Snake Plant Rhizomes: Fact Sheet with Pictures

Snake plants belong to a select group of plants that grow underground stems called a rhizome. It is a fascinating attribute that enables them to produce clones of themselves, by growing off-shoots called snake plant pups. However, rhizomes also serve other purposes, which we will explore later, so stick around.

In this article we will explore:

  • what rhizomes are, and their function for a snake plant,
  • how to identify a rhizome (with pictures), and
  • what to do with rhizomes, including the propagation of new snake plants.
Snake Plant Rhizomes

So, if you’re ready make yourself a hot coffee and settle in because we’re about to get intimate with the world of snake plant rhizomes.

What is a Rhizome?

In the plant world, rhizomes describe specific parts of a plant that grow underground.

Even though they look very similar and grow in the same space as the roots of a plant, they are actually modified stems that grow beneath the surface – and for a very good reason which we will discuss in the next section.

Besides snake plants, other plants that develop rhizomes include bamboo, ginger, banana trees, Chinese lantern plants, and even carnivorous plants such as the venus fly trap.

Snake Plant Rhizomes and Reproduction

One of the snake plant rhizomes’ primary functions is reproduction.

When conditions are perfect and your healthy plant is thriving under your meticulous care, snake plant pups begin to spawn from the rhizomes. There is no more rewarding feeling than seeing those cute little pups poking their heads out from the soil. It means you must be doing something correct, right?

It is a fantastic and budget-friendly way to cultivate a quality collection of indoor snake plants. Propagating from rhizomes allows the unique variegation features and patterns of the mother plant to transfer to the new pups. Compared to propagating from cuttings, which can often result in the snake plant losing its stunningly unique colors and designs.

Snake Plant Rhizomes and Survival

However, rhizomes also serve another function, and that is survival.

Snake plants use rhizomes to store essential water and nutrients. Think of it like a rainy-day fund, which a snake plant can call upon in the case of an emergency.

We can hear you asking “What kind of emergencies do snake plants have?

In their natural environment, it isn’t uncommon for fires to occur and wipe out an entire area of vegetation. In these instances, all the parts of the snake plant above ground will be destroyed. However, because of their rhizomes, new pups will soon begin to grow and re-establish the snake plant colony.

What does a Snake Plant Rhizome Look Like?

As we have already established, snake plant rhizomes with root systems underground.

They are easy to distinguish from the snake plant’s other roots. Rhizomes are thicker and paler in color, almost white when the soil is cleaned away. While the other regular snake plant roots are thin, wiry, and appear orange to brown in color.

Here are a collection of pictures of snake plant rhizomes from other enthusiasts from the Reddit forum.

What to do with Snake Plant Rhizomes?

For snake plant owners, discovering snake plant rhizomes can only mean one thing…propagation!

We consider propagation to be one of our favorite parts of this gardening journey we are all on. There is something rewarding about being able to create new life from our plant babies.

credit: tenor

Propagation of Snake Plants from Rhizomes

Creating new snake plants from pups from rhizomes is our preferred method of propagation.

It is easy and quick and it also allows you to inspect your snake plant’s root ball – something we all should be doing more often, wouldn’t you agree?

Here are the steps for propagating snake plant rhizomes:

  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 snake plant pup. Cut the rhizome as close to the main root ball as possible. You want to retain as many thin roots as possible with the rhizome.
  4. Re-pot your Plants – Allow your snake plants to dry for a day, to allow the cut to callous. 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. 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.

For complete step-by-step instructions for propagating snake plants, check out our detailed guide HERE.

What if my Snake Plant Rhizome has no Roots?

If you unearth your snake plant rhizome and discover it has no roots, it is likely it is not mature enough to be separated from the mother plant.

We recommend allowing the rhizome to develop multiple roots at least 1-2 inches long before considering cutting and propagating.

Snake Plant Rhizome Division – Where to Cut?

The best place to cut your snake plant rhizome is as close to the mother plant as possible. You want to retain as many roots as possible with the separated rhizome. This will give it the best opportunity for success and allow it to develop its own root structure quickly.

Snake Plant Rhizomes – Closing Comments

Rhizomes are intriguing parts of a snake plant. Aside from reproduction, rhizomes can also serve as a backup plan for snake plants in the case of any natural disasters, like fire.

They are a convenient way for you to multiply your indoor plants, and create a beautiful snake plant colony.