Snake Plant Disadvantages (+ How to Resolve Them)
Sadly not everything about our beloved snake plants (aka mother-in-law’s tongue) is all unicorns and rainbows. Snake plants do have disadvantages when compared to other species of indoor plants. And it is important to be aware of these when considering adding one to your indoor plant collection.
Snake plant disadvantages include:
- slow growing indoor plants,
- can be overwatered easily,
- susceptible to fungal diseases,
- toxic if ingested, and
- does not fare well in colder climates.
The above are the primary drawbacks of snake plants. However, it is not an exhaustive list. We’ll elaborate on a few more later in this article. We’ll also discuss ways to mitigate the snake plant disadvantages with links to more comprehensive resources – so stick around.
Disadvantages of Snake Plants: Comprehensive List with Solutions
Snake Plants are Slow Growing Indoor Plants
Let’s start with our snake plant’s most obvious flaw – its slow growth!
Snake plants belong to the succulent family and, true to their nature, grow very slowly. In fact, you would be better off watching the paint dry.
They are beautiful plants, however, so we believe it is worth the wait.
On average, the annual growth rate of snake plants can be up to one foot in length. The growth rate will be affected by various factors, such as species of snake plant and level of care. If you are interested in learning how fast snake plants grow, check out our article HERE.
How to Fix Slow Growth
Even though snake plants are notoriously slow growers, a few changes in your care regimen can encourage quicker growth. These include:
- Choose a smaller pot – snake plants like a tight root system. If their home is too large, they will divert their energy into developing their root system to fill the pot out. Therefore, stunting their growth.
- Provide optimal conditions – this may be common knowledge for some plant owners. However, it is worth repeating to benefit those new to this space. Positioning your snake plant in optimal conditions means it will receive all the essential ingredients to produce stellar growth. This includes an abundance of indirect light, low to medium humidity, and water only when the soil is dry.
- Top quality soil – the final piece of the puzzle is using top-quality soil for your snake plant. Good quality soil includes well-draining soil, with plenty of aeration and organic materials (like peat or sphagnum moss) to retain enough moisture for your plant. We have a special Garden Bench Top recipe for snake plants HERE.
The above points summarize the main issues for encouraging your snake plant to grow faster. You can read the full version in our guide.
Easy to Over Water Snake Plants
Overwatering is a common problem many novice indoor plant enthusiasts encounter when introducing a snake plant into their collection.
As succulents, snake plants are conditioned to live in dry conditions. They prefer to have their soil completely dry before it is topped up with fresh water. Unfortunately, this is an exercise in self-discipline that many fails. After all, what damage can a sprinkling of water do?
It turns out that a bit of water can do A LOT of damage to snake plants.
Continuously wet and soggy soil is a breeding ground for fungal diseases like root rot.
Thankfully, your snake plant will exhibit signs when it is overwatered, which you recognize and quickly remedy the situation. To learn what symptoms to look for in an overwatered snake plant, check out our article HERE.
How to Prevent Overwatering
To prevent your snake plant from becoming overwatered, allow the soil to dry out before giving them more water.
An easy way to determine when the soil is dry is:
- To use the soil moisture finger method. It is a simple yet effective way to determine if your snake plant requires a water top-up. Dig your index finger into the top two inches of soil. Pull it out and see if wet soil is sticking to your finger. If there is soil on your finger, there is moisture present. If your finger comes out clean, it’s time for some water.
- Or, for those that don’t like to get their hands dirty, you can use a soil moisture meter that you can easily purchase online at places like Amazon or from your local nursery.
Snake Plants Are Toxic
Yes – it is true. Snake plants are toxic if ingested. *Cue audible gasps*
Snake plants contain saponins, a set of toxic chemicals designed to protect plants from pests, diseases, and pathogens. Extreme toxic poisoning is uncommon; however, it is not a pleasant experience for all parties involved; cats, dogs, children, plants, or you.
If you have mischievous pets or wandering little hands, you may want to consider the viability of keeping a snake plant in your home.
Can I still Keep Toxic Snake Plants?
We’ve got some good news. You don’t need to give up your snake plant growing days just yet. Here are a few practical solutions to keep snake plants and pets or children in the same house:
- Spray your snake plant – pets have stronger sensitivities regarding smell. By spraying your snake plants with smelly odors (like coffee grinds or citrus smells), you can deter them from investigating your snake plants.
- Relocate your snake plant – moving your snake plant into a room that is ou-of-bounds of curious little paws and hands is the most effective way of preventing accidental poisonings. We recommend using a room with doors to control access.
- Offer Substitutions – by providing other items to occupy your curious pets and children, you can successfully divert their attention and keep everyone safe.
Doesn’t Tolerate Colder Temperatures
Snake plants are one of the hardiest plants to grow. However, they do have their limits. One of their weaknesses is cold temperatures. In fact, a snake plant’s cold temperature limit is around 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius).
Anything below this temperature would be considered threatening to your snake plant, and you could see temperature stress symptoms develop.
Some symptoms of temperature stress include:
- wrinkled and curled leaves,
- split leaves, or
- leaf color changes.
If you live in a cold climate or an area that receives snow in winter, there are still ways to grow snake plants in your home. However, you may need to play some music chairs with your plant—more on that in the next section.
How to Grow Snake Plants in Cold Climates
Growing a snake plant in cooler climates is possible – you must adapt your care regimen.
The key is protection. Freezing temperatures will damage the cells in the snake plant leaves. Therefore, you need to prevent the water from freezing.
You can move your snake plants indoors to the warmer spots of the house. Or, if your snake plants are planted in the ground, protect them using a frost protection plant cover sheet.
We have a complete guide on how to care for snake plants in cold climates HERE.
Bringing Bad Luck
If you follow the ancient art of Feng Shui, pay attention to the placement of your indoor snake plants.
Snake plants can influence positive energies and negative connotations in Feng Shui. As a rule, Feng Shui laws guide you to avoid sharp objects, like the sword shapes of a snake plant’s leaf, as it represents “poison arrows” that can attract negative energy.
However, you can use these sharp objects to protect against other negative energies. Therefore, achieving a double negative that neutralizes the threat of undesired energy. It is an effective way to turn bad luck plants into lucky plants.
As we mentioned before, it all comes down to positioning your snake plant within your space.
To accurately diagnose the best position for your snake plant, check out our guide to snake plants and Feng Shui.
If you are a flower person and love to admire the bountiful blooms your plants produce, then snake plants may disappoint you.
Don’t get us wrong; they do produce flowers. However, snake plant flowers are much harder to predict when they will show (or even if they will show!).
For snake plants to produce flowers, conditions must be perfect. Once a snake plant is comfortable, then and only then will it even consider sending out those rare flowers.
If you are fortunate enough to experience a flowering snake plant, we recommend taking full advantage of the moment because it could be several years before it decides to grace you with its presence.
Disadvantage of Snake Plant – Closing Comments
If you have made it this far, we hope you are not entirely discouraged about adding a snake plant to your garden collection.
Each plant has its positives and disadvantages. And both sides need to be considered before you decide to be responsible for one of these beautiful plants.
Snake plants are tough and excellent plants, and we highly encourage you to adopt one into your family. You won’t regret it…we promise!