Whether you’re a new or seasoned houseplant owner, you’ve likely come across the snake plant. This species has grown popular over the years for its easy care needs and fascinating look. The snake plant is known for its distinctive yellow and green striped leaves. However, this species comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here we’ll take you through 14 of the most popular types of snake plants you can add to your houseplant collection. Plus we’ve included essential growing and care tips for each. Let’s go!

About Snake Plants

About Snake Plants

The snake plant is an evergreen perennial plant native to tropical parts of West Africa from Nigeria to the Congo. It belongs to the plant family Asparagaceae or the asparagus family.

Because of its origins, the plant thrives in warm, dry conditions. Since its discovery, people have cultivated the snake plant for ornamental purposes around the world.

This plant’s genus was Sansevieria until 2017 when it was reclassified under the genus Dracaena. Today, people often refer to it using both its previous species name, Sansevieria trifasciata, and its current official name, Dracaena trifasciata.

The snake plant is commonly recognized for its robust green leaves that grow upward from the Earth. However, there are more than 70 cultivars of this plant, many of which you can find in your local garden shop.

Snake Plant Uses and Benefits

Snake Plant Uses and Benefits

As it turns out, the snake plant is popular for more than its unique aesthetic appeal. The plant also offers air-purifying benefits that NASA recognized in their Clean Air Study.

Through their research, NASA showed that the Sansevieria trifasciata ‘laurentii’ could remove chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from the air.

While the snake plant isn’t known for feng shui benefits, it’s worth placing in your bedroom, office, or living area to freshen the air and create an attractive focal point.

The species makes an excellent houseplant in various climates. It can also grow well outdoors in warmer conditions.

Unfortunately, the snake plant does not offer medicinal benefits. In fact, it can be mildly toxic to dogs and cats. The species contains saponins, a type of chemical that can cause stomach troubles if consumed.

Snake Plant Meaning and Symbolism

Interestingly, the snake plant has taken on some unique symbolism in Nigeria, one of its countries of origin.

The species is associated with the Nigerian spirits Oya and Ogun, which represent storms and war. Additionally, there are rituals in Nigeria that use the snake plant to eliminate the ‘evil eye’ from the environment.


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Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular snake plants to grow at home. Use this list to get to know this species and its many cultivars. From there, you’ll be prepared to choose the perfect Sansevieria as an easygoing addition to your houseplant collection.

1. Variegated Snake Plant (Sansevieria laurentii)

Variegated Snake Plant (Sansevieria laurentii)

The variegated snake plant, or Sansevieria laurentii, is known for its marbled green coloring and bright yellow edges. It is one of the better-known varieties, growing upright in clusters of tall, blade-like leaves.

Along with some other snake plant cultivars, the laurentii has earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This was also the variety that proved its air purification abilities in NASA’s Clean Air Study.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant prefers medium to bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and infrequent watering. It is also tolerant of shaded environments.
Size and growth expectations:The laurentii variety grows slowly and reaches around three feet in height or taller.

2. Indian Bowstring Hemp (Sansevieria zeylanica)

Indian Bowstring Hemp (Sansevieria zeylanica)

Sansevieria zeylanica is a variety of snake plant known by its scientific name. However, it is sometimes called Indian bowstring hemp. This plant’s vertical, sword-shaped leaves have marbled coloring in a mix of darker and lighter shades of green. 

This snake plant variety is just as hardy as other Sansevierias, with a similar easygoing nature. It stands out from the popular variegated snake plant, as it doesn’t have the bright yellow stripe around its leaves.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant prefers medium to bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and infrequent watering. It is also tolerant of shaded environments.
Size and growth expectations:This is a slow-growing plant that can reach up to three feet in height or taller.

3. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue ‘Moonshine’ (Sansevieria ‘Moonshine’)

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue ‘Moonshine’ (Sansevieria ‘Moonshine’)

Sansevieria moonshine is another type of snake plant known by its scientific name. However, it may sometimes be called mother-in-law’s tongue ‘moonshine.’ This plant grows lighter, silver-green leaves without the typical marbled look that is common in snake plants.

This variety gets its name for its pale, silvery color, but it will become much darker in lower-light environments. It may produce small, white blooms in the right conditions.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:The moonshine snake plant prefers medium to bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and infrequent watering.
Size and growth expectations:This slow-growing plant can reach up to two feet in height indoors.

4. Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Sansevieria trifasciata, also called mother-in-law’s tongue, is the original snake plant from which other cultivars and varieties have developed.

This plant grows from a creeping rhizome in clusters of sword-shaped leaves. Interestingly, this shape earned the snake plant an alternative nickname: Saint George’s sword.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant will enjoy medium to bright, indirect light, temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and infrequent watering. However, it will tolerate lower light conditions if necessary.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows slowly indoors and can reach up to eight feet tall in the right conditions.

