Complete Guide for Choosing the Best Pot for Snake Plants
For most houseplants, pot choice is usually an afterthought, or at best whatever is lying around the garden at the time. But, when it comes to snake plants, the pot selection needs to be given careful consideration. Choosing your snake plant’s next pot could be the difference between a flourishing snake plant or one that is stunted and problematic.
There are three main criteria you need to meet for the Best Pot for Snake Plants:
- a pot SIZE that is roughly one third bigger in width than the root ball,
- a pot made from porous MATERIAL that has weight for balance, and
- one that allows for proper DRAINAGE.
Before you rush out to your local nursery to find a pot, let’s expand on the above criteria, so you can gain an appreciation of why we are not using the empty pot in the corner of your garden.
Why is Pot Size so Important for Snake Plants?
One of the biggest mistakes indoor plant enthusiasts make when repotting their snake plants is choosing a pot that is too big. Here are the reasons why pot size is a big deal in the world of snake plants.
The most common mistake is choosing a pot that is too big for your snake plant.
We wish it was as easy as advising you to buy a pot that is a certain amount of inches wide or this many inches in diameter. However, that would be misleading since we do not know the exact size of your specific snake plant.
Tight Root System
Snake plants require a tight root system to support their tall, heavy sword-shaped leaves, which can grow up to 3-4 feet tall. When a snake plant is planted into an over-sized pot, the root system becomes weak and unstable. This can cause the leaves to fall over, resulting in a very sad looking snake plant like the one pictured below.
Sometimes snake plant owners are baffled when, after repotting their healthy plant, it stops growing and appears to be stunted. This situation can occur when a snake plant is repotted into a pot that is too large for the plant.
The snake plant needs to refocus on establishing a tight root system. When this occurs, the snake plant ceases leaf development, and diverts all its energy into re-establishing a strong and supportive root system. Therefore, seemingly appearing to stop growing.
Big pots require more water more frequently to maintain the correct moisture levels in the soil for your snake plants.
When you water your plants, gravity kicks in and most of the water drops to the bottom of the pot. Only when the soil at the bottom is sufficiently saturated, will the water begin to stay at higher levels.
This means, in order to keep the water around your snake plant’s roots (at the top of the planter) moist, you need to pour in more water, constantly.
Not only is this extremely inefficient and tedious, but the constant water-logged soil at the bottom can begin to harbor fungal disease like root rot. Believe us, this is not a disease you want to constantly be battling in your indoor plants.
What Type of Pot Material is Best for Snake Plants?
Another important factor to consider is the type of material the pots and containers are made from. That’s right – pots for snake plant aren’t just about looks and questioning whether it complements the decor?
When it comes down to materials, they all generally fall into three different types:
Plastic pots certainly have their role to play in gardening. They are lightweight, easy to transport and are perfect as temporary homes for plants, like when you are propagating or growing seedlings.
However, when plants reach maturity, some plants require pots that have particular properties to help them thrive and grow.
As a succulent, snake plants require pots that have water wicking properties – which means the material is able to draw water out of the soil.
Believe it or not, plastic can absorb water. But it is a very limited amount and nowhere near the absorption properties snake plants require.
We only use plastic pots with snake plants when we are transporting them or trying to propagate them into soil, which requires a moist soil to encourage root growth.
Another popular option for pots are ceramic pots.
Ceramic and high-quality clay pots are popular for their aesthetics, and they also have considerable weight, which can be helpful for counter balancing the height of plants (more on this later).
Ceramic planter pots are generally made from clay that has been fired – which is appealing because it is an organic material found in the earth.
However, like plastic, the ceramic planters are not snake plant friendly due to their limited water absorption qualities. Ceramic materials can absorb more water than plastic, however it is restricted by the glaze coating that is applied to the ceramic pots as a finishing.
The glaze coating is usually a layer of lacquer applied inside and out. This coating is a waterproof barrier that keeps the moisture in the soil, which can promote rot in your snake plant roots.
Terracotta or Concrete Planters – The Best Pot for Snake Plants
The last category of pots is terracotta and concrete pots.
It is important to note, when we refer to cement pots, we are referring to cement in its raw form. If it is a sealed pot, it loses its wonderful properties and behaves similar to a ceramic pot.
Now when it comes to the best pots for snake plants, nothing will beat a terracotta or cement pot. They have wonderful water wicking properties and help to keep the soil fresh and dry.
