Beginners Guide for the Sansevieria Suffruticosa

Sansevieria Suffruticosa sports a unique growth pattern with beautiful jade-green foliage and variegated patterns traveling horizontally across the leaves.

Sansevieria Suffruticosa


Sansevieria Suffruticosa:

  • has tubular foliage with rosette growth patterns
  • drought-tolerant and low-maintenance houseplant ideal for beginners
  • easy to propagate via cuttings or division of rhizomes

Sansevieria Suffruticosa Quick Care Summary

WateringAllow soil to dry between watering
LightingPosition in a space that receives plenty of bright indirect light
Temperature55-90° Fahrenheit (12-32° Celsius)
HumidityRelative humidity levels at 30-50%
FeedingAll-purpose houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of Spring
SoilLoamy well-draining soil

Getting to Know the Sansevieria Suffruticosa

This section will get up close and personal with the Sansevieria Suffruticosa. This means we will familiarize ourselves with the type of environment they naturally grow. Explore the conditions they thrive in to replicate these conditions in our homes.


Scientific Name: Dracaena suffruticosa

Common Name(s): snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue


Originating from the tropical parts of eastern Africa, Sansevieria Suffruticosa grows in dry, arid areas amongst large boulders and sandy substrate.

The areas the Sansevieria Suffruticosa grows receive sporadic rainfall. Sansevieria Suffruticosa has developed the ability to store water reserves in its leaves and rhizomes (underground stems) to cope with the unpredictable water supply.

They thrive in warm conditions and are exposed to abundant natural sunlight in their natural environment. However, the lighting preferences of indoor houseplants are slightly different – which we will discuss later in the detailed care section.

Appearance & Flowers

We mentioned at the beginning that Sansevieria Suffruticosa has a unique growth pattern, distinct from most other snake plants.

They form beautiful rosettes on the ground with tubular leaves (the edges of the leaves curl inwards to create tubes).

They are considered medium-sized snake plants, with the foliage growing to approximately 3 feet (90 cm) in length. However, when grown indoors, they tend to only reach 2-2.5 feet (61-76 cm) in size due to the reduced sunlight.

Like other snake plants, Sansevieria Suffruticosa can produce flowers. However, conditions need to be optimal – even then, they may not have any blooms. Snake plants do not flower annually, so take plenty of pictures when they blossom.

The flowers look like fireworks in suspended animation and develop on stalks that grow from the base of the snake plant. The dainty flowers can range from cream color to off-white, sometimes with a pinkish hue.

Sansevieria Suffruticosa Detailed Care Instructions

Now for the detailed care requirements of the Sansevieria Suffruticosa.

Sansevieria Suffruticosa Quick Care Guide

Water Requirements

Allow the soil to dry before adding more water to your Sansevieria Suffruticosa.

Sounds simple right? In reality, this is more challenging than you think.

The easiest way to determine when the soil is dry is to use a finger soil moisture test or a soil moisture meter from your nursery or online at Amazon.

The good news is the longer you care for your Suffruticosa, the easier it will be to understand their water needs. Especially since the watering frequency changes as the season’s change.

We’ve put together a guide on water frequencies in different seasons to make things easier. Check out our article HERE.

Lighting Requirements

Sansevieria Suffruticosa require plenty of bright indirect sunlight to thrive.

You may feel confused about the correct sunlight exposure for your Suffruticosa.

The determining factor is where you keep your snake plants.

Indoor Suffruticosa can tolerate sunlight. However, only in short doses. Midday and afternoon sun is too intense for indoor snake plants and will quickly dehydrate the leaves, causing leaf burn.

When grown outdoors, the Sansevieria Suffruticosa becomes hardened to the weather elements and has higher tolerances for direct sunlight.

Read more HERE for tips on lighting conditions for snake plants.

Temperature Requirements

As succulents that originate from the Eastern tropical parts of the African climates, your Sansevieria Suffruticosa will thrive in warm weather.

The recommended indoor temperature for Sansevieria Suffruticosa is between 55-90° Fahrenheit (12-32° Celsius).

