Although snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are thought of as houseplants, you can also grow them outdoors. However, caring for snake plants outdoors requires a bit more work than having them as houseplants. In this article, we’ll find out which USDA Hardiness Zones are ideal for growing snake plants outdoors.
What is the Ideal Hardiness Zone for Growing Snake Plants Outdoors?
Most types of snake plants are native to deserts, savannahs, and other dry areas in Western Africa. In their native habitat, snake plants receive warm temperatures, low to moderate humidity, and plenty of sun. To grow snake plants successfully outdoors, you need to replicate these conditions.
As gardeners, we use the USDA Hardiness Zones to determine which plants we can grow in our climate. USDA Hardiness Zones range from Zone 1 in northern states to Zone 11 in parts of Florida. Each Hardiness Zone corresponds to a minimum average temperature for that area.
You can grow snake plants outdoors in Zones 8 to 11. These areas provide the correct minimum temperatures and humidity levels for snake plants. Areas in Zone 12 and above, such as parts of Hawaii or Puerto Rico, can be too humid for snake plants.
How to Grow Snake Plants Outdoors
If you’re growing snake plants outdoors, there are a few things to be aware of. Snake plants can spread quickly using underground rhizomes and could take over your garden. Growing snake plants in containers allows you to corral their growth and better protect them from the cold (for more, see our essential snake plant repotting guide here).
Snake plants can tolerate most outdoor lighting conditions. Snake plants do best in partial sun or partial shade. Too much full sun can dry out or even burn snake plants and cause yellowing leaves, while full shade doesn’t provide enough light, which can lead to a drooping snake plant or signs of the plant falling over.
Snake plants are drought-tolerant succulents that don’t need regular watering. Only water outdoor snake plants if you haven’t had any rainfall for a few weeks. Unless the soil is completely dry, you shouldn’t need to water outdoor snake plants. Overwatering is a major problem for snake plants, especially if it causes root rot.
These succulents need loose, well-draining soils with some sand or perlite mixed in. If the soil holds too much moisture, your snake plant will suffer from overwatering.
Although they can spread underground, snake plants are relatively slow-growing plants. Feed snake plants during the spring with a slow-release fertilizer (and potentially even coffee grounds) to provide nutrients throughout the year. Snake plants can also benefit from pruning in spring if necessary and are also relatively easy to propagate if you’re interested in expanding your collection.
Snake plants can be susceptible to pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Combat these using neem oil or insecticidal soap. Provide good growing conditions to protect outdoor snake plants against diseases like leaf spot or Southern blight.
Under optimal growing conditions, your snake plant may even produce flowers.
Snake Plant Hardiness Zones – Wrapping Up
Gardeners living in USDA Zones 8 to 11 can grow snake plants outdoors. It’s best to grow snake plants in containers to control their growth. Provide warm temperatures and partial sun or partial shade, and these symbolic plants will thrive happily for years to come. For more, see our in-depth guide on how to grow snake plants indoors.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.