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Frustrated that the cute little Snake Plant you picked up isn’t growing to the great heights you see Snake Plants reaching in pics online? You’re probably not alone. Many new house plant parents might worry they’re doing something wrong when the Snake Plant they’ve had for months (or years) doesn’t seem to be doing much in the growing department.
Here’s the truth about Snake Plant height: it’s a slow process, and not all varieties grow the same way. Just because you haven’t seen much growth doesn’t mean your Snake Plant isn’t healthy!
Snake Plant varieties reach maximum heights of 3-4 ft., a growth rate of approximately 2 inches per year. Dwarf Snake Plant varieties will top out around 10 to 12 inches. Some rarer and more expensive Sansevieria varieties can grow to 8-10 ft.
Let’s discuss how to identify your variety (if you’re not sure what kind you have) and set height expectations for some of the more widespread Snake Plant types out there.
What Type of Snake Plant am I Growing, and How Tall Will It Get?
Review the table below to identify your Snake Plant variety. Keep in mind, and this is not an exhaustive list: there are DOZENS of Snake Plant varieties out there! We’ve limited ours to a few of the most popular types today.
Note: The scientific community reclassified Snake Plants from the “Sansevieria” to the “Dracaena” genus in 2017, so you may see the same plant labeled under two different names online or in greenhouses. “Sansevieria” remains the more commonly-used term, so it’s the one we’ll continue to use here to minimize confusion.
|A squat plant, approximately as tall as wide, shoots growing into dark green leafy clusters.||Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’ (Bird’s Nest Sansevieria)||12 inches|
|Long, slender leaves that are mottled green in color, with golden, yellow, or cream bands along the borders||Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (Variegated Snake Plant)||48 inches|
|Tiny, thick leaves growing in a chute-like shape, dark green with some light grey stripes, with ends coming to a sharp point||Sansevieria ballyi (Dwarf Sansevieria)||6 to 10 inches|
|Thick silver, grey, or white leaves grown in clusters, with new leaf funnels forming from center||Sansevieria trifasciata Silver Hahnii (Silver Bird’s Nest)||8 to 9 inches|
|Tall, sword-like leaves of deep green with lighter green horizontal striping||Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)||24 to 48 inches|
|Vast leaves, deep green in color and fin-like in shape||Sansevieria Masoniana (Whale’s Fin)||36 to 38 inches|
|Firm, rounded, columnar foliage growing outward in a fan shape, dark green with lighter horizontal bands||Sansevieria cylindrica patula (Starfish Sansevieria, Boncel Snake Plant)||10 inches|
Hopefully, one of these Snake Plant descriptions sounds familiar, but if you’re still not sure exactly which type you’re growing, don’t worry. We’ll share some growing information and directions that generally apply across the Sansevieria family tree.
How Fast Do Snake Plants Grow?
For taller varieties (such as Masoniana and trifasciata types), you can expect about two inches of growth per year under proper conditions. Smaller, or “dwarf,” varieties (like Hahnii, Starfish, and baylii) will grow at about the same rate relative to their size. For dwarf variety Snake Plants, you may only see a quarter-inch growth per year.
How To Make My Snake Plant Grow Taller?
Although their pace may be slow, Snake Plants require little prodding to maintain healthy growth. These are steps you can take to help your Snake Plant reach its full vertical potential:
- Place It Somewhere Sunny: Snake Plants can easily tolerate a shady spot, but they won’t grow as rapidly or reach their greatest potential height without some help from direct sunlight. This isn’t necessarily a problem! You might be perfectly happy with the current height of your Snake Plant, and your Snake Plant might be perfectly happy in that dim spot in your hallway.
- Take It Outside for the Summer: As with most plants, Snake Plants are happiest when they’re growing outside. Between the free sunshine and ambient outdoor moisture, your Snake Plant will likely deliver the best growth results if you put it in a sunny place on your porch or balcony or in your garden for the summer.
- Take It Inside for the Winter: While it’s true your Snake Plant will grow most bountifully if left outside, be mindful of the season. Sansevieria are native to West Africa, where the average temperature in the wintertime only drops to about 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Snake plants can’t tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees for an extended period of time, and will die if exposed to frost. Cold will stunt your Snake Plant’s growth. Note: Snake Plants can stay outside year-round if you live in Zones 9-12.
- Fertilize It in the Spring: Start fertilizing your Snake Plant once a month, beginning around April. Continue this fertilization routine through October. Consider using a gentle cactus fertilizer.
