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How Fast do Snake Plants Grow And How to Care For One

Picture of snake plant

When looking for a new challenge for your green fingers there are several hardy and easy to care for plants that could be chosen. One plant that may meet your criteria and which you may not have seen or heard of before is the snake plant, or Sansevieria.

This is a plant that features on many a gardeners “scary plant list” and below we’ll be answering the question many of you may have which is how fast does the snake plant grow?

Snake Plant Growth Rate

The snake plant grows quite slowly when in moderate light, either indoors or outdoors. However if exposed to long sunlight hours it can grow quite quickly. As well as growing conditions the variety of Sansevieria that you have planted plays a big part in what the final height and width will be.

The most commonly planted variety of Sansevieria is S. trifaciata laurentii, otherwise known by the funny moniker Mother-in-Law’s tongue. It’s called this because of it’s long and sharp leaves that extend from the roots and soil.

How Large Do They Grow?

The S. trifaciata laurentii is the most recognizable when it comes to snake plants. It has variegated foliage which means it has irregular patches of snakeskin yellow and green stripes up both sides.

The leaves naturally grow straight upwards, and while it doesn’t flower very often, when it does, it produces bunches of small white flowers which are sweet smelling.

This particular variety of Sansevieria grows to around 1-2 feet, with some even growing larger than 3 foot, depending on sunshine and other growing conditions.

Another popular variety of Snake plant is the S. trifaciata. This variety is similar to the S. trifaciata laurentii but without the laurentii part. Visually the difference is the lack of yellow stripes along the sides of its leaves. This variety typically grows to the same height as S. trifaciata laurentii.

One variety that is a little more exciting and exotic is the S. cylindrica, or commonly known as the Spear Sansevieria. The leaves of the S. cylindrica are cylinder like in appearance and very rigid. These guys leaves are unlikely to bend without breaking once they have matured. Their leaves usually grow up and out in a fan like manner.

When the leaves are new and supple they are easy to bend and manipulate. Nurseries and garden centers can take advantage of this and weave the leaves together to create plaits. This gives the plant a similar style seen with the “money tree” plant.

Different growth rates of snake plants is on display when comparing the S. trifaciata/S. trifaciata laurentii and the S. cylindrica. The S. trifaciata/S. trifaciata laurentii can occasionally grow as tall as 3 foot where as the S. cylindrica can grow to a height of over 7 feet!

At the opposite end of the scale is the variety S. trifaciata “hanhii.” This variety grows to only 4 to 8 inches high. Its coloring is almost identical to that of S. trifaciata laurentii, with yellow stripes surrounding green interior.

This S. trifaciata variety is a dwarf variety. Because of this it makes an ideal plant for terrariums.

Stunting the Growth of a Snake Plant

For whatever reason you may wish to slow the growth of your snake plant. All the above varieties discussed can have their growth stunted using a couple of methods. The simplest way to preventing leaves from gaining further height is to clip the tip off.

The tip of the Sansevieria leaf produces a hormone that encourages growth. When you clip the tip off that prevents the hormone from being released and in turn prevents further growth upwards.

You can also prevent outward growth for the Sansevieria. This is done using the size of the pot it is growing in. If the pot is too small for the plant this causes the plant to become root bound.

Root bound is where the roots are forced to contain themselves in a small area becoming denser and denser. This prevents the growth of additional leaves away from base of the plant.

How to slow Undesirable Growth

If you do notice unwanted outward growth there is a very simple solution. You can simply split or divide the snake plant and remove any leaves that are not needed. You could also plant the divided sections into separate pots if you are wanting to grow and maintain multiple plants. Snake plants do very well when divided as their root system is rhizome.

A Rhizome root system is a horizontal root system that allows new shoots and leaves to grow from the soil while maintaining its horizontal position. splicing the rhizome between the shoots allows separate plants to grow and establish from the separate pieces.

If the unwanted growth is upward rather than outward then you can cut the leaf at your desired height. The leaf as we explained previously will not continue to grow.

Be aware that by curbing both upward and outward growth that it is possible you will push your Sansevieria into blooming. Without the ability to grow in either direction, the snake plant will often try to propagate elsewhere.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the Sansevieria does not bloom often/ This method can be used as a way to encourage blooming and only causes mild stress to the plant. However after blooming, the plant will probably stop growing new leaves.

The snake plant has many unique qualities that make it a great choice for gardeners. Though it may be hardy, taking care of it and following the above advice will help to maintain a healthy and vibrant plant.

Written by Shane O'Connor

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