How to Water Snake Plants 101: Complete Beginners Guide
The perfect time to water your snake plant is when the soil has completely dried out.
Unfortunately, for new snake plant owners, this is easier said than done. How do you tell when your snake plant’s soil has completely dried out? How much water should you give them? Do you have to uproot your beautiful snake plant every time you want to water them!? Thankfully there are less intrusive methods for measuring your soil’s moisture levels, which we will detail later on in this guide – so stick around.
We’ll also provide some care tips for techniques in watering your snake plant, and the mistakes to avoid when topping up your beautiful houseplant’s water reserves.
How to Water Snake Plants Each Season – Seasonal Guide
To provide a visual watering guide for snake plants, we have created a seasonal watering chart to provide you with a general guide to water frequency for your snake plant throughout the year.
How to Water Snake Plants in Spring
Spring time is when temperatures begin to warm up, and signals the commencement of the snake plant’s growing season.
We suggest checking your snake plant’s soil moisture levels more frequently as you progress through spring. Not only will the warmer temperatures increase evaporation, your snake plant will also be absorbing more water to fuel its growth.
Depending on the temperatures in your local climate, snake plants will require a water top-up every 10-14 days. However, as the temperature increases towards summer, you can expect the frequency to increase to once every 7-10 days.
Since it is the beginning of the growing season, we also take the opportunity to add fertilizer to our snake plants. We add a good all-round liquid fertilizer to our water at the beginning of the season to provide the necessary nutrients for strong and healthy growth.
Adding a slow-release fertilizer is also perfectly suitable as a substitute.
How to Water Snake Plants in Summer
With the hotter temperatures in summer, it is imperative your snake plant has sufficient water supplies with frequent watering to endure the scorching temperatures.
Even though they store water in their fleshy leaves, they should not have to draw down on these reserves, as it will weaken the plant and stunt their growth. If you see your snake plant leaves falling over or beginning to form wrinkles, it may be severely under watered.
Summer is still considered part of the growing season for snake plants, so checking your snake plant’s soil every 7 days is usual, as the moisture is absorbed by the plant and/or evaporates due to the high temperatures.
How to Water Snake Plants in Autumn
With the weather cooling down and the end of the growing period for the snake plant, you can expect the water requirements to ease off.
Your snake plant will continue to build its water reserves in preparation for its hibernation period during winter. So expect to regularly water your snake plant through autumn. However, the levels will be similar to that of spring, but in reverse.
Towards the beginning of autumn, continue to check your snake plant’s soil every 7-10 days. Eventually, as the days get cooler at the end of autumn, you can expect the water requirements to be once every 10-14 days.
How to Water Snake Plants in Winter
Winter is when the snake plant’s low maintenance requirements truly shine.
Depending on your local weather, snake plants can require water top-ups as little as once a month. We do stress the watering requirements will vary depending on your winter weather. So we do recommend you check your snake plant’s soil to ensure it doesn’t experience water stress.
Even though snake plants are not high maintenance plants, we still recommend you keep in check with your snake plant, such as soil moisture checks. The reason we say this is, because winter is the time snake plants can easily become overwatered – which can lead to root rot.
Snake Plants: A Closer Look at Their Water Requirements
As an indoor succulent plant, snake plants have very low care requirements. They are often described as one of the easiest plants to have in your indoor plant collection.
The fact that they are drought tolerant makes them perfect for indoor plant enthusiasts, because they can survive dry periods and neglect.
But their unusual water requirements can sometimes make it challenging to judge when they need a top-up of water.
Here is a rundown of a snake plants’ water preferences and requirements.
How Often Should You Water a Snake Plant?
Yes, snake plants are drought tolerant and do not have the thirst like other houseplants, such as tropical plants.
However, like all plants, they still require water. As we have mentioned at the beginning, the best way to determine when to water your plant is when the soil has completely dried out.
Let the soil completely dry before topping up your snake plant with water.
How often you water your Snake Plant will depend on many factors, such as:
- lighting – if your snake plant is in direct sunlight (as opposed to indirect light), the bright light will cause your plant to lose water quicker through evaporation via the leaves. It will also dry your soil out quickly, resulting in less water for your plant to absorb.
- temperature – we touched on this earlier during our discussion about water requirements during the seasons. The higher the temperature, the more evaporation that occurs from the leaves and soil. This is particularly relevant to those that bring their snake plants indoors for the winter months to avoid frost. We usually keep our homes warm, which can increase the rate of evaporation, leading to under watered snake plants in winter.
