If you are a houseplant lover and have ever searched for something like, “the easiest plants to care for”, then you most likely have stumbled upon the Snake Plant- also known as the Sansevierias. People lover sharing their tips on this plant because it truly is one of those plants that is so hard to kill… you really have to try to do so! I love them because they are so cool looking and add such a unique flair to your decor.
Sansevierias come in a multitude of varieties each one with its own unique style. If you love being surrounded by green plants in your home that don’t require much maintenance, then take a closer look the different kinds of sansevierias and choose one that will make you smile. Not only is the plant easy to care for, but it is also able to adapt easily to different growing conditions.
All About the Sansevierias
Sansevieria is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae. It was named after the Italian botanist and physician Odoardo Beccari by Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassini III. There are 125 species as per 2008. The taxonomy of the genus has been revised and described by botanists like Adrian Hardy Haworth, George Bunting, Walter Robyns and other since then.
The various types of Sansevieria plants you might come across include: Sansevieria cylindrical, Sansevieria longifolia, Sansevieria parva or Narrow leaved sanseverian, Sansevieria pinguicula, Sanseveria arborescens, Sanseveria glutinosa, Sanseveria gracilis, Sanseveria linearis, Sanseveria roxburghiana, Gnaphalium sansevierianum, Sansevieria trifasciata or Snake plant. Sansevieria cylindrical (cylindrical snake plant), also known as mother-in-law’s tongue and railroad vine is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae.
It is a succulent plant with cylindrical leaves growing up to 2.5 meters long. This plant grows from a thick rhizome and can spread out 10 cm in diameter as it matures as a full grown adult hence the name snake plant.
The Sansevieria plant is native to Africa and Southern Asia and prefer warm dry climates but can thrive in many temperate locations both indoor and out. They grow best in zones where the temperature does not fall below −5°C (23°F). Although it is a succulent and therefore adapted to arid conditions, as a tropical plant it will be damaged at temperatures close to 0°C (32°F) and may even die back if the temperatures falls sharply for any length of time.
Unlike most plants, the snake plant needs only a little water to survive, and can thrive in different lighting conditions. This means that whether your home or office has bright full sun conditions or poor lighting, the snake plants will still grow and produce high quality air.
Snake plant plants vary in species and appearance. Some snake plants can be described as succulent desert plants while others resemble tropical plants with thinner leaves. Generally, the leaves of the snake plants grow in a rosette form around the growing spot. However, other species of the snake plants are distichous in nature. There are two distinct variations in the foliage of snake plant plants based on the type of leaves they have. They include:
Hard leaved snake plant species
- They originate from regions with arid climate
- Due to the desert like conditions they survive in, they have various adaptations such as:
- Succulent thick leaves for preserving water
- Thick cuticles on the leafs to prevent loss of water
- Leaves may be cylindrical to reduce the surface area exposed to sunlight
- Leaves are shorter compared to soft leaved snake plants
Soft leaved snake plant species
- They originate from regions with tropical and subtropical climate
- Leaves resemble straps and are wide in nature
The flowers of snake plants vary in color depending on the type of species. While some of the flowers may be lilac red, rose, or brownish, others tend to be greenish white in color. Flowers of the snake plant species produce fruit berries that are either red or orange.
Pollination of snake plants is mainly facilitated by moths, owing to the fact that majority of them are grown indoors in homes or offices. The flowering and fruiting process of snake plants is erratic since only a few seeds are usually produced.
Once a snake plant shoot produces flowers, it can no longer produce any leaves. Although this sounds like a disadvantage, it is actually a plus side of owning a snake plant. This is because unlike dying after flowering like other green indoor plants such as the agave, the snake plant simple ceases to produce extra leaves in the flowered shoot.
Additionally, the newly flowered shoot will keep growing to produce plantlets through its rhizomes.
The snake plant has more than 70 different species known to man. The most common species found in most households include:
- Ehrenbergii (Samurai) snake plant
- Cylindrica snake plant
- Trifasciata Whitney snake plant
- Trifasciata snake plant
- Golden Hahnii snake plant
- Moonshine snake plant
- Sayuri snake plant
- Masoniana snake plant
- Trifasciata Laurentii snake plant
Snake Plant Characteristics and Plant Care Requirements
Below are a few of the popular Sansevieria species you might find at your local big box store along with some great tips and instructions on how to properly care for a snake plant. This guide will provide instruction on watering techniques, as well as other conditions like humidity, temperature, sunlight, and additional care that the plant may require.
1. Samurai Snake plant
The Samurai snake plant is very adaptable to light. For maximum performance, place the snake plant in a position where it can receive bright to medium indirect light. Additionally, the plant can also tolerate direct sunlight, so do not shy away from placing it next to the window. Low lighting is also not an issue of the Samurai snake plant.
