Known as one of the most forgiving houseplants, snake plants deserve a spot in every home. While these plants are symbolic of good luck and are quite tolerant of neglect, they still require some basic care. And that includes fertilization. We’re going to cover all you need to know about fertilizing snake plants so you can enjoy your serpent plant for years to come.
- Fertilizing Snake Plants – The Essentials
- How Fertilizer Impacts Plant Health
- Types of Fertilizer
- Signs Your Snake Plant is Lacking Nutrients
- When and How to Fertilize Snake Plants
- The Best Fertilizer for Snake Plants
- How to Apply Fertilizer
- Key Considerations
- Fertilizing Snake Plants FAQs:
- How to Fertilize Snake Plants – The Final Word
Fertilizing Snake Plants – The Essentials
Snake plants benefit from applications of a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio. For plants that receive full sun, fertilize every other month in the spring through early fall. Fertilize low light plants once in the late spring or summer.
How Fertilizer Impacts Plant Health
Just like we need vitamins and minerals to survive, so do plants! And that includes snake plants.
All types of snake plants require three primary nutrients, three secondary nutrients, and small doses of various micronutrients. Each of these nutrients serves a specific function.
The three primary nutrients are nitrogen (N), potassium (K), and phosphorus (P). All fertilizers should list an NPK ratio on their packaging. This ratio refers to the amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus by weight.
This means that a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% potassium, and 10% phosphorus. The rest of the fertilizer is filler material or other nutrients.
So, what do these primary nutrients do in a plant?
Nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll, amino acids, enzymes, and genetic material. It is essential for helping plants put on vegetative growth.
Potassium is not used in plant tissue, but it is essential for many plant processes. Without enough potassium, plants cannot properly regulate water uptake, withstand drought, or fight diseases.
Phosphorus helps with cell division, energy transfer, root growth, and other important processes that contribute to the speed of growth of your snake plant. Under ideal growing conditions, you may even notice your snake plant producing flowers.
Along with these three primary nutrients, plants also require three secondary nutrients: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). They also require micronutrients such as manganese (Mg), boron (B), and iron (Fe).
Types of Fertilizer
Now that you know about the nutrients plants need, it’s time to figure out how to deliver them to your plants.
You can group fertilizers into two main categories: organic and synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made from naturally occurring materials like bone meal, chicken manure, and rock dust. Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured materials.
In general, organic fertilizers release nutrients more slowly than synthetic fertilizers. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
Once you’ve decided whether you’d like to go with organic or synthetic fertilizer, it’s time to pick a form. Some types of fertilizer include pre-diluted liquid, concentrated liquid, granular, and spikes.
There isn’t one best type of fertilizer. Instead, the best type for you depends on how much you prioritize ease of use, cost, storage space, and more.
Signs Your Snake Plant is Lacking Nutrients
Now that you know why nutrients are essential to plants, let’s find out what happens when your snake plant doesn’t have enough of them.
To preface this information, certain symptoms can relate to multiple issues. For example, discoloration, such as yellow leaves or drooping, or even a snake plant falling over, could signify nutrient deficiency, but it could also indicate overwatering, improper lighting, and other issues.
Additionally, when you spot signs that your plant is under-fertilized, it’s almost too late! It’s better to fertilize on a schedule, so your plant never lacks nutrients.
With that said, there are some signs that your plant might need a dose of fertilizer.
Leaves that turn light green and then yellow may indicate your plant is lacking nutrients, especially nitrogen. This will typically be a slow process as leaves become less and less green.
Another sign that your plant may lack nutrients is an overall lack of vigor. If you’re providing your snake plant with the proper environment and excellent care, it should grow over time. If it’s not, it might need a boost of fertilizer.
When and How to Fertilize Snake Plants
You should fertilize your snake plants when they are actively growing. This active growth period occurs from mid-spring through early fall (also the best time for pruning snake plants).
How often you fertilize depends on the plant’s environment. As you might already know, snake plants can handle various light conditions.
Plants in areas with low light tend to grow slower. Therefore, you’ll only need to fertilize them once or twice in late spring and summer.
Snake plants that receive more sun tend to grow more rapidly. That means they’ll appreciate more fertilizer. Aim to fertilize these plants every other month from spring through early fall.
As a general rule, it’s best to hold back from fertilizing snake plants that have been recently repotted.
The Best Fertilizer for Snake Plants
A balanced plant fertilizer is the best option for snake plants. This means that the fertilizer contains an equal nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus ratio.
If you’re looking for a liquid fertilizer, this Organic Indoor Houseplant Food is a great choice. It has an NPK ratio of 2-2-2 and is easy to dilute.
If you’d prefer a synthetic liquid fertilizer, check out this Indoor Plant Food from Miracle-Gro. It has an NPK ratio of 1-1-1 and comes with an easy-to-use pump spout.
While liquid fertilizers are fine to use, granules work well too. This Houseplant Fertilizer from Joyful Dirt comes with a shaker lid. Just sprinkle some fertilizer on your soil and water well.
No matter what fertilizer you choose, it’s important to follow product instructions. Over-applying fertilizer can be even more harmful than under-applying.
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How to Apply Fertilizer
Before you fertilize your snake plant, make sure to read the fertilizer label thoroughly. The label should include information about included nutrients and dilution instructions. You should always dilute fertilizer according to the instructions.
If you’re worried about over-fertilizing, it doesn’t hurt to dilute your fertilizer a bit more than what is recommended. Snake plants are much more likely to be damaged by too much fertilizer rather than not enough.
Liquid fertilizer should be diluted and then applied to your snake plant’s potting soil. After you create the proper solution, slowly pour it over the soil.
Granular fertilizer can be mixed into the soil, applied to the soil surface, or mixed with water. However, not all of these applications are suitable for all granular fertilizers. Once again, read the product instructions!
While snake plants need nutrients to thrive, they aren’t heavy feeders. This means that over-fertilizing is a real possibility. We’ll say it again: always follow product instructions when it comes to dilution!
You should also beware of using fertilizer as a cure-all. If your snake plant looks sickly, a dose of fertilizer is unlikely to bring it back to great health. Check the environment and fix any related issues.
Also – keep an eye on the basic fundamentals of snake plant care at home to ensure you provide your plant with a suitable soil base, sufficient water, appropriate temperature & humidity, and access to light.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best locations for Snake Plants to thrive in your home or office.
If you’re planning on growing snake plants outdoors, see our in-depth guide on the ideal hardiness zones for these plants to thrive.
Fertilizing Snake Plants FAQs:
Do Snake Plants Need Fertilizer?
Yes, snake plants do need fertilizer. However, they don’t require heavy doses of nutrients.
When Should I Fertilize My Snake Plant?
You should fertilize your snake plant when it’s actively growing. This occurs from the spring through early fall.
What Is the Best Fertilizer for Snake Plants?
Any properly diluted, balanced fertilizer will work well for snake plants.
Is Miracle-Gro Good for Snake Plants?
Miracle-Gro will provide snake plants with nutrients, but classic Miracle-Gro isn’t the best option. Instead, opt for Miracle-Gro, which is specifically designed for houseplants.
Are Used Coffee Grounds Good for Snake Plants?
While coffee grounds may provide your snake plant with some nutrients, they can also cause issues. Therefore, you should avoid applying them to your snake plant.
How to Fertilize Snake Plants – The Final Word
That’s it! Remember to choose a balanced fertilizer for your snake plant and err on the side of under-fertilizing. By following the information outlined above, you’ll end up with a happy, healthy plant. Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants can live for 20 years or more and may even help to purify the air in your home or office.
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.