Snake Plants And Sunlight. How Much Do They Really Need?

Caring for snake plants is quite simple, and they flourish both inside and outside, making them a popular choice for homeowners. These plants can significantly enhance the visual appeal of any space in your home. Yet, to keep them in optimal health, proper care is essential. Therefore, how much sunlight do snake plants need?

Snake plants grow in light levels from bright to medium to low-lit areas. The plant enjoys bright indirect light a few feet from the south or west-facing windows. If exposed to direct sunlight, it will burn the leaves of the snake plant.

Are you having challenges finding a location where your snake plants get the perfect amount of light? This post will provide in-depth information on the amount of light appropriate for the plant to thrive. Read on and find out.

Snake Plant Light Requirements

Snake plants are very tough in resisting different environmental conditions as, naturally, the plant inhabits in dry, rocky tropical regions of Africa.

Consequently, the plant thrives best in warm areas with bright light. Like any other green plant, snake plants require sunlight to manufacture food, making light essential for healthy growth.

Snake plants grow much faster when exposed to the right environment with bright indirect light and develop plenty of healthy leaves.

You should avoid too direct sunlight, which harms the plant’s leaves.

Even though the plant can stand a considerable amount of direct sunlight, excessive direct sunlight can cause leaf burns, affecting the plant’s growth. Snake plants with leaf burns may take a while to recover. However, the affected leaves sustain permanent damage; you must prune them.

Signs of Exposure to Too Much Direct Light

You will notice the areas affected turning brown, dry, and crispy for plants with sunburns. In some cases, the burns will appear in small sections on the leaves, which grow to huge patches with continued exposure. Over time, the damaged patches dry out and fall off the plant, leaving holes.

Snake plant also develops discolored foliage on parts exposed to harsh sunlight. This white or brown tan is often the first sign of sunburn on your plants before they develop dry brown patches.

In other cases, the leaves get bleached from the sun losing their green pigmentation. UV rays from the sun break down this green coloration, also known as chlorophyll, responsible for manufacturing food for the plant. Affected plants become weak and lifeless as the bleached parts gradually die off.

Snake plants receiving excess direct bright light also develop brown tips. This problem is often a sign of dehydration due to excessive water loss or under-watering. The leaves start drying off from the tips coming downwards to the stem.

Also, plants exposed to excessive light are more likely to lose a lot of water from the leaves through transpiration and the soil through evaporation. As a result, the ground will require more frequent watering. Under normal conditions, the plant would only need water every two weeks, and if you find the soil drying too fast, it could be due to direct sunlight.

As the plant loses water, you will also notice the leaves drooping and wilting. When this happens, it’s time to move your plant to safety before it dies entirely. In such a case, the plant loses more water than it can take p from the soil. When sunburnt, you will also notice signs of wilting as the plants try to compensate for the lost water.

As the water moves from cells, they become flaccidly unable to support the plant. The plant may also get wobbly from too dry and loose soil if the roots can not retain their grip on the ground.

Under excessive exposure to direct sunlight, the plant suffers from stress and cannot thrive. As a result, it will show signs of stunted growth because the plant is struggling to survive instead of growing.

Although snake plants are slow growers, their leaves grow one to three inches per month under normal conditions, developing two to four new leaves during a growing season. If your plant shows signs of stunted growth, it could be due to poor growing conditions, such as excessive exposure to the sun.

Also, read Monstera light requirements and determine how much light monstera needs.

Treating Snake Plants Exposed to Excess Light

If you suspect your plant to be exposed to excess light, you need to treat it to recovery. Snake plants are resilient; bringing them back to life shouldn’t be hard. First, you must remove the plant to a brightly lit area without direct sunlight to revive it.

Once you take the plant to a desirable location, you need to water it to begin replenishing the lost water thoroughly. When watering, pour water directly on the soil until entirely soaked.

Drain the excess water, as too much can lead to equally dangerous root rot. Allow at least thirty minutes before draining the excess water to let the plant take up as much water as possible.

You must give the plant frequent watering and only water when the soil is dry. The watering schedules will depend on the season and may require a more regular schedule during warmer seasons. Also, hold off watering snake plants during winter.

Remember to safely remove the sunburnt leaves to allow the plant to develop new growth. The sunbake leaves will not recover and take up too much energy from the plant as it tries to heal.

You can use clean shears to cut off the leaves below the affected part. Finally, to help the plant recover faster, you might need to fertilize it using succulent liquid fertilizer.

It is important to remember that younger plants are more sensitive to direct sunlight and are more likely to suffer damage.