We recommend that you water the snake plant when the soil is dry completely. As you water the plant, ensure that you do so until the water flows out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the vase or pot. Do not leave any water accumulated in the saucer. Dispose of any extra water then leave the plant to flourish.
The Samurai snake plant can thrive and survive in temperatures of between 55 to 85 degrees. However, for maximum performance, ensure that you expose the snake plant to warmer temperatures.
If you intend to maintain the Samurai snake plant as an indoor plant, feed it once every six months with fertilizer, preferably a liquid fertilizer.
When ingested, the Samurai snake plant can be toxic to humans and plants. The ingestion may cause stomach and mouth irritation. In severe cases, it may lead to vomiting. Keep away from pets and kids that might be able to reach out and chew on it.
2. Sayuri Snake plant
The Sayuri snake plant prefers medium to bright light (indirect). However, thanks to its adaptability, the Sayuri plant can also tolerate direct sunlight as well as poor lighting. You can typically place it anywhere you please. However, for maximum performance, place the Sayuri snake plant in medium to bright light.
Do not water the Sayuri snake plant unless the soil is dry completely. Ensure that the water flows right through the pot and out of the water hole at the bottom, to make certain that the plant receives enough water. Additionally, do not leave any excess water in the saucer. Tilt the pot and let all the extra water flow off. Wait until the soil is completely dry again and repeat the watering process. This could be after every few days.
Just like the Samurai snake plant, the Sayuri plant can thrive between 55 to 85 degrees F. However, if possible, keep the plant in warmer conditions to encourage better growth.
If you will place the Sayuri snake plant outdoors or in direct sunlight, you do not need to feed the green plant because it can do so on its own. However, if you will place the snake plant in poor or indirect lighting, we recommend that you feed it once every six months. Liquid fertilizers are mostly preferred.
Do you have kids or pets who nibble on anything in the house? If so, you should know that the Sayuri snake plant can cause mouth and stomach irritation when ingested. Additionally, it may also cause vomiting.
3. Golden Hahnii snake plant
The Golden Hahnii snake plant can tolerate low light and exposure to direct sunlight. However, if you really want to have a thriving snake plant, we recommend that you place it in a position where it can access bright to medium indirect light.
Just like other snake plants, ensure that you water the Golden Hahnii snake plant only when the soil is completely dry after your previous watering. The water should flow directly through the pot and out of the bottom water hole. Failure to do this, you risk denying the snake plant adequate water to survive.
The desert like Golden Hahnii snake plant prefers warm conditions to grow and thrive. Avoid exposing it to cool conditions, and instead place it where it can receive warmth of between 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The snake plant is well adapted to survive on its own, but if you keep it indoors ensure that you feed it with liquid fertilizer twice every year.
Like its other counterparts, we do not recommend the ingestion of the Golden Hahnii snake plant. It may cause mouth irritation, stomach irritation, and vomiting.
4. Moonshine snake plant
This Moonshine snake plant can survive exposure to direct sunlight for long periods of time. Also, if you intend to place it in a room with poor sunlight, it will still survive. However, for a leafy thriving Moonshine snake plant, we recommend that you place it in bright indirect sunlight.
The Moonshine is no exception to other snake plants. Water it when the soil is completely dry and give it sufficient water till you see some of it flowing out of the bottom water hole.
Like most snake plants, the Moonshine snake plant is adapted to thrive in warm conditions. Place it where it can receive warmth of at least 60 degrees F or more.
Luckily, you do not need to worry about feeding the Moonshine snake plant because it can survive on its own. However, if you want to take excellent care of the plant, feed it with liquid fertilizer not more than twice each year.
The Moonshine snake plant should not be ingested in any circumstance. The plant is only meant to be aesthetically pleasing, purify air, and lighten the mood. When ingested by pets or humans, it can lead to stomach irritation, vomiting, and mouth irritation.
5. Cylindrica snake plant
The Cylindrica snake plant can take a lot of light. Thanks to its long pointed rolled up leaves, the plant can absorb as much light as possible. We recommend that you place it in indoor spaces next to a window.
This snake plant should be watered approximately once a month. This time period allows the soil to dry up completely. Ensure that you give the plant enough water until it flows out of the bottom hole.
Since the Cylindrica snake can survive full lighting, it is well adapted to thrive in warm temperatures. Place it an area where it can receive more than 70 degrees F and lots of warmth.
Cylindrica snake plants are very low maintenance and do not require you to feed them. However, you can still feed it liquid fertilizer at least once a year.
Do not ingest the snake plant as it may have some effects such as mouth and stomach irritation.
