Today's Gardener (todaysgardener.com) participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.
Sansevieria trifasciata is a sturdy, durable, and almost unkillable succulent plant that has been around forever. Its poisonous nature and sharp, cross-striped, and sword-like leaves have earned the plant its nicknames of Snake Plant and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. Multicolored and mythical Snake Plant is cultivated in Africa for removing the evil eye, resolving conflict, and lifting tension, while in China it is believed to bring luck.
It is an undemanding houseplant with air-purifying properties, cherished for its stoicism and tolerance for neglect. I bet you want to share your snake plants with your family and friends, don’t you? Let’s learn how to propagate snake plants successfully so you can make them happy.
TIP: Indoor Snake Plants are tolerant of low-light situations, so they are perfect for offices.
Snake Plant Propagation
Snake plants multiply easily and readily when they’re happy and treated well. You can leave them in their old containers or give them a slightly larger pot if needed. If you want to share the plant, wait for it to make a full rosette or a few leaves first.
There are three ways to propagate Snake Plants: by rooting leaf cuttings, dividing plants, and potting up offsets.
What propagation method to choose?
If you propagate Snake Plant from cuttings, you will get an all-green plant. However, the division method will ensure that leaves are variegated. That’s why this method is the preferred one for propagating Snake Plant.
Regardless of the method, you need to wait for the new plant to grow roots and for at least one new leaf to appear. Don’t let the cuttings dry and cut leaves into sections, but ensure they are positioned in the same orientation in the soil, downwards.
1. Propagate by Dividing Plants
Snake Plant has fibrous roots that send new stems around the sides of the plant. If you see new shoots growing around the base of a mature parent plant, use this method to divide it up to make two or three new plants.
This “divide-and-conquer” method will give you variegated baby Snake Plants.
What will you need?
A mature and healthy Snake Plant with shoots growing around the sides
Sharp, clean knife
Plastic pots that match the size of the root balls
Water the plant about an hour before removing it from its original pot. This will give the water time to percolate down.
Remove the pot and expose the soil. Remove some compost from the root ball with your fingers so you can see more easily where the stems are attached to the roots. Examine the plant and ensure the plant has healthy root systems and healthy leaves. Separate roots are vital for sustenance and if the plant doesn’t have them, wait until they do before dividing them off. If they have their own thick roots, untangle the roots from the parent plant and pull the pup from its parent.
Remove the young shoots from the parent plant, making sure that plenty of roots remain attached to both sections. Natural sections should divide easily but if that’s not the case, use a knife. Be sure that each clump has both leaves and some roots.
If the root ball is too congested, use a sharp knife to cut it into sections. Be sure that the stems have some roots, though cutting a few roots is fine.
Fill new vessels with multipurpose compost, making sure they match with the root ball.
Plant new divisions in the pots, making sure not to damage the roots. Pot each clump in a new pot with a new potting mix.
Set them at the same level they were growing in their original pot and do not bury the stems.
Set them in a warm, bright spot away from direct sun.
2. Potting up offsets
The easiest way to propagate this plant is to separate the offsets and plant them in their own container. A single leaf can also be cut into pieces, allowed to callus over, and be planted in a moist medium. Make sure the leaf is placed so that the original bottom of the leaf is in the medium or it will not grow.
Offsets are young plantlets also known as pups that grow from the parent plant. Some plants are replaced by offsets after flowering, but mature plants produce offsets from stems. They can be potted up to create new plants.
What you will need
Mature Snake Plant with offsets growing around the base
A clean and sharp knife
Small pot with at least one drainage hole
Small watering can
Rooting hormone to encourage new growth
Cactus compost or soil-based compost and sand
Ensure that the offsets are between one-third and one-half of the size of the parent plant. If they are, they will root with more success than younger offsets.
Gently separate the plant from the pot.
Cut off the offset with a sharp knife close to the parent plant.
Dust with hormone rooting powder to encourage root growth on the base.
Fill a 10 cm plastic pot with cactus compost mixed with perlite.
Insert the base into the compost, without burying the stem.
Water your new snake plant lightly to firm the compost.
Set in the bright position away from direct light. Keep the compost moist, but not wet.