Not only do they absorb water, but they also allow air to flow through them, which promotes a healthy gas exchange for strong root development.
We always use terracotta pots with our snake plants – as it is one of our primary defenses against root rot, a disease snake plants are prone to.
What Other Pot Qualities Should You Look For?
Now that you are getting a good idea of the size and type of pot you should be looking at for your snake plant, here are a few other factors you should consider before making your final choice.
You may think that drainage holes are a given when it comes to pots. However, you would be surprised to discover how many pots are holeless!
Particularly the ceramic pots that are designed with aesthetics in mind, and are primarily for indoor use.
So next time you are at your local nursery, make sure to check the bottom for at least one drainage hole.
Have you fallen in love with a pot that doesn’t have proper water drainage holes? You can try a bit of DIY and drill a few holes yourself. Here’s a video by Gray House Studio walking you through the steps
Part of the appeal of snake plants are those elaborately long sword-shaped leaves that reach for the sky. However, these tall leaves come with a few challenges.
One particularly relevant to pot selection is the top-heavy issues and snake plants constantly falling over in the wind.
This is why, when we choose pots for snake plants, we tend to favor ones that have a decent weight to them. Fortunately, terracotta and cement pots are naturally heavy, which helps to narrow down the choices.
Snake plants are not generally known for their speedy growth. However not all varieties of snake plant are slow growers, they can surprise you if you provide them with the optimal conditions.
So, if you are repotting a snake plant because it has been growing considerably fast, we recommend choosing a pot slightly larger than the guidelines provided earlier.
We know, this sounds completely contradictory to our earlier message. However, not all snake plants are the same and not all conditions are the same. So, use your gardener’s instincts and adapt the general advice to your situation. If you feel your snake plant is going to outgrow your new pot within a year, go for a slightly larger pot or try splitting your snake plant into two smaller planters.
Make sure your pot comes with a water drainage tray at the bottom to catch any excess water from the drainage holes.
Not only does this prevent any accidental water spillages inside your home. But, it also avoids the awkward situation of having mismatched planters and water-catching trays that will look hideous and clash with your decor.
Snake Plant Other Considerations
Snake plants are special indoor plants, and with that comes unique care requirements. Here are some other care considerations you should be aware of when contemplating pot selection.
Do Snake Plants Like to Be Tight?
Like their roots, snake plants like to live in cramped conditions.
It isn’t uncommon to see several snake plant pups growing up from the rhizomes in the root system. So even though your snake plant may appear to be overcrowded, it couldn’t be happier to be amongst friends.
Moreover, when there are several plants growing from the same root system, it helps to strengthen the stability of the plant, and form an even tighter root ball for increased support.
When to Repot Your Snake Plant?
So, if snake plants like to live in crowded conditions, how do we know when it is time to repot your snake plant?
Generally speaking, if you see roots starting to protrude out of the drainage holes in the pot (because you followed our recommendations and found pots with drainage holes…right?), it is time to repot.
For instructions on repotting your snake plant, check out our complete step-by-step guide HERE.
What is the Best Potting Soil for Snake Plants?
Along with pot selection, another critical decision you need to make is the choice of potting mix you use in your planter.
The attributes of the best type of soil for snake plants are:
- excellent drainage,
- is a loamy soil that is light and airy, and
- is high in organic matter for nutrients to encourage strong growth.
If you are interested in making your own snake plant soil, check out our quick video below:
Or, if you are a person that prefers literary resource, you can check out our article HOW TO MAKE SNAKE PLANT SOIL.
Our Favorite Snake Plant Pots
We know pots can be a personal choice – especially when it comes to color combinations and matching your internal decor. But to help kick-start your search for the best pot for snake plants, we’ve put a list of pots available online.
Terracotta Planter Pots On Amazon.com
Best Pot for Snake Plant – Final Thoughts
Choosing the right pot for your snake plant will give you the best opportunity for a happy and thriving house plant. The right pot is one that provides your snake plant with the stability and support to prevent it from falling over. It will also be the right size for your snake plant and that will encourage strong growth in the root system to support the tall foliage. Finally, and most importantly, the pot should be made from an organic material that helps to draw water out of the soil, to support the conditions that snake plants flourish under.
Send us pictures of your beautiful snake plants in their new pots and planters.