In my experience, snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) do best in a potting mix that holds moisture and drains well. These low-maintenance houseplants are happy with a soil mix with a slightly acidic or alkaline pH of 5.5-7.5. For optimal growth at home, I use a soil mix containing three parts all-purpose potting soil containing sphagnum peat moss, with 1 part coarse sand or perlite, 1 part coco coir, and 1 part pine bark fines. This gives my snake plants excellent drainage, plenty of nutrients, and a solid base for healthy growth.
- Tell-Tale Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix
- Snake Plants Love Well-Draining Potting Soil
- What Soil pH Levels Are Best for Snake Plants?
- The Ultimate Snake Plant Potting Mix Recipe
- Recommended Pre-Mixed Soils for Snake Plants
- Soil Considerations Based on Container Type
- The Best Soil for Repotting Snake Plants
- How Soil Impacts Plant Health
Tell-Tale Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix
Generally, most types of snake plants are forgiving when you make mistakes. However, if you’re using dense soil that retains too much moisture, you may notice some signs of poor plant health.
Here are some indicators to look for to determine whether you’re using the wrong soil mix for your snake plant.
- Leaves turning yellow
- Leaves turning brown
- Leaves have become brittle
- Leaves are mushy
- The plant has developed root rot
- Leaves are drooping, or the plant is falling over
Remember, these symptoms could also be due to other environmental factors. Other issues could include over or under-watering, too much or too little sunlight, lack of nutrients, or temperature issues. Assess all conditions before determining that the plant’s soil is the culprit.
Snake Plants Love Well-Draining Potting Soil
Snake plants need well-draining potting soil. This is because they are at risk of developing moisture-related issues like root rot. This plant’s roots need room to breathe, and a wet environment makes it harder for them to aerate and perform vital functions to help the plant thrive.
Additionally, your snake plant hydrates itself by storing water in its leaves and rhizomes. So, they don’t need access to constant moisture, as they have it available for when they need it.
Cactus blends have a great composition for optimal drainage. You can also use a standard potting mix with ingredients like peat moss, sand, or perlite.
What Soil pH Levels Are Best for Snake Plants?
Now, snake plants do best in soil with a pH from 5.5 to 7.5. In other words, they’re happy whether their soil is slightly acidic, neutral, slightly alkaline, or somewhere in between.
The Ultimate Snake Plant Potting Mix Recipe
First, it’s important to remember that plenty of ingredients can be used to achieve a great soil mix for snake plants. Additionally, the plant’s needs may vary slightly depending on its location and other environmental factors.
Components of a Snake Plant Potting Mix
Potting Soil – the soil provides the basic framework for your potting medium. Ideally, you want something light, aerated in texture, and comprising organic and aged natural matter.
Sphagnum peat moss has fine particles yet a coarse texture. This leads to great water-holding and nutrient-holding capacities along with good aeration.
Coco coir is made from the husks of coconuts. It has a similar texture to peat moss but compacts a bit more over time.
Pine bark fines are small pieces of coniferous trees such as firs, pines, and spruces. This bark has a high percentage of lignin, which means it retains its shape over time. Therefore, it’s excellent at resisting compaction and providing air pockets.
Perlite is a type of expanded rock. It looks and feels a lot like styrofoam. It does not absorb water, so it is great at providing aeration and drainage to a soil mix.
Now that you understand a bit about what each component provides to a potting mix, here’s a great recipe to follow. In my experience, it offers excellent aeration and drainage yet also holds enough water for your plant to take up all it needs.
This mix is made up of:
- Perlite or coarse sand (1 part)
- Pine bark fines (1 part)
- Coco Coir (1 part)
- Potting Soil containing spagnum peat moss (3 parts)
To make the mix, add all the ingredients to a large container and then water until moist. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together and add a layer to the base of your pot, so the plant’s root ball can sit just below the planter’s lip.
Next, place the root ball into the planter and add soil to fill the gaps around it. Avoid packing this soil mix too tightly, as the goal is to create a loose and free-draining soil environment for your snake plant.
Recommended Pre-Mixed Soils for Snake Plants
Now, you may want to buy a pre-made potting soil you can use for snake plants. If so, here are a few great options (via Garden Goods Direct) that work really well for snake plants in my experience.
Cactus soil will work well for this plant, but you may want to consider add-ins like a small amount of compost. This can help increase the nutrition your snake plant receives.
Soil Considerations Based on Container Type
Snake plants will always need well-draining soil regardless of the container you use. However, if you’re using a plastic container, take extra care to ensure the soil mix doesn’t retain water.
Snake plants will do best in terracotta pots with drainage holes, as this material minimizes moisture retention. Terracotta pots are also strong enough to contain the snake plant. Its root system and rhizomes may warp or crack other containers.
The Best Soil for Repotting Snake Plants
When your snake plants grow larger, you will want to repot them to give them the extra space they need. However, this won’t affect the type of soil you should use.
When repotting, give your snake plant fresh soil in the same mixture if it works well for the plant. If you’re looking for a new mix to try, find our ultimate snake plant soil recipe below.
How Soil Impacts Plant Health
When bringing new snake plants home, it’s essential to understand the role soil plays in their health and growth.
The proper soil for snake plants will help them receive critical elements they need to thrive, like moisture, nutrients, and oxygen. Soil also acts as the firm base that supports your plant’s roots. It gives them the space and structure they need to grow strong (this is particularly important for freshly propagated snake plants).
Each plant species has different requirements for moisture, nutrition, soil pH, and oxygen intake. So, it’s crucial to choose a soil that can best meet these needs for optimal health and growth.
Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants can live for 20 years or more.
The Final Word
The Dracaena trifasciata is a hardy houseplant that lends a sculptural quality to any space. Creating the best soil mix for snake plants will nurture your plant and help it grow happily in your home. With the proper foundation in place, this species will be one of the easiest houseplants in your collection, and they may even produce flowers.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best locations for Snake Plants to thrive in your home or office.