Snake Plant Propagation: Which Method Is Best?
Snake plant propagation is a great way to double your garden. Learn what to do and what not to do with our guide to propagation techniques!
We’ve covered Sansevieria trifasciata, the snake plant, in the past. But we never delved heavily into snake plant propagation, and it’s overdue.
So today, we’ll explore the different methods in use for starting new snake plants. Each way to propagate snake plant has its pros and cons, but they all result in an expansion of your sansevieria selection!
Useful Products For Rooting Snake Plants:
Choosing Your Technique
The first step in your rooting journey is to select your method. Like most plants, there’s more than one way to approach propagation. Some methods are more reliable than others.
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each method and how best to apply it. You’ll be starting a bunch of new snake plants in no time!
Propagate Snake Plants By Leaf Cuttings In Soil
By far the most common method, this technique uses a cactus-type potting mix as a rooting medium for rooting snake plant cuttings from a mother plant.
Begin by selecting a healthy, thick snake plant leaf. Choose a single leaf which looks perfect and vigorous, with no cosmetic damage. While damaged leaves can take root, a healthier snake plant leaf produces a healthy plant. About an inch above the soil, use sterile shears to cut the leaf off.
Use a ruler to measure out 2-3″ long leaf segments. Carefully cut them apart, leaving a clean flat edge. With a pen, make a dot on each segment at the part closest to the bottom of the original leaf. This tells you which end to plant.
Allow the leaf segments of your snake plants to dry for a couple days. This gives the cut edges time to dry and scab over, which reduces the likelihood of root rot or leaf rot. Once they appear dry, it’s planting time.
Prepare small pots with your cactus mix, making sure it’s damp to the touch. Then, dip the bottom of each leaf segment into water and then into rooting hormone. This will help the roots to develop. Gently insert the segment into your pot, about a half inch deep below the soil line.
Keep your new snake plant cuttings in a place with bright, indirect light. Check the soil every day or two, and when it is nearly dry, water again. Ensure the pot isn’t standing in water — empty out any plant trays once the pot has drained off excess.
Unfortunately, some cultivars of variegated snake plants will lose some of their unique characteristics when propagated this way or in water. For instance, the “Golden Hahnii” cultivar often loses its golden color and reverts to the “Hahnii” cultivar.
The “Moonshine” cultivar often reverts to its earlier form of “Robusta”. So if you’re growing an unusual variety, you may not get an exact clone of your parent plant. These are some of the snake plant propagation problems you might encounter.
Leaf Cuttings In Water
It’s possible to propagate snake plant cuttings in water. It can be slightly riskier to your snake plant cutting to do so, but water propagation is possible.
You will want to use a sharp knife to extract a much longer cutting from the mother plant than if you were rooting in potting soil. Aim for a 4-5″ segment from the tip of a healthy leaf. Just like you would for a soil-based propagation process, allow the cut end to heal over for a day or two.
Once it’s ready, place about an inch of clean, room-temperature water into a jar or glass. Make sure it’s tall enough to support your snake plant cutting without falling out. Add your leaf cutting, making sure the cut end is in the water.
Change the water in your jar twice a day. To ensure your container isn’t building up algae, clean the container itself once a week. Keep your leaf cutting in a location with bright, indirect light.
Once roots form at the base of the cutting, allow them to reach at least two inches long. You can then transplant into moistened potting mix.
The biggest drawback to this method is the risk of your leaf cutting starting to develop root rot. Keep most of the cutting out of the water, only letting that lower part sit in liquid. Also, keep pests away from your young cuttings, as pest damage can be fatal during this fragile time.
Dividing Snake Plant
Over time, sansevieria plants can become root-bound or too tightly packed into their available space. This is when many people choose to repot snake plants. But why transplant when you can turn one plant into two or more?
Start by removing your snake plant from its pot. Examine the root tangle of the mother plant. Does it spiral around the pot, intertwining with other roots? If so, it’s a good time to divide your snake plant.
Examine the snake plant itself. Mentally divide it into segments which would look good when potted separately. I recommend having at least one or two healthy-looking stalks with a few leaves per clump when you propagate snake plant.
Wrap your fingers around the base or bases of the snake plant pups you wish to separate, and gently tug it away from the main mass. You’re not trying to rip the roots, but to separate as many as you can. Once you’ve got it mostly separated, use a sterilized sharp knife to cut through the rest.
You can now plant that snake plant segment into prepared potting mix at the same soil line it was planted before. If it was a larger plant, the leaves may need a little support while they get established in their new location. A wooden stake or two should provide plenty of support for new plants.
The benefit of division is that even cultivars that won’t propagate well via Sansevieria leaf cuttings will stay true using division. After all, you’re not taking just a piece of a plant, but an entire smaller plant itself. This means that if you’ve got unusual cultivars or variegated snake plants, this is your best method for propagating those.
Seed Starting: Is It Reliable?
Sure, it’s possible to propagate snake plants from seed… but is it worthwhile?
In most cases, the answer is “no”. New plants of many cultivars will only stay true to type through rhizome and root division. Seeds tend to produce the original types of plant which were used to make the hybrid, not the hybrid itself.
Seeds are also unreliable at germination rates. Many snake plant seeds tend to have very low germination rates at best. It’s possible to get a plant to start, but if you need a lot, division or cuttings would be better.
If you do decide to propagate snake plants from seed, be sure to get your seeds from a reliable seed supplier. It may cost you a bit more, but you’ll have a better chance of germination with an established seed company. Seeds through individual sellers may not have been harvested correctly. Worse, there’s a lot of seed scams out there. Those seeds won’t germinate at all, resulting in a lot of wasted time and money!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it better to propagate a snake plant in water or soil?
A: Propagating snake plants in soil will help the plant develop stronger roots. Either method works, though.
Q: Can you grow snake plant from cutting?
A: Absolutely. Propagating snake plant leaf cuttings is the easiest way to make new plants with adequate root growth.
Q: Can you replant a snake plant without roots?
A: You can. Simply keep the soil moist (but not overly wet) and you should be able to grow new plants via soil or water propagation.
Q: How long does it take for a snake plant propagation to root?
A: Snake plants are slow growing. It may take up to 8 weeks to root cuttings.
Q: What is the most successful way to propagate snake plant?
A: Dividing your snake plant will produce the most successful propagation and root growth when it’s done properly.
Q: Should you let snake plant cuttings callus?
A: Yes. Before planting your snake plant cuttings in water or soil, let each single leaf callus over a few days. Then you can root cuttings.
Q: How do you root a snake plant from a cutting?
A: Use the instructions above! You’re likely to have lots of success propagating snake plants by following the directions.
Q: How do you divide and propagate a snake plant?
A: Again, take a look above. All you need to propagate a snake plant is there.