The snake plant is also called mother-in-law’s tongue. A native of Africa, southern Asia, and Madagascar, this group of plants are tough succulents that are easy to grow. The upright leaves are striking alone or in a group of plants.
How Many Different Types of Snake Plants Are There?
There are more than 70 different types of snake plants with names. Approximately 15 species are grown commercially. Many different cultivars have been developed, as well. There is a type of snake plant for every area of your home.
Historically placed in the genus Sansevieria, the types of Sansevieria snake plants have recently been reclassified and placed in the genus Dracaena.
Snake plants come in a variety of colors, heights, leaf structures, and forms. Most are grown for their foliage as they do not bloom easily indoors.
Dracaena trifasciata formerly known as Sansevieria trifasciata
This is the most commonly sold snake plant. The straight, long leaves are green with darker green horizontal variegation. The leaves can reach four feet tall. This is the plant that gave the group of plants the name ‘snake plant’. There are several cultivars of this plant available.
- Laurentii is variegated and has bright golden/yellow bands along the edges of the leaves.
- Moonglow has broad, silvery-green leaves with dark green edging. It does not have much variegation.
- Bantel’s Sensation has narrow leaves with vertical white stripes on them.
- Hahnii is a dwarf cultivar commonly called ‘bird’s nest snake plant’. It only grows to be six inches tall.
- Golden Hahnii has a broad golden band around the outside of the leaf. It only grows seven inches tall.
- Twist has green variegated leaves with a golden border. The leaves grow to a height of two to three feet and twist up in a spiral fashion.
Darcaena gracilis, formally known as Sansevieria cylindrica
This type of snake plant has tubular leaves that can spread to three feet wide. It is also called the cigar snake plant. The leaves grow to a height of about 18 inches.
- Boncel is called the starfish snake plant. Its leaves spread out in a fan-like shape. The leaves are thicker and shorter than the straight species.
Dracaena hanningtonii formally known as Sansevieria ehrenbergii
The cultivar ‘Samurai Dwarf’ has thick, short, V-shaped leaves. The leaves have red edges. This variety grows to be six inches tall and grows slowly.
Dracaena pethera, formally known as Sansevieria kirkii
This snake plant grows from a rhizome, unlike the others in this group. It has dark green leaves with florescent green patterns. Each pattern is unique.
- Coppertone grows wider than it is tall. It grows to about eight inches in diameter. The leaves have wavy edges and are variegated in green and copper.
- Silver Blue only grows to be eight inches tall but is very striking. It has blue-gray leaves that are variegated with red and white tinges.
Dracaena masoniana, formally known as Sansevieria masoniana
Also known as ‘whale fin’ or ‘shark fin’, this plant has wide leaves in green and white with purple tinges. It grows to a height of four feet.
Dracaena ballyi formally known as Sansevieria ballyi
This is one of several types of dwarf snake plants. It grows six to ten inches tall and wide. It has leaves with alternating bands of green and white. The tips of the leaves have a red spine on them.
Dracaena angolensis, formerly known as Sansevieria cylindrica
This plant grows to be four feet tall and spreads one foot wide. The leaves have alternating with dark green and light green stripes.
There are many more types of snake plants, but these are the most common. The number of snake plants available means it won’t be hard to find the best type of snake plant for your home.
Anytime you bring a new plant into your home, you want to make sure it is healthy and free of diseases and pests. Here are some things to look for when buying a snake plant.
The foliage should be vibrant. Dull yellow foliage, even in cultivars that have yellow on them, is a bad sign. Spots of brown or black are indicative of a serious illness. Don’t buy a plant that has them.
These are succulents, so their leaves should be full and strong. Floppy leaves may indicate root rot, which is almost always fatal.
Root rot is not uncommon in snake plants due to overwatering. Before you purchase a plant, slide it out of the pot and check the roots. They should be firm and keep their shape out of the pot. If the pot is mostly dirt, the roots are not in good health.
Care of Snake Plants
All types of snake plants need the same care. Here is what you know to keep your snake plant thriving.
What Type of Pot for Snake Plants?
Snake plants put out a lot of foliage. Because most snake plants grow straight up, light plastic pots tend to tip over. Use a heavier clay or ceramic pot for this plant. While snake plants do not mind being mildly rootbound, their roots can break clay pots if they become badly rootbound. Make sure any pot you use has drainage holes.
As a succulent, the best type of soil for a snake plant is a cactus or succulent potting mix. Another type of potting soil for the snake plant is half succulent potting mix and half perlite. It is absolutely vital that the soil be well-draining. The roots will rot in wet soil.
Sunlight for Snake Plants
Snake plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves. Snake plants will tolerate light shade, but the markings on the leaves will fade under these conditions.
Temperature and Humidity
The snake plant does well at the same temperature and humidity we do. Do not leave it on a cold windowsill during the winter as it won’t tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees F.
Although technically a woody evergreen, snake plants need about as much water as succulents. Allow the soil in the pot to dry out between waterings. During winter, water only once a month.
Use a water-soluble fertilizer for houseplants once a month during the growing season. Do not fertilize during the fall and winter.
Propagating Snake Plants
Snake plants are easy to propagate from cuttings or by division. A healthy snake plant will put up new plants. Simply remove the snake plant from the pot and divide it. Put fresh potting mix in the old pot and return the old plant to that pot. Place the new plants in new pots and let them grow.
To propagate a snake plant from a cutting, simply cut a leaf into three-inch sections and place the sections in a succulent potting mix. Water the potting mix and place a plastic bag over the pot and cutting. Make a few holes in the plastic bag. Place the pot in a warm, brightly light area. Remove the plastic bag once the cutting is rooted.
Dust the plant’s leaves when they become dirty. If a leaf is damaged, cut it off at the soil level. Every three years, remove the snake plant from its pot, discard the old potting mix, and replace the plant into the pot with fresh potting mix. Move up a pot size if the roots are starting to circle in the pot.
Clean Air Plant
In a study by NASA referred to as the Clean Air Study, NASA found that snake plants help to purify the air indoors. Snake plants clean formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals out of the air. Just one snake plant per room can increase the purity of the air in the whole room.
Snake plants are poisonous to humans and pets. Place the plant where children and pets cannot reach it.
In conclusion, snake plants come in many different shapes and sizes. They are a hardy plant that is easy to grow. While they tolerate neglect well, a little attention will have them looking vibrant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we get asked a lot about snake plants.
Indoors, snake plants only grow a few inches a year. They are considered slow-growing plants. The dwarf types of snake plants grow even more slowly.
Cleanliness and efficiency. This is because they filter toxins like formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals out of the air and send clean oxygen out in return.
Snake plants can live 25 years if cared for properly. They may only live five years if badly neglected.
In the wild, snake plants flower. However, they rarely flower indoors.
Snake plants are hardy to zone 10. If you live in zone nine or below, they will not reliably survive the winter.
No, snake plants do not repel snakes.