While snake plants aren’t known for their unruly nature, sometimes they get a little out of hand. Pruning your snake plant can help tame the size and shape as well as remove damaged leaves. However, improper pruning can do your plant more harm than good. Keep reading to learn about the best way to prune your snake plant.
- Pruning Snake Plants – The Essentials
- The Role of Pruning in Plant Health, Growth, and Care
- Growth Expectations – How Fast, Tall, and Wide Will Snake Plants Grow Indoors?
- What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune a Snake Plant?
- What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning Snake Plants?
- How, When, and Where Should You Prune Snake Plants?
- How Do You Shape Snake Plants?
- Caring for Your Post-Pruned Snake Plant.
- How to Prune Snake Plants – The Final Word
Pruning Snake Plants – The Essentials
Pruning snake plants can remove unhealthy leaves as well as alter plant size and shape. To prune your snake plant, use a sharp and sanitized knife or pair of scissors. Identify the leaves you want to remove and cut them as close to the soil line as possible.
The Role of Pruning in Plant Health, Growth, and Care
You’ve put in the work to give your snake plant the perfect location in your home, with proper soil, water, temperature, and sunlight. But don’t stop there! Pruning your snake plant will allow it to continue to thrive and provide all of its beneficial properties.
Generally, you prune snake plants for one of three reasons: to remove damaged leaves, to decrease the size, or to alter the shape.
Allowing diseased leaves to remain on the plant isn’t a great idea. If these diseased portions remain, the pathogen may spread throughout the plant. Additionally, your snake plant will send unnecessary energy to the infected leaves.
By pruning infected leaves, you lessen the spread of disease and allow your plant to send its energy to healthy leaves. You can also prune away unsightly leaves, such as those damaged by cold temperatures or direct sun.
Even if your snake plant is looking healthy, pruning can help keep it at a manageable size.
Snake plants produce leaves from underground stems known as rhizomes. Plants will continue to send up leaves, eventually leading to a crowded pot. If you don’t want to repot your plant to a larger container, you can prune off some of the leaves.
Pruning can also help you keep your plant at a desirable height.
Growth Expectations – How Fast, Tall, and Wide Will Snake Plants Grow Indoors?
While many people use the term snake plant to refer to the tall and thin leaves of Dracaena trifasciata, there are many species of snake plants. Each species grows to different heights indoors.
In general, snake plants are relatively slow-growing plants. However, their growth rate largely depends on their environmental conditions.
When snake plants receive lots of bright, indirect light, they’ll grow faster. In the ideal indoor conditions, they can grow up to a foot each year. These plants will also put out an additional four to ten leaves per year. Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants can live for 20 years or more.
However, low light conditions will lead to slower growth. If you keep your snake plant in a dim area, expect it to grow only a few inches each year. It will also produce fewer new leaves per year.
Mother-in-law’s tongue snake plants can grow up to eight feet tall indoors in ideal conditions. They can also grow over three feet wide, but their width may be limited by the planter’s size.
If you’re planning on growing snake plants outdoors, see our in-depth guide on the ideal hardiness zones for these plants to thrive.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune a Snake Plant?
The best time of year to prune a snake plant is during the spring or summer when your plant is actively growing. However, if you need to remove damaged leaves, it’s okay to prune your plant during other times of the year.
What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning Snake Plants?
Fortunately, you won’t need many tools to prune your snake plant. A sharp knife or pair of scissors will do the trick.
A supremely sharp blade will allow for clean cuts and easy work. With that said, sharpen your tool if necessary.
Before you use your knife or scissors, make sure to sanitize the tool. Washing the tool in hot, soapy water is one good method. Alternatively, you can wipe the blades with rubbing alcohol.
How, When, and Where Should You Prune Snake Plants?
The best time to prune snake plants is during the spring. However, don’t be afraid to remove diseased or damaged leaves any time of the year.
When it comes time to prune your snake plant, you’ll want to remove leaves at their base. This is the safest way to prune snake plants.
While you can cut leaves near the tip or middle, this isn’t recommended. It produces odd-looking leaves, but it also opens your plant up to diseases.
Do not remove more than one-third of the plant’s leaves at one time. If you do, your plant may have a difficult time recovering.
Pruning to Remove Damaged Leaves
Pruning allows you to remove leaves damaged by pests, diseases, direct sun, cold temperatures, or other issues. If your snake plant appears to be falling over, you can also look to cut back drooping, past-prime, or yellowing leaves. To do so, follow these steps.
- Inspect your snake plant for signs of damage. If all of your plant’s leaves are damaged, pruning isn’t the best option. However, if only a few leaves are damaged, pruning can improve your plant’s overall health.
- Cut infected leaves as close to the base of the soil as possible. Use one swift cut rather than a few jagged cuts.
- Use your hands to remove the detached leaves. Dispose of these leaves to avoid spreading disease.
While pruning a damaged plant will likely help it in the long run, pruning is still a stressful process. Therefore, don’t be shocked if your plants look a little sad during the following weeks.
Pruning to Decrease Size
As we mentioned above, you can prune your snake plant to keep it the size you want. Pruning can decrease both the height and the width of your snake plant.
- Think about your plant’s ideal final size.
- Using this goal as a guide, identify leaves that you should prune. If you’re aiming to decrease the height, mark the tallest leaves. And if you want to decrease the width, you’ll be looking at the outer leaves.
- After you’ve identified the leaves you’ll remove, carefully cut them at their base. Check each leaf before you cut to make sure you’re pruning the correct leaves.
- Remove the pruned leaves from your plant’s container.
Avoid pruning more than one-third of your plant’s leaves at one time. Remember, pruning is a stressful event! By limiting how much you prune at one time, your snake plant will be able to make a quick recovery.
While composting your pruned leaves is fine, you can also use these leaf cuttings to propagate new snake plants.
How Do You Shape Snake Plants?
While snake plants are known for their upright leaves, sometimes the plant develops a bit of a wonky shape.
If you find some leaves that are out of line, you can remove them at their base. This will help your plant return to a desirable shape.
Caring for Your Post-Pruned Snake Plant.
While you may be tempted to water your plant after pruning, only water if the top few inches of soil is dry. Overwatering can lead to disease.
Monitor your plant for any signs of disease or pests during the weeks following pruning. If you notice any issues, treat these immediately.
Under optimal growing conditions, your snake plant may even produce flowers.
How to Prune Snake Plants – The Final Word
Now that you know how to prune your snake plant, you can keep it in tip-top shape. Remember to use a sharp and sanitized tool and never prune more than one-third of the plant at a time.
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.