How to Properly Water Your Snake Plants (Your Final Guide!)
Although the majority of snake plants can be found growing in the tropics, this doesn’t mean they don’t need water at all! Snake plants are easy to take care of, no doubt about that. But without proper watering, you may end up struggling to keep these plants alive.
Snake plants must only be watered when their soil is completely dry. Generally, they can be watered until it seeps out the drainage hole. Water them monthly. However, 1) soil, 2) light, 3) pot, 4) season, and 5) age will affect how much water the plant needs.
Watering may seem like a simple task. However, by properly watering snake plants, you can prevent a myriad of issues such as bacterial soft rot, disease, and even the death of your plant! Without further ado, here’s a detailed guide on how to best water snake plants.
The Best Way to Water Snake Plants
Snake plants should only be watered when the soil is completely dry. Water the succulents during the day until water flows out of the drainage. Do this once a month.
Snake plants have the reputation of being absolutely indestructible. But the truth is, much of their ability to survive depends on how much moisture the plant is regularly given.
Some snake plant owners prefer to give their Sansevieria or Dracaena plants small amounts of water, like half a glass, to lessen the risk of overwatering. In most cases, this isn’t enough.
For healthy growth, snake plants need to be watered deeply. To saturate the roots and assist with their nutrient uptake, it’s best to water the plant in the morning until the water streams out of the drainage.
Pro Tip: Avoid getting moisture in the crown or the base of snake plants when watering them. These small crevices will hold the excess water and potentially cause the plant to rot.
Generally, most snake plants will be totally happy with water every month.
But remember, snake plants are succulents that store water inside their fleshy leaves. Don’t be afraid to let its soil become bone dry before you water it again, this is for the best!
To be certain, here’s a reliable moisture meter from Amazon to help you properly water your snake plants!
5 Factors That Affect How Much Water Snake Plants Need
Factors that impact how much water snake plants require include 1) soil, 2) light, 3) pot, 4) season, and 5) age of the plant.
Now that you’ve figured out how to water the plant, it’s time to determine how often and how much water your snake plants will need. It might be convenient to just water them based on a schedule, but your snake plant’s watering needs depend entirely on these next factors!
Soils high in organic matter will hold moisture for long periods and will not need to be watered as much. Conversely, if the snake plant is in well-draining soil containing perlite, the moisture will dry out faster and will need to be replaced more regularly.
Although we might view it to be separate, the soil is part of the plant’s microhabitat. Hence, it has a great influence on how much water your snake plant needs.
The same is to be said of the pot, but I’ll be covering that later on.
When you’re growing your snake plants in a soil-heavy mix, keep in mind that this soil will hold on to moisture for longer. In this situation, the snake plant won’t need much water.
Since snake plants are so sensitive to being overwatered, they’re typically kept in gritty and well-draining soils. Soil amendments like orchid bark, lava rocks, and perlite will increase drainage and help the soil dry out faster.
In times of doubt, let the soil dry out. Snake plants should have dry soil rather than soggy soil.
Lighting is an important factor in watering snake plants. Snake plants kept in full sun or bright light will need ample water to live, while those in shade do not.
One of the reasons snake plants are so popular is that they can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions. When it comes to watering snake plants, it depends on how much light the plant is receiving.
If you’re growing your snake plant in areas with less-than-ideal lighting, you won’t need to water it as much.
Snake plants grown in low-light conditions are more susceptible to being overwatered and must be handled with care.
This is because the plant has less sunlight for photosynthesis and therefore does not have the same amount of moisture as a plant in full sun.
On the contrary, if your snake plants are kept in full sun outdoors or under strong grow lights, they’d benefit from more generous watering sessions.
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More moisture is retained for longer periods when snake plants are in large plastic pots. On the other hand, smaller pots made of porous materials like terracotta will quickly lose moisture and need more water.
As I mentioned earlier, the pots you use have a huge role in when and how you water.
Small pots tend to hold less water and will need more frequent watering. Larger containers, however, require more caution, especially if your snake plant is still small or young.
Because these pots are holding a higher amount of soil, the soil and pot will retain a higher volume of water. Therefore, it might be safer to use less water for these plants.
The material used to make it is also important. Plastic pots have lower rates of evaporation and retain water for longer periods. In contrast, porous materials like clay or terracotta allow water to dry out faster.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a plastic pot and are worried about overwatering, tip the pot over to pour any excess water out. Place a paper towel underneath the pot after watering, and the towel will help wick excess moisture out of the drainage!
