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Snake Plant Propagation: Which Method Is Best?

6 min read

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 one 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

Snake plant propagation
Snake plant propagation can help you build a garden full of lush foliage. Source: Carl E Lewis

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 plants in no time!

Leaf Cuttings In Soil

By far the most common method, this technique uses a cactus-type potting mix as a rooting medium.

Begin by selecting a healthy, thick leaf. Choose one which looks perfect and vigorous, with no cosmetic damage. While damaged leaves can take root, a healthier 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 your leaf segments to dry for a couple days. This gives the cut edges time to dry and scab over, which reduces the likelihood of 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.

Keep your new cuttings in a place with bright, indirect lighting. 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 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.

Leaf Cuttings In Water

It’s possible to root snake plant cuttings in water. It can be slightly riskier to your cuttings to do so, but it’s possible.

You will want a much longer cutting than if you were rooting in potting medium. Aim for a 4-5″ segment from the tip of the 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 cutting without falling out. Add your 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 cutting in a location with bright, indirect lighting.

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 cutting starting to 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

Snake plant, Laurenti variety
The Laurenti cultivar of snake plant. Source: Abd Hadi

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. Does it spiral around the pot, intertwining with other roots? If so, it’s a good time to divide your plant.

Examine the 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.

Wrap your fingers around the base or bases of the clump 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 knife to cut through the rest.

You can now plant that segment into prepared potting mix at the same height 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.

The benefit of division is that even cultivars that won’t propagate well via 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, this is your best method for propagating those.

Seed Starting: Is It Reliable?

Sure, it’s possible to produce snake plants from seed… but is it worthwhile?

In most cases, the answer is “no”. 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 start one 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!

If I were to recommend a surefire method for snake plant propagation, I’d go with division. Separating one plant into two or three clumps is usually the best way to go, and they recover very quickly. Hopefully you’ll find the information above to be helpful for expanding your snake plant collection in the future!

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