Epic Gardening is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Cacti & Succulents

Sansevieria Ballyi Care: Growing Dwarf Snake Plants


7 min read

Sansevieria ballyi, or dwarf sansevieria, is a perfect addition to your succulent garden or indoor houseplant collection. A close cousin to the classic mother in law’s tongue, it’s just as easy to care for.

Much like other snake plants, this one is adaptable to varying conditions. The one thing that is important to be aware of is how you’re watering it. Other than that, S. ballyi is incredibly simple to care for.

So let’s discuss the dwarf Sansevieria so you can grow one at home!

Recommended Products

Quick Care Guide

In this photo, you can see the flower spike in full bloom
In this photo, you can see the flower spike in full bloom. Source: Level6
Common NameDwarf Sansevieria
Scientific NameSansevieria Ballyi
FamilyAsparagaceae 
Height & Spread6-10″ tall, 6-10″ side
LightFiltered bright light
SoilAverage, well-drained, gritty
Waterrare watering
Pests & Diseasesspider mites and mealy bugs; root rot

All About Sansevieria Ballyi

Native to east tropical Africa, namely southern Kenya and Tanzania like many Sansevierias, Sansevieria ballyi is also known by its common name of the dwarf snake plant. It was named after Dr. Peter R. O. Bally, who was a Swiss botanist working at the Coryndon Museum in Nairobi and found it growing on a rocky ridge of Kivuko hill in southeast Kenya. He described and named many succulents growing in East Africa and is commemorated in the names of many species.

S. ballyi has laterally compressed, recurved, nearly cylindrical leaves and reaching a length of 2-4″ long and 1/4″ thick. These leaves are mostly green with horizontal bands. The apex is red-brown in color composed of a spine grooved on the face. There are gray-colored stolons connecting rosettes at the plant’s base. The plant widens near the leaf bases.

Ballyi dwarf Sansevieria is a flowering plant with pale greenish white flowers that are showy, reaching up to 1″ in length and clustered on a 6″ long raceme. In its natural habitat, you’ll see these flowers in summer clustered together. Each cluster usually contains two flowers. The plant is not very tall, reaching up to a maximum height of about 10 inches. This makes it great for a small pot or hanging basket.

Recent reclassification changed the what was originally Sanseverinia to the genus Dracaena, which would make the plant’s name Dracaena ballyi. However, many still use the Sansevieria botanical name. Whether or not this would have caused any ire with the Swiss botanist who named the plant is left to the annals of history.

Sansevieria Ballyi Care

Like most snake plants, ballyi dwarf Sansevieria is super easy to care for! Let’s discuss what its base needs are.

Light & Temperature

Ballyi dwarf Sansevieria thrives in just about any light whether it’s bright light and full sun or low light to shady areas. It has good tolerance to low light levels, but for optimal growth, give it bright filtered light. Under low light conditions, the cylindrical leaves become darker green in color, etiolated, and longer and thinner than usual.

A good indoor spot for the dwarf snake plant would be in front of a north-facing window or in front of a a bright sunny window with a bit of protection against the brightest parts of the day. Extreme bright light will cause the leaves to turn yellow at the edges.

Sansevieria ballyi is theoretically hardy to 25°F (-4°C), but for normal growth, you need to avoid severe freezing temperatures and also make sure they don’t receive winter rainfall. Warmer temperatures within the range of 60-75 °F(16-24 °C) are best. Severe freezing temperatures will surely kill your snake plant.

Water & Humidity

Dwarf sansevieria is very drought tolerant and you only need to water then about once a week during the growing season. Allow the top 1 inch of the soil to be completely dry between individual waterings as overwatering will cause root rot. During winters, water just enough to prevent the soil from drying out entirely.

Make sure humidity is nice and low where you decide to place your plant. Along with wet soil, they don’t tolerate moist air well.

Soil

Like most other xerophytic plants, S. ballyi grows best in porous, well drained potting mix. A slightly acidic soil mix around pH 6.5 ensures ideal growth. You can use gravel, perlite and decomposed granite to add weight and improve poorly-drained soil.

Fertilizing Sansevieria Ballyi

Sansevierias are light feeders. You can use a balanced fertilizer mixture to fertilize your ballyi dwarf Sansevieria once a month during summer. Dilute it to half the strength as labeled on the container. There’s no need to fertilize during winter.

Repotting Sansevieria Ballyi

Sansevieria ballyi is a slow grower. You can repot your Sansevieria every 2-3 years into a container one size larger when the roots outgrow the pot. Fill the new container with commercial lightweight cactus mix. Remove the plant from the existing container when the soil is dry for ease of repotting.

Sansevieria Ballyi Propagation

Vegetative propagation by division or by leaf cutting are the best methods. Remove and root the plantlets produced at the end of each stolon.

When rooting the plantlets, it’s important that you do not remove it until it has developed stilt roots. This is because the plantlets grow a rosette of dark green leaves before they begin the root growth, so patience is key.

Once the stilt roots have grown sufficiently long, you can cut the stolon at any point and pot the new plant in a slightly moist and porous soil. Make sure the cuttings are at least 1″ in length.

Pruning Sansevieria Ballyi

You don’t need to prune ever if you don’t want to. Remove any dead or damaged foliage as and when needed. Pruning can be done if you want a mature plant to look more heavy and bushy.

Troubleshooting

You will not experience any serious growing problems under normal conditions.

Growing Problems

The most common issue with this plant is over watering as it is very quick to rot in wet soil. Overwatering the plant will attract mold and fungal growth and cause rotting of roots. It makes the roots turn brown and mushy. As it progresses, dark green leaves also turn yellow, wilted and droop low. They later become mushy as well.

Don’t leave the dwarf snake plant outside when the temperature goes below 55 °F (13 °C) as it can cause cold damage to the plant resulting in scarred leaves.

Pests

Mealybugs and spider mites are the most likely pests.

In case of mealy bugs, take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing alcohol and then wipe the leaves down with it. A systemic insecticide can get rid of this problem for good.

Follow the same routine of wiping with rubbing alcohol for a spider mite attack. But, if the infestation is bad you might need to cut off the infected sections of the plant.

Diseases

The Sansevieria ballyi dwarf plant does not get affected by diseases. They mostly suffer from fungal infections as a result of root rot. These can be treated using fungicides and making sure the soil is free-draining and not kept wet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How big does Sansevieria ballyi get?

A: Your Sansevieria ballyi dwarf plant will get to about 6-10″ tall and 6-10″ wide, so quite a dwarf variety!

Q: Do Sansevieria need lots of sun?

A: No! In fact, many survive in low light conditions. However, full sun isn’t an issue either. Snake plants are very adaptable.

Q: How long can a Sansevieria live?

A: A Sansevieria ballyi dwarf plant lives for 25 years or more.

Q: What are the disadvantages of snake plant?

A: They are slow-growers, and they tend to be toxic to dogs and cats.

Q: Can I put a snake plant in a room with no windows?

A: You sure can! You can also surround your Sansevieria ballyi dwarf plant with windows and it will do just fine.

Q: How often should a sansevieria be watered?

A: Water your Sansevieria ballyi dwarf plant every two weeks in the growing season, and once per month during dormancy.

Q: What kills snake plants?

A: The most common thing that kills snake plants is too much water.

Q: Is Sansevieria a good house plant?

A: It is! There are lots of different kinds of snake plants too.

Related Categories
Products in this article