It seems like you can find snake plants everywhere these days. And it’s no surprise—their tall, waxy leaves add a pop of green to offices and homes, and their durable nature makes them easy to care for and can also help to purify the air. While snake plants have a reputation for being forgiving, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to keep them around for as long as possible. That begs the question of how long snake plants live. We’re going to cover the snake plant lifespan as well as tips to help you keep your plant alive.
How Long Snake Plants Typically Live – The Essentials
Snake plants typically live between 10 and 25 years as long as they receive the proper care and optimal growing conditions. Unfavorable environmental conditions as well as pest and disease outbreaks, can shorten a snake plant’s lifespan.
About Snake Plants
People may refer to a wide variety of plants as snake plants, but all of these species are in the Dracaena genus. Until recently, this group of plants was placed in the Sansevieria genus. However, closer investigation of the plant’s genetic makeup determined they belonged to the Dracaena genus.
With that said, when someone says “snake plant” they’re most likely talking about Dracaena trifasciata. This species has thin, upright leaves that taper to a narrow point. The leaves can reach up to five feet tall, although shorter leaves are more common.
The plants spread via rhizomes, and the leaves eventually form dense stands. While it may appear like each leaf rosette is an individual plant, all leaves are connected by an underground network of rhizomes.
Snake plant leaves are typically some shade of green and rich in meaning and symbolism. However, some cultivars have yellow leaf margins.
While you can currently find snake plants growing worldwide, they are native to tropical West Africa.
What Is the Natural Life Cycle of a Snake Plant in the Wild?
Snake plants are often spread by rhizomes in their native habitats. That means you can find large clusters of snake plants covering multiple square feet of space.
As rhizomes spread out, new leaves continue to emerge. While this may appear like a new plant, it is just an offshoot of the rhizome network.
With that said, snake plants can spread via other means. If a piece of rhizome is detached and then moved, a new snake plant may emerge. Additionally, detached leaves may root and form new plants.
Typically, a snake plant’s older leaves will begin to die back over time. This may mean the outer leaves of each rosette die, or it could mean entire rosettes die.
Newer leaf rosettes may continue to thrive. This means that plants with larger rhizome networks are likely to live longer than plants with just a few leaves.
However, entire plants can die if they experience poor conditions. This includes extreme weather, human disturbance, or pests.
How Long Can Snake Plants Live Indoors?
Indoor snake plants will typically live between five and ten years. However, some snake plants can live upwards of 25 years.
Key Factors That Contribute to the Longevity of Snake Plants
A snake plant’s environment and care will significantly affect how long the plant lives. If you want to help your plant live as long as possible, pay attention to the following factors.
While many people say that snake plants can thrive in the dark, this isn’t true. These plants can survive in dim areas, but they won’t thrive and will often display signs of wilting, drooping, yellowing, or falling over. Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants may even flower.
To keep your plant happy and healthy, provide it with lots of bright yet indirect light. Some good locations include the interior of a bright room or near a south-facing window covered with a sheer curtain. Bedrooms generally aren’t the best location for snake plants.
You should keep the plants out of direct light, as this can cause harm.
Temperature and Humidity
Since they’re native to the tropics, snake plants prefer warm temperatures. Keep the temperature between 60-90ºF, and avoid sudden swings in temperature. These plants will also happily thrive near radiators and other heat sources.
Keep the humidity in a moderate range, around 40-50%.
Snake plants thrive in soil that holds moisture yet also provides excellent drainage. Look for a mix consisting of organic material like peat moss or coco coir and drainage materials like perlite or pine bark.
If you notice your soil is staying wet for a long time after watering, you may need to repot in a soil with better drainage.
Snake plants don’t need constantly moist soil, and overwatering is one of the biggest issues these plants face. With that in mind, it’s best to water your plant when the top half to two-thirds of soil is dry.
As an alternative, it’s also possible to grow snake plants in water.
Snake plants actually like to be a little snug in their pots, so they don’t require frequent repotting. That said, repot your plant if you notice the roots are growing out of the bottom of the plant. The best time to repot is the late winter or early spring when the snake plant is just about to resume active growth.
Snake plants aren’t very heavy feeders and don’t require a lot of fertilizer (and you can even use diluted coffee grounds to fertilize snake plants). However, they can benefit from a low dose of fertilizer during the late spring or summer.
Be sure not to over-fertilize snake plants, as this can lead to issues and even death.
Pest and Disease Control
Snake plants are susceptible to many of the common houseplant pests. These include aphids, spider mites, and thrips.
If you notice any of these pests on your plant, remove them immediately with a wet cloth. You can also spray larger infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
The most common disease that indoor snake plants face is root rot. This fungal disease is most likely to occur when the soil is consistently wet due to poor drainage or overwatering.
You typically don’t need to prune your snake plant. However, if the plant outgrows its container, it may be beneficial to divide and/or repot.
Snake Plant FAQs:
How Long Do Snake Plants Live Indoors?
Snake plants typically live between five and ten years indoors. However, they can live upwards of 20 years.
Do Snake Plants Outgrow Their Pots?
Yes, snake plants can outgrow their pots. If the leaves take up the entire pot or the roots start growing out from the bottom, it’s time to repot.
How Often Do Snake Plants Grow New Leaves?
Snake plants can grow multiple leaves each month during the active growing season.
How Big Will a Snake Plant Get?
A snake plant’s size will depend on the species as well as the conditions the plant is kept in. Some plants will only reach a foot tall, while others can grow five feet tall.
Will Snake Plants Live Longer When Grown Outdoors?
Outdoor snake plants won’t necessarily live longer than indoor plants. However, a larger outdoor plant may have an advantage over a smaller indoor plant.
How Often Should You Water a Snake Plant?
When about half of the soil is dry, you should water a snake plant. The frequency you should water depends on environmental conditions, but about once every two to three weeks is a good starting point.
With the proper care, you can expect your snake plant to live for more than a decade. Remember to provide it with the right conditions and take care of any pest or disease issues. If you’re interested in expanding your collection, snake plants are also relatively easy to propagate at home.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.