Complete Snake Plant Fertilizer Guide for Beginners
It isn’t a secret that snake plants are tough indoor plants. But even the hardiest plants need to be fed now and then. So that raises the question, “What type of fertilizer is best for snake plants?” and “How often should you be feeding your mother-in-law’s tongue plants?”
Snake plants are not fussy feeders. Their base requirements are the foundational elements in all plant building blocks, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Most reputable all-purpose fertilizers will include NPK as part of their core ingredients and are suitable for snake plants. The best time to feed a sansevieria is at the beginning of the growing season (early spring to late summer). Slow-release fertilizers will only need to be provided once. However, depending on the longevity of your fertilizer, a follow-up feed later in the growing season may be required.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the benefits of fertilizing your snake plants. You can expect to learn:
- the fertilizers we use for our indoor sansevieria plants,
- the varying methods of fertilizing (with different types), and
- signs that your snake plant is suffering from improper fertilization.
Before we get into the specifics of snake plant fertilizer, here are our recommended fertilizer products.
Top 3 Fertilizers for Snake Plants
We’ve used quite a few fertilizers at the Garden Bench Top. And we can tell you from experience choosing the right fertilizer for your specific variety of plants can make a huge difference.
Here are our favorite fertilizer products we use for snake plants.
Perfect Plants Liquid Snake Plant Fertilizer
This liquid fertilizer for snake plants by Perfect Plants has a specially formulated ratio of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to encourage vigorous tall growth.
We like the proprietary formula created by Perfect Plants because it is specifically designed to complement a snake plant’s nutrient intake to develop deeper coloration in the leaves.
Another benefit of Perfect Plants’ Liquid fertilizer is that it comes as a concentrated fluid, which means you only need to use a tiny bit each time.
Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food
If you prefer a granule or pellet form, the Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food may be a fertilizer for you.
As the name suggests, Osmocote’s Plant Food is a slow-release fertilizer pellet. This means you only need to fertilize your snake plants now and then, and your houseplants will still be well fed.
The Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food is an all-purpose fertilizer suitable for a wide variety of plants, which helps reduce the number of fertilizer bottles in your garden shed.
Osmocote also pledges that its fertilizer has a no-burn policy (when used according to the instructions). This can be a reassuring promise, especially for new snake plant owners.
Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food
Fortunately, snake plants are not fussy eaters, and all-purpose fertilizers work well to supply the necessary nutrients to encourage strong growth.
And this is where Miracle-Gro’s all-purpose plant food shines. It is one of those good all-round products that is always good to have in your gardening tool belt.
Miracle-Gro contains all the essential nutrients that a snake plant requires, plus like Osmocote, it offers a no-burn guarantee when used.
The good news is that Miracle-Gro Plant Food also comes as a liquid fertilizer for those that prefer to feed when watering.
What is the Best Fertilizer for a Snake Plant?
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK)
As we established earlier, snake plants do not require a specially designed fertilizer mix. Their only requirements are a combination of NPK, which is present in any good all-purpose fertilizer.
Nitrogen plays an essential role in managing the plant’s energy availability. It helps to facilitate the roots to absorb nutrients and water from the soil, which is then transferred up the plant to be processed. It is the most used nutrient out of the three elements.
Phosphorus is the least used element and is primarily used in growth and development processes. Phosphorus forms part of the cellular structure in plants and helps with cell division. It is also concentrated at the plant’s growing tip, making it a key component when cultivating seedlings and immature plants.
While potassium enables the plant tissue to transport essential nutrients around the plant, from root to leaf, potassium also helps to activate enzymes in the growth processes of your plants. It is the second most used element out of the three.
Even though each of the NPK elements is absorbed by your snake plant at different rates, we usually look for fertilizers that have an even ratio of the above three components, like 2-2-2, 10-10-10, or 20-20-20 (the higher number purely represents the strength of the fertilizer – the proportions stay the same).
The additional nutrients won’t harm your sansevieria unless you are overfertilizing, in which case the excess can become toxic and lead to fertilizer burn.
Should I Use Slow-releasing Fertilizer?
As the name suggests, slow-releasing fertilizer drip feeds the nutrients over an extended period. They usually come in the form of small pellets that gradually disintegrate. However, like these Miracle-Gro sticks on Amazon, you can also find them as plant food spikes.
This is an excellent concept for those gardeners that have busy schedules but still want to enjoy a luscious indoor garden.
Slow-releasing or controlled-release fertilizers also help to prevent over-fertilization of your snake plants.
Slow-releasing fertilizers contain the same nutrition and ingredients as standard-releasing fertilizers. So, using one over the other is no benefit to your snake plant.
Different Forms of Fertilizer
You may have picked up from the previous section about slow-releasing fertilizer that they can come in different forms. Here is a quick summary of the different types of fertilizer:
- Pellets/granular – are the most common form of fertilizer. They are easy to sprinkle on top of the soil or included in the mix while making your potting soil.
