How to Care for a Snake Plant (Psst: It’s Easier Than You Think)

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You love, love, love houseplants, but sometimes you’re a teeny-tiny bit neglectful as a plant parent. That’s OK; this is a no-judgment zone. What you need is a snake plant. These amazing easy-care houseplants, native to Africa, grow under a canopy of large trees, so they’ll survive in homes that don’t have tons of bright light. They’re also relatively pest-free and inexpensive, so you aren’t investing tons of money in a finicky plant that will need to be babied.

“Snake plants are almost impossible to kill and tend to thrive on being ignored,” says Rich Buller, managing partner of Garden Goods Direct. “They’re also tolerant if you forget to water.” Another plus is that their striking architectural forms work with any home décor, and they range in size from a few inches to a few feet tall.

Of course, hard-to-kill doesn’t mean impossible, so how do you care for a snake plant? So glad you asked. Consider this your official primer.

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how to care for a snake plant
Victoria Popova/Getty Images

What Kind Of Light Do Snake Plants Need?

Snake plants like bright indirect light but also will tolerate low light, even a dark bedroom or a north- facing window, which typically gets the least amount of sunlight of any orientation. But don’t put them in full sun or south-facing windows, or the plant may become sunburned (which looks like dark brown patches on the plant), says Buller. They also grow outdoors in warm climates (zones 10 to 12). Snake plants may produce sprays of greenish-white flowers, though this rarely occurs indoors.

How do you water a snake plant?

Pay attention, plant parents: “Overwatering will kill a snake plant,” says Buller. “You probably only need to water about every 10 days, though snake plants can survive a month or more without watering.” Before giving it a drink, push your finger into the top inch of soil. If it still feels damp, wait a few days and check again. If you’re still not sure, wait a few more days. Then water thoroughly around the outer edges of the pot, not into the center of the plant where pooling water can cause rotting. Dump out any water that remains in the saucer beneath.

Should I feed my snake plant?

It’s not entirely necessary, but it’s always a good idea. Use a liquid fertilizer once a month when you water, or apply a time-release granular type, which lasts for months, according to the package directions.

Can I make a new snake plant?

As your snake plant matures, little plantlets called “pups” (is that cute or what?) will begin to come up next to the mother plant and fill the pot. They can be separated from the mother by taking a sharp knife and cutting down into the soil, adjacent to the pup. Place the baby plant with its tiny roots in a new pot filled with a chunky potting mix, such as cactus or orchid soil, says Buller. Water, and make sure the pot has drainage holes because you don’t want the soil to stay wet.

Are snake plants safe to keep around pets?

According to the ASPCA, snake plants contain saponins, which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats. So, keep this plant away from curious pets, and always call your vet ASAP if you suspect your fur baby has ingested any of this plant.

What do I need to get started?

All you really need is a snake plant and a planter. But here are some of our favorite finds to care for it.

how to care for a snake plant 2 gallon snake plant
The Home Depot

1. 2-gallon Snake Plant

how to care for a snake plant variegated snake plant

2. Variegated Snake Plant

how to care for a snake plant cactus palm citrus potting soil mix
The Home Depot

3. Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Soil Mix

how to care for a snake plant ceramic planter with wood stand

4. Ceramic Planter With Wood Stand

how to care for a snake plant brass watering can with antique finish

5. Brass Watering Can With Antique Finish

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...