated Snake plant Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii

Similar to the common snake plant, ‘Laurentii’ has distinctive yellow margins on its leaves.

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’

Sansevieria moonshine

Image credit: Pinterest

This variety has silvery-gray, almost metallic-looking leaves, giving it a more modern and unique appearance compared to the traditional green snake plant.

Sansevieria trifasciata hahnii (Bird’s Nest Snake Plant)

Sansevieria trifasciata hahnii Birds Nest Snake Plant

Image credit: Pinterest

Bird’s nest sansevieria is a compact variety with rosette-like leaves arranged in a shape that gives the appearance of a bird’s nest (sort of).

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Golden Hahnii’

Sansevieria trifasciata golden hahnii

A compact variety with short, sword-like leaves that are green with yellow variegation.

Sansevieria cylindrica (Cylindrical Snake Plant)

African Spear Plant Sansevieria CylindricaUnlike the typical flat leaves of other Sansevieria species, this variety has round, cylindrical leaves, which can grow tall and add a unique structural element to your indoor space.

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Coral’

Sansevieria trifasciata Black Coral

Image credit: Pinterest

This snake plant variety features dark green to nearly black leaves with contrasting light green horizontal stripes.

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’

Sansevieria trifasciata Bantels Sensation

Image credit: Pinterest

This variety has narrower leaves compared to the common snake plant, and they are adorned with white vertical stripes, making it a striking choice for contemporary interiors.

Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’

Sansevieria trifasciata twist

Image credit: Pinterest

As the name suggests, the leaves of this variety are twisted and contorted, giving it a unique and eye-catching look.

These are just a few of the popular Sansevieria varieties available, and there are many more hybrids and cultivars available.

Sansevieria FAQs

Can Sansevieria grow outdoors?

Yes, Sansevieria can grow outdoors, provided winter temperatures do not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). If you do experience lower temperatures regularly, consider planting your snake plant in a pot that can be brought inside for the winter.

Any outdoor sansevieria will appreciate partial shade from midday and afternoon sun, especially in areas of intense sun.

Can Sansevieria take full sun?

Your sansevieria plants can take full sun, but intense, hot sun can damage the leaves and cause dark sunburn spots. If you can, provide partial shade from midday and afternoon sun, particularly if you live in an area with very harsh sun.

Which succulents are best with Sansevieria in an arrangement?

Snake plants are fabulous in succulent arrangements because their height adds drama. Arrangements to follow the design of ‘thriller, filler, spiller’. Thriller is the height; filler plants are the low-level body of the arrangement – plants like haworthia and sedum – and spiller are trailing plants that spill over the edge of the container.

For an arrangement featuring a snake plant, look for companion plants that are also summer dormant. That helps get the watering right to suit all the plants in the arrangement.

Common summer dormant succulents include Bear’s Paw (Cotyledon tomentosa), Zebra plant or other small haworthia, Tiger tooth aloe, lace aloe or other small aloe, sedum and sedums and senecios for the spiller.

Why is Sansevieria now Dracaena?

Sansevieria is considered a sub-species of the larger plant genus of Dracaena. This reclassification only officially happened in 2014, and many people (most people, to be honest) still refer to these plants as Sansevieria.

Technically, all Sansevieria plants should now be referred to by a scientific name starting with Dracena. For example, Sansevieria Laurentii should be more correctly called Dracaena Laurentii. But, at the end of the day, they are two names for the same plant and if you are just keeping plants at home and not an international botanist, everyone will know what you mean if you use the name sansevieria.

Why is my Sansevieria drooping?

Drooping snake plant leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. Allow the soil to dry completely before watering again. If your snake plant is in compact, claggy soil, repot it straightaway in succulent-specific potting mix that is loose and fast-draining.

But…it could also be underwatering or too much sun.

If the leaves are wrinkled and crinkly, it’s not enough water and/or too much sun. Move out of direct sun and give it a deep watering. As soon as the soil has dried out completely, water it again.

If the leaves feel a little squishy, especially near the ground, overwatering is the problem.


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