- Powder – will dissolve into your soil quickly and efficiently to give your plant a fast nutrient boost.
- Liquid – is the liquid form of fertilizer best applied as part of your watering regime. We add the fertilizer to the watering can or container (if you prefer to bottom-water your plants).
- Sticks/spikes – slow-releasing fertilizer can come in the form of sticks (as discussed above). You insert them into the topsoil of your indoor plants. As the stick dissolves, they release the essential nutrients to feed your snake plant.
How to Fertilize Your Snake Plant?
Now you know what fertilizer to use with snake plants, let’s take a look at the steps involved with how to apply the fertilizer.
1. Fertilization Preparation
Gather the tools and equipment you will need to fertilize your snake plants. This may include items like a watering can, trowel, or garden gloves.
Also, check that the soil in your snake plant pot isn’t wet. We will water your plants to help dissolve the fertilizer for quicker absorption.
1(b). Combine Fertilizer
If you are using liquid fertilizer, now is the time to combine it with your water. Follow the bottle instructions and measure the appropriate amount for your watering can or container for the chosen water volume.
2. Apply Fertilizer to Snake Plant
Apply your fertilizer to your sansevieria.
- distributing the granules or pellets on top of the soil,
- sprinkling the powder onto the soil and mixing it in with your trowel, or
- watering your plants with the fertilizer water mix.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Snake Plant
That’s it – you’ve just learned how to fertilize your snake plant. It wasn’t that hard, was it?
Over the next week, check in on your snake plant regularly. Look for signs of fertilizer burn (more on this in the following section).
If your snake plant leaves begin to change and show discoloration around the edges, your snake plant may be suffering from over-fertilization.
Snake Plant Fertilizer Mistakes to Avoid (own)
Even though the fertilization process seems straightforward, a few errors can occur. Let’s review a few of the most common mistakes when providing plant food for snake plants.
Signs of Over-fertilization
As we established earlier, snake plants are not big hungry plants. This leaves them susceptible to becoming overfertilized and suffering from fertilizer toxicity, also known as fertilizer burn.
It is referred to as fertilizer burn because the leaves appear as if they are burned. The leaves begin to discolor and adopt a yellow appearance. Then the leaf edges and tips turn brown and degrade to the point that they lose structure.
How to Fix Over-fertilization
The best way to eliminate the excess chemicals and nutrients in the soil is to flush your snake plant.
No, this doesn’t mean sending it down the toilet (we doubt it would fit anyway!).
It means thoroughly soaking your snake plant’s soil and eliminating the toxic chemicals.
If you have never flushed a houseplant before, check out this helpful video tutorial by Marianne from My Wasteless Life
Using the Incorrect Fertilizer
With the hundreds of fertilizer products and brands available on the market, it isn’t too far-fetched that some snake plant owners may use the incorrect fertilizer for their beloved houseplants.
When this occurs, several knock-on effects can detrimentally impact your snake plant’s health.
First and foremost, if the fertilizer doesn’t contain the nutrients your snake plant requires to grow, it will experience nutrient deficiencies. It will experience stunted growth and poor health.
In addition, the unused nutrients and minerals will remain in the soil. They will gradually build up and eventually turn toxic, which will have similar effects as over-fertilization described above.
Fertilizing Water-logged Soil
We made a point to check your snake plant’s soil BEFORE you fertilize them. The reason for this is to prevent your snake plant from becoming overwatered. The snake plant prefers dry conditions. When they sit in soggy soil for too long, they are prone to diseases like root rot.
How to Fix Snake Plants with Water-logged Soil
If you believe your snake plant has been overwatered, replacing the wet potting mixture with new potting material will help restore its health. If root rot has already taken hold, you will need to use a fungicide to prevent further damage. If the problem has spread throughout the plant, there may not be any way to save it other than propagation.
For a complete guide for the propagation of snake plants, check out our step-by-step instructions HERE.
Snake Plant Fertilizer – Common Questions
What happens if you over-fertilize your snake plant?
Too much fertilizer in your soil will lead to your snake plant experiencing fertilizer burns. If the excess nutrients are not removed, your snake plant will weaken and become susceptible to pests and diseases.
How to save an over-fertilized snake plant?
The quickest and most efficient way to eliminate the excess nutrients in your snake plant is to flush them out. This involves running a large volume of water through the soil to ensure the nutrient build-up is forced out through the drainage holes.
Are coffee grounds good for snake plants?
Used coffee grounds contain nitrogen, which a snake plant will thoroughly enjoy. However, we don’t recommend adding used coffee grounds directly to the soil. It will take too long to decompose and release the nutrients. Instead, add your coffee grounds to your compost pile and let them naturally decompose with the other organic materials. Then add the processed compost to your snake plant.
How to fertilize snake plants in water?
The best way to feed your snake plants in water is to add a measured amount of liquid fertilizer during one of your scheduled water changes. This will allow you to mix the fertilizer properly, avoiding any unnecessary fertilizer burns.