snake plant repotting

Repotting Snake Plants: The Complete How-To Guide

Snake plants are a popular houseplant known for their attractive, upright leaves and easy-to-care-for nature. These plants are native to West Africa and have been a favourite for indoor gardeners for decades due to their ability to tolerate low light conditions and lack of watering. With their striking appearance and air-purifying properties, snake plants have become a go-to choice for anyone looking to add some greenery to their home or office. In this article, we will explore everything that you need to know about repotting snake plants, including:

Table of Contents

Sansevieria trifasciata – what you need to know. 

In case you are new to growing snake plants, are looking to invest in one, or simply need to remind yourself of key information about them, then here is what you need to know. 

What is a snake plant?

A snake plant, also known as a Sansevieria, is native to West Africa. It is a popular indoor plant that is known for its hardiness, low maintenance, and air-purifying properties. Snake plants have long, sword-shaped leaves that can grow upright and are marked with yellow or white stripes. They come in a variety of sizes, from small tabletop plants to larger floor plants. They are relatively low maintenance, and can thrive in a wide range of conditions, which makes them a popular choice for people who are new to gardening or have limited time to devote to their plants.

What are the different nicknames?

The Sansevieria, has a few different nicknames due to its distinctive appearance and hardiness. 

One of the most common nicknames for this plant is the “mother-in-law’s tongue,” which is believed to have originated because the leaves are sharp and pointed.

Another nickname is the “viper’s bowstring hemp,” which is derived from the plant’s fibrous leaves that have been used historically to make bowstrings. 

In other parts of the world, a large snake plant is also referred to as “Saint George’s sword,” because the plant’s sword-like leaves are reminiscent of the legendary knight’s sword. 

Regardless of what name you choose to call it, the snake plant is a beloved plant that can bring beauty and air-purifying benefits to any indoor space, making it a great choice for a houseplant.

What are the different species?

Snake plants are available in several different species, each with their own unique features. Here is a table summarizing the different species of snake plants, including their common names, leaf shapes, and leaf colours. 

Use this table as a guide to help you choose the right species of snake plant for your home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Species NameCommon NameLeaf ShapeLeaf Color
Sansevieria trifasciataMother-in-law’s TongueSword-shapedGreen with yellow or white stripes
Sansevieria cylindricaAfrican Spear PlantCylindricalGreen
Sansevieria ballyiDwarf Snake PlantRoundGreen
Sansevieria zeylanicaBowstring Hemp PlantNarrowGreen with white

Reasons to buy a snake plant

Here are some reasons why you should consider buying a snake plant:

  1. Air purification: Snake plants are known to purify the air by removing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, making them a great addition to any indoor space.
  2. Low maintenance: Snake plants are extremely low maintenance and can survive in different lighting conditions, making them a great choice for anyone looking for an easy-to-care-for plant.
  3. Drought-tolerant: Snake plants are native to arid regions and can tolerate extended periods without water. This makes them ideal for those who may forget to water their plants.
  4. Unique appearance: Snake plants have tall, pointed leaves with distinctive patterns that can add a touch of visual interest to any room. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find one that fits your aesthetic preferences.
  5. Good for beginners: If you’re new to plant care, a snake plant is a great choice as it is one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain. They are highly resilient and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.
  6. Natural pest control: Snake plants are known to deter pests such as spider mites, making them a great choice for anyone looking to naturally control pests in their home.
  7. Feng Shui benefits: In Feng Shui, snake plants are believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and health into a space.

Repotting Snake Plants: Step by Step Instructions

Here is what you need to know about repotting snake plants, one step at a time. 

snake plant repotting in grey background

1. Protect the surface

To avoid making a mess, protect the surface where you’ll be working by laying down some plastic or newspaper.

2. Gather your materials/tools

Gather your materials/tools: Gather all the materials and tools you’ll need, including a new pot, potting soil, gloves, pruning shears, and a watering can.

3. Prepare the soil

Fill a bucket with potting soil and mix in some sand or perlite to improve drainage. Snake plants prefer well-draining soil.

