Whether you call them snake plants, Sansevieria trifasciata, mother-in-law’s tongues, or another name, these houseplants are easy to love and are thought to bring good luck to the home. With beautiful foliage and an easy-to-care-for form, snake plants have risen to the top of houseplant ranks. Whether you already have a few of these plants or are looking to bring a new one home, you’ll need to know how to provide the proper light. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about snake plant light requirements at home.
- How Much Light Do Snake Plants Need? – The Essentials
- How Light Affects Plant Growth
- Light Conditions in Snake Plants’ Native Habitats
- Signs Your Snake Plant Is Receiving Too Much Light
- Signs your Snake Plant Isn’t Receiving Enough Light
- The Best Light Exposure for Indoor Snake Plants
- Snake Plant Light Requirements FAQs:
- How Much Light Do Snake Plants Need – The Final Word
How Much Light Do Snake Plants Need? – The Essentials
Indoor snake plants can tolerate a few hours of dim light as well as eight hours of bright light. Suitable Snake Plant locations include a few feet away from a south-facing window, a bright room, or a dimly lit hallway. Avoid exposing snake plants to direct light since this can burn the leaves.
How Light Affects Plant Growth
All types of snake plants (including propagated snake plants) grown indoors at home need a few basic care requirements to thrive, covering watering, soil, temperature & humidity, pest management, pruning, fertilizing, and light exposure. Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants can live for 20 years or more and may even produce flowers.
You probably know that plants need light, but have you ever considered why? In short, light helps plants produce the food they need to complete essential functions. This process is known as photosynthesis.
While photosynthesis is a complex process, we can break it down into a simple equation. Plants take in carbon dioxide and water and use the sun’s energy to convert these inputs into oxygen and glucose. They then use these glucose molecules to produce other molecules and power functions like respiration.
What all this means is that plants need light to survive. However, light needs vary between plants. Plants will suffer if they receive too much, not enough light, or the wrong type of light.
With that in mind, it’s helpful to understand the different types of light. When reading through plant care guides, you may come upon the following terms.
Bright direct light:
Light that does not go through a filter before hitting a plant. It causes harsh shadows and is found right next to south-facing or west-facing windows.
Bright indirect light:
This type of light is strong but is obscured by another object before hitting your plant. The light that filters through a sheer curtain or bounces off a wall is considered bright, indirect light. You can find bright, indirect light a few feet away from south-facing windows.
This type of light is found in dim but not dark areas. Think of places like a hallway without windows or a dim corner.
For more, see our guide to the best plants for low-light environments in the home or office.
Medium-light falls in between bright and low light. North-facing windows typically offer medium light, as do interior locations of bright rooms.
Along with the type of light, you’ll need to think about the number of hours of light. Some locations may receive bright, indirect light for two hours and low light for the remainder of the day.
Fortunately, snake plants aren’t too picky when it comes to the number of hours of light, so you won’t have to pay too much attention to this detail.
Light Conditions in Snake Plants’ Native Habitats
Snake plant refers to numerous species of plants in the Dracaena genus. While these species are diverse in appearance, they are all native to Africa.
With that said, the exact native location varies between species. Some species are native to tropical regions in Central Africa, while others come from desert-like areas in East Africa.
As you might expect, the light conditions vary between these locations. Many snake plants grow in dry areas without much of an overstory, so they receive lots of bright light. Other plants grow as understory plants, receiving dappled light.
While it may appear that snake plants need bright or dappled light, they can thrive in conditions that are different from those found in their native habitats.
Signs Your Snake Plant Is Receiving Too Much Light
While snake plants are pretty flexible in terms of how much light they receive, they can receive too much light. This is especially true when we’re talking about direct light.
If your plant receives bright, direct light, its leaves may become burnt. Crispy, yellow, or brown leaves indicate your plant is receiving too much direct light. Move your plant to an area that doesn’t receive direct light or place sheer curtains over the windows.
Signs your Snake Plant Isn’t Receiving Enough Light
While snake plants don’t need much light, they will grow more slowly in a dark environment.
If you notice your snake plant is drooping, falling over, or barely growing at all, it might not be receiving enough light. Snake plants are indeed slow-growing, but you should see some growth after a year. Moving your plant to an area that receives more light will improve its development and overall health.
Another possible sign that your plant isn’t receiving enough light is discoloration. If your plant is in a dark location and you notice the leaves turning light green or yellow, it might need more light. However, overeating is a more likely cause of discoloration.
The Best Light Exposure for Indoor Snake Plants
Snake plants can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, including dim light and bright, indirect light. With that said, they will thrive in medium, indirect light.
One of the best snakes plant locations is the interior of a bright room with a south-facing or west-facing window. Other great options include a few feet away from a north-facing or east-facing window.
With that said, your snake plant will survive in many other light conditions. While it will grow more slowly with less light, it will be fine in a dim corner or hallway.
Some people even report they can keep their snake plant in a dark bathroom or bedroom that only sees light a few times a day! However, this probably isn’t the ideal place for these plants.
Wherever you place your plant, keep one thing in mind: these plants do not like lots of direct light! That means it’s essential to shield their leaves from harsh, direct rays. You’ll want to be particularly careful with propagated and recently repotted snake plants.
Another thing to remember is that snake plants can tolerate change relatively well. While some plants will put on a dramatic display when moved, snake plants will easily handle change. That means it’s OK to move your plant if you think it’s receiving the wrong type of light.
If you’re planning on growing snake plants outdoors, see our in-depth guide on the ideal hardiness zones for these plants to thrive.
Snake Plant Light Requirements FAQs:
Can Snake Plants Live in Low Light?
Yes! Snake plants can live quite well in low light. Try tucking them into a dim hallway or in a corner that is too dark for other houseplants.
Can Snake Plants Take Full Sun?
While snake plants can survive with bright, indirect light, they will suffer if they receive lots of direct light. It’s best to keep your snake plant in an area that receives indirect sunlight.
What Kind of Light Do Snake Plants Need?
Snake plants require indirect light. They can survive in low light conditions as well as bright light.
Will Snake Plants Live Happily Indoors?
You bet they can! Snake plants can live a happy, healthy life indoors as long as you provide basic care. They are one of the easiest houseplants to care for, so they’re great for beginners.
How Do You Know if Your Snake Plant Is Getting Enough Light?
As long as your plant looks healthy, it’s getting enough light. If you notice your plant is not growing or becoming discolored, it may need more light.
Can You Grow Snake Plants in Artificial Light?
Snake plants can grow under artificial lights but will typically grow slower. Be careful with luminosity and duration of exposure under grow lights, and try to mimic natural light patterns produced by organic light sources.
How Much Light Do Snake Plants Need – The Final Word
Whether you have a house filled with natural light or a dark apartment, you can find a place for a snake plant. Since these plants can handle a wide variety of light conditions, they’ll fit into practically any space, and they even help to purify the air in your home.
For more, see our in-depth guide on whether snake plants are pet friendly.
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.