We caution all snake plant owners to be careful of extreme temperatures. At freezing temperatures, water expands when frozen. This means the water reserves in the Suffruticosa leaves can freeze, causing irreparable damage to the leaf cells.

If your area is susceptible to freezing temperatures during winter, we recommend bringing your snake plants inside the house, where the temperature is at more acceptable levels.

Humidity Requirements

Keep your Sansevieria Suffruticosa in between 30 and 50% relative humidity.

Humidity isn’t spoken about much when it comes to snake plants. However, it is essential for regulating your snake plant’s internal processes, such as transpiration.

Not enough moisture in the air (low humidity) accelerates the transpiration process, quickly dehydrates your plant, and causes water stress.

At the other end of the spectrum, too much moisture in the air (high humidity) will prevent transpiration at the other extreme, and your Sansevieria Suffruticosa will suffocate.

We have written an in-depth article discussing how humidity affects snake plants.

Soil & Fertilizer Requirements

The properties of the soil you use for your Sansevieria Suffruticosa can have profound effects on the health of your houseplant.

Choosing the best soil for your Sansevieria Suffruticosa can significantly impact your plant parent experience. Quality soil will reduce the frequency of your watering, facilitate the uptake of nutrients by your snake plant, and reduce its susceptibility to pests and disease.

To be effective, your snake plant soil must be:

  • well-draining,
  • a sandy loam consistency (light and airy), and
  • contain some organic materials with water absorption properties.

We have devised a recipe for the perfect snake plant potting mix. You can also watch our video on making snake plant soil below.

Pest and Diseases

If there is one disease that you should familiarise yourself with for your Sansevieria Suffruticosa, it is root rot.

Root rot is a fungal disease that can develop when your snake plant has been sitting in waterlogged soil from being overwatered. The process of eliminating root rot is straightforward. However, it is onerous. You can read our step-by-step guide for removing root rot in snake plants HERE.

Some leaf-borne fungal diseases, such as mildew and leaf spot, can infect your Suffruticosa. We explore these diseases and (more importantly) treatments HERE.

Snake plants are most susceptible to sap-sucking insects like mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips. These pests have the equipment to penetrate the tough outer layer of the foliage and access the nutrient-rich sap.

The best way to detect any signs of pests (or disease, for that matter) is to regularly inspect your potted plants and manually remove any pests you see. The key is not letting their population get out of hand and become an infestation.

You can read more about symptoms of pest infestation HERE.

Pot Size

Like other snake plants, Sansevieria Suffruticosa requires a tight root system to support its large leaves.

When placed in a container too large for their root system, they will refocus their energy on developing the roots rather than growing new leaves. While they are still growing (under the soil), they will appear to be experiencing stunted growth.

Your snake plant pot should also have adequate drainage with plenty of drainage holes. As we pointed out earlier, constantly wet soil rots your Suffruticosa root system.

Sansevieria Suffruticosa Propagation Techniques

To preserve the stunning variegated patterns and colors, we recommend only propagating your Suffruticosa using the propagation method by plant division or by splitting snake plant pups.

Propagating your Suffruticosa with a cutting in water or soil risks the new plant reverting to a regular pattern on the foliage, similar to the Sansevieria Trifasciata.

To propagate by plant division, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the root ball – lift the mother snake plant root ball out of its container.
  2. Clean and prepare the root ball – rinse your snake plant’s roots under warm water to clear the soil away.
  3. Identify the rhizome – find the rhizome attached to the baby Suffruticosa snake pup. Cut the rhizome as close to the main root ball of the mother plant as possible. You want to retain as many thin roots as possible with the rhizome.
  4. Re-pot your Plants – re-pot your mother snake plant into the original pot with some fresh potting mix. At the same time, fill your propagation containers a third up with a good-quality potting mix (discussed above). Place each pup into the pot and backfill with quality potting mix until the soil level covers the white parts of the rhizome and pups. Give all your plants good watering and ensure all excess water drains out.

You can find step-by-step instructions HERE if you prefer to propagate using cuttings.