Snake Plant Watering Tips for Optimal Health

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. In this guide, I’ll share my go-to tips on when to water and how to water snake plants and the primary considerations related to light, temperature, soil, and the seasons. Let’s go!

Essential Snake Plant Watering Tips for Optimal Health

How to Water Snake Plants – 5 Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t Overwater: Snake plants can store water in their leaves, and overwatering is the most common mistake, leading to root rot. Water the plant only when the top 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of soil feels dry. This might be every 2-3 weeks during the growing season, but it’s even less in the winter (likely 4 to 6 weeks).
  2. Use the Right Water: Use room-temperature water, as cold water can shock the plant. If you can, use distilled, dechlorinated tap water or rainwater, as snake plants are sensitive to chemicals often found in tap water.
  3. Water Carefully: When watering, thoroughly saturate the soil until it runs out of the drainage hole, allowing the excess water to drain completely. Avoid watering the leaves where possible.
  4. Be Considerate of Environmental Factors: The amount of water your snake plant needs depends on light, temperature, and humidity. The plant may need water more frequently in a brighter, warmer environment. If your snake plant is in lower light, it will require less frequent watering. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  5. Use the Right Soil Mix and Container: Plant your snake plant in a container with good drainage (and be extra careful not to overwater if it doesn’t). A potting mix designed for succulents or cacti containing sand or perlite will help prevent the soil from staying too damp.

When Should I Water a Snake Plant?

From experience, 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 simply 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?

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?

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 if available.

How to Water Snake Plants

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.

Things to Consider When Watering Snake Plants

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 snake plants to thrive.

The Prevailing Light Conditions

Snake plant on a side table with partial sunlight

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.

The Season

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 also want to stop fertilizing your snake plant during this period (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 removes excess water. 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

A potted snake plant in a modern white container

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 much 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.

What to Do In Between Watering Cycles

What to Do In Between Snake 
Plant Watering Cycles

One of the most important things to remember about watering snake plants is to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

The deeper soil could still be moist even if the surface appears dry. 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 understand 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

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

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 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?

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.

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.

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