Snake plants are one of those plants that do best with a light hand. They don’t require lots of water, and they actually do best when you allow them to dry out in between waterings. Here we’re going to cover everything you need to know about watering snake plants at home, including when to water, how to water, and the main considerations related to light, temperature, soil, and the seasons. Let’s go!
- How to Water Snake Plants – The Essentials
- Things to Consider When Watering Snake Plants
- When Should I Water a Snake Plant?
- How Often Should I Water a Snake Plant?
- What Type of Water is Best for Snake Plants?
- How to Water Snake Plants
- What to Do In Between Watering Cycles
- How to Water Propagated Snake Plants
- Watering Snake Plants After Repotting
- Overwatering and Underwatering Snake Plants
- Should I Mist Snake Plants?
- How to Water Snake Plants – The Final Word
How to Water Snake Plants – The Essentials
Fully saturate a snake plant’s soil with dechlorinated tap water or filtered water once the top 2/3 of the soil is dry — about every 2-3 weeks in the summer and 6-8 weeks in the winter. Higher temperatures, increased sunlight, and low humidity will all increase the amount of water snake plants require.
Things to Consider When Watering Snake Plants
To figure out how much you need to water snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata), consider the following physical and environmental factors.
Temperature & Humidity
In areas with high air temperatures, all types of snake plants will lose a considerable amount of water through transpiration. Therefore, you’ll need to water your plant more at warmer temperatures than you would at lower temperatures.
Your plants will also transpire more in dry conditions than in humid conditions (such as snake plants positioned near a radiator or heat source). So, you’ll have to water more often if the air is dry.
Remember, snake plants are well regarded for their air purification benefits, so keeping them hydrated is key to their success.
For more, see our essential guide to Snake plant temperature and humidity tolerances indoors.
If you’re planning on growing snake plants outdoors, see our in-depth guide on the ideal hardiness zones for these plants to thrive.
The Prevailing Light Conditions
Snake plants prefer indirect light, but they can survive in darker areas or indirect light. More intense and longer periods of light will require more water.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best positions for Snake Plants to thrive.
During the winter, many snake plants slow their growth due to a decreased amount of light. Therefore, they aren’t using much water, so they don’t require frequent watering. You’ll want to stop fertilizing your snake plant during this period as well (with either liquid feed or a homebrew fertilizer compromising items such as coffee grounds).
As the days become longer, snake plants resume their growth and begin using more water.
If you are providing consistent light throughout the year with a grow light, the seasons will not dramatically impact how much you need to water your snake plant.
The Soil Mix
Your snake plant should be planted in a well-draining soil mix that lets excess water run out. If you are using a mix that isn’t well-draining, you will need to water less. But, the best move is to switch to a proper soil blend.
For more, see our essential guide to the best soil mix for snake plants.
The Container Size and Type + Plant Size
The trick is always going to be to find the right balance here – large snake plants require more water than smaller snake plants as you might expect, but larger plants are typically in larger pots than smaller plants. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to water larger plants more frequently. Rather you should provide a larger volume of water each time you water.
Since soil in smaller containers dries out faster than soil in larger containers, you will need to water smaller containers more frequently. But, you won’t need to provide a large volume of water during each watering.
The type of container also impacts how often you’ll need to water. Terra cotta pots pull water out of the soil, allowing the soil to dry out faster. So, plants in terra cotta pots will need to be watered more often than plants in ceramic or plastic pots.
The Variety of Snake Plant
All varieties of snake plants do best in similar environments and under similar care. Therefore, the type of snake plant does not impact how much you water.
When Should I Water a Snake Plant?
The best rule to follow is when the top 2/3 of a snake plant’s soil dries out, it’s time to water. To check the moisture level of the soil, you can use your finger.
Alternatively, you can use a moisture meter to check the soil. When the meter reads 2 on scale of 1-10, it’s time to water.
How Often Should I Water a Snake Plant?
While you’ll need to consider the factors listed above when determining how often to water your snake plant, you can use the following estimates.
Water your plant every 2-3 weeks in the summer and every 4-6 weeks in the winter. Slowly increase the watering frequency in the spring and decrease the frequency in the fall.
What Type of Water is Best for Snake Plants?
Snake plants aren’t too picky about their water, but they will struggle if their water has a large amount of chlorine or other salts. Let tap water sit out on the counter overnight then water, or use rainwater.
How to Water Snake Plants
When you water a snake plant, take care not to get the leaves wet by only watering the base of the plant.
When you water your snake plant, add water until you see water running out from the bottom of the container. If you are using a potting mix that is well-aerated and well-draining, you don’t have to worry about the soil holding too much water, even when it is fully saturated.
If you have an overflow dish underneath your plant’s pot, make sure to empty it after watering. Snake plants hate sitting in wet conditions.
What to Do In Between Watering Cycles
One of the most important things to remember about watering snake plants is to allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
Even if the soil surface appears dry, the deeper soil could still be moist. Use your finger to reach a few inches into the soil. If it’s dry, it’s time to water again, but if it’s moist, you should wait.
Over time, you should get an understanding of how quickly your plant dries out. That means you won’t need to check the soil every time you go to water.
How to Water Propagated Snake Plants
After you propagate a snake plant via a cutting or division, it’s essential that your plant isn’t sitting in wet soil. Follow a watering schedule similar to that used for mature snake plants, making sure to allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
Watering Snake Plants After Repotting
After you repot a snake plant, water it into its new container by thoroughly wetting the new soil. From this point on, follow a typical snake plant watering schedule.
Overwatering and Underwatering Snake Plants
Snake plants typically experience problems with overwatering rather than underwatering, but they can suffer from either.
Signs of overwatering include rotting leaves or roots, drooping, flopping, and yellowing leaves. If the roots become rotten, the plant has a hard time taking in water and oxygen, which can lead to yellow leaves or discolored spots.
Underwatering snake plants may lead them to develop brown, crispy leaf tips.
Should I Mist Snake Plants?
Snake plants don’t need high humidity, so there’s no need to mist their leaves. Misting can actually lead to mold and other fungal issues, so keep the spray bottle away from your snake plants.
How to Water Snake Plants – The Final Word
Snake plants are easy to water, as long as you don’t over do it! Remember that various factors impact how much you need to water your plant, so make some observations and take notes to determine the perfect watering schedule for your plants. Under optimal growing conditions, snake plants can live for 20 years or more and may even grow flowers.
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.