Everything You Need to Know About the Uses, Benefits, and Value of Snake Plants
Snake Plants are some of the most popular and recognizable houseplants around. They are sought after for their stunning structural leaves and their ease of care. However, there is much more to these interesting plants than meets the eye. With several benefits for interior design, as well as physical and mental health, Sansevierias truly have it all. Read on as we take you through the 12 amazing benefits of Snake plants.
- About Snake Plants
- The Benefits of Snake Plants
- The Benefits of Snake Plants FAQs:
- Final Thoughts
About Snake Plants
Snake Plants are plants in the Sansevieria genus, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue thanks to their pointed structural leaves. Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants can live for 20 years or more.
Although they are still commonly called Sansevierias, these plants have actually been moved to the Dracaena genus thanks to advances in DNA sequencing. Luckily, since the change is so recent, asking for a Sansevieria at your local nursery won’t result in confused looks. The names are currently used interchangeably, with many sticking to the original Sansevieria classification.
Plants in this genus are native to West Africa, with new varieties and hybrids found in tropical areas across the world. The most recognizable Snake Plant is Sansevieria trifasciata and its variegated cultivar ‘Laurentii’.
These plants are wonderful additions to any houseplant collection, especially for beginners, thanks to the tons of benefits they provide.
The Benefits of Snake Plants
1. Air Purification
You’ve probably come across the NASA Clean Air study, cited often to back up the air purifying properties of indoor plants. This study, published in 1989, was conducted to test the ability of several houseplants to clean the air in space stations.
The scientists focused on several volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the air in our homes, such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. They placed houseplants, including Sansevieria trifasciata, in controlled environments and tested the air quality after several hours. And, in the famous result, many plants removed these volatile compounds from the air at impressive rates.
Sansevieria was one of the few plants in the study that removed almost all the tested compounds from the air, except ammonia, making them a fantastic natural air purifier for your home.
Since the study was conducted in such a small space and controlled environment, one Snake Plant in a large room will not have the same impact as found in the study. However, that’s just an excuse to pack your home with as many Snake Plants as you can.
2. Feng Shui
Feng shui aims to balance the energies within your home, bringing them in line with the surrounding environment and creating a positive space. Anyone who owns a houseplant will already know how much they can brighten an area, making it an essential element in any feng shui orientated design.
They are also easy to care for, looking healthy and visually appealing even with a bit of neglect.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best locations for Snake Plants to thrive in your home or office.
The Snake Plant is undoubtedly the top-recommended beginner-friendly houseplant. They are almost impossible to kill due to their tolerance for a wide range of environmental conditions. And, due to their succulent-like leaves, they thrive on being left alone for days or weeks on end without any attention.
Whether left in low light or direct sun, Sansevierias encounter very few problems and typically aren’t overly troubled by pests and diseases. The most common issue is overwatering from excessive care rather than neglect which can lead to a drooping snake plant or yellowing leaves.
Stick them in any corner of your home, potted in a slightly acidic, moisture-retentive soil base, give them water every two or three weeks or so, light fertilizing in summer, occasional pruning and they are likely to thrive. Snake plants typically need repotting every 18 months or so.
4. Ornamental Value
We can’t list the benefits of Snake Plants without mentioning their looks. These robust plants add a structural but natural look to your interior design with long, upright leaves and captivating variegation patterns.
The popular Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ is the most recognizable, with interesting stripes and bright yellow edging. However, there are many more Snake Plants to choose from to suit any design style. Some have broader or shorter leaves, while others have fascinating cylindrical leaves in a stunning fan shape.
Most varieties will also grow quite large under the right conditions. This makes them great standalone features, filling empty corners in your home.
Smaller varieties are suitable for shelf placements and fit right on your kitchen windowsill.
5. Easy to Propagate
Propagation is the greatest gardening skill you can acquire. After all, who doesn’t want to grow more plants at no cost? If you’re a propagation fanatic, you’ll adore Snake Plants. There are so many ways to propagate snake plants, and they’re all incredibly simple.
The first propagation method, and by far the easiest, is to replant pups. Essentially, the plant does all the work for you by producing smaller plants around the base attached by rhizomes. As long as this pup has a few roots, you can split it from the parent plant and plant it into a new pot. Snake Plants will regularly produce pups in the right conditions, giving you a constant supply of new plants for free.
If your plant doesn’t have any pups, that doesn’t mean you can’t propagate them. Leaf cuttings will also root quickly in water or in soil, growing into a fully-fledged plant in no time. Cut a whole, healthy leaf at the base of the plant with a knife and place it in a glass of water filled with gravel to hold the cutting up. It should grow roots within a few weeks.
To root cuttings in soil, cut one leaf into several 4-inch sections and place them root side down in a propagating medium like coconut coir, perlite, and vermiculite. Transplant into individual pots once the roots have grown a few inches long.
6. Tolerates Varying Light Conditions
Like most houseplants, Snake Plants prefer bright indirect light. However, their survivable light range extends far beyond this ideal. They can handle almost any lighting conditions (with a few exceptions) and will still look just as good as the day you bought them.
Sansevieria can handle relatively low lighting conditions in the right temperatures. They may not grow any bigger, but they won’t show any signs of struggle either. Variegated varieties may lose their color slightly, but other types will fair perfectly fine in low light.
