Step Guide to Propagating a Snake Plant in Water (with TIPS)
- Patience is the key to propagating a snake plant in water.
- Air Dry Cuttings to allow the wound to heal over and callous. It prevents rot and gives the cutting the best chance of survival.
- Use distilled or filtered water and change it often to oxygenate the water.
- Use an upside-down V cut (or an arrowhead-shaped cut). It will naturally prop the cutting up and allow room for new roots to grow.
Propagating a snake plant in water isn’t complicated. In fact, the entire concept can be summed up in five words, ‘place a cutting in water.’
While we don’t deny it sounds simple, we have learned through experience that essential nuances in each step will significantly increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Our guide for propagating snake plants in the water will set out a step-by-step process for you. AFTER EACH STEP, we will provide you with our Garden Bench Top (GBT) Tips to put the odds in your favor.
How to Propagate a Snake Plant in Water – the GBT Way
There are many ways to propagate your mother-in-law’s tongue plants. In this guide, we will focus on propagating in water. Here are the steps involved.
1. Identify Your Cutting
Choose a healthy leaf from your mother plant and cut it with a clean knife close to the root ball.
GBT Pro Tips
- when choosing your leaf, ensure no signs of pests or disease. Discoloration and legions indicate the leaf is weak and may reduce the chances of a positive propagation outcome.
- Cut your leaf close to the bottom. It gives you plenty of room to work with and allows you to trim if you notice rot setting in.
- We like an upside-down V cut (or an arrowhead-shaped cut). It props the leaf in the water, which helps prevent rot. And gives the roots plenty of room to grow, so you don’t end up with deformed roots.
- Use a sterilized knife to cut your snake plant to prevent the spread of disease.
2. Air Dry Your Cutting
Air dry your cutting for 2 – 4 days to allow the wound to heal and callous over to prevent rot.
GBT Pro Tips
- place your cutting in an out-of-the-way place so it isn’t accidentally knocked onto the floor.
- Put a note in your calendar to remind yourself that you are air-drying a snake plant cutting. We don’t want to admit the number of times we’ve discovered shriveled-up cuttings that we had forgotten about. Even a few days more than the ideal drying time will decrease the chances of successful propagation.
3. Find a Container
Choose a container for your water propagation process. The container should be tall enough to house your snake plant cutting without letting it fall over.
GBT Pro Tips
- choose a clear glass container (not colored), so you can see the cutting and color of the water. It is essential to monitor the clarity of the water, as cloudy water can indicate bacteria build-up. You also want to see your cutting to observe its condition. Any signs of brown and rot can be quickly rectified by constantly monitoring it through a glass container.
- Use glass marbles to help prop your snake plant up. Ideally, your cutting should stand upright, so the roots grow naturally. If the cutting grows against the bottom of the jar, the roots will grow in awkward positions (although the arrow cut will help to prevent this to a degree).
4. Fill with Water and Wait
Fill your container with the glass marbles and water and place your snake plant cutting to commence the propagation process.
NOTE – we had a limited number of glass marbles, so we elevated them with a neutral medium called LECA clay pebbles. Here is an article on how to clean them for use in your garden projects.
GBT Pro Tips
- The roots will develop from the cutting’s callouses. However, it must be in contact with water to stimulate root growth. Make sure the water level covers the calloused parts of the cutting.
- Always use distilled or filtered water. Tap water can contain foreign elements that inhibit the root development of your snake plant’s cutting. It is also common to introduce bacteria to your propagation process, which will encourage rot and the demise of your cutting.
5. Snake Plant Propagation After Care
Change the water 1-3 times a week, depending on your water condition. Place your cutting in a warm place but out of direct sunlight, and wait for roots to develop.
GBT Pro Tips
- Always change your water with fresh, distilled, or filtered water. It will reduce the chances of infection developing.
- At each water change, inspect your cutting for signs of rot. If your cutting feels slimy, these are the initial signs of decay. Gently but thoroughly wash your cutting under warm tepid water to remove the slime. Also, disinfect your container (and marbles if you have included them) with a thorough rinse in soapy water. Then fill with fresh distilled water.
- If you notice advanced rot on your cutting (brown coloration and mushy feeling), remove the rotten parts and repeat the propagation process from Step 2.
- Have patience. Snake plant cuttings can take a while to grow roots – between 3-5 weeks (or maybe longer). Keep with the water changes. If rot doesn’t set in, your cutting will grow roots.
How to Pot Your Rooted Snake Plant Cuttings
Once your sansevieria cutting has developed healthy roots approximately one inch in length (or longer), you can begin to prepare a new home for your rooted cuttings.
Choose a pot for your snake plant cutting. Make sure the planter isn’t too big. Otherwise, it will be challenging to maintain the proper moisture levels. It may also stunt the growth of your newly propagated cutting. You can read more about snake plant pot selection HERE.
Fill your pot approximately two-thirds with good quality potting mix (check out our simple snake plant soil recipe HERE).
Dig a hole in the middle with your finger that is big enough to fit the cutting. And place your cutting into the hole and backfill with more soil, so your cutting is well-supported and stands independently.
It is crucial to ensure the roots are completely covered with dirt to encourage root growth. Give the cutting a healthy watering with distilled water, and provide any excess water exits freely from the drainage holes.
Considerations for Propagating Sansevieria in Water
Even though propagating a snake plant in water is relatively straightforward, it has some drawbacks.
Loss of Variegation
Snake plant cuttings cultivated from cuttings tend to lose their particular coloration and unique patterns. Why snake plant cuttings lose their variegation is unknown. Still, some gardeners suspect it is due to the snake plant concentrating all its energy and nutrients on growing a completely new root system—leaving little to no reserves to develop the beautiful plants’ patterns, which takes up more energy.
The only way to ensure your snake plant pups retain their unique variegation is to propagate by division of rhizomes with snake plant pups growing.
Increased Chance of Rot
With the abundance of water used in the snake plant water propagation method, there is an increased chance of diseases, such as root rot, developing. Unfortunately, this risk is always going to be everpresent. But the risk can be mitigated by following the GBT Pro Tips we included at each process step.
Propagating a Snake Plant in Water – Closing Comments
Propagating plant babies is one of the many joys of gardening. There are many methods to achieve the same outcome, and we love water propagation for snake plants in particular.
It is a straightforward method of creating new and beautiful indoor plants that look great in any room.
Show us pictures of your beautiful snake plant cuttings in water to share with our Garden Bench Top community.