- Don’t Fertilize It in the Winter: Stop fertilizing your Snake Plant when the days start feeling shorter, i.e. wintertime. Snake Plants are evergreen perennials, but they go into a naturally dormant state in the winter, as do most plants. It might seem counterintuitive (giving less fertilizer equals more growth??), but feeding your plant baby is all about balance. Let it rest and gear up for springtime growing!
- Water It Consistently: During the spring and summer, when your Snake Plant is busy growing, water it about once a week. In the fall and winter, slow down your watering to once a month. Reliable watering leaves your Snake Plant free to focus on growing tall rather than conserving water! Note: As a general “Rule of Green Thumb,” the smaller the Sansevieria variety, the less watering it requires (or desires!).
- Repot It Every 3-4 Years: Let your Snake Plant fill its container fully with its roots. You may be tempted to immediately put it in the biggest pot you can find, to give it all the space it needs to grow into that towering Snake Plant you’re dreaming of, but doing so could potentially delay its growth. Fuller roots make for healthier, stronger, taller Snake Plants!
- Keep It in Ideal Soil: Snake Plants thrive (a.k.a GET REALLY TALL!) when they’re grown in loamy, sterile soil. If you want to get super technical with it, the optimal pH (or acidity) for Snake Plant soil is between 5.5 and 7.0.
- Make Sure It’s in a Well-Draining Pot: Unglazed (or terra cotta) pots are best for Snake Plant growth because they allow the roots to breathe and reduce the chance of root rot. Be sure the pot is equipped with a drainage hole at its base.
Does Taller Mean Healthier?
Don’t succumb to Snake Plant Size Envy! Bigger is not always better, and, besides, the height of a Snake Plant is only one of its qualities. A better indicator of Snake Plant health is the erectness of its leaves and the depth of their color. Firm leaves mean the plant is adequately watered and free of rot or pestilence. A deep green color means the plant is receiving ample sunlight. Simple as that!
I Don’t Have Direct Sunlight in My Space: Can I Still Grow a Tall Snake Plant?
A Snake Plant that is already tall will likely adjust fine to a shady spot: Snake Plants are hardy and highly adaptable to changes in scenery! But, if you’re starting with a small or young Snake Plant and hoping to grow it to great heights without four to six hours of direct sunlight a day, you’re in for a long (and potentially unsuccessful) endeavor. Sunlight is key to Snake Plant’s vertical growth.
If you have your heart set on a high-reaching Snake Plant in a shady spot in your space, your best bet is to purchase a Snake Plant that has already reached its maximum, or near-maximum, height. Taller (and therefore older) Snake Plants usually come with a heftier price tag and a bonus: they don’t require as much intentional growing. Their growing is pretty much done already! Now you can keep them happily watered and enjoy their beauty and air-purifying benefits in peace.
What if My Snake Plant is Too Tall?
Sometimes, our plants can get out of hand. Maybe you’ve moved to a smaller place or need to readjust your living space and can no longer accommodate a large Snake Plant. You’re in luck! Snake Plants are easily pruned to reduce height or width.
To prune your Snake Plant, you’ll need sharp scissors, pruning shears, or a knife. If you’re pruning to reduce height, cut out the tallest leaves, getting as close to the base as you can. Suppose you’re pruning to reduce the width, select leaves from the outer border of the plant. Regular pruning will keep your Snake Plant content in its current container and prevent it from growing taller than the height you desire.
I Just Pruned My Snake Plant, What Should I Do With All These Cutting
In case you don’t know, Propagation is the act of growing new plants from the leaves or cuttings of an established plant. Luckily for Snake Plant owners, these beauties are some of the easiest to propagate! Take a cutting and stick it “feet-first” into some warm water (i.e., with the part closest to the soil in the water). Change the water weekly until roots appear, and, voila! You’ve just given birth to an all-new Snake Plant! You can now put the rooted cutting in soil and add it to your houseplant collection.
Propagation is an excellent way to practice conservancy while maintaining your Snake Plant at its desired height. Plus, propagated Snake Plant-babies make for excellent gifts, whether you’re giving them away for a birthday, holiday, or even as take-homes at a special event!
FAQ’s about Snake Plants
Finding the right house plants to fill particular spaces in your home can pose a slightly more significant challenge than, say, finding the suitable lamp or end table: plants grow and change, and not always according to our design intentions! The Snake Plant is no exception, but this shouldn’t discourage hopeful growers from adding this gorgeous green baby to their homes.
With all the above information now at your disposal, we hope you feel empowered to help your Snake Plant thrive beautifully in your space, whether it’s dim or bright, and whether you want that Snake Plant to get tall or stay small. Please consider subscribing by filling the form below for more informative articles like this one.