They can also handle quite a bit of direct sunlight throughout the day. Since their leaves hold plenty of moisture, they are better equipped to handle direct sunlight than houseplants with delicate foliage. They won’t mind a spot in front of a bright window, as long as there is no harsh afternoon sun. In these conditions, they may even flower.
7. May Alleviate Allergies
Snake Plants are also believed to help alleviate air-born allergies thanks to their air-purifying properties. As they can absorb pollutants from the air and release oxygen and moisture, the clean air released works similarly to an air purifier to reduce allergies problems. They can catch dust and pollen too, reducing the amount that hangs around in the air.
Although these benefits are not scientifically proven, finding one and seeing for yourself can’t hurt. Ensure you keep the plant close by or add a couple per room to fully reap the benefits.
8. Low Water Usage
Watering houseplants is one of the most basic care tasks. But, it is also the task that many people get wrong. Whether due to underwatering or overwatering, maintaining the proper moisture in the soil can be tricky. However, when it comes to Snake Plants, water is far less of a worry.
The long, pointed leaves of the Sansevieria hold plenty of water, giving them their plump, juicy appearance. These storage facilities mean the plant does not rely heavily on moisture in the soil, keeping reserves in case of drought thanks to their West African origins. They can easily go a week or two, often longer, without any additional water and prefer their soil to dry out completely before the next watering.
This leads to two benefits. Firstly, if you happen to forget the occasional watering, this plant won’t be bothered. It would far prefer less water than too much water. And secondly, you need to use less water to keep it alive. This may not make a massive difference in a pot indoors. But, it can save a lot of water when planted outdoors, as these plants are happy to survive on rainwater alone.
9. Mental Health Benefits
Houseplants (and plants in general) offer many beneficial properties. What’s more, these don’t just have physical benefits, they also have mental health benefits too.
The ability of plants to reduce stress and improve mood is well documented in many studies. In fact, these benefits are so significant that they have spawned an entirely new branch of therapy aimed at assisting mental health patients – therapeutic horticulture.
These studies have found that interacting with houseplants, whether caring for them or simply existing around them, makes us calmer and more comfortable with our surroundings. You don’t need to live in an indoor jungle to reap these benefits – even a single houseplant placed on your desk while you work is proven to reduce stress levels.
Caring for houseplants also provides the sense of accomplishment that comes with caring for living things. They are much like pets in this way, just with less maintenance – especially when it comes to Snake Plants.
10. Boost Productivity and Improve Memory
Along with reducing work-related stress, Snake Plants also increase productivity in the workplace. A study conducted by the University of Exeter found that having plants around an office can increase worker productivity by up to 15%. Workers were also happier and experienced more positive interactions with their work environment.
But that’s not all. Another study by the University of Michigan explored the impacts of nature on memory retention. The researchers found that just one hour spent interacting with nature improved memory retention by up to 20%. The scientists described the effects as similar to meditating.
If you’re looking to improve your productivity or memory and spruce up your office simultaneously, Snake Plants are the answer.
11. Improves Acoustics
Although Snake Plants are beautiful, that’s not all they have to offer in your interior design. These plants also can absorb sound through their leaves and stems, reducing echo and noise and improving the acoustics around the room.
While all houseplants absorb some sound when placed indoors, Snake Plants’ thick leaves and dense growth habits make them one of the best sound-absorbing plants around.
The taller the leaves, the better the barrier they provide. You can use several plants to screen off an entire area or place one in the direction of a particularly noisy spot to improve conditions.
12. Better Sleep
If you struggle to fall asleep at night, a Snake Plant or two in your bedroom may just be the answer to your problems. Again, the air purifying properties of this plant are to thank, with improved air quality resulting in better, deeper sleep.
Other studies have found that exposure to aromatic plants before sleep induces deeper and more relaxed sleep.
If you can get your Snake Plant to flower, move it to your bedroom, and it will release a sweet scent that may create better conditions for deep sleep.
The Benefits of Snake Plants FAQs:
What are snake plants good for?
Snake plants are prized for their ornamental value, air purification properties, and ability to draw positive energy flows in Feng Shui practices.
Where should I place a snake plant in my house?
What are the disadvantages of snake plants?
Snake plants are notoriously slow growers and can be a little difficult to propagate if you haven’t attempted before. They’re also considered toxic to humans and pets and can be prone to fungal infections.
Is snake plant a lucky plant?
Snake plants are indeed considered a lucky plant thanks to their air purification capabilities and ability to draw positive upward energy flowers in Feng Shui.
Which type of snake plant is best?
One of the most popular types of snake plant grown indoors is the Sansevieria Laurentii. According to NASA’s infamous clean-air study, this variety of snake plant proved to be the most effective at removing and filtering nasty airborne toxins.
With so many wonderful benefits, you truly cannot go wrong adding a Snake Plant to your home. Whether you’re just in it for the ornamental value or energy balancing feng shui capabilities, or if you’re looking to reduce stress and improve memory, you’ll find what you need in a Snake Plant.
If you’re looking to expand your collection, see our essential guide to the best plant stores and nurseries delivering snake plants nationwide.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.