4. Partially fill the pot

Fill the new pot about one-third full with the prepared soil mix.

5. Remove the plant from the old pot

Turn the old pot upside down and gently tap the bottom to loosen the soil. Carefully remove the plant from the pot, being careful not to damage the roots.

6. Cut off any pups

If the plant has any pups (smaller plants growing from the base of the mother plant), cut them off using clean, sharp pruning shears.

7. Fill the pot

Add more soil mix to the new pot, enough to cover the bottom of the plant’s root ball.

8. Loosen the roots

Gently loosen the roots of the snake plant, removing any dead or damaged roots.

9. Replant at the same depth

Position the plant in the centre of the pot at the same depth as it was in the old pot.

10. Gently press down

Firmly press the soil down around the plant to remove any air pockets.

11. Water thoroughly

Water the plant thoroughly until the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. This will help to settle the soil and ensure that the plant receives enough moisture. 

Choosing a new pot for a snake plant

When choosing a new pot for your snake plant, there are a few factors to consider to ensure that your plant remains healthy and happy:

  1. Size: Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the current pot your snake plant is in. Small pots can lead to the roots overcrowding and may become root-bound, which can affect the plant’s growth.
  2. Drainage: Make sure that the pot you choose has adequate drainage holes at the bottom to prevent water from accumulating and causing root rot. If the pot you like doesn’t have drainage holes, you can drill some yourself, or use it as an outer decorative pot and place a smaller pot with drainage holes inside.
  3. Material: The material of the pot can affect the drainage and insulation properties. Clay or terracotta pots are good options for snake plants as they allow excess water to evaporate through the porous walls. Alternatively, you can use a plastic pot with drainage holes, which retains moisture better than clay or terracotta.
  4. Aesthetics: Choose a pot that complements your decor and personal style. Snake plants can look great in a variety of pot styles, from classic terra cotta pots to more modern ceramic pots.
  5. Functionality: If you plan to move your plant frequently, consider a lightweight pot, or one with built-in handles. If you are growing your snake plant outdoors, choose a pot that can withstand exposure to the elements.

Remember to also consider the plant’s growing requirements when choosing a pot. Snake plants prefer well-draining soil and therefore should be planted in a pot that is deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root system. Choosing the right pot can help ensure that your snake plant thrives and continues to purify the air in your home!

Learn how to grow Sansevieria Cylindrica for a great house plant. 

What is the best soil for repotting a snake plant?

Snake plants prefer well-draining soil that allows excess water to escape easily. Here are some options for the best soil to use when repotting snake plants:

  1. Cactus or succulent soil: These types of soils are well-draining and can be a good choice for snake plants. They are often composed of a mixture of sand, perlite, and peat moss, which allows for good drainage and aeration.
  2. African violet soil: This type of soil is often used for plants that require good drainage and moisture retention. African violet soil is a blend of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite that can help prevent soil compaction.
  3. Potting soil with added perlite or sand: If you can’t find cactus, succulent soil, or African violet soil, you can add perlite or sand to regular potting soil to create a well-draining mix.

When repotting your snake plant, make sure to choose a pot with adequate drainage holes and fill it with your preferred well-draining soil mix. Add it to a new pot and add soil around the sides, being careful not to bury the plant too deeply. Water your plant thoroughly and allow any excess water to drain away before placing it in its new location.

How to make different soil recipes for snake plants?

Certain soil mix recipes will provide different results for the growth of your snake plant. Here are the best snake plant soil mix recipes that we recommend: 

  1. Basic Snake Plant Soil Mix Recipe:
  • 2/3 organic potting soil
  • 1/3 perlite or coarse sand

This recipe is a simple and effective mix that provides good drainage for your snake plant. The organic potting soil provides nutrients and moisture retention, while the perlite or coarse sand helps prevent soil compaction and allows excess water to drain away.

  1. Nutrient-Rich Snake Plant Soil Mix Recipe:
  • 2/3 organic potting soil
  • 1/4 compost
  • 1/8 perlite or coarse sand

This recipe includes compost, which provides additional nutrients for your snake plant. Compost is rich in organic matter and can help improve soil structure, water retention, and drainage. However, be careful not to use too much compost as it can retain excessive moisture and cause root rot. Perlite or coarse sand helps to ensure good drainage.

