Snake Plant is an umbrella term for a range of plants in the Sansevieria genus. Notable varieties of Snake Plant include the Mother-in-Law's Tongue (Sansevieria laurentii and Sansevieria trifasciata Zeylanica) and the archetypal Snake: Sansevieria cylindrica.
The Sansevieria cylindrica is a tough, easy-care succulent, found across the continent of Africa. It grows upright in a series of water-filled, spikey fronds. You'll sometimes see these plaited or otherwise trained out of this upright growth habit, but we like our Snake Plants au naturale!
Mother-in-Law's Tongues have similar properties, but where the Cylindrica's fronds are rounded (sometimes called witches fingers), Mother-in-Law's Tongues have flatter, weaving fronds and a tighter growth habit.
Snake Plants are loved in homes and offices for their sculptural simplicity, as well as their tolerance for neglect and imperfect light conditions. With their simple green colouring and streamlined form, your can really go for it with pots, without fear of clashing.
Having said that, these plants do have it in them to flower, if cared for well. Look out for delicate white blooms after a particularly good Summer, if you have a mature Snake.
How to care for a Snake Plant
To get your Sansevieria to thrive, give it as much indirect sunlight as possible. Though it will tolerate low light - these plants are favourites in offices and tricky spaces - they do best in brighter conditions.
Sansevieria cylindrica should be watered very very sparingly. In their strong spiky fronds they store a great deal of water, and they can easily rot if watered too liberally.
What kind of soil do Snake Plants need?
If you keep your Snake Plant for long enough, you’ll need to rep-pot it so it can get new nutrients. Make sure you read our guide on how to repot indoor plants here and opt for well-draining, cactus soil.
Check out our Plant Care A-Z for a quick-guide to Snake Plants.
How Snake Plants take care of you
Living with houseplants, practicing active plant care and building a relationship with nature has been shown to benefit our health in a variety of ways. All plants have the potential to do this, but some are more adept than others, depending on their formal or chemical characteristics.
Benefits of the Sansevierias include improving the quality of the air you breathe, inducing feelings of calm and helping you feel alert.
How does this work?
We tend to associate foliage plants with air-purification, but Snake Plants are just as potent. They may not have lush green leaves, but they have a broad surface area, covered in tiny plant pores which take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen.
All plants produce oxygen as they photosynthesise, but these guys are especially proficient at doing so. They’re very close relation (the Sansevieria laurentii) was one of the houseplants featured in NASA’s famous Clean Air study.
It’s been well-reported that nature is beneficial to our mental health. Though the connection between nature and wellbeing is strong, the reasons for this are purely theoretical: it’s generally accepted that we respond well to particular forms due to the way we’ve adapted on an evolutionary level.
For example, studies have shown that the colour green makes people feel alert and healthy, encouraging them to make better decisions, and feel more vibrant. Big green plants, like Sansevierias, are therefore good to have in living rooms and offices as they help us feel energised and productive.
You can buy your own Snake Plant here, and start experiencing the benefits for yourself.