How to Propagate a Snake Plant (Step by Step Guide)


The sansevieria or snake plant is one of the easiest houseplants to have, especially for a beginner anxious about caring for this new leafy member of the house. Its leaves will create an indoor spectacle throughout the year, even with little care. Propagating the snake plant is a rewarding adventure for any houseplant owner who wants to own the process of producing beautiful indoor plants.

To propagate a snake plant, keep in mind the following:

  1. Cut a mature and healthy leaf using a sharp scalpel or shears in the warm seasons of spring or summer.
  2. Allow the cut section to dry for a day or two to prevent root rot.
  3. Place your cutting in warm water or well-drained soil and allow 3 to 4 weeks for the roots to emerge.
  4. Provide bright light and change the water to provide fresh nutrients.

However, successful propagation goes beyond placing a leaf in water or specially prepared soil. One method may also work for one person or region and not the other. The technique used during propagation also affects variegation outcomes, meaning that you must manage your expectations by controlling the process of propagation.

That’s why we created this step-by-step guide on how to propagate the snake plant and guarantee success.

Let’s start, shall we?

Considerations before Propagating a Snake Plant

The most crucial requirement for propagating a snake plant is a reason. Most plant owners buy them from nurseries and are spared the trouble of propagation. However, if you are into houseplants for the long haul, it helps to know how to grow a personal garden without having to rush to the nursery every time you need a houseplant.

So, why do you need to know how to propagate a snake plant?

  1. To grow the kind of garden or houseplants that you want. You avoid depending on nurseries whose propagation routines are unknown. It is also a chance to grow the variety of snake plants you want by controlling the propagation and growth environment.
  2. Propagation also helps you use old leaves to grow your indoor bush instead of incurring the expense of buying houseplants every time you need to improve your garden. Leaves from pruning or those that are too old can be used during propagation.
  3. Propagation helps you to regrow your plant and indoor garden after damage through such incidences as root rot or chemical buildup in the soil. The old leaves are used to grow new plants instead of buying others from the nursery.
  4. It is an opportunity to regenerate your plant garden by introducing young shoots that have already acclimatized. The old leaves are used during propagation to renew the garden and give it a fresh as well as a youthful look. It gives your interior a new appearance that is also more appealing.

Plant owners also use propagation to create younger plants that can be used as gifts to friends and family members. Whatever the reason for learning propagation, it is necessary to do it right so that the outcome is predictable.

Luckily, the snake plant offers numerous propagation options, making your work easier and allowing you to choose the most comfortable. Each technique or option requires particular expertise and will deliver remarkable results.

Snake plant propagation offers multiple options:

  • Using Cuttings (rooted in Water or Soil
  • Via Division
  • Through Rhizomes

Propagating a Snake Plant Via Cuttings

It is enjoyable to grow your snake plant from scratch without having to depend on nurseries. Cuttings offer an easy way out because they offer the option of water or soil. The success rate using water or soil with cuttings will depend on the care you provide these cuttings, from harvesting them on the original plant to placing them on soil or water and transplanting.

Here are general tips for propagating snake plants using cuttings to boost the overall rate using cuttings, whether you are using soil or water:

Always choose healthy leaf cuttings for the best results. A healthy leaf can withstand the shock of being cut and regenerate in a short time. In the case of disease infestation, it will prevent transmission to other pots or parts of your garden.

The leaf should not be too young or too old. Old leaves grow slowly and might not even withstand the shock of cutting to the point of regenerating. If the leaf is too young, it withers faster and will fail to regenerate when placed on water or soil. Too old or too young leaves reduce the chances of regeneration and will affect the time taken for your plant to recover.

Snake plants take time to propagate. Do not expect overnight regeneration; else, you will be disappointed and even abandon the exercise. The snake plant takes up to a month for the roots to appear even with rooting hormones. Slight changes in conditions, like heat or brightness, could also affect the outcome. Exercise a lot of patience while monitoring the propagation conditions.

Maintain the direction of your cutting when placing it on water or in the soil. Since a single leaf can produce several cuttings, monitor the positioning so that it is not upside down. Unless the lower side is in the soil or water, your plant will not germinate.

