Snake Plant-Dracaena trifasciata (Mother-in-law’s tongue/Sansevieria trifasciata)

Scientific NameDracaena trifasciata (formerly Sansevieria trifasciata)
Common Name(s)Snake plant, Mothers’ in law tongue, Viper’s bowstring hemp, St. George’s sword
OriginWest Africa


The Snake Plant-Dracaena trifasciata, also known as Sansevieria or mother-in-law’s tongue, is an ideal choice for beginners. You may say it “thrives on neglect.” It doesn’t really thrive, but it survives. For all these years with houseplants, the snake plant remains the most hardy plant I ever had. 

Snake plant has sword-shaped leaves that grow directly from the base and can have various green, yellow, cream, and silvery patterns. They can grow up to 8 ft tall in a native environment, but as houseplants, they are no more than 6 inches tall. In ideal conditions, a plant can bloom; flowers are white or creamy, tubular, fragrant, and open at night.

The plant’s scientific name is Dracaena trifasciata (before 2007, it was Sanseveria trifasciata), and belong to the Asparagaceae family. It is native to West Africa and tropical areas of Asia, which explains its hardiness and low maintenance.

How To Care For Snake Plant

Snake plant is incredibly easy to care for, which makes it an ideal plant for beginner gardeners to boost their confidence. There are a couple of specific requirements, but caring for Sansevieria as a semi-succulent is similar to any other succulent plant.


Snake plants can tolerate various light conditions, from dark corners to direct sunlight. However, they will grow best in moderate to bright light, with a few hours of direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sun can even boost plants’ growth. Indoors, they will thrive in a south-facing window.


Well-draining soil is crucial for snake plants to prevent root rot. Use a cactus or succulent potting mix, or create your mix by combining equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. You can even get away with a mixture of potting soil and sand. Snake plants prefer slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil.


Snake plants belong to USDA hardiness zones 9-11 and prefer temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). They shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees; in colder climates, you should bring them indoors before the first frosts. A plant is also sensitive to cold drafts, so keep them away from windows and doors that open frequently.


Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, as snake plants are prone to overwatering and root rot. When watering, you don’t have to soak the plant; a smaller amount of water will work just fine. During the growing season, water the plant every 2-3 weeks, and reduce watering frequency in the winter.


Fertilize your snake plant sparingly, using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. Apply the fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (although even applying with every watering wouldn’t harm the plant) and avoid fertilizing during the winter.


Snake plants are slow growers and typically only need repotting every 2-3 years. Choose a pot one size larger than the current container and ensure it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil.

Pests And Diseases 

While generally resistant to pests and diseases, snake plants can be susceptible to some.

Root rot

Overwatering or poorly draining soil can cause root rot, the most common problem affecting snake plants. The plant’s leaves may turn yellow, become soft, or wilt, and the roots appear black, mushy. To prevent root rot, ensure the plant is in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering.

Fungal leaf spot

Fungal leaf spot diseases may cause irregular brown, black, or yellow spots on the leaves of the snake plant. To prevent and control fungal leaf spots, maintain good air circulation around the plant, avoid overhead watering, and remove any infected leaves as you notice them.

Bacterial leaf blight

This bacterial disease causes dark, water-soaked spots on the leaves, which may enlarge, causing the leaf to collapse. To prevent bacterial leaf blight, avoid overwatering and maintain good air circulation around the plant. If the infection is severe, remove and discard the affected plant.


These small, white, cotton-like pests can be found on the leaves and at the base of the plant. They suck sap from the plant, leading to yellowing leaves, poor growth, and leaf drop. To treat mealybugs, remove them manually with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or apply insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Spider mites

Spider mites are tiny, spider-like insects that can cause stippling, yellowing, and curling of leaves and small webbs. To control spider mites, wash the plant thoroughly with water, or use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Scale insects

Scale insects are small, round, brown, or black bumps on the leaves and stems of the plant. They feed on the plant’s sap, leading to yellowing leaves and poor growth. Treat scale infestations by removing the insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or applying insecticidal soap or neem oil.

How to Propagate Snake Plant

Propagating snake plants is a simple process, and there are two most common techniques.


Gently remove the plant from its pot and separate the root ball into smaller sections, ensuring each division has a healthy root system. Re-pot each division into a new container with well-draining soil.

Leaf cuttings

Cut a healthy leaf from the plant, allowing it to dry for a day or two. Plant the cut end of the leaf into well-draining soil and place it in a dry, light space. Water cuttings sparingly until new growth emerges. Be patient because this process can take several weeks to a few months.

Are Snake Plants Toxic to Pets?

Snake plants are mildly toxic to pets when ingested, as they contain saponins that can cause gastrointestinal problems. Keep your snake plant out of reach of pets to avoid potential problems.


Why is my snake plant drooping?

Drooping leaves can be because of overwatering, underwatering, or insufficient light. Check the soil moisture, and ensure your plant is receiving enough light.

Are snake plants easy to care for?

Yes, snake plants are low-maintenance and can tolerate different conditions, making them perfect for beginners.

Are snake plants acid-loving?

Snake plants prefer slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil.

Are snake plants aroids?

No, snake plants are not aroids. They belong to the Asparagaceae family, while aroids are part of the Araceae family.

Are snake plants angiosperms?

Yes, snake plants are angiosperms, or flowering plants, as they produce flowers and seeds during their reproductive cycle.

Are snake plants fast growers?

Snake plants are generally slow to moderate growers, depending on their growing conditions and care.

Is snake plant flowering or non-flowering?

Snake plants are flowering plants. However, they rarely bloom indoors, and when they do, it is often under specific conditions or after several years of growth.

Do snake plants repel mosquitoes?

Snake plants are often believed to have mosquito-repellent properties. However, the effectiveness of snake plants in repelling mosquitoes is somewhat limited. While snake plants may have certain benefits like improving air quality by removing toxins, they should not be solely relied upon as a mosquito repellent.