Cultivation and Care

The snake plant is generally bought as a mature plant and planted indoors to add flair to a living space. However, it can also be grown outdoors. It can be cultivated in different ways for those looking to save money or for those who simply enjoy gardening. It is usually hardy and forgiving, but there are a few things to consider before greening up your home or yard.

Outdoor Growing

The snake plant is native to Africa. The climate on the large content is generally uniform and can give a good picture of the optimal growing conditions. The average annual temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (or around 27 Celsius), and average annual rainfall is 70 inches. For comparison, the average rainfall in the U.S. varies widely by state but is typically between 20 and 50 inches.

If you are going to plant the snake plant outdoors in the U.S., you should probably be situated somewhere between climate zones 9B and 11 as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Refer to the climate zone map to identify your state’s classification. However, you can move a potted plant outdoors almost anywhere in the spring or summer, as long as it will not experience temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for extended lengths of time.

Care and Maintenance

Care is simple. Give at least some light, at least some water, and it is apt to stay alive.

It is better to under water than over water, as too much moisture will cause the roots to rot. Keep the soil just on the verge of being dry throughout. Ideally the plant likes high to full sun, but will also thrive in low light conditions.


If you keep the soil to moist mother-in-law’s tongue can become surrounded with small black flying bugs. These are fungus gnats. They are more of a nuisance to the indoor environment than a scourge to the plant’s health. To remedy, allow the soil to dry out. The gnats lay their eggs in the soil and cannot survive if the soil is inhospitable. If the problem persists, you may need to attempt re-potting in new soil or using a product like Gnatrol.


Want to start anew? The snake plant can be cultivated in two ways. These are by cutting the leaves and replanting or by dividing the rhizome.

Cultivation via cuttings is easy but has a very interesting and peculiar side effect. If you take a plant that is prized for its white or yellow stripes along the leaf margins and try to replicate it by planting a cutting, the new plant will grow as a homogenous green, and any variegation will vanish. If you like the plain green look, using cuttings may be your best bet. Otherwise, try dividing the rhizome.

To cultivate via cuttings, take one leaf of the plant and cut it into three to eight inch sections, depending on its size and the desired starting size of the new plantlets. Be forewarned, the snake plant leaves have a built-in directionality, meaning they “know” which way they want to carry water and nutrients. Even if you forget which direction a cutting originally pointed, the snake plant will not, and will refuse to grow when you plant it.

All mishaps otherwise averted, just bury the bottom of the cutting about 1 inch deep in potting soil. It will form roots in three to four weeks, and if you are lucky, new plants will sprout up in the course of a couple months.

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