Complete Beginners Guide to Caring for the Sansevieria Trifasciata
Sansevieria Trifasciata is a low-maintenance, easy-to-care houseplant ideal for all gardener experience levels. Learn how to care for this beautiful indoor or outdoor plant.
- the most common variety of snake plant found around the world
- very easy to care for, with very low ongoing maintenance, perfect for busy individuals
- easy to propagate via cuttings or by division of the rhizome
Sansevieria Trifasciata Quick Care Summary
|Allow soil to dry between watering
|Position in a space that receives plenty of bright indirect light
|60-90° Fahrenheit (15-32° Celsius)
|Relative humidity levels at 30-50%
|All-purpose houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of Spring
|Loamy well-draining soil
Images of Sansevieria Trifasciata
Getting to Know Sansevieria Trifasciata
Scientific Name: Dracaena Trifasciata
Common Name(s): Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, bowstring
Originally found on the African continent, the Sansevieria Trifasciata can now be sourced worldwide.
It is a popular indoor plant due to its low-maintenance requirements and easy-to-care-for persona. They derive these qualities from their natural environments, which include dry, arid conditions with sporadic rainfall.
The Sansevieria Trifasciata developed a coping mechanism to handle unpredictable rainfall by storing water in their leaves. They can draw upon these water reserves during dry periods, making them drought-tolerant.
They have also adapted their root system to develop underground stems, otherwise known as rhizomes, which act as emergency reserves in the case of natural disasters, like fire or severe droughts.
Appearance & Flowers
The Sansevieria Trifasciata is a beautiful plant that adds texture and color to a space.
The Trifasciata has thick fleshy sword-shaped leaves that can grow to an average of 3-4 feet (91-121 centimeters) when grown indoors. They can reach an impressive 12 feet (3.65 meters) tall when planted in the ground outside.
Their colors include a dark-bottle green as the base color, with lighter green variegated patterns running horizontally across the leaves.
Some variations on the Trifasciata colors include gold trimming along the edges of the leaves. We love this variation of the Sansevieria Trifasciata, as its trimming accentuates the boldness of the color patterns.
Snake plants can produce flowers. However, it can be years between each bloom. And we find the conditions need to be near perfect before a Trifasciata even considers sending out blooms.
When they do, it is worth the wait. They produce flowers that 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 Trifasciata Detailed Care Instructions
Now for the detailed care requirements of the Sansevieria Trifasciata.
Allow the soil to dry before adding more water to your Sansevieria Trifasciata.
Although this sounds straightforward, it can be more challenging to determine when the soil is dry.
The longer you care for your Trifasciata, 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.
Sansevieria Trifasciata require plenty of bright indirect sunlight to thrive.
Indoor Trifasciata can tolerate direct sunlight. However, only in short doses. If you expose your Sansevieria Trifasciata to direct sunlight, ensure it is only dappled sunlight in the early morning or late evening. 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 Trifasciata becomes hardened to the weather elements and has higher tolerances for direct sunlight.
Read more HERE for tips on lighting conditions for snake plants.
As we explained in the Getting to Know the Sansevieria Trifasciata section, they originate from the African continent. This means they thrive in warm weather.
The recommended indoor temperature for Sansevieria Trifasciata is between 60-90° Fahrenheit (15-32° 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 Trifasciata 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 isn’t talked about much when it comes to snake plants. However, it is essential in regulating your snake plant’s internal processes, such as transpiration.
Keep your Sansevieria Trifasciata in between 30 and 50% relative humidity.
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 Trifasciata 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 Trifasciata can have profound effects on the health of your houseplant.
Choosing the best soil for your Sansevieria Trifasciata can significantly impact your plant parent experience. Poor-quality soil will lead to rot issues and may even cause your snake plant to become mushy.
Good-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:
- 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 Trifasciata, 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 Trifasciata. 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.
Like other snake plants, Sansevieria Trifasciata 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 Trifasciata root system.
Sansevieria Trifasciata Propagation Techniques
There are several ways to propagate your Sansevieria Trifasciata. We’ll discuss two of the more popular methods for propagation.
Propagate by Cutting
To propagate by cutting, follow these steps:
- Identify and Cut Leaf – Choose a leaf that looks healthy and vibrant with no visible signs of pests or disease. Selecting the right leaf will give it the best opportunity for success. Cut the leaf towards the base with a sterilized pair of garden scissors (or a sharp knife). We like to use an upside-down V cut (or an arrowhead-shaped cut) for snake plants, as it will naturally prop the cutting up in your container, which will help to prevent rot from setting in. It also helps to prevent new roots from growing at unhelpful angles (usually with straight cuts).
- Air Dry Your Cutting – Allow your cutting to dry for 2-4 days in a safe place so that it doesn’t accidentally get knocked to the ground. Air drying your cutting allows the wound to form a callous, which helps to prevent any rot or disease from developing.
- Find a Container – find a tall and thin container to support your snake plant leaf cutting. We like to use glass containers like mason jars or small vases. The glass allows you to examine your cutting without disturbing it (such as lifting it out of the water to see if roots are growing).
- Begin the Rooting Process – The final step is to piece everything together. Place your cutting in the container and fill it with distilled water, so the bottom third of the cutting is submerged. It is essential to ensure the calloused wound is beneath the water line to encourage root growth.
We strongly recommend using filtered or distilled water for the propagation process. Where you live, tap water may have chemicals that inhibit the propagation process.
Propagate by Division of Snake Plant Pups
To propagate by plant division, follow these steps:
- Identify the Point of Separation – identify the best point on the rhizome (thick roots) that will sustain the snake plant pup. Try to leave each section of the rhizome with smaller roots that will help absorb nutrients as they settle back into their homes.
- Make the Cut – take a sharp knife sterilized with rubbing alcohol and make a clean cut.
- Re-pot your Plants – fill your propagation containers with a good-quality potting mix (discussed above). Place each newly separated walking snake plant into a pot and backfill with quality potting mix until the soil level covers the roots. Give all your plants good watering and ensure all excess water drains out.
You can find detailed step-by-step instructions HERE.