5. African Bowstring Hemp (Sansevieria hyacinthoides)

African Bowstring Hemp (Sansevieria hyacinthoides)

Sansevieria Hyacinthoides is a snake plant variety from South Africa, also known as the African bowstring hemp. The name bowstring hemp is common among snake plants because the plant’s fibers were used in the past to produce bowstrings.

This variety has flat, green leaves with lighter, silvery-green speckling. It may produce white blooms and small, orange fruit in the right conditions.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant prefers medium to bright, indirect light, but it is tolerant of low light conditions. It enjoys warm temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and infrequent watering.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows during the warmer months and can reach two to four feet in height.

6. Mikado (Sansevieria bacularis)

Mikado (Sansevieria bacularis)

The Sansevieria bacularis, sometimes referred to by the name Mikado, is a unique snake plant with thin, cylindrical leaves. The plant’s leaves grow in vertical spikes with green marbling.

This type of snake plant is native to Central Africa, specifically the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant prefers medium to bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and infrequent watering. It is also tolerant of shaded environments.
Size and growth expectations:Like other snake plants, this variety is slow-growing. It may take up to ten years to reach its maximum height of eight feet, though it will typically be much smaller indoors.

7. African Spear Plant (Sansevieria cylindrica)

African Spear Plant (Sansevieria cylindrica)

The Sansevieria cylindrica is native to tropical regions of southern Africa. The variety gets its common name, the African spear plant, due to its thin, cylindrical leaves that resemble spears.

The African spear plant is hardy and lends a unique focal point to any space. There are a few different varieties of this spear-like variety of snake plants. Cultivars include Sansevieria cylindrica ‘Spaghetti’ and Sansevieria cylindrica ‘Patula.’

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This variety will enjoy medium to bright, indirect light, and warmer temperatures, but it needs protection from hot, direct sunlight. Let soil dry between waterings.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows relatively slowly and can reach up to six feet in height.

8. Sansevieria francisii

Sansevieria francisii

Sansevieria francisii is an uncommon variety that diverges from the typical Sansevieria look. Its leaves are thin and pointed with the usual green marbling. However, they grow in rows that spiral upward, creating a full, sculptural appearance.

This plant is native to parts of Africa, specifically areas in Kenya. It was named in honor of the botanist Francis K. Horwood.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:The francisii plant needs medium to bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and infrequent watering. It can tolerate some full sun as well as shaded environments.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows slowly and can reach about two feet in height.

9. Kenya Hyacinth (Sansevieria parva)

Kenya Hyacinth (Sansevieria parva)

The Sansevieria parva is an uncommon snake plant variety also known as the Kenya Hyacinth. Unlike other snake plant varieties, this Sansevieria is a great choice for hanging baskets due to its unique appearance.

The Kenya hyacinth has thin, narrow leaves that arch outward from a central rosette. It also produces impressive white blooms that give off a scent similar to the hyacinth flower.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant prefers moderate to bright, indirect light. It will enjoy an indoor placement near a sunny window with a sheer curtain. Water infrequently and avoid temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows slowly and will reach just under two feet in height and around three feet in spread.

 10. Sansevieria patens

Sansevieria patens

The Sansevieria patens brings new meaning to the snake plant’s common name. Its foliage grows as thick, grooved leaves that spread and arch away from a central rosette, resembling a cluster of living snakes.

The specific origin of this type of snake plant is unclear. However, researchers have said it likely came from Kenya or a nearby part of eastern Africa.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant will also enjoy moderate to bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and infrequent waterings. Avoid environments below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows slowly. Leaves can reach three feet long and nearly two inches thick.

11. Whale Fin Snake Plant (Sansevieria masoniana)

Whale Fin Snake Plant (Sansevieria masoniana)

The whale fin snake plant, or Sansevieria masoniana, makes a bold statement with its massive leaves and dappled variegation. This plant often grows as just one or two leaves in a pot, creating a unique visual in any space.

The Sansevieria masoniana is native to central Africa. However, it is cultivated around the world for ornamental purposes. The variety also comes in a variegated variety with impressive stripes that run the length of the plant. 

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant prefers to live in an area with moderate to bright, indirect lighting, and warmer temperatures. Avoid overwatering.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows slowly and can reach up to four feet in certain conditions. However, it is likely to stay smaller indoors.

12. Sansevieria kirkii

Sansevieria kirkii

The Sansevieria kirkii is native to certain parts of Africa, like Tanzania and Malawi. It is a slower-growing Sansevieria with a unique cone-shaped bloom that distinguishes it from other snake plants.

