How to Care for your Variegated Snake Plant

The Sansevieria trifasciata Laurentii, or commonly known as a Variegated Snake Plant, is often referred to as the ‘easiest plant to grow.’ It is considered a succulent plant and stores water in its leaves, which means low maintenance!  Check out this guide to learn more about caring for your Variegated Snake Plant.

By: Lively Root
June 10, 2020
How to Care for your Variegated Snake Plant
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What is a Variegated Snake Plant?

This tropical house plant is a structural sensation within your home or office decor. It’s variegated leaves show off dark green to lighter greenish-gray horizontal bands with light yellow margins. The rigid leaves grow 3-4 feet tall, standing vertically like a soldier pointing it’s tips upward. The unique look makes it stand out against your other plants, which means it is a great addition to any green collection! 

Because it's virtually undestroyable, it is a top contender for the ‘easiest plant to grow.’ It is considered a succulent plant and stores water in its leaves, which means it is very low maintenance! It truly is “leave it and forget it (then remember it)” tough, and can handle a variety of conditions. Variegated Snake Plants are great gifts for any beginning plant parent to practice their skills. It also is a great air purifier, and is often used within Feng Shui. 

Bloom: Don’t expect to see a bloom because it’s rare, but if you are one of the lucky ones, it will have numerous dainty, fragrant, white flowers clustered near the top of a tall stalk. When in full bloom, these flowers look similar to lily bouquets, giving off a wonderful scent. Unfortunately, this happens most often when the plant is stressed for some reason, so consider this a sign that you need to check in on your plant!

Toxicity Level: While not shown to have only low toxicity in humans, they are mildly toxic to pets, cats, and dogs as it does contain saponins which act as natural insecticide and fungicide. This toxin can cause oral swelling and numbness and intestinal distress. Vomiting and diarrhea are common side-effects of ingestion, and the plant juices can cause dermatitis and skin rashes. Eating a significant part of the plant can be fatal, so leave this out of reach if your pet or children may get too curious!

Air Cleaner: Cleans, filters and purifies the air in your home or office of formaldehyde and benzene. That means this plant will not only keep your room looking fresh, but it will make the air fresh too! Snake plants are one of the few plants that continue to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen even during the night.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Snake Plants

Great for People: 

  • Who are new plant parents and are looking to start somewhere easy
  • Who are on the go and don’t have time for prissy plants
  • Who are world travellers and may be gone for long periods of time
  • Who has a small space but wants immediate impact.
  • Who love variety and variegated leaves

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Great for Spaces:

  • Like rooms with artificial, low-medium to high light (northern, eastern, southern exposure)
  • That would benefit from a uniquely architectural plant
  • That have stale air in need of a refresh
  • That have a lower humidity or are drier



How to Care for a Variegated Snake Plant 

Light preference: This statuesque indoor plant does best in medium light but can survive in a range of low to high. Brighter lighting will enhance the colors in the leaves and edges will appear more yellow. This plant can handle some direct sun, but not too much. They can grow in shadier corners, though it will be slowly. Place near the north, south, or eastern-facing exterior window for best outcomes. 

Water/Humidity: Be sure to water this plant when you receive it. Let the soil dry between waterings. Water it approximately once a month in an average home or office environment. This architecturally structured plant should never sit in water for any length of time. Be careful, applying too much moisture as the stalks can rot. To help prevent root rot, make sure that your pot has appropriate drainage holes, and that the soil also is high-drainage. To check if the soil is totally dry, consider investing in a moisture meter. This indoor plant doesn’t prefer humidity but can tolerate it and allow you to water much less. Turn your plant 180° each time you water to support all sides for adequate light requirements. 

Ideal Temps: Provide room temperatures around 55-80°F(12°-27°C) to keep this plant happy. The warmer the better! Be careful of where you place this plant, as cold drafts can harm it. Seeping windows during the winter or air conditioning vents or units are common culprits for chilling your plants, make sure to keep your plant out of the way of these areas. 

Plant Food/Fertilizer: See our available organic fertilizer. Fertilize once or twice per year to optimum growth and plant health. Too much fertilizer can harm the plant, so keep track of when you do feed your Snake Plant. 

Repotting Frequency: Replant these plants when the roots are too crowded in the container. Check the root system every 2-3 years and, if so, transfer to a container one size larger using a lightweight indoor potting mix that is high-drainage. Always use pots with drainage solutions so that the Snake Plant doesn’t get waterlogged and develop root rot, one of the main ways these plants can die.  

Cleaning: Take a damp cloth and delicately wipe the leaves without using commercial leaf cleaners or shine products. These could damage and discolor the leaves. If overwatering occurs, leaves will become droopy and rot at the base. Remove them with sterile pruners.



Common Issues of the Variegated Snake Plant

  • Overwatering will cause root rot. Roots will die from a lack of oxygen or overgrowth of soil fungus, which spreads to the roots, turning them brown and soft. Repot the indoor plant, removing the infected soil, and add clean indoor plant mix. Adding mycorrhizae (found in some fertilizer) can ward off unwanted bacteria and fungi as well when replanting. 
  • Snake Plants desire typical home temperatures. If this plant is exposed to cold temperatures, it will damage the cell walls leaving scarring, yellowing, or mushy leaves. Keep an eye out for cold drafts in places by windows in the winter and air conditioning vents or units.
  • Mealybugs can attack this plant if stressed. Inspect the leaves and base of the plant each time you water. 
  • Spider mites have a productive nature and can, at times, attack the waxy coating to access the Snake Plant's internal fluids. Even though you may not water your plants weekly, admire their leaves, and watch their overall health. 

Complimentary Plants with your Variegated Snake Plant 

To compliment your Variegated Snake Plant, try the Spider Plant! It’s another excellent plant for beginners and proves to be similar in light requirements as the Snake Plant. It enjoys bright to moderate, indirect light too. It needs a little air space to enhance the view since its leaves spill over the edge of the container. It’s also a variegated leaf plant, making an attractive comparison to the other plants in the mix. 

Bromeliads are another favorite since they come in a variety of colors. Their thick leaves mimic the Snake Plant. Overwatering can lead to the same results with root or crown rot, so these two together don’t like soggy soil. And again, this one is another indoor plant to grow that removes air pollutants. 

For more information on caring for your new indoor plant, check out our comprehensive care guide here