Learn How to Propagate a Snake Plant: 4 Proven Methods

By: Matt Slaymaker
November 24, 2023
How to Propagate a Snake Plant
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Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata), known as Sansevieria and "Mother-in-Law's Tongue," is among the most popular indoor house plants. Its tolerance to dry, tropical climates and easy growth through propagation make it an excellent choice for people starting their plant parenting journey.

Propagating a snake plant is a simple process that lets you generate new plants at no cost or share them with your friends. You only need the right tools, healthy leaves or seeds, and follow simple steps to achieve the desired result. Read on to learn how to propagate a snake plant using these four proven methods: in soil, in water, by division, and from seeds.

Explore our diverse snake plant collection, perfect for both beginners and experienced plant enthusiasts alike

Snake Plant Propagation: Getting Started

Propagating a snake plant is an exciting gardening task that requires careful planning and consideration. This section will help you understand when to propagate a snake plant and gather the essential tools for a flourishing outcome.

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When to Propagate a Snake Plant

The spring and early summer months prove most favorable, coinciding with the plant's active growth phase. During this phase, the plant exhibits robust energy, promoting successful propagation. Avoid propagation during the dormant winter months when the plant's energy is focused on root development rather than leaf growth.

Best Time to Propagate a Snake Plant

Early morning or late afternoon is the ideal time to propagate a snake plant. This minimizes stress on the plant and enhances the chances of successful propagation. Avoid midday heat as it can cause excessive moisture loss.

How Do I Know If My Snake Plant Is Ready to Be Propagated?

Look for these signs:

  • Mature and healthy-looking leaves that are at least 4-6 inches tall.
  • Visible pups or offsets that you can separate and propagate independently.
  • A healthy root system.

Essential Tools for Snake Plant Propagation

Essential Tools for Snake Plant Propagation
  • Sharp knives, scissors, garden shears, or pruners for precise cutting. Sanitize your cutting tool with alcohol beforehand to prevent the spread of diseases, and wear protective gear for safety.
  • Well-established, healthy snake plant leaf
  • A planter or plant pot with drainage holes (for proper drainage)
  • Potting soil to create an ideal environment for root growth
  • Water
  • Snake plant seeds (for seed propagation)
  • A water-tight vessel (for water propagating)

How to Propagate a Snake Plant: 4 Methods Explained

Snake plant propagation is a simple, straightforward process that anyone can perform with the right tools. Interestingly, there are four methods to choose from, and each provides unique advantages to suit your preferences and conditions. 

1. Snake Plant Soil Propagation

Snake Plant Soil Propagation

 

Soil propagation is a reliable and straightforward method for expanding your snake plant collection. It involves putting snake plant leaf cutting directly in the soil. This method works best in the summer and spring as the roots will develop faster.

How to Cut a Snake Plant for Propagation

Here’s how to cut snake plant leaves for propagation:

  • Choose a mature, healthy leaf you want to propagate.
  • Cut the leaf close to the soil line using a clean, sharp scissor or knife.
  • Then cut the leaf into several pieces, each 1-2 inches long (depending on the size and type of plant you choose)
  • Mark each snake plant cutting at the bottom with a slanted cut or an upside-down V. This will help you remember the side the roots will sprout and provides more surface for root growth.
  • Allow the leaf pieces to sit out for 1-2 days until they start to callous over. This helps prevent bacteria in the soil from entering the leaf and causing rot.
  • Fill the planter with fresh, well-drained potting soil, and add a slow-release fertilizer. Then, insert the bottom of the cutting into the soil, burying it at least an inch deep.

Pros

Cons

  • Root growth is invisible – unless you dig up the plant
  • New snake plants may not have diversifications

2. How to Propagate a Snake Plant in Water

How to Propagate a Snake Plant in Water
Source: Gardenstead

Putting root cuttings in water is the easiest way of propagating a snake plant. It's excellent for using "off" leaves that fall over and break or bend and offers a great way to utilize extra leaves you prune from your snake plant.

Here's how to propagate a snake plant in water:

  • Cut the leaf from the mother plant about 0.5-inch above the soil
  • Put the bottom of each cutting in water, submerging 25% of the cutting
  • Keep the pot in a room with sufficient bright indirect sunlight
  • Replace the water weekly to prevent rot and provide oxygen to the leaves
  • If you like, transfer the roots to the soil once they sprout

How Long Does It Take for Snake Plants to Propagate in Water?

It takes between 2 and 4 months for snake plants to propagate in water. During this period, you'll see roots develop from your cutting. You'll also notice some shoots or small growths on the roots.

Watch the video below to learn how to propagate a snake plant from leaf (in water).

Pros

  • Root growth is visible
  • Quick and straightforward DIY snake propagation method

Cons

  • It's the slowest method of propagating a snake plant
  • Some roots may get damaged when transplanting to soil

3. Snake Plant Propagation by Division

Snake Plant Propagation by Division
Source: Biggergarden

It's a fast yet the messiest method of propagating your root-bound and overgrown snake plants. All you need is to divide your snake plants in the spring or early summer for the roots to grow and settle in their new pots. Here are the steps to guide you:

  • Remove the parent snake plant from the pot and lay it on a towel, drop cloth or tarp.
  • Slice the root ball of the mother plant into various sections using a sharp knife or scissor sterilized with alcohol. Ensure each portion has at least three rhizomes, a snake plant pup, or a leafy top.
  • Insert the sections into a pot and cover the roots with well-drained potting soils to support the plant's weight.