This variety has similar green, sword-shaped green to other snake plants. However, its leaves fan out from its center rather than growing up vertically.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This plant will enjoy fast-draining soil and infrequent watering. It can thrive in full sun as well as low light conditions. However, it will bloom better if it receives some direct sunlight.
Size and growth expectations:The kirkii snake plant is one of the slower-growing varieties. Its leaves can grow up to six feet long, but they may arch as they spread rather than growing taller.

13. Sansevieria Whitney

Sansevieria Whitney

The Sansevieria Whitney is a smaller variety of snake plant. It grows in a short rosette of dark green leaves with an attractive green and white variegated border at the edges.

Some consider this to be one of the dwarf varieties of snake plants. Its smaller size makes it a great option to consider for a desk or work surface in your home.

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:Like other snake plants, this variety is low-light tolerant. However, it will prefer medium to bright, indirect light. Avoid overwatering and keep in well-draining soil.
Size and growth expectations:This plant is slow-growing and will likely reach just under one foot in height.

14. Twisted Sister (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’)

Twisted Sister (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’)

The Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’ is commonly known by the names twist or twisted sister. This is because the plant’s leaves are curlier than other Sansevierias. Rather than growing flat, the leaves twist around each other, creating a lively visual.

The twisted sister is also considered a dwarf variety of the snake plant. It will stay smaller, making it great to place on a desk or windowsill. 

General care requirements:Easy and low-maintenance
Environmental considerations:This variety will also prefer moderate to bright, indirect light. Water infrequently allowing the soil to dry between waterings.
Size and growth expectations:This plant grows slowly and will reach slightly over one foot in height.

How to Grow Snake Plants at Home

How to Grow Snake Plants at Home

Now, let’s go over a few general considerations for growing snake plants in your home. Most varieties of snake plants will have similar low-maintenance growth requirements. So, these tips will prepare you regardless of the variety you choose.

What to Do Before Planting Your Snake Plant

Before purchasing your new snake plant, you’ll want to consider where you’ll place it in your home. Find a place with good light exposure and minimal temperature variation. Ensure the plant will not be exposed to cold temperatures.

Remember, the snake plant is mildly toxic, so find a location away from the reach of children or pets.

The plant does best in pots that don’t retain moisture, like terracotta, placed on a saucer in the floor or a flat surface. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole at the base for excess water to escape.

Additionally, you will want to gather the tools and materials you need to repot your snake plant in its new planter. You’ll find a list of the tools we recommend in the Essential Tools section below.

What’s the Best Soil Mix for Snake Plants?

Your snake plant won’t appreciate a soggy environment, so a looser, free-draining soil works best.

If you prefer to buy a pre-mixed soil, choose a blend for cacti and succulents. This type of soil usually offers the drainage snake plants need to thrive.

If you’re mixing your own soil, you can add ingredients like perlite, peat moss, or sand to improve drainage. The key is to find a blend that helps the plant’s roots absorb water easily without creating an overly moist environment.

Snake plants aren’t too particular about soil pH levels. They will grow well in soils ranging from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.

How to Plant a Snake Plant

How to Plant a Snake Plant

Now, it’s time to plant your new snake plant. Here are a few steps to take to ensure your plant is happy in its new container.

  1.  Use a sturdy terracotta pot with a drainage hole, and be careful not to pack the soil too tight. The goal is to create an environment where water can drain freely after hydrating your snake plant.
  2. Don’t plant your snake plant too deep in its new container. Try to maintain the same depth as it had in its original pot. Place an inch or so of soil at the base of the new planter before introducing your snake plant.
  3. This plant grows slowly, so make sure the container you choose isn’t too big. Increasing the planter size too much can create moisture problems later on.
  4. Once you introduce your snake plant, fill out any gaps with extra soil. You want it to be stable in its pot without packing soil too densely.

Snake Plant Light Preferences

Snake Plant Light Preferences

While snake plants are famous for their low-light tolerance, they grow best in moderate to bright, indirect light.

Some snake plants will enjoy some full sun throughout the day. However, too much direct sunlight may burn their leaves.

The plant will do well in a position facing any direction. Still, it will prefer a placement that receives ample filtered sunlight throughout the day.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Due to its roots in Africa, the snake plant will always enjoy warm, dry growing conditions. However, the species can tolerate temperatures ranging from around 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid exposing your snake plant to temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite this plant’s tolerant nature, it will not survive in cold climates.


How to Care for Snake Plants

Next, we’ll go over a few general considerations to keep in mind when caring for your snake plant. These tips will help you care for Sansevierias of all shapes and sizes.

When and How to Water Snake Plants 

When and How to Water Snake Plants

The great thing about snake plants is that they don’t require much water. This is important to note, as overwatering can cause a few issues in this species.

Root rot caused by overwatering is one of the most common problems new plant owners find with this Sansevierias. 

