How to Prune a Snake Plant – Beginners Guide

There may be several reasons why your snake plant requires a trim. It may be damaged, have leaves falling over, or you may be pruning to sculpt your houseplant’s shape. Whatever the reason, we understand it can be an intimidating process. To help you overcome your initial reservations, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide, which includes:

  • how to trim a snake plant,
  • why pruning snake plants is essential,
  • what to do with the snake plant cuttings, and
  • answering questions about pruning snake plants, like how often, when, and more.
How to Trim a Snake Plant

Thanks for choosing Garden Bench Top to help you learn How to Trim Snake Plants. You’ll be an expert pruner in no time. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in.

How To Trim A Snake Plant – Instructions

Let’s get straight into the steps involved with pruning your snake plant.

Preparation: Tools You Will Need

Trimming a snake plant is a simple process that doesn’t require much preparation. The items required are everyday household items that should be readily available in your home.

  • Sharp Knife (or Pruning Secateurs)
  • Rubbing Alcohol
gardening scissors for pruning snake plants

1. Disinfect Equipment

When you begin pruning, we recommend disinfecting all your Equipment BEFORE you make any cuts.

It is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of disease in your indoor plants and garden.

2. Identify Problem Leaves

Successful pruning requires patience and planning.

Begin the process the right way by taking a step back to look at your snake plant. Analyze the shape and structure of your plant—plan by identifying the leaves that need to be trimmed. Consider your plant’s body and overall look when the leaf is removed.

As much as pruning benefits your snake plant’s health, we also prune plants for aesthetic purposes. After all, what’s the point of a healthy plant that looks like a lawn mower has run over it?

NOTE: If trimming your snake plant due to a damaged leaf, you can skip this step.

3. Remove Problem Leaves

Now it is time for the plant surgery.

Hold the tip of the snake plant leaf and gently but confidently pull the leaf-cutting up and outwards (away from the mother plant). The idea is to create some room between the problem leaf and the main plant so that you do not damage other leaves when cutting.

Make your cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible. Ideally, just above the soil mix line to allow the wound to air dry and callous over to prevent any rot from developing.

Snake plant leaves are pretty thick, and you may be surprised how much effort will be required to cut through the leaf. Try to make the cut as clean and straight as possible. It will help to reduce the surface area that is exposed while the wound is healing.

4. After Care

Do not water your snake plant for 4-5 days after pruning. And place it in a spot that receives indirect light or bright light conditions. Not direct sunlight is too intense and will stress your snake plant out while it is trying to recover.

If you feel like your snake plant needs water, try bottom watering your indoor plant. It will avoid getting the wound wet and still get water to the parent plant’s roots. For instructions on bottom watering, check out our watering guide HERE.

DO NOT dispose of your healthy leaves if they have no signs of damage, pests, or disease. They are perfect specimens for propagating extra snake plants, which we will discuss further in this article.

propagating snake plant cuttings after pruning

Benefits of Trimming Snake Plants

Okay, now you know the steps of trimming your snake plants. But why is it so important to prune snake plants?

Snake plants receive several benefits when they are consistently pruned and properly maintained. Here are a few of the primary benefits:

  1. Eliminating disease – consistently removing leaves that look diseased or unhealthy will prevent infections from spreading and infecting other leaves (or your entire snake plant). It also helps your snake plant conserve energy and put it to better use like new growth.
  2. Focused Growth – stray leaves that may grow in awkward positions, in an unhelpful direction, or fall over should be removed. At the end of the day, any living part of the snake plant draws down on its energy. By removing these wayward leaves, you can help your snake plant direct its energy to where it should be focused.
  3. Aesthetic Purposes – okay, this benefit may not be entirely for the snake plant. Shaping your snake plants to fit into their designated space prevents them from being accidentally damaged by household members or pets. Plus, it looks nicer, which always benefits us, the owners.

Snake Plant Pruning: Mistakes to Avoid (must include)

We love our snake plants, but unfortunately, they have involuntarily become our guinea pigs for learning to prune snake plants correctly.

We’ve made many mistakes and, luckily, in the process, become wiser. Wise enough that we believe it is our duty to pass on the knowledge of our mistakes to other snake plant owners so our mistakes aren’t repeated.

  • Never Mist Your Snake Plants – we’ve mistakenly misted our sansevieria plants after a pruning session. And the result was disastrous. The wounds had not healed properly and started to turn brown and mushy. We soon realized rot had begun to set in and quickly removed the affected areas. Sadly, one of our plants did not make it, and the rot spread to other areas of the plant.
  • Prune in the Growing Season – always try to trim your snake plants in the growing season (Spring and Summer). Snake plants are a hardy species and should be able to tolerate being pruned year-round. However, it is a stressful experience. Therefore pruning while it is growing will give it the best opportunity to recover and continue to thrive.

Reasons to Prune Your Snake Plant

Besides removing disease or damaged leaves, there are a few other occasions when pruning should be performed on your snake plant.

Reduce the Size of Your Snake Plant

Sometimes your snake plant may become too large for its space – what a nice problem to have! And it becomes necessary to reduce the size of your plant. You could divide by root division and propagate your plant, or another option is to prune it back.

Pruning allows you to remove leaves that are growing in the wrong direction or have become too tall.

Aesthetic Appeal

Let’s face it; most indoor plant enthusiasts grow plants because they like the look in their homes. This also includes the color and shape of the plants. Trimming snake plants will not only mold them into a desirable shape. But it also keeps them looking healthy, with those stunning vibrant colorations and patterns we love.

Shaping your snake plants is easy. As we mentioned in the steps above for pruning snake plants, it is all about taking a step back and observing the overall feel of the snake plant. Is it a low rotund variety that grows close to the ground? Or is it a tall variety that is thin, several feet tall, and reaches for the sky?

Regular Pruning for Maintenace

Like all indoor plants, you should regularly tidy your snake plant up. This includes removing any dead or shriveled leaves by cutting them off. You should also remove any dead leaves on the soil. Otherwise, it may attract mold or fungal infections, like root rot.

How to Trim a Snake Plant – Common Questions

What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune a Snake Plant?

Pruning is best performed in the spring and summer months of the year. This is when the snake plant is growing, and it can quickly bounce back from the stress of being trimmed. Avoid pruning in winter or fall, when the snake plant is dormant. It can apply unnecessary pressure that can weaken your houseplant.

How Much Should I Trim Off My Snake Plants?

We generally follow the rule of thirds when pruning snake plants. As we have mentioned, pruning is a stressful experience for snake plants. We only ever take off one-third of the plant at one time.

Removing more than one-third of a plant will cause too much stress, and it will take your snake plant longer to recover.

What Do I Use To Trim My Snake Plants?

Any sharp tool like a knife or gardening scissors will be suitable for trimming your snake plant. Always sterilize your instruments before using them to prevent diseases or pathogens from infecting your snake plant.