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How to Care For Snake Plant

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Written by Eirinn C   

Intro:  Snake plant (Sansevieria), A.K.A Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, is a succulent plant, which means the leaves retain lots of water, similar to a cactus. You can recognize snake plants by their long, pointed, upright leaves which look very much like snakes, giving the plant its name. It is green in color, but sometimes has yellow edges.

Step 1: When it’s time to buy a new plant, be sure to select a healthy looking plant that is a deep green. Pale leaves mean the plant may already be suffering at the store, and there’s no reason to waste your money on snake plant that’s growing poorly before you even get it home!

Step 2: Often times when you buy a new houseplant, you should repot it into a new pot with fresh soil ASAP. If the roots appear above the soil, the plant definitely needs to be repotted. Also, if the pot from the store is simply a cheap plastic pot, I recommend you repot your new plant. It will be much happier that way! See my article How to Repot a Houseplant.

Step 3: Give snake plant sufficient light. The plant will thrive in a sunny window facing east, west or south. If you have only a north facing window, don’t despair! Snake plant handles a variety of light situations very well. If you can only provide minimal light, the plant will be fine. Later, when the opportunity presents itself, move snake plant to a sunnier window. The more sun it gets, the faster it will grow

Step 4: Water sparingly. A succulent holds lots of water inside its leaves, and if you give it too much water, the plant will rot. By sparingly, I mean water every two to three weeks (In the summer time, the plant will use more water, especially if it's in a very sunny location. In winter, the plant uses less water, so be sure to adjust accordingly).  Use room temperature water so the roots don’t get shocked. Wet the top of the soil thoroughly, but be sure not to drown the plant! You are better off watering the plant too little than too much!

Step 5: Feed the plant with a tiny amount of general all purpose plant food (the kind you dissolve in water) in the spring and summer. Because this is the primary growing time for snake plant, it will thank you for the extra growth boost the fertilizer provides. Put the fertilizer in your favorite watering jug, and just fertilize every time you water.  In fall and winter, stop fertilizing – snake plant doesn’t need to be fed at this time of year.

Rule of (green) thumb: Watering and fertilizing both work best if you go along with the plant's natural growing cycle.

[Spring & Summer = Faster growth, more water is needed; fertilize plant]

[Fall & Winter = Slower growth, less water is needed; don't fertilize]

*Most houseplants follow this same cycle of growth - keeping this in mind each time you tend to your plants will help them to thrive!

Step 6: Snake plant is extremely forgiving, and in fact will thrive more on neglect rather than too much attention.  If you miss a watering, don’t worry! Water the next time you remember. Snake plant will survive in low light conditions, or even full sun! Therefore, snake plant is one of the most common and easy-to-care-for plants you can buy.

Important tip: As stated in step 4, do not overwater! The plant will die if it can’t absorb excess water in the pot.  Overwatering is the number one cause of plant death.

If you be sure to give good light and small amounts of water to snake plant about every two to three weeks, it will prosper and bring you joy for many years!


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