Snake plants grow more prolifically in the summer and will require more water. But during the winter, it’s best to keep the plant dry to prevent frost damage and overwatering.
In the winter, snake plants hardly need any water at all. If you live in a colder area, your snake plants can probably handle being watered less.
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Don’t worry though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that these plants are frost sensitive. Hence, they must stay dry to survive these colder temperatures.
In the summer, however, plants receive more warmth and sunlight than usual. This additional light and heat will encourage the plant to grow more, so they’ll need more water than usual.
You’ll probably find your snake plant showing signs of thirst more often during this season, so keep an eye on them and water them accordingly!
If the snake plant is still young and actively growing roots, it will require more water. Meanwhile, older plants with established roots and leaves can handle being watered less.
One final thing that is sometimes overlooked is the age of the snake plant. Snake plants that are young or recently propagated require more water to continue growing.
Water-propagated cuttings, in particular, will need more care and moisture to develop roots once they are potted with soil.
Mature snake plants that are more than a year old, however, can store more moisture inside their established succulent leaves. In other words, they do not need as much water.
This, however, doesn’t mean they don’t need water at all. You should still give older snake plants a thorough watering. They simply need less water. Plus, they can handle moisture stress better.
How to Save an Overwatered Snake Plant
Soft yellow leaves and mushy roots in snake plants are common symptoms of overwatering. Remove any dead roots and growth. Then repot the plant in well-draining soil. To avoid overwatering, let the soil dry out completely before watering.
Aside from inspecting your watering schedule, there are a few signs of overwatering to look out for.
You can tell your snake plants are overwatered when their leaves feel soft and mushy and turn yellow at the base.
It may even have sunken brown or yellow spots on the leaves—this is a sign of bacterial soft rot, typically seen in snake plants suffocated with water.
Additionally, the roots will start to fall apart and disintegrate due to overexposure to water.
Healthy snake plants have orange roots. But if the roots are brown, black, or mushy, the plant has been overwatered.
When this happens, remove all the dead roots and leaves. Remove as much of the soggy soil as you can and repot the snake plant in dry and gritty soil. Let the roots dry out and make sure to ease up on the watering.
How to Save an Underwatered Snake Plant
Underwatered snake plants will have curled, wrinkled leaves with brown crispy tips and dry rhizomes. To rehydrate it, soak the plant by putting its pot in water overnight and water it again the next morning until water escapes the drainage.
Underwatered snake plants look far different from those that are overwatered.
Rather than become soft and mushy, the leaves will curl inwards and become crispy on the ends. Wrinkling can also be seen at the base of the plant or on the leaves.
If the rhizomes, or underground stems, become hollow and brittle, your snake plant is severely dehydrated and needs to be rescued immediately!
After disposing of any dead plant material, take the whole plant and set the pot in a dish of water overnight. By doing this, the water will seep through the soil in the drainage holes and help saturate the soil and roots more thoroughly.
Give it another drink and water it normally until the water runs out in the morning after. The roots should be rehydrated this way, and the plant will be able to replenish any moisture or nutrients it lost during the drought.
Can I water my snake plant with ice cubes?
Generally, it’s best not to water snake plants using ice cubes. Because they are tropical plants, they will easily be shocked by the cold, especially if the ice cubes are touching their leaves or roots.
Can you water snake plants with salt water?
Saltwater is not ideal for snake plants and can even be fatal. Sodium will dehydrate the plant by extracting moisture from its roots. Tap water is acceptable, but it can contain salt and minerals and cause a sodium buildup. Rainwater or filtered water is best for watering snake plants, both contain fewer contaminants.
Summary of Watering Snake Plants
Although snake plants are succulents that can tolerate drought and neglect, it’s best to water them deeply until the water runs out of the pot. More importantly, only water them again when their soil is completely dry.
The watering needs of snake plants will vary depending on the soil, light, pot, season, and age of the plant.
Overwatered snake plants can be identified by their soft mushy leaves and roots. These must be repotted in dry, fast-draining soil. Underwatered snake plants will have dry roots and crispy leaves. They can be rehydrated by soaking them in water overnight.
- “Dracaena trifasciata” by n/a in NC State University
- “Soil texture determines how much and how often to water” by n/a in Oregon State University
- “1337 – Snake Plant” by n/a in Colorado State University