HOW TO CARE FOR SNAKE PLANTS

The low maintenance houseplant perfect for forgetful plant parents! 

written by Gabrielle Smith

ABOUT THE SNAKE PLANT:

The Sansevieria is more commonly known as the ‘Snake Plant’ or ‘Mother-in-Laws Tongue’ due to the shape and snake-skin-like pattern of its leaves. This plant is both visually striking and easy to care for, making it perfect for beginner plant parents. Originating from the deserts of Africa and Southeast Asia, the Snake Plant is drought-tolerant, meaning you can stand to be a little forgetful when it comes to your watering schedule. For those with a busy lifestyle, this plant is a great low-maintenance addition to any home or office. 

Botanical Name:Dracaena trifasciata, Sansevieria trifasciata
Common Names(s):Snake Plant, Mother-in-Laws Tongue,  Viper's Bowstring Hemp
Plant Type:Cactus/Succulent 
Place of Origin:
Africa and Southeast Asia
Sun Exposure:Filtered Sun
Seasonality:Spring, Summer

SNAKE PLANTS AND WATER:

If you're wondering "how often does the Snake Plant need water,' well rest assured; The Snake Plant has very minimal water requirements. During the spring and summer months your Snake Plant only needs to be watered every 14 days using half a cup of filtered water. In the winter months it requires even less water, with a monthly watering being sufficient. It is crucial to ensure that the soil has completely dried between waterings, because although Snake Plants are extremely hard to kill, one of the only ways you can harm your plant is by overwatering. When the soil remains water-logged, there lies the potential for root rot.

SNAKE PLANTS AND LIGHT:

Ideal Snake Plant Light Requirements:
Although the Snake Plant is native to the desert and enjoys sunlight, it is important that your plant does not receive too much direct sunlight. The perfect type of sun exposure for your plant is filtered sun. Filtered sun is when the sun exposure is filtered through a sheer curtain, ensuring the sun’s rays do not hit the plant’s leaves directly. Confused on where to put your Snake Plant? The ideal location for your Snake Plant is in an area in your home that has bright indirect light and is about 5 feet away from a southern or western-facing window. A southern or western-facing window location will provide a hint of direct light for no more than 1 hour a day.

Can Snake Plants Grow Under Artificial Light? 
What if your home doesn't have great natural light exposure? Can your Snake Plant survive without sunlight? The answer, is YES! If your home does not have a lot of natural light, your Snake Plant will thrive under LED grow lights for 12 to 16 hours a day for maximum benefits. Since LED grow lights can sometimes be expensive, you can also use a 2 to 1 ratio of fluorescent and incandescent grow lights which will also support your plant's growth. 

WHAT IS THE IDEAL TEMERATURE FOR SNAKE PLANT?

A high temperature environment is ideal for your Snake Plant, which ranges between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Although high temperature is preferred, your Snake Plant will be perfectly fine in an average room temperature between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the fact that the Snake Plant can handle varying temperatures, it is important that your plant is not exposed to temperatures that are too low. Low and freezing temperatures will cause damage to your Snake Plant and the leaves will become white and pulp-like.

Keep Your Snake Plant Away From The Cold!
Do not expose your Snake Plant to any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit as this is the Snake Plant minimum temperature tolerated. Anything below this and you may risk serious damage or death of the plant. When you use the Flora Pod ™ Sensor, you will be alerted when the temperatures are too cold for your plant, making it that much easier to keep your plant healthy! Here are two great ways to keep your Snake Plant at an appropriate temperature:
 1. You can increase the temperature for your plant by wrapping its pot in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap creates a type of insulation for your plant and will protect it from colder drafts.
2. Another way to increase the temperature for your plant is through heat lamps. Heat lamps are a great way to ensure your plant is at the ideal temperature and is not at risk of exposure to lower temperatures.

WHAT IS THE IDEAL HUMIDITY FOR SNAKE PLANTS?

In addition to high temperatures, the Snake Plant also prefers average humidity. Average humidity can be found in a typical room between levels of 30 and 50 percent. If a Snake Plant is exposed to high humidity above 50 percent, this can cause spotting on the leaves and possible bug infestations. Using a dehumidifier in your home will lower the humidity levels your plant is exposed to and make sure it has the ideal conditions to grow. If humidity levels are too low, this will slow the growth of your Snake Plant and cause the leaves to become floppy. In order to prevent humidity levels from dropping too low, occasionally misting your plant with water will help maintain a preferred humidity level.

How to Maintain Proper Humidity:
1. To ensure your plant’s humidity needs are met, keep your Snake Plant in a room with great air circulation. Air circulation and a well draining pot will ensure your Snake Plant is growing and healthy!

2. Another way to ensure humidity needs are met is by using a dehumidifier in your house. A dehumidifier ensures that your plant is not receiving too much humidity from the air and is kept at an average humidity level between 30 and 50%. 

COMMON SNAKE PLANT DISEASES: 

1. Root Rot - Root rot is caused by overwatering your plants. The easiest way to protect your Snake Plant from this disease is to be mindful of how much water you are giving it. When overwatered, the leaves will become mushy and flaccid.

2. Bacterial Leaf Spots - Overwatering also causes bacteria and fungus to mature in your plant’s soil, potentially causing your Snake Plant  to develop bacterial leaf spots. Bacterial leaf spots are small oval shapes on your plant that appear in a brownish-yellow color. The best way to treat bacterial leaf spots is through chemical or organic fungicide spray. By targeting the infected areas with the fungicide spray, the bacterial leaf spots should improve and eventually disappear.

3. Southern Blight - The summer months can cause higher levels of humidity and moisture which can lead to Southern blight. Southern blight is a disease that causes your plant’s leaves to become discolored and wilted. If this disease advances, it can cause your plant to slowly collapse and eventually die. A way to protect your plant from southern blight is to act quickly, and immediately remove the leaves that have been affected by the disease. Once you have removed the infected leaves, add drying mulch, such as wood chips or straw, to the base of your plant to reduce humidity and moisture, and prevent the disease from spreading. 

Use the Flora App to ensure all of your plant's needs are being met. Flora will send you alerts and reminders to let you know when it's time for your plant to be watered as well as give you a detailed guide on the optimal conditions to help your plant to thrive!