“My snake plant hasn’t grown since I bought it – am I doing something wrong?”

Snake plants are known for being hardy houseplants, but helping them to thrive can be tricky. Here’s what to do if you’re worried about your plant’s growth.

As far as houseplants go, snake plants tend to get a pretty good rap. Not only do their striking leaves and architectural shape make them incredibly popular, but they’re also known for being extremely tolerant and easy to look after.

With that being said, owning a snake plant can still be a challenge. It might be near-impossible to kill a snake plant (although stranger things have surely happened) but getting your snake plant to thrive is another matter entirely.  

As you’ll no doubt be aware if you’ve clicked on this article, one of the most common frustrations many snake plant owners face is slow or non-existent growth.

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If you’ve owned a snake plant for years and seen little reward, you’ll know how annoying it can be – while your snake plant may appear happy and healthy on the outside, getting a new leaf to sprout is strangely hard.

The good news? You’re not alone in your frustration – and there are steps you can take to encourage your snake plant to get moving. Here’s everything you need to know to get started – including a useful insight into what’s “normal” for your leafy friend. 

What is a snake plant?

Snake plants can survive neglect.

As always, the key to giving your plant the care it needs is to learn more about it – especially in regards to its origins and the kind of habitat it needs to thrive. So, what are snake plants? And where do they come from?

“Snake plants are notorious for being one of the hardiest and most tolerant houseplants,” explains Dan Bruce, Leafy’s plant expert. “They are tropical plants, native to West Africa and have also been found in Asia. Its genus name is sansevieria which has 70 different variations.”

Bruce continues: “A snake plant is not only aesthetically pleasing, with its strong, upright foliage, but also boasts numerous health benefits for the household. Snake plants filter the indoor air and remove toxic pollutants, making it a perfect addition to a bedroom.” 

What are the common reasons why a snake plant stops growing?

Although snake plants are famous for being able to withstand neglect, failing to give your snake plant the proper care and conditions it needs will prevent growth in the long run.

“There are a few common reasons as to why your snake plant may stop growing,” Bruce explains. “Firstly, the plant may be lacking the correct amount of light or water. Although snake plants are hardy, they will need at least some sunlight and water, even if not as frequently as other common houseplants.

“If your snake plant’s leaves are drooping and sagging then this is a sign that it needs more light, so incorporate indirect natural light. If the soil of your plant feels dry after placing a finger two to three inches in, then it most likely needs some watering.” 

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Bruce continues: “Another common reason for snake plants to stop growing is caused by the temperature of its space. 

“If a snake plant is left in a cold room or exposed to a draught, then this will cause the plant to become stressed, meaning it will struggle to grow. To avoid this, move your plant into a warmer and draught-free room.” 

Is it normal for a snake plant to grow slowly?

It’s completely normal for a snake plant to grow slowly.

While it can be frustrating to see little reward for the care you show your snake plant, it’s completely normal for a snake plant to grow at a slower rate than that you might be used to with your other houseplants.

“Generally speaking, yes, snake plants are slow growers, especially when growing indoors,” Bruce says. “This, however, will vary depending on the species of snake plant, but the most common species, the sansevieria trifasciata, is definitely a slow grower.

“The leaves of the snake plant usually grow only up to three inches per month, depending on the conditions. Snake plans will also completely stop growing during winter and won’t require very much watering during this time either.” 

Is there anything you can do to speed up a snake plant’s growth?

On top of ensuring your snake plant has the basics it needs to thrive, there are some extra steps you can take to support its growth and help it to thrive.

“Exposing them to bright but indirect sunlight will help boost growth, but be wary not to overexpose them to particularly strong light,” Bruce explains. “Although they are hardy, just a few hours of natural light is enough.”

He continues: “Snake plants also need strong and healthy roots to support growth, so if your plant has filled the pot with roots then it simply won’t produce any new growth. To help your plant grow, repot your plant.” 

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However, Bruce warns against investing too much time into trying to make your snake plant grow faster.

“Remember that snake plants are naturally slow growers, so although changing conditions and repotting can help boost growth, the plant will still not grow as quickly as other common houseplants,” he says. 

When and how should you repot a snake plant?

Snake plants shouldn’t need repotting too often.

As a result of its slow growth rate, your snake plant shouldn’t need repotting too often. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t need repotting eventually when its roots begin to poke through the drainage holes at the bottom of its pot.

“When you need to repot your plant, you should aim to do so in the spring, as this provides the optimal conditions for your snake plant to recover from the shock of repotting, which affects all plants,” Bruce explains.

“This time is also ideal as it’s during the plant’s growing season. However, despite spring being the ideal time, as the plant is extremely hardy, you can repot throughout the year.”

Bruce continues: “To repot your snake plant properly, you should use a pot that is only one to two inches larger than its original pot. A snake plant needs to be potted in a well-draining potting mix, ideally with a more acidic pH rating of around five and a half to a more neutral seven.”

New to plant parenthood? Check out Stylist’s guide to buying, styling and caring for plants to get started.

You can find out more about the most common houseplant problems by checking out our range of plant care content, too. 

Images: Getty

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