Cut V-shaped notches at the bottom of your cutting to increase the surface area for root growth and also to mark the upper and lower sides of your cutting.

Cuttings cannot be used to propagate a variegated snake plant. The variegation is lost, especially for the variety with yellow margins at the edges of the leaf. The only way to maintain the variegation is by using rhizomes or by division.

Cuttings from the same leaf or plant will still produce different results. It is the care provided that determines the outcome of the process.

Here is a look at the steps you need to follow to propagate the snake plant using cuttings. 

Steps to Propagate a Snake Plant Using Cuttings in Water

What you will need:

  1. A mature snake plant leaf, use the old ones that break and fall off, yet they are still alive.
  2. A sharp knife or scissors
  3. A vase, jar, or heavy glass
  4. Water
  5. Rooting Hormones

Make a clean cut using a sharp knife or scalpel that will not damage the leaf’s edge. The leaf should be cut as close as possible to the soil. The cells near the bottom are mature enough to withstand the shock and also root faster.

The leaf may be placed directly into the water without being split into multiple leaves. The single leaf may be sliced into multiple cuttings, each being used to grow a new shoot. It helps you to grow more plants without decimating the original snake plant.

Place the cut leaf in a warm but moist place to allow the cut area to dry and callous over. The idea is to prevent root rot, one of the problems that would stall your propagation project.

Place a single leaf into the water, ensuring that at least 4″-5″ inches are in the water. The vase or glass should then be placed at a position where your cutting will receive a lot of indirect light. Prepare to change the propagation water after a few days to stimulate rooting.

Propagating the snake plant using water requires a great deal of patience. It might take more than a month before you have seen any roots yet. It takes an even more extended period for the leaf pulps to appear. Keep changing the water after a few days and monitoring the temperature to keep the water warm.

Do not rush to transfer the new plant just because of a few millimeters of roots. Wait until the roots are an inch long and can withstand potting. Place the plant on well-draining but moist soil, preferably a mix with pumice or perlite. The new plant will have a life of its own in two to three weeks.

Steps to Propagate a Snake Plant using Cuttings in Soil

Propagating the snake plant in water, especially a clear glass, is fascinating because you can see the tiny roots emerging. However, propagating in soil comes with its advantages, especially the fact that you will not need to transplant the new pulps. You can also be done with propagation in a single step.

What You Need To Propagate Snake Plant Cuttings In Soil:

  1. Sharp knife, scalpel, or scissors
  2. Freshly cut mature snake plant leaf
  3. Moist potting mix
  4. Rooting hormones

Cut the leaf you want to propagate as close as possible to the soil. Remember that a sharp and clean cut will improve the chances of getting better results. A mistake when slicing the leaf will kill the cutting.

However, you will only know about it a month or two down the line when the cutting fails to produce roots. By this time, you might have lost the season and have to wait for another year.

Allow the cut leaf to sit for a few days in a warm and moist place. Return to it when it begins to callous over because it will be ready for potting.Allowing the leaf to stay for a few days ensures that bacteria do not enter the leaf and cause root rot or other infections.

Place the newly cut leaf in moist and well-drained soil. If you had made several cuts, you must get your directions right to avoid placing the cutting up-side-down. You also may enhance rooting by dipping the cutting in the rooting hormone.

Place the cutting in well-drained succulent soil or a similar potting medium. The soil or potting medium must be moist and placed at a warm place.

Remember, it can take up to a month before the roots emerge. Furthermore, it might take another month for the sprouts of new growth to emerge. In the intervening period, ensure that the soil is moist and maintain warm temperatures between 65ºF (18.3ºC) and 85ºF(29ºC).

Now that we discussed the propagation using cuttings in detail, it helps to explore the other alternatives in passing to give you an idea of the other options available.

Propagating Snake Plant by Division

Divide the potted snake plant by half or into appropriate sections. Use a sharp knife to cut through the rooting, ensuring that you inflict minimum damage. A sharp cut also reduces the shock that may slow down the recovery and regeneration of your plant.

Propagating a snake plant by division is faster because only a section of the root is affected. Most of the other shoots will continue growing naturally, helping to keep your garden or indoor plants lively despite propagation. The method is also used to control the size of an indoor garden by reducing or increasing the size.