6. Trifasciata Whitney snake plant
The Whitney snake plant prefers conditions with bright to low indirect light. However, if you were to plant it outdoors, it would survive both indirect and direct sunlight. A great choice for patios or even balcony coverings.
The unique thing about the Whitney snake plant is that it needs to be watered thoroughly. We recommend that you give the plant sufficient water at least once every two to three weeks. However, ensure that you do not over water it because the Trifasciata Whitney snake plant is very sensitive to water and may end up rotting.
The Whitney snake plant thrives better in medium warm temperatures. Ensure that you place it in an area with around 55 to 70 degrees. These are similar to succulents and can be happy in very warm, dry environments.
You do not need to bother feeding this snake plant. Fertilizers may burn this particular sansevierias plant out causing browning of the leaves.
Although there are almost no claims of the toxicity of the Whitney snake plant, we do not recommend ingestion. Like most snake plant plants, it may cause mouth and stomach irritation.
Uses for Sansevierias Snake Plants
These plants have surprisingly many uses today other than just being beautiful decor. Some of the other uses of snake plants include:
A study carried out by NASA Clean Air Study showed that snake plants like the Trifasciata are truly capable of purifying the air and removing the following pollutants:
The purification process of snake plants take place as a result of crassulacean acid metabolism. During this metabolism, carbon dioxide is absorbed at night and oxygen is released during the day. This makes snake plants suitable for the bedroom because they absorb carbon dioxide and clear the air.
Did you now that snake plants are used for ornamental purposes across various cultures in regions like China and Korea? In China, the snake plant is usually kept in a pot that is ornamented with phoenixes and dragons. The purpose of placing the snake plant in a pot is so that its growth will be slowed down and it can be kept in the pot for a very long time.
However, every once in a while, the snake plants may need to be transferred to other pots or split at the root so that they do not grow too big and break the pot.
On the other hand, snake plants are viewed as valuable gifts in Korea. During business ceremonies or auspicious events, potted snake plants are usually presented as gifts. In fact, in Barbados, the snake plant is viewed as a money plant and many people believe that if they own one in their homes, they will eventually attract money and good fortune.
In places like Africa, the fibers of the snake plant are used in fiber production. Additionally, some snake plants sap has antiseptic values, and their leaves are used to make traditional bandages.
Decoration in films
One of the factors that has contributed to the growing popularity of snake plants is their use in sets of popular TV films. Since the 1930’s, snake plant plants have been used in Hollywood as part of the set decorations. This conveniently conveyed to people that having snake plants in the house is actually very aesthetically pleasing.
Common FAQs about Sansevierias Plants
1. Why do the blades of the snake plant curl?
Snake plants can go for long periods of time without watering. This may make one overwater the plant, which when combined with improper drainage, can cause curling of leaves. Also, the leaves may curl if the snake plant is insufficiently watered and left to dry for too long.
If you notice that the leaves are drooping, turning brown, and curling, we recommend that you thoroughly soak the soil. You can do this by allowing the snake plant to soak up the water through the hole at the bottom of the pot for at least 45 minutes.
2. Why are the leaves of my snake plant turning yellow?
There are several reasons why the snake plant leaves turn yellow. They include:
The major reason why the leaves turn yellow is because of too much moisture or lack of enough moisture in the soil. Ensure that each time you water the plant; the top soil is at least 50 percent dry. snake plants can survive in desert like conditions, so too much water in the soil may do more harm than good to the plant.
Sansevierias need bright, indirect light to thrive. They can tolerate direct sunlight for short periods of time, but too much sunlight can cause the leaves to turn yellow.
Does the snake plant have any pests? Stressed snake plants are more vulnerable to infestations by insects, which in turn cause the leaves to turn yellow. Look out for spider mites, scales, and mealy bugs especially if your snake plant is an indoor plant. Use pesticides to kill the pests before they completely destroy the leaves and blades of the plant.
How often do you water the snake plant? If you take unbalanced intervals between watering the plant and leaving it to dry, the snake plant may undergo stress and start yellowing its leaves. If you always water the plant after three weeks, ensure that you maintain the frequency in the long run. Otherwise watering it again after a week then leaving it to dry for 4 months will definitely have adverse effects of the snake plants. This is because sometimes the soil will be too dry and other times the soil will not be dry enough.
3. How Often do I need to Fertilize My Snake Plant?
Fertilizing Sansevierias is not necessary unless the plant is growing slowly or has pale leaves. In general, a diluted liquid fertilizer can be applied every other month.
You are now ready to grow and maintain your very own sansevierias plant. With the right care, Sansevierias can be a beautiful addition to any home or office. They are easy to care for and add a touch of greenery to any space. Let us know which type of snake plant you think is best for you. If you have any questions about caring for snake plants, reach out to us- we love hearing from our readers!