Pros

  • New leaves may have variegation, unlike the original plant
  • Quite faster than leaf propagation

Cons

  • Requires a large plant with multiple growths

4. Propagating a Snake Plant From Seed

Propagating a Snake Plant From Seed
Source: Balcony Garden

If you're a patient gardener, this is the snake plant propagation method to consider. Here's how to do it:

  • Buy or harvest seeds from mature snake plant flowers.
  • Put the seeds on a wet towel and place them in an air-tight jelly jar or seed trays for germination.
  • Make sure the a pot has drainage holes and fill it with fresh potting soil mixed with organic or slow-release fertilizer.
  • Gently push the germinated seeds in the well-drained soil.
  • Cover the pot with a clear glass dome to create a mini-greenhouse effect and increase humidity.
  • Transplant the seedlings into individual pots once they're large enough

Pros

  • Allows for genetic diversity among propagated plants
  • Provides a unique and educational experience

Cons

  • Longer process compared to the other methods
  • The success rate varies, requiring patience and experimentation

Caring for Your Propagated Snake Plant

With successful propagation comes the responsibility of providing the optimal environment for your new snake plants. Consider these crucial factors for their well-being.

The Right Soil Mix for Your Snake Plant

Use a well-drained potting mix, such as a cactus/succulent mix with pumice or perlite. This ensures proper aeration and prevents waterlogging.

Light and Temperature: The Sweet Spot

While snake plants are low light indoor plants, they thrive in bright, indirect light. Maintain a temperature range of 60-85°F (18-27°C) for optimal root and foliage growth. Your plant may yellow and die or its leaves turn brown at the tips and on the edges if the temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C).

Watering Your New Snake Plant

Water your new snake plant sparingly, allowing the soil to dry between waterings. Overwatering may cause root rot, while underwatering may cause dehydration. Remember, Sansevierias are low water plants, so strike a balance to maintain soil moisture without excess. Replace the water every one or two weeks to prevent rotting.

How Do You Tell If a Snake Plant Is Underwatered or Overwatered?

Monitor the leaves for signs of overwatering (yellowing, mushy leaves) or underwatering (wilting, dry leaves). Adjust your watering routine accordingly.

Trouble Shooting Common Issues With New Snake Plants

Snake Plant Troubleshooting Issues
Source: Bigger Garden

Snake plants are naturally easy to grow as they require little maintenance. They're best known to tolerate different lighting conditions and can cope with neglect, so it's difficult to imagine anything going wrong. Still, the truth is these plants may face various problems, which are easy to fix, and this section sheds light on some of these issues.

Why Won't My Snake Plant Grow?

It's simple - your snake plant isn't getting enough light. These plants thrive in rooms with warm temperature and bright, indirect sunlight. So, ensure you place the pot near a window or in a well-lit room.

Another possible reason is that you're overwatering the plant, which causes the roots to rot. Therefore, water your snake plant in moderation without waterlogging the soil to ensure optimal growth. Then, add a slow-release fertilizer to give your plant sufficient nutrients for growth.

Combatting Rot and Disease

Ensure proper drainage to avoid waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot. If signs of disease appear, treat with a suitable bactericide or fungicide.

Dealing with Pests: Prevention and Cure

Watch for common pests like mealybugs or spider mites, which can damage your snake plant. Use neem oil or insecticidal soap to cure and protect your snake plant against pests and diseases.

Advanced Snake Plant Propagation Techniques

If you're an enthusiast seeking to enhance your snake plant propagation skills, there are a few advanced techniques to consider, described below. 

Using Rooting Hormones: Pros and Cons

Rooting hormones can speed up root development. However, use them sparingly to avoid overstimulation. While they enhance success rates, some people prefer a more natural approach, like applying an organic fertilizer.

Creating the Perfect Environment for Your Propagated Snake Plant

Choose the ideal environment for your propagated snake plant to thrive. Greenhouses provide controlled conditions, fostering optimal growth. Ensure adequate humidity and airflow control to mimic the plant's natural habitat and promote vigorous development.

How to Propagate a Snake Plant: FAQs

Q: What Is the Fastest Method of Snake Plant Propagation?

A: The fastest method of snake plant propagation is generally through division. This technique involves separating a mature plant into distinct sections, each capable of growing independently. With established roots, divisions can rapidly develop into thriving snake plants.

Q: Is It Better to Propagate a Snake Plant in Water or Soil?

A: The choice between water and soil propagation depends on personal preference and environmental factors. Water propagation is faster but there’s  the risk of transplant shock. On the other hand, soil propagation takes longer but it promotes stronger roots. 

Q: Can You Propagate a Snake Plant From Just a Leaf?

A: Yes, snake plants can be propagated from individual leaves. Select a healthy, mature leaf, cut it at a 45-degree angle, and plant it in soil or water. While this method requires more patience, it can yield successful results with time.

Q: Do Snake Plant Cuttings Need to Dry?

A: Allowing snake plant cuttings to dry before planting is usually not necessary, unless you’re using the soil propagation method. 

Conclusion

Propagating a snake plant is a gratifying experience that allows you to witness the marvel of plant growth and expansion. Whether you choose the soil, water, division, or seed method, each has its unique advantages and considerations.

Comprehensive snake plant care applies to young propagated plants, as well. So proper nurturing requires attention to soil, light, and watering, as well as troubleshooting skills for fixing possible issues.

In addition, some advanced techniques can help you create a carefully controlled environment for your snake plants that can further enhance your propagation success. Embrace the joys and challenges of snake plant propagation, and watch your green oasis flourish!