The Use of Grow Lights Form Snake Plants

Natural light is always the best for growing plants. However, if you don’t have access to sufficient sunlight, you might want to use artificial lights for your snake plants. Even though snake plants will survive under low light, you can use these lights during the winter or when growing plants in dimly lit areas such as the basement. There are different types of artificial sunlight for plants.

Fluorescent bulbs, for instance, have more blue light wavelengths to encourage the development of new foliage. You can use fluorescent bulbs with full-spectrum bulbs with more red light wavelengths.

Red light, such as incandescent bulbs, encourages root formation, and the two can give your plants healthy growth. You should use one-third of red light to three-thirds of red light.

Fluorescent bulbs are suitable for plants as they don’t heat up and are unlikely to burn the plant even when placed close. However, you must keep the light a few feet from the plant for the best results. On the other hand, incandescent lights produce more heat and damage plants when placed too close.

LED lighting technology combines the different wavelengths for your plant’s healthy growth. Another advantage of using these lights is that they save energy and are long-lasting. However, they come at a higher cost.

The other choice is halogen lights, outdated due to their high energy consumption and high heat generation.

Growing Snake Plants in Low Light

As mentioned in this post, snake plants can survive in low-light conditions. However, plants growing in low light do not show the same color and vibrancy as those in bright sunlight. When placed in the dark, snake plants cannot process food necessary for growth and development, and the plant will die over time.

If the room doesn’t have access to natural light, you could use grow lights for the plant.

If your plant is not receiving sufficient light, it will develop an abnormal leaf color. A healthy plant should have thick foliage with greyish-silver streaks and green shades of chlorophyll. When the light is insufficient, these plants become dull, and the leaves appear washed out. Gradually the leaves of the plant turn yellow, droop and die off.

In some cases, plants exposed to low or no light will develop brown tips. This change starts from the plant’s lower leaves progressing up the plant as the plant continues utilizing the food store.

You will also notice that snake plants in the dark require less frequent watering, posing more water retention problems. If the soil goes for weeks without drying, it could be due to insufficient light, among other factors such as poor drainage.

It would be best to remember that snake plants thrive in well-drained soils, and saturated soils can quickly kill the plant through root suffocation. With this excess moisture and dark conditions, your plants can also be infested by mold.

When a plant receives sufficient light, it will develop leggy growth with narrow and droopy leaves. Some signs are the plant growing towards light sources such as windows and doors. The plant will also have a longer distance between its foliage and internodes.

Generally, the plant is not manufacturing food without light, and it will have stunted growth and finally die once it depletes its reservoirs. The earlier you move the plant to a well-lit location, the faster it takes to recover.

Acclimating snake plants is essential when moving from a dim to a brightly lit area. Since snake plants are hardy, you will notice gardeners growing them outdoors in the sun without suffering any damage. However, sunburns occur whenever a snake plant transitions instantly to a bright area.

If you want to move your plants from a dim location to a brightly lit place, it is best to move them dung the cooler months of the year. As the seasons change gradually, the plant adjusts to the environment.

Alternatively, you can gradually move the plant to bright light, and a quick shift will shock the plant disrupting its growth. You must adjust the watering schedule as a plant growing in brighter and warmer locations requires more water.

Also, read, How much sunlight does Tillandsia need?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do snake plants clean the air?

Another popular houseplant, the snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue), has many air-cleaning tricks up its sleeve. It removes formaldehyde, xylene, and nitrogen oxides from the air and continues its hard work at night.

Why is a snake plant called a snake plant?

Dracaena trifasciata is commonly called “mother-in-law’s tongue,” “Saint George’s sword,” or “snake plant” because of the shape and sharp margins of its leaves. It is also known as the “viper’s bowstring hemp” because it is one of the sources of plant fibers used to make bowstrings.

Is snake plant poisonous?

Because they do just fine in low light, snake plants are common in office spaces and homes. But they are also poisonous if ingested in large doses, can cause nausea and vomiting, and the poison found in the plant has a numbing effect that can cause the tongue and throat to swell.

Do snake plants attract mosquitoes?

One of the biggest problems many people have with growing plants is that they tend to bear insects and mosquitoes. But if you grow a snake plant, you will have no problem at all. The snake plant has a chemical called Saponin, which repels mosquitoes.

How long does a snake plant live?

The average lifespan of a snake plant is five to ten years; however, it can live up to 25 years or more.


Snake plants are easy to care for because they are less demanding. If you get the plant in bright indirect light, it will complement your home with the desired streaked appearance. Snake plants can thrive in medium light, while direct bright light might affect their growth.

When grown in the dark, the plant is unable to manufacture food. You, therefore, need to monitor your plants closely and move them to desirable locations.

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