To mix the soil, simply combine the ingredients in a bucket or container and stir until it is well mixed. When repotting your snake plant, fill the pot with the soil mix, leaving enough room at the top for watering. 

Gently place your plant in the soil and fill in around the sides. Water your plant thoroughly and allow any excess water to drain away before placing it in its new location.

Remember, the exact proportions of soil mix may vary depending on factors such as the size of the pot, the climate, and the growing conditions. Experiment with different mixes until you find one that works best for your snake plant!

worm compost for repotting snake plants

Using Worm Compost for Snake Plants

Using worm compost for repotting snake plants is an excellent way to provide the plant with the necessary nutrients it needs to thrive. Here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Prepare the worm compost: You can either buy worm compost or make your own using a worm bin. If you’re making your own, ensure that the compost has been properly processed and is dark, rich, and crumbly.
  2. Mix the compost with potting soil: Mix the worm compost with potting soil in a ratio of about 1:4 or 1:5. This will provide your snake plant with a healthy dose of nutrients without overwhelming it.
  3. Repot your snake plant: Gently remove your snake plant from its pot, loosen the roots, add the compost and potting soil mixture to the bottom of the new pot. Then, carefully place the snake plant in the new pot, and add more of the compost and soil mixture around the plant.
  4. Water the plant: Water the snake plant thoroughly to help settle the soil and worm compost mixture. Make sure the pot drains well to avoid over-watering.
  5. Observe the plant: Keep an eye on your snake plant after repotting to ensure that it is adjusting well to the new soil mixture. Also, monitor the moisture level in the soil and water the plant when the soil becomes dry to the touch.

What are the different soil mix alternatives for a snake plant?

Snake plants are versatile houseplants that can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. However, it’s important to use a well-draining soil mix that provides adequate aeration and nutrients. Here are some soil mix alternatives to use when repotting snake plants:

  1. Potting soil mix: A good quality potting soil mix is an excellent option for snake plants. Look for a mix that contains a blend of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
  2. Succulent soil mix: A well-draining succulent soil mix can work well for snake plants since they are drought-tolerant plants. This type of soil mix typically contains a mix of perlite, coarse sand, and peat moss.
  3. Cactus soil mix: Similar to succulent soil mix, cactus soil mix can be a good option for snake plants since it is well-draining and contains ingredients such as sand, perlite, and peat moss.
  4. DIY soil mix: You can create your own soil mix by mixing equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand. This mix provides excellent drainage and aeration, which is beneficial for snake plants.
  5. Soilless mix: Soilless mixes, such as coconut coir or sphagnum moss, can also be used for snake plants. These mixes are lightweight, well-draining, and provide good aeration.

When selecting a soil mix for your snake plant, make sure to avoid heavy, clay soils, as they can retain too much moisture and lead to root rot. It’s also important to ensure the soil is well-draining and provides good aeration to promote healthy root growth.

When to Repot a Snake Plant

Snake plants do not need to be repotted frequently. However, they do eventually outgrow their pots and may need to be repotted to ensure healthy growth. 

Here are some signs that indicate it’s time for repotting snake plants:

  1. Outgrown roots in drainage holes: If you notice roots growing out of the drainage holes, it’s a sign that your snake plant has outgrown its current pot and needs to be repotted.
  2. Plant is top-heavy: If your snake plant is top-heavy and falls over easily, it may be an indication that the plant has outgrown its pot.
  3. Soil is compacted: Over time, soil can become compacted, which can reduce drainage and aeration. If the soil in your snake plant’s pot is compacted, it may be time to repot the plant.
  4. Plant is root-bound: If you remove your snake plant from its pot and notice that the roots are tightly packed and have formed a tight ball, it’s a sign that the plant is root-bound and needs more space to grow.