The new divisions must be given the right conditions of heat and moisture to stimulate growth. In case propagation is being done to control root rot or damage from chemical buildup, you will need to prepare a new potting mix.

Using the same soil here spreads the damage and will produce disappointing results.

Propagating a Snake Plant Using Rhizomes

The underground stems will grow into new snake plants under the right conditions. Cut the overground leaves and place the rhizomes in the potting mix. The soil requires enough moisture but must not be soggy.

While rhizomes are planted underground, the new shoots will require a lot of bright light to grow once they begin appearing from the soil. The best time to propagate the snake plant using rhizomes is during summer when the weather is favorable. 

Rhizomes do not require rooting hormones to grow. Further, the rhizomes can be planted directly into the pot, making propagation easier.

Tips To Care For a Propagated Snake Plant

Rooting and the emergence of sprouts is just the beginning of the journey towards growing a magnificent snake plant. Remember, it takes months and years of care to see a vibrant snake plant in your home or office.

Below are some of the conditions you should provide to your snake plant immediately the roots and new shoots emerge. They include:

Water: the snake plant requires watering every two to three weeks. The idea is to keep the soil moist at all times without leaving it soggy. Dry soil will result in broken leaves that affect the aesthetics of your plant. The leaves will also begin to turn yellow and eventually die. 

Too much water causes root rot, and disease that will lead to the eventual death of a slow-growing plant that is difficult to replace. The amount and frequency of watering will depend on prevailing temperature, humidity, wind, and soil drainage. 

Whichever routine you choose, allow the top layer to dry but keep the soil 2″ inches below the surface moist.

Light: the snake plant prefers bright light but not direct sun. Place the potted snake plant near the window where it can grab some sunshine in the morning and evening. Please keep it away from the hot noon sun using a shade. 

Too much light will cause the variegation to fade. It will also affect the brilliance of the leaves. Dim light tends to kill variegation and slow down growth.

Air: the snake plant requires a humid environment free of pollutants. Dust and impurities settle on the leaves and interfere with the standard processes for your plant. 

Keep the plant away from the wind or air conditioning vents because they tend to suck humidity from the air. The snake plant purifies the air and converts CO2 into oxygen at night. If the air around is too polluted, these processes will be inefficient.

Temperature: the snake plant thrives in warm temperatures and humid areas. The plant prefers temperature between 70ºF(21ºC) and 90ºF(32ºC). However, it will still survive if temperatures fall up to 50ºF(10ºC) or rise to 100ºF(37.7ºC) as long as the fluctuations are not drastic. 

High temperatures require a lot of humidity to protect the leaves from damage.

The beauty of your snake plant will depend on the conditions you provide. Dark-leaved varieties do well in the dim light, while variegated varieties perform well in bright light.

Snake plant Propagation Troubleshooting

While propagating the snake plant using cuttings is easy, you should expect a few challenges. Here are some of the challenges and how you can solve them.

The cut leaf turning mushy and brown

The leaf is dying, and the process of propagation has failed. The cutting could have been problematic, the cut air was infected, or the cut wound was infected. Pick another leaf and closely monitor the propagation process to ensure that optimum conditions are maintained.

Slow growing roots during propagation

Snake plant roots take time to emerge. However, you will have seen the roots by the 4th or 5th week. Change the water or use a rooting hormone to stimulate faster growth. This phenomenon might not be observed when propagating the plant in soil. Do not remove the cutting from the soil to see whether the roots are emerging. It will kill your cutting.

Related Snake Plant Propagation Questions

How long does snake plant propagation take?

It will take between five and eight weeks to propagate a snake plant successfully. The emergence of roots is not an assurance that you have successfully propagated the plant. Count your success once new sprouts begin to emerge.

Why is my snake plant flowering?

Strange as it may appear, the snake plant flowers when slightly stressed. It produces cream or white-colored flowers that resemble lilies. It indicates that the flower is root-bound.

Can snake plants survive without direct sunlight?

Dim light or indirect sunlight will not kill your snake plant. It only takes away its vibrance and brightness of the leaves. The effect is most pronounced in variegated snake plant varieties because they lose the patterns, or the patterns turn out dull.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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