- soil – old or poor quality soil tends to have poor water retaining properties. This means when you water your snake plant, the water runs straight through and exits out of the drainage holes. This can leave your plant without water for extended periods between each watering. We recommend using a high quality fresh soil or potting mix, or better yet, making your own snake plant soil, which has high water retaining qualities.
Methods for Watering Your Snake Plant
There are many techniques for watering your snake plant. Each have their merits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at the different methods for watering your indoor plants.
This is the traditional form of watering plants, and the method you probably imagine when you see yourself watering your indoor plants.
Watering your snake plants from the top-down means pouring water from a cup or watering can onto the soil surface. The water soaks the soil as it runs down to the bottom of the container, eventually out of the drainage holes.
We like to use this method of watering when we want to flush the soil from excess chemical build up from fertilizer or hard water.
This method of watering is actually our preferred technique.
Bottom watering is, as it sounds, soaking your snake plant soil from the bottom up. It involves placing your snake plant pots into a container filled with approximately 2 inches of water (enough to cover the drainage holes). Then you simply leave your potted plant to soak up as much water as it requires through a wicking system in the soil.
There are many benefits to bottom watering, like encouraging stronger root growth, fewer pests attracted to your indoor plants, and it reduces the chances of overwatering your snake plant. You can read more about bottom watering benefits in our article HERE.
A water bath is similar to bottom watering a plant, except you are submersing the entire soil and root system in water.
Be mindful not to submerge any part of the snake plant above the soil, as it can lead to rot developing.
The purpose of using a water bath is to quickly rehydrate any pot plants that may be severely dehydrated. It also helps to reinvigorate any soil that may have dried to the point that it is cracked and hardened.
Once the soil has become saturated (no bubbles are bubbling to the surface), slowly lift your pot plant out and allow any excess water to drain.
Mistakes to Avoid When Watering Snake Plants
The strange thing about plants that don’t have high water requirements, like snake plants, is that it can be trickier to judge how and when to water them. This can often lead to problems, like too much water or sometimes too little – possibly because we have completely forgotten about them.
Mistake 1 – Assuming Your Snake Plant Needs Water – Test It!
One of the biggest mistakes we see with new snake plant owners is they assume that their stunning new house plants need to be watered straight away. Or maybe they feel like they haven’t paid enough attention to their plant, so their fingers begin to get itchy, and they tip a bit of water into the pot.
After all, what harm can a bit of water do?
Actually, a bit of water can do A LOT of damage. If your snake plant is sitting in waterlogged soil, it can develop a fungal infection called root rot. Moist soil also attracts pests, like fungus gnats, which can be a complete pain to eliminate.
To test if your snake plant needs more water, we like to perform the soil moisture finger test. It involves digging your index finger knuckle deep into the soil of your snake plant. Your goal is to see if there is any water content in the soil. If the soil is dry, it is time for a top-up. We go into more detail about the finger test HERE.
If you don’t want to get your fingers dirty, you can always use a soil moisture meter or soil probes which is available online at Amazon, or at your local nursery.
Mistake 2 – Misting Your Snake Plant Leaves
Another common mistake we see happen with snake plants is misting their leaves.
Yes, misting leaves will add moisture to the soil and produce humid conditions. However, snake plants do not like to be misted. In fact, they prefer their leaves to remain dry at all times. This includes when you are watering your plants from the top. Try to only wet the soil, not the foliage of the snake plant.
How to Water Snake Plant – Common Questions
Can snake plants be watered with tap water?
Yes – tap water can be used to water snake plants. However, if your area uses hard water as tap water, we recommend using distilled, filtered or rain water to water your indoor plants. Hard water contains excess minerals that can build up in your snake plant’s soil and leave hard water stains on the leaves.
How long can snake plants live without water?
When pushed to their limits, a snake plant can live up to a month without water in winter. This is because it reverts to a hibernation mode, which means it consumes very little and ceases to grow. The temperature during winter also generally drops, which helps to reduce evaporation from the soil and leaves.
Why does the water take a long time to soak in?
If water is taking a long time to soak into your soil, it usually means it has dried out to the point that the soil has lost its water absorption properties. The soil can be salvaged and rehydrated, however it will require a good soak in a water bath that we described above.
Are Snake Plants Drought Tolerant?
Snake plants are drought tolerant, but they don’t like being left completely dry for extended periods. They do like to have their soil dry out between watering. But not left to dry out for weeks or months.