Boasting such colorful names as “snake plant” and “mother-in-law’s tongue,” the Sansevieria (now technically reclassified as Dracaena) genus of plants are an attractive and generally forgiving choice for indoor growers.
These members of the Asparagaceae family help scrub harmful pollutants from the air, but snake plants are mildly toxic to pets and small humans when ingested.
However, many fans of the snake plant in the US love the plant so much as indoor plants; they want to add it to their outdoor gardens.
All plants were meant to grow outdoors, but tropical plants such as Sansevieria can have a hard time surviving in the cooler climates of North America.
The good news is you can grow wonderful snake plants outdoors across a fair range of zones with some careful planning and attention.
Tips On Mother In Law Plant Care Outdoors
First of all, keep in mind that snake plants are all tropical evergreens and may require a bit of careful placement outdoors.
The following tips will help you ensure your snake plant is happy and healthy, regardless of the species or sport.
The Best Outdoor Environment
As a general rule, snake plants (bowstring hemp) prefer 70° degrees Fahrenheit or higher but cannot handle temperatures below 55° degrees.
They can tolerate moderate household humidity levels and handle similar ranges outdoors but will also be okay in moderate humidity.
Place them in a spot that’s free of sudden airflow, as mother-in-law’s tongue doesn’t like drafts.
These plants are recommended for USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12, where they’ll thrive year-round.
However, you can also grow them as outdoor container plants in cooler zones, bringing them inside during the winter months when the temperature threatens to drop below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Depending on the species or cultivar, exact soil and fertilizer requirements may vary.
However, snake plants tolerate a wide range of soil types and qualities so long as the soil is well-draining. Soggy soil that does not drain leads to root rot.
As a general rule, your sansevieria will fare best in soil appropriate for cacti and succulents.
This may include a commercial potting mix or a homemade mix.
A good recipe is to mix equal parts of standard potting soil and coarse sand, lava rock, or perlite.
Always aim for a more neutral pH for the best results.
When planting in a level garden or terrace, it’s usually best to have a gravel or coarse sand substrate 1 to 2’ feet below the surface to serve as extra drainage.
This substrate will serve the same function as the drainage holes on pots, allowing excess water to drain into the spaces until it can be properly absorbed.
Bright, indirect light or dappled sunlight will make your snake plant happiest.
An ideal spot for it would be in a spot that catches morning indirect sunlight or evening light but shaded during midday.
Conversely, you may choose to place it near a tree or shrub that will filter the sunlight.
This latter option may also help protect the plant from cooler winds.
Keep in mind that all snake plants are somewhat toxic to pets, children, and many other species.
Additionally, this plant may be well-behaved in a pot, but it will spread if given a chance.
Keep an eye out for signs that its root system is hogging too much space or of the plant attempting to take over the bed it’s planted in and prune accordingly.