Plants 101

How To Care for a Snake Plant

Snake Plants or Dracaena trifasciata are beautiful houseplants native to tropical western Africa.

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These elegant, easy-to-grow plants get recognized by their long, stiff leaves with pointed edges. Like other plants in the Asparagaceae family, snake plants bloom with white flowers. However, outside its native habitat, it’s rare to see a snake plant bloom.

Snake plants are one of the most popular types of houseplant because they’re easy to care for, can withstand low-light and bright environments, and add a splash of color and life to an indoor space.

Want to learn about how to care for snake plants indoors? Continue reading for tips about how to care for a snake plant, how to make snake plants grow tall, how to replant snake plants, and more.

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Dracaena trifasciata, or the snake plant, is part of the Asparagaceae family. However, before 2017, Dracaena trifasciata was classified as Sansevieria trifasciata.

Snake plants are stemless evergreen perennials sometimes identified as Saint George’s sword, viper’s bowstring hemp, and mother-in-law’s tongue. These plants are hardy succulents used to the dry, hot, and humid conditions of the tropical regions in western Africa.

Dracaena trifasciata requires little effort and maintenance to grow tall. Snake plants can grow in low-light environments but thrive in partial sun and bright indirect sunlight. Because of their ease, inexperienced gardeners can reap the benefits of houseplants by bringing a snake plant home.

Alongside the beauty a snake plant adds to a space, these houseplants help improve air quality. According to several studies, snake plants reduce ozone levels and other toxins in the air and provide oxygen at night.

The long sword-like dark leaves grow up to 12 feet tall and have lighter green patches or yellowed edges. The yellow edges of a Dracaena trifasciata are variegations. This variegation typically does not pass down through propagations from snake plant cuttings.

Snake plants are easy to propagate from leaf cuttings or splitting rhizomes. Leaf cuttings placed in water will grow roots and rhizomes after several months. Gardners can also place cuttings directly into the soil to propagate.

How To Repot Snake Plants

If you’re wondering how to transplant snake plants, follow the tips below.

Replant snake plants in late winter or early spring. Snake plants go dormant in the winter, but by late winter to early spring, the plant is exiting its dormant state.

Repotting a snake plant between late winter to early spring ensures that, come the growing season, the soil has adequate nutrients to support proper growth. However, transplanting is stressful for the plant, so replanting at this time ensures that the plant can repair itself after the shocking experience.

When replanting a snake plant, go up one pot size to ensure adequate space for new growth. Snake plants grow new pups through rhizomes. The growth emerges from the soil attached to the mother leaf, so allowing room for leaves to sprout is essential to proper snake plant care and helps plant owners get fuller-looking houseplants.

Fill up the new pot with well-draining potting soil, then gently remove the snake plant from its former home and add it to the new pot. Then, try your best to keep the soil line consistent. Be careful to cover only a little of the leaves with dirt to make it easier for new growth to rise its way to the sunlight.

Now that you know how to replant snake plants continue reading for more information about how to grow a snake plant.


A snake plant will thrive in partial sun but also withstand low-light environments. Setting a snake plant into direct sunlight for several hours a day can help speed up growth.


Water a snake plant thoroughly every two to eight weeks, ensuring the soil is dry before every watering. An easy way to tell if the soil is dry is to check that the first two to four inches of soil are dry before watering your plant. Snake plants need even less water during the winter.


Normal humidity levels of around 40% are best for snake plants. These air-purifying plants survive in hot and humid climates. Those living in dry climates should consider getting a humidifier for their plant room. In contrast, those in very humid climates may benefit from a dehumidifier in their plant room.


Snake plants thrive in temperatures between 60°F to 75°F (16°C to 24°C). These hardy succulent-like plants are likely to die in cold environments lower than 50°F (10°C).


Snake plants prefer loose, sandier soils and a well-drained potting mix. That enables the roots to grow deep without the fear of root rot. Use an all-purpose organic cactus soil mix for the best results.

Common Problems

Though snake plants are easy to care for, it’s always helpful to know how to save a snake plant when unwanted symptoms start appearing. Below are some common problems that snake plants experience and ways to treat them.

SYMPTOM: Drooping leaves

CAUSE: Root rot from overwatering and overaccumulation of water in leaf cells

SYMPTOM: Long, narrow leaves

CAUSE: Not enough sunlight

SYMPTOM: Brown spots

CAUSE: Damage from transportation, too much direct sun exposure, over-fertilizing, or extreme temperatures

SYMPTOM: Yellow leaves

CAUSE: Overwatering or inconsistent watering

SYMPTOM: Wrinkled and dull-looking leaves

CAUSE: Inadequate temperatures or humidity levels, underwatering, or too much direct sun exposure

SYMPTOM: Brown and mushy roots

CAUSE: Overwatering, poor drainage, the plant needs repotting


Snake plants are best kept out of reach from curious hands because they are poisonous to house pets and teething toddlers. Snake plants have a chemical called saponins in the leaves and roots, which are toxic to humans and animals if ingested.

While snake plants are low–maintenance and tolerate low light, they still need sunlight to grow healthy and vibrant leaves. Avoid placing your Dracaena trifasciata in a windowless room, or occasionally move the plant into the sunlight if you prefer to decorate a dark room with a snake plant.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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