Is your snake plant‘s pot bulging uncomfortably? Does the foliage seem to be suffering? If so, it may be time to think about how repotting snake plant is done.
It’s not a difficult task. Depending on the age of your plant, you may be able to divide it at the same time, thus making a second plant!
When Should I Repot?
The best time to do this repotting is in the late winter or very early spring. This puts the transplant during the time of year that the plant’s not in active growth mode.
But if needed, it can be performed at any time of year. You’ll know it’s time when roots start creeping through the drainage holes of your pot. Plastic pots may start to bulge a bit. When watering, it’ll seem as though all the water is coming straight through, and none staying in the soil.
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? Does the plant appear to be stuck, 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. 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 while you’re repotting. We’ll talk more about that further onward.
Transplanting Snake Plants
Now that you know when, let’s talk about how to transplant a snake plant.
First, you’ll need to select a new pot. Because of the tall leaves, the mother in law’s tongue can become quite top-heavy. It’s important to pick a 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 pot which is about 1-2″ wider than its current pot. Don’t increase the size too dramatically. Extra soil may create pockets of moisture that can cause root rot to form.
You’ll also need a soil which is extremely well-draining. As this plant likes to be a bit on the dry side, pick a soil meant for tropical houseplants. You can also amend a standard potting soil with some succulent mix to increase its drainage.
I like to use 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, 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 ball. A little bit goes a long way here.
Remove the plant from its prior pot, 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. You shouldn’t need to cut it more than once. The goal is to stop the roots from preventing further growth.
Place some of your potting 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. 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.
See? Repotting snake plant is actually very easy!
Avoiding transplant shock is important, especially if you had to trim rotten roots. You don’t want your plant overly stressed for a little while.
Normally, snake plant can tolerate full sun conditions. But for at least a month after transplant, opt for bright but indirect light. This is of less concern if you transplant in late winter or early spring when the sunlight’s not super-hot. Summer transplants should definitely be kept out of the sun for a while.
Avoid fertilizing your plant for at least a month, 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. If you keep a saucer under the pot, drain out any excess standing water in it. Too much moisture is dangerous to the roots, as it can promote rot development.
What About Division?
Dividing snake plant requires a little finesse. You have to determine where the division points are before you can split it up.
Examine your 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.
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 plants.
With a Japanese garden knife or sterilized razor blade, sever the plants from the mass. You can keep two 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 them, follow the above sections to repot your plants in separate pots. Opt for a pot which is roughly 1-2″ wider than the size of your divided plant’s root cluster.
Repotting snake plant 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 plants too!
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