When repotting snake plants, it’s important to choose a pot that is one size larger than the current pot, with good drainage holes, and use a well-draining soil mix. It’s best to repot snake plants in the spring or early summer when they are actively growing, as this will help them recover more quickly from the stress of being transplanted.

How to repot a snake plant

You can repot a large snake plant the same way as you would for a normal one. However, this can present more of a difficult challenge, and it is important to give the plant enough space to grow and thrive. 

You will need to:

  • Choose a new pot larger than the current one, which has good drainage holes and is big enough to support the root system of a larger plant.
  • Fill the new pot with a well-drained soil mix, and leave enough space at the top of the plant.
  • Water the snake plant a couple of hours before repotting it. This will make it easier to remove from the old pot.
  • Gently turn the pot upside down and tap the bottom of the pot to loosen the root ball. Once this is done, slowly slide the plant out of the pot. 
  • Check to see if the root system is displaying any signs of damage or disease. If so, trim the damaged or musty roots with a clean pair of scissors.
  • Now you can place the plant in a new pot. Place it in the centre of the pot, and make sure that it is in the same depth as it was with the previous pot. 
  • Water the plant thoroughly and allow the water to drain from the bottom of the pot.
  • Place the plant in a bright spot with appropriate, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight for a few days. Give the plant enough time to adjust to its new environment. 

Repotting a large snake plant can be heavy work, so it’s important to be careful when handling the plant and pot. It’s also important to avoid damaging the root system of the plant. With proper care and attention, your snake plant should thrive in its new pot.

person holding snake plant after knowing how to repot snake plants.

Repotting a dying snake plant

Repotting a dying snake plant may not always be the best solution to save the plant. If the plant is severely damaged, repotting may not help, and the plant may need to be discarded. Here are some factors to consider before deciding to repot a dying snake plant:

  1. Condition of the roots: Check the roots of the plant to see if they are healthy. If the roots are brown, mushy, or have an unpleasant odour, the plant may be suffering from root rot. In such cases, repotting the plant may not be helpful, and the roots may need to be trimmed, and the plant may need to be propagated from healthy cuttings.
  2. Severity of damage: If the plant is severely damaged, with brown or yellow leaves, and the stem is mushy or soft, it may not recover even if repotted. In such cases, it’s better to discard the plant and start afresh.
  3. Watering and light conditions: Sometimes, a dying snake plant can be caused by improper watering or light conditions. If you notice that the plant is not getting enough light or has been overwatered, try correcting these issues first before deciding to repot the plant.
  4. Repotting stress: Repotting can be stressful for plants, and a dying snake plant may not have the strength to recover from the stress. In such cases, it’s better to leave the plant in its current pot and address any other issues that may be causing the plant to decline.

In summary, before repotting a dying snake plant, assess the condition of the plant, including the roots, severity of damage, and overall health of the plant. If the plant is severely damaged, it may be better to discard it and start over. If the plant has root rot, trimming the roots, and propagating the healthy cuttings may be a better solution.

Signs that your snake plant needs repotting

There are several signs that indicate when it’s time for repotting snake plants. Here are some things that you need to know and what to look out for if you are unsure about when to repot it:

  1. Foliage is very crowded: If the snake plant’s leaves are tightly packed, it could be an indication that the plant has outgrown its pot and needs more space to grow.
  2. Outgrown roots from bottom of container or above soil: If you notice roots growing out of the bottom of the pot or above the soil, it’s a sign that the plant has become root-bound and needs a larger pot to accommodate its growing roots.
  3. Soil won’t hold water, it just runs straight through: If the soil is not retaining water and is instead running straight through the pot, it could be a sign that the potting mix has become too compact and the plant needs fresh soil and a larger pot.
  4. The pot is distorted or cracking: If the pot is becoming distorted or cracking, it could be a sign that the plant has outgrown the pot and needs a larger one.
  5. Container keeps falling over (top-heavy): If the plant has become top-heavy and the container keeps falling over, it’s a sign that the plant needs a larger pot to provide more stability.
  6. Growth has slowed or stopped completely: If the plant’s growth has slowed or stopped completely, it could be a sign that the plant has exhausted the nutrients in its soil, and it’s time to repot with fresh soil.