Roots will form after a few weeks. Repot once new shoots appear.
3. Propagate by Taking Leaf Cuttings
Taking Sansevieria leaf cuttings is the third method of propagating snake plants. Plants propagated by leaf cuttings will be all green.
What you will need
Mature Snake Plant mother plant
Tray or plastic pot
Prepare and sterilize a sharp knife.
Cut across the base of a healthy leaf with a sharp knife to take a snake plant cutting.
Cut the leaf into 1 inch (2.5 cm) sections.
Slit the center of each section at the end that was closest to the stem to make an indentation.
Prepare a tray of sand for your snake plant cuttings.
Insert sections, slit ends downward, midway into a tray of sand. Insert leaf cuttings in the sand.
Water the sand well.
Cover the tray with clear plastic.
Maintain the temperature of 21 degrees C.
Repot your baby plants separately in small pots when they have 3 new leaves.
Snake Plant Care Tips
Size: Tabletop, 1.2 m indoors
Care level: Easy
Light: Tolerant of low light, filtered, or fluorescent lights, but it prefers bright indirect light to maintain leaf variegation, even some direct sunlight.
Temperature: Average, between 12 and 21 degrees C. The ultimate low is 10 degrees C.
Water: Let the soil of the Snake Plant dry out between watering. Water once a week and in about 20 days in winter.
Humidity: Low. Do not mist.
Soil: Fast-draining cactus soil with sand or perlite.
Repotting: When the pot is full of leaves or when water rushes through the soil. Allow it to be slightly pot-bound, so don’t repot each year.
Fertilizer: Monthly with a soluble, general-purpose formula as directed in the spring and summer, then mixed at half strength in the fall, skip during winter
Potential issues: Avoid overwatering to prevent rotting.
Companion plants: Jade plants, Dward Schefflera and Blunt-Leaf Peperomias.
Bonus tip: Dust occasionally with a damp cloth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Propagate Snake Plant in Water?
You can use the water propagation method for getting a new Sansevieria plant. Simply put root cuttings of snake plant in water, but make sure to add some pebbles or stones. It is a slow method and it will take approximately 2 months for the roots to sprout. Soil propagation is still a quicker method, for instance by taking few cuttings and inserting them in potting soil. Root division will also ensure you get a variegated Sansevieria.
How Long Does it Take Snake Plants to Propagate?
Propagating Sansevieria is a very quick process lasting around 15 minutes and ensures you get more plants. However, you will need to wait as your cuttings start growing roots and leaves since if the plant has only one leaf, it lessens the degree of successful propagation. Plant propagation with cuttings in water will most probably last a bit longer, so be patient until you get more plants
How Do You Take Cuttings from a Snake Plant?
Snake plant propagation is possible by taking leaf cuttings, offsets, and root division. You can get multiple plants depending on how many new plants you choose to propagate. To take snake plant cuttings, simply use a clean knife and remove few snake plant leaves from the mother plant. Cut the leaf into sections. You can root cuttings in water (water propagation) or in soil (soil propagation). If you root cuttings in water, add some pebbles and change the water occasionally. Once cuttings grow roots, transplant in individual pots.
Can You Cut a Snake Plant Leaf and Plant It?
Absolutely, propagating Sansevieria is possible by taking a leaf cutting and it is a very easy way to get new snake plants. Gently remove a leaf cutting from the original plant with a sharp knife and cut the original leaf (new leaf) into sections. Insert the cuttings in dry soil or sand. The soil method is known to prevent root rot. Water the soil well and position it in indirect light. With roots growing on your cuttings in soil, you can transplant the new plant into its separate pot.
No tropical plant is more conducive to indoor gardening than Sansevieria plants. It looks off-putting and dangerous with its sharply pointed and thick leaves, giving rise to the common name. However, they thrive beautifully as indoor plants even if you don’t have green thumbs and there are seemingly endless variations on the plant with yellow-green-gray leaf patterns.
Try out different cultivars such as “Moonshine” with silver-green leaves and “Bird’s Nest”, a pure dark green “Jade”, a gray leaf edged with yellow “Starlite” or “Golden Hahnii” and multiply the collection by propagating them and sharing them with your family and friends.