Among the many wonderful indoor plants that have become a staple of almost every home and indoor garden is the humble snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
This plant has many common names, including Saint George’s sword, mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, and the alternate scientific name of Dracaena trifasciata.
(Note: There is a lot of debate on whether sansevierias should have been merged into the genus Dracaena, hence why this new scientific name has not caught on among a large percentage of plant enthusiasts.)
No matter what you choose to call it, snake plants are:
- Popular houseplants
- Easy to care for
- A perfect choice to improve your home’s air quality
But there’s one important aspect of care that can worry a lot of plant owners, even though it’s not as difficult as it first seems: repotting.
So read on to learn more about this important snake plant care guide.
Repotting Snake Plants: How to Replant a Snake Plant
Repotting is a simple process and an essential part of caring for any container plant, but it can be scary if you’ve never done it before.
However, if done right, the symptoms of transplant shock will be minimal, and you’ll end up with a happier, healthier snake plant afterward.
Why You Should Repot Your Snake Plant
Mother Nature does a lot of things for plants that we have to replicate manually.
Thanks to erosion, weather, and decomposing matter, the soil in natural settings are being constantly cleaned and renewed.
Unfortunately, potted plants lack all of these benefits, especially in poor soil conditions.
Over time, the soil quality also deteriorates and becomes drained of nutrients while suffering a buildup of mineral salts which can become toxic for your plant.
Even worse, the soil can become compacted, making it difficult for your plant to access nutrients, and the roots may become rootbound.
The repotting process will allow you to remedy all these issues, ensuring your plant can live a long and happy life. This also promotes healthy growth and prevents any diseases from occurring and spreading.
When Should You Repot?
Many factors will determine how often you need to repot your snake plants. The telltale signs includes:
- Plant size
- Type of snake plant
- Container size
- Soil type
- Root temperature
- Light exposure
Generally, snake plants don’t need repotting very often. In fact, you will usually only need to repot it every 3 years. The best time to repot a snake plant is in the late winter or springtime before the plant begins to grow actively.
This will give the plant time to adjust to its new pot and soil before it has to start putting out new leaves.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, the biggest being if you suspect there is root rot or the soil is moldy or infected with fungus.
A second time you may wish to repot is if the plant was severely overwatered or over-fertilized, both of which could lead to serious root issues if not dealt with.
Another instance is if the plant has become rootbound, often identified by roots appearing on the soil surface or out of the drainage holes.
Finally, if you see a lot of dense foliage, it means there are too many snake plants sharing one space, and you will need to thin them out.
Step 1: Preparing Your Snake Plant
Before taking a trip, you have to be sure you’re ready to go, and your snake plant has its own little checklist before you can make the trip from one pot to another.
Here are the simple steps you must follow to ensure a successful snake plant repotting.
Check your plant for any signs of infestation or disease and treat these first. Healthy roots should be light orange. If they are black, gray, or dark brown, it indicates infection.
This can be addressed during transplanting if you suspect the plant with root rot caused by excess water.
You will also want to do any necessary pruning and give your plant as little water as possible.
It’s also important to have excellent soil with proper drainage for snake plants to ensure good growth.
Making the soil slightly damp will make it easier to remove old soil. In addition, you need well-draining soil or indoor potting mix when repotting.
Step 2: Removing the Plant
Pick a good spot to do your repotting. Some like to use a sink or tub, so cleaning up afterward is easy.
Another option is to lay down an old sheet, tarp, or large piece of plastic to catch all the dirt.
Tip the snake plant pot onto its side and give the bottom a few taps to knock the soil loose, then slide the entire plant out.
Gently brush away as much of the soil as possible.
You may also wish to rinse the roots under running water to remove the old soil.
Step 3: Inspection
Now that the roots are clean, you can examine them for signs of rot.
Gently tease any bound roots apart and check for any brown or black roots.
These are unhealthy colors for roots, as is a rotting smell or mushy spots.
If you don’t see any of these signs, you can go ahead and divide or repot, but if they’re present, you’ll want to treat your plant first.
Step 4: Treatment (if Needed)
Root rot is no joke, but you can easily treat it if you catch it early on.
Using a sharp, sterile knife or garden knife, gently remove all brown, black, or mushy roots.
Once all of the visibly rotten roots are removed, dip the root ball into a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for 20 minutes to kill any remaining rot.
Allow the plant’s roots to air dry for 1 to 2 days.
Moreover, you can also use isopropyl alcohol to disinfect any microbial growth.
Step 5: Dividing (if Needed)
If your snake plant is overcrowded (or you simply want more), you can now divide your plant or take leaf cuttings.
Make sure any tangled roots have been teased apart, and choose the pups you wish to separate from the parent plant.
Divide the fleshy rhizome from the central part of the plant so that each of your snake plant pups has its own bit of rhizome and healthy roots.
Step 6: Repotting Process
Pick a container that is the same size or one size larger (if your plant was rootbound but you chose not to divide). However, you can go up one pot size if you won’t divide the snake plant clump.
You can use either a fresh succulent potting mix, organic potting soil, or a soilless potting mix. Adding a layer of worm compost on top of your soil is also important.
Fill the pot partway and add a little mound in the middle.
Sit the plant on top of this mound and slowly begin adding a layer of soil, teasing the snake plant roots apart as you go so they’re spread out.
The surface level should match the level that was in the previous container.
Add a little water to dampen the soil for snake plants to help the medium settle so your plant can get a little drink.
In addition, you can add additional nutrients to support the health of the indoor plant.
Ensure your sansevieria plant is somewhere with bright, indirect light, as it prefers low light conditions. Also, avoid giving it fertilizer for about a month because it can cause leaf burn.
This will give the sansevieria plant time to recover.
Don’t panic if the plant acts a little depressed initially or shows other signs of stress.
Transplant shock is perfectly normal for plants, and your snake plant will perk up again after a few weeks.
Once it begins perking up again, you can resume your normal snake plant care routine.