When the snake plant shows one or more of the above signs, it’s an indication that it’s time to repot the plant. Repotting snake plants will give them more space to grow and access to fresh soil, which can help the plant thrive.

What are Snake Plant Pups?

Snake plant pups are small plantlets that grow from the base of mature snake plants. These miniature plants are essentially clones of the parent plant and can be removed to propagate new snake plants.

Snake plant pups are usually ready to be removed when they have developed a few leaves and are several inches tall. 

The best time to replant snake plant pups is during the spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing.

To repot snake plant cuttings, gently remove the pup from the parent plant and carefully separate any roots that are connecting the two. 

Once separated, plant the pup in a pot filled with well-draining soil mix and water the plant thoroughly. It’s important to avoid overwatering the newly potted plant as it can cause the soil to become waterlogged and damage the plant’s roots.

Another option for propagating snake plant pups is to place them in water until they develop roots, then plant them in soil. Simply place the pup in a glass of water, making sure the bottom of the plant is submerged, and change the water every few days. Once the roots are a few inches long, transfer the pup to a pot filled with soil mix.

Overall, snake plant pups are miniature clones of the parent plant that can be removed to propagate new plants. Replant them during the spring and summer months and make sure to use a well-draining soil mix. 

Alternatively, you can place the pups in water until they develop roots before transferring them to soil.

Why Divide Your Sansevieria?

Dividing a snake plant is an important task for maintaining the health and vitality of the plant. Snake plants are known for producing “pups” or small plantlets that grow from the base of the mother plant. While these pups can be left to grow alongside the mother plant, they can also cause problems if they become overcrowded.

Overcrowding can lead to competition for resources, which can affect the growth and health of both the mother plant and the pups. This can also lead to a lack of air circulation, which can create a humid environment and increase the risk of disease and pests.

Dividing the snake plant and removing the pups helps to alleviate overcrowding and promote healthy growth. By separating the pups from the mother plant and repotting them individually, you can ensure that each plant has enough space to grow and access to the resources it needs to thrive.

Additionally, dividing the snake plant is also a great way to propagate new plants. Each pup has its own set of roots, so by separating them and repotting them, you can create new plants that are genetically identical to the mother plant.

By dividing your snake plant, this will help to prevent overcrowding, as well as help to promote healthy growth and be better for propagating new plants. 

How to Divide Your Snake Plant

To divide a snake plant, you need to do the following:

  1. Choose a healthy mother plant: Select a mature and healthy snake plant with at least a few pups growing from its base.
  2. Prepare your materials: You will need a sharp, clean knife or gardening shears, a clean and sharp trowel or garden fork, and new pots with well-draining soil.
  3. Remove the plant from its pot: Gently remove the mother plant from its pot by carefully holding onto the base of the plant and wiggling it back and forth until it slides out.
  4. Separate the pups: Once the mother plant is out of the pot, separate the pups from the mother plant by gently pulling them away from the roots of the mother plant. If the roots are tangled, you can use a sharp knife or gardening shears to cut the pups away from the mother plant.
  5. Replant the pups: Once you have separated the pups, repot them into their new pots with fresh, well-draining soil. Place the pups at the same depth as they were in the mother plant’s pot and gently press the soil down around the roots.
  6. Water the new plants: Water the newly repotted pups thoroughly and let the excess water drain out of the bottom of the pot.
  7. Care for the new plants: Place the new plants in a bright and warm location with indirect sunlight. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent overwatering.

By following these simple steps, you can successfully divide a snake plant and propagate new plants. Remember to handle the mother plant and pups carefully to avoid damaging the roots and to use clean and sharp tools to prevent the spread of disease.

How often should I repot my sansevieria?

You should be ready for repotting snake plants every 2 years. This depends on factors like growth rate, container size, and environment.

  • If the plant is growing quickly or the container is too small, you may need to repot more often.
  • In the right environment, 2 years is appropriate because the plant may have outgrown the container, or the soil may have become depleted of nutrients.
  • Repotting in containers 4-6 years may also be appropriate, depending on the plant’s growth rate and environment.

