Is your snake plant‘s (Sansevieria trifasciata) pot bulging uncomfortably? Does the foliage seem to be suffering? Your snake plant could be in a position where the roots are so prolific they prevent the soil from holding water. If so, it may be time to think about how repotting snake plant is done.
Getting your snake plant re-potted is not a difficult task. Depending on the age of your snake plant, you may be able to divide it at the same time, thus making a second plant.
If you want to give your plant a new home on a regular basis, and it’s been a several years, you may need to up pot. It’s time to give your snake plant a fresh start!
When Should I Repot a Snake Plant?
The best time to repot a snake plant is in the late winter or very early spring, outside the growing season. This puts the transplant during the time of year that the plant’s not in active growth mode.
But if needed, you can repot a snake plant in a bigger pot at any time of year. You’ll know it’s time to repot when it’s root bound and roots start creeping through the drainage holes of your current pot. Plastic pots may start to bulge a bit. A clay pot can crack if your plant needs repotting. When watering, it’ll seem as though all the water is coming straight through, and the soil mixture won’t hold water.
Grasp the base of the plant to support it and gently turn it over. Take a look – do you see roots spreading out the bottom of the pot or the drainage holes of the pot? Does the plant appear to be pot bound, or does it slide out with ease? If it’s stuck, it’s definitely time to get it in something a bit more roomy.
While the mother in law’s tongue likes to be a bit rootbound, it doesn’t do well when all that’s left in the pot are roots tightly wound around one another. So when it reaches that point, or if one of the other signs appear, you’ll know it’s time to get it done!
You can also propagate snake plants if you’d like through division when your snake plant needs repotting. We’ll talk more about that further onward.
Transplanting After Repotting Snake Plants
Now that you know when to repot a snake plant, let’s talk about how to transplant a snake plant in a single pot.
First in your quest for repotting a snake plant: select a new pot. Because of the tall leaves, the mother in law’s tongue can become quite top-heavy. The thick leaves of snake plants prefer a new pot that’s wider than it is deep, just to ensure it won’t tip over from the plant’s upper weight.
Try to find a plastic pot which is about 1-2″ wider than its current pot. Don’t increase the size too dramatically. Extra indoor potting mix may create air pockets full of moisture that can cause root rot to form.
As a general rule, snake plants prefer a potting mix which is extremely well-draining. As this plant likes to be a bit on the dry side, the best soil for snake plants is a soil meant for tropical houseplants. You can also amend a standard potting soil with some succulent or cactus soil to increase its drainage.
I’ve found the best soil is an African violet soil blend with a bit of sand added for drainage. You can also use a blend of one part garden soil, one part peat moss or coco coir, and two parts perlite or builder’s sand.
While adding a little compost is good, avoid adding too much. Compost tends to hold moisture, which may create a risk for the snake plant’s root system. A little bit goes a long way when you repot snake plants.
Remove the plant from its prior pot by turning the plant upside-down, being careful not to damage the root ball. Once it’s free, examine the roots. If you see dark or mushy spots on the roots, those have developed rot. Use a clean, sterile knife to cut rotten portions away.
If there’s large roots that wrap around the entire root ball, use your knife to slice through those as well. This means your plant is root bound. You shouldn’t need to cut it more than once for best results. The goal is to stop the roots from preventing your plant’s growth.
Place some of your potting mix amended with succulent mix in the new pot and set the plant on top of it. Keep it planted at the same depth it’d been at in its old pot, but keep it within 2″ of the pot’s rim. Remove or add soil to get it to the right depth.
You do not have to tamp the soil down too firmly. Gently press to ensure it’s in there well enough to support the plant, then water it in. If the soil sinks after watering, you can add more soil around the sides to bring it back to the right height. Then wait for the top few inches to dry before fully watering again. Remember not to add too much water.
See? Repotting your snake plant is actually very easy!
Post-Transplant Snake Plant Care
Avoiding transplant shock in your snake plant’s new home is important, especially if you had to trim rotten roots that have grown over long periods. You don’t want your snake plant overly stressed for a little while, especially if the leaves are somewhat top heavy.
Normally, snake plant can tolerate full sun conditions. But for at least a month after transplant, your plant needs bright, indirect sunlight. This is of less concern if you transplant in late winter or early spring when light conditions are not super-hot. Summer transplanted snake plants should definitely be kept in indirect light for a while.
Avoid fertilizing your snake plant for at least a month until new growth emerges, too. This gives the roots time to re-establish themselves in their space. The last thing you want to do is cause a fertilizer burn to the roots when they’re still tender from moving! So give them some time.
Water when the top inch of the pot has dried out, but don’t overwater as this can lead to conditions where root rot can thrive. If you keep a saucer under the pot, drain out any excess standing water in it. Too much moisture in the new pot is dangerous to the roots, as it can promote rot development.
What About Division?
Dividing snake plant requires a little finesse, when compared to the process you use to repot a snake plant. You have to determine where the division points are before you can split young plants from the main plant.
Examine your snake plant, especially where the leaves and stems vanish into the soil. Remove your plant from its pot to make it easier to find the individual stems. You may notice several pups emerging from the base.
Grasp at the base of one of those stems and give it a little wiggle. You should be able to tease the roots apart a bit. Repeat the process to loosen up the root mass and partially separate the snake plants. You may have to take some time on this if your plant was root bound.
With a Japanese garden knife, sharp knife, or sterilized razor blade, sever the snake plants from the mass. You can keep two snake plants to three clumped together, or separate each individual plant into its own pot. Decide what looks the best as a grouping and go with that.
Once you’ve divided the two snake plants or more, follow the above sections to repot your snake plants in separate pots. Opt for a larger pot which is roughly 1-2″ wider than the size of your divided plant’s root cluster.
Repotting a snake plant in fresh soil really is that easy! And what’s best of all is that it only needs to be done every 2-3 years. Your snake plant will be happy, you’ll be happy… and you might even get new snake plants too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common snake plant repotting FAQs.
Q: When should you repot a snake plant?
A: Snake plants fairly slow-growing and can go many years without repotting, but you should repot your snake plant every few years.
Q: What kind of soil does a snake plant need?
A: A potting soil amended with some succulent or cactus mix is perfect for snake plants.
Q: How do you repot an indoor snake plant?
A: You should place the snake plant in a container size that is wider than it is deep, in well-draining soil. You can divide your indoor plants as you repot into a larger pot as well if you want to make more snake plants.
Q: Should I water a snake plant after repotting?
A: A sprinkle of water after repotting snake plants doesn’t hurt. Just don’t flood the pot with excess water.
Q: Do snake plants like tall or short pots?
A: Snake plants do well in wide pots with a decent amount of depth.
Q: Should you break up roots when repotting?
A: You can trim and separate roots as you repot, yes.
Q: Why is my snake plant dying after repotting?
A: Most often this has to do with fungal issues, like root rot, that crop up when the plant is overwatered. You don’t have to water when you repot your snake plant, but if you decide to, ensure you don’t add more than a sprinkle.
Q: Can I repot snake plant in regular potting soil?
A: You should add some grit to the soil if you do. While potting soil tends to drain fairly well, you need something that will facilitate drainage for your snake plant.