So, you’ll want to water your snake plant only when its soil has dried out. Test the soil with your finger to determine if it’s time to water your Sansevieria. You’ll likely develop a watering schedule of every two to eight weeks, depending on the season and the humidity in your home.

Since this species doesn’t like moisture, you will want to avoid misting your snake plant. Your watering schedule will be all the moisture this plant needs to thrive.

Feeding and Fertilizing Your Snake Plant

Feeding and Fertilizing Your Snake Plant

Your snake plant will enjoy occasional fertilization during its active growth period in the warmer months. You can fertilize your Sansevieria with a standard houseplant fertilizer or opt for a compost mix.

However, be careful not to over-fertilize this plant, no matter which method you choose. A compost mix may introduce too much moisture, while a houseplant fertilizer can cause the leaves to burn if you overfeed the plant.

When and How to Prune a Snake Plant

When and How to Prune a Snake Plant

Fortunately, snake plants are also low-maintenance when it comes to pruning. This plant doesn’t require pruning, though you may decide to clip back leaves that fall or wither.

To prune any troublesome leaves, simply cut a clean line at its base with sharp shears. If the leaf you’ve clipped is healthy, you may be able to propagate it and create a new plant.

How to Propagate a Snake

How to Propagate a Snake

Snake plants are easy to propagate, and there are several ways to do it. You can propagate a snake plant by placing leaf cuttings in soil or water. You can also propagate this plant by dividing its root system up to create multiple snake plants.

Here are some steps for propagating your snake plant by placing a leaf cutting in soil.

  • Clip a leaf of your snake plant at its base using sharp scissors or shears.
  • Cut any unhealthy portion off of the bottom of the leaf so that it is healthy and ready to grow.
  • Allow your new cutting to callous over for two days to one week before placing it in the soil.
  • When you see that the cut you made has developed a seal, you can plant this side of the leaf in the soil. You may want to attach larger cuttings to a stake, so they stay standing as they develop roots.

When and How to Repot a Snake Plant

When and How to Repot a Snake Plant

You won’t need to repot your snake plant often. However, here are a few signs to look out for if you’re thinking of repotting your Sansevieria.

 It has grown substantially since you planted it.

  • It has become root-bound.
  • Its roots are beginning to grow out of the drainage hole at the base of its container.

 If you notice these signs, you may want to go up one container size. Avoid increasing the pot size by more than an inch or so, as too much excess space can cause moisture-related issues and lead to root rot.

If you’re repotting your Sansevieria, do so in the early spring, before its growing season begins.


Common Snake Plant Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Common Snake Plant Problems, Pests, and Diseases

While Sansevierias are easygoing, they can develop a few problems from time to time. Here are a few of the common issues, pests, and diseases to know about, along with the ways to treat them.

  • Insect infestation: Your snake plant may become infested with pests like mealybugs or spider mites. Remove any visible bugs or larvae and dab affected areas with rubbing alcohol.
  • Red leaf spot or root rot: These fungal conditions are a common sign that you’ve overwatered your snake plant. Remove any leaves or soil affected by fungus and reduce your plant’s watering schedule to avoid excess moisture.
  • Wrinkled, wilting, or drooping leaves: This may be a sign of overwatering or exposure to extreme temperatures. Assess your plant’s environment and watering schedule and make adjustments accordingly.

Essential Tools for Snake Plant Care

Here’s a list of all the tools we recommend you have available to care for your snake plant.

  • Terracotta pot and saucer for drainage
  • A well-draining soil mix for cacti and succulents if you prefer pre-mixed soil
  • Standard potting mix and perlite, peat moss, or sand, if you’re making your own snake plant soil
  • A watering can for keeping your plant hydrated
  • Houseplant fertilizer or compost fertilizer
  • Sharp shears or scissors for pruning and propagation
  • A larger container to repot your snake plant as needed
  • Rubbing alcohol for any pest-related maintenance

Wrapping Up

The snake plant is a beginner-friendly species regardless of the type you choose to grow at home.

Its vibrant, upright leaves and easy care needs make it a popular choice, whether it’s your first houseplant or part of a growing collection.

Choose your favorite Sansevieria from the list to welcome a new evergreen companion into your home. With the right materials and care, you can enjoy your new snake plant for years to come.


Snake Plant FAQs:

All types of snake plants are revered for their ability to help clean the air and remove harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.

In addition to their air-purifying capabilities, snake plants are also a popular addition in feng shui as well as being a hardy grower in numerous climates.

While snake plants are famous for their low-light tolerance, they grow best in moderate to bright, indirect light throughout the majority of the day.

Snake plants will happily grow inside or out just make sure to overwinter them indoors if you live in a particularly cold northern exposure.

Snake plants will thrive in a range of environments throughout the home but typically do best in bright, sun-filled rooms. Somewhere close by to a south-facing window protected by a blind or out of direct sunlight would be perfect.


Author

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

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