What to do after repotting a snake plant

After repotting snake plants, there are a few things you can do to help it adjust to its new environment:

  1. Water the plant lightly: Wait a few days before watering the plant to allow it to settle in. When you do water it, give it a light watering to avoid overwatering.
  2. Place it in a bright spot: Snake plants prefer bright, indirect light, so find a spot near a window where it can get plenty of sunlight.
  3. Avoid fertilizing: Wait at least a month before fertilizing your snake plant to avoid stressing it out.
  4. Monitor its growth: Keep an eye on your snake plant over the next few weeks to make sure it’s adjusting well to its new environment. If it looks unhealthy or starts to wilt, adjust its watering or lighting conditions accordingly.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that your snake plant will thrive in its new home.

FAQS

Do snake plants like to be crowded?

Yes, Snake Plants do like to be slightly root-bound, but not overly crowded.

Do you water a snake plant after repotting?

Yes, you should water a Snake Plant lightly after repotting, but wait a few days before doing so.

Can you plant two snake plants together?

Yes, you can plant two or more Snake Plants together, but make sure they have enough space to grow.

Can you repot a snake plant in fall or winter?

Yes, you can repot a Snake Plant in fall or winter, but it’s best to avoid doing so during the dormant winter months.

Does a snake plant like to be root bound?

Yes, Snake Plants do prefer to be slightly root-bound, but not overly so.

What soil do Snake Plants like?

Snake Plants prefer well-draining soil that is slightly sandy and has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

Can I use normal potting soil for Snake Plants?

Yes, you can use regular potting soil for Snake Plants, but it’s best to mix it with sand or perlite to improve drainage.

When should you repot a Snake Plant?

You should repot a Snake Plant every 2 years, or when it has outgrown its container, or the soil has become depleted.

Do Snake Plants like to be crowded?

Yes, Snake Plants do like to be slightly root-bound, but not overly crowded.

Do Snake Plants need deep pots?

No, Snake Plants don’t necessarily need deep pots, but they do need containers with good drainage and enough space for their roots.

Do Snake Plants like small pots?

No, Snake Plants don’t necessarily like small pots, as they need enough room for their roots to grow.

What size pot do I use when repotting Snake Plants?

When repotting Snake Plants, choose a container that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the previous one.

Should you break up roots when repotting? 

No, you should avoid breaking up roots when repotting a Snake Plant, as it can damage the plant and cause it stress.

Snake plant growing tips

Here are some additional growing tips for Snake Plants:

  1. Watering: Snake Plants prefer to be slightly dry and can tolerate some drought. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  2. Drought Tolerance: Snake Plants are drought-tolerant and can go for weeks without water. This makes them an excellent choice for low-maintenance indoor plants.
  3. Lighting: Snake Plants prefer bright, indirect light but can also tolerate low light conditions. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves.
  4. Soil: Snake Plants prefer well-draining soil that is slightly sandy and has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
  5. Fertilizing: Snake Plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but you can feed them once or twice a year with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
  6. Pruning: Snake Plants don’t require much pruning, but you can trim off any yellow or dead leaves to keep the plant looking neat and healthy.
  7. Propagation: Snake Plants are easy to propagate by dividing the plant or rooting cuttings in water. This is a great way to share the plant with friends or start new plants.

Sources

Yorkshire Worms. (n.d.). Compost Worms. Retrieved from https://yorkshire-worms.co.uk/product-category/compost-worms/

Get Busy Gardening. (n.d.). DIY Cactus Soil: How to Make Your Own Cactus Soil Mix. Retrieved from https://getbusygardening.com/diy-cactus-soil/ 

Useful Resources

https://getbusygardening.com/repotting-snake-plant/

https://www.amsterdamgreenhouses.com/post/caring-for-your-houseplants-how-to-divide-your-snake-plant

https://www.joyusgarden.com/repotting-snake-plants/

https://www.bloomingbackyard.com/repot-snake-plant/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *