What Is A Snake Plant?

what is a snake plant

So… what in the world is a snake plant?  If your curiosity has brought you here, read on because this is a plant you won’t want to miss.  There is so much to love about this one.  In this article, we will focus on a few key features of the snake plant, other names you may know it by, and why it’s a valuable addition to your home collection.  Lets dive in.  🙂

What Other Names Are They Called?

The snake plant’s scientific name is Sansevieria trifasciata.  Quite a mouthful.  I’ll give you a moment to keep trying to pronounce it.  Funny how we do that, isn’t it?  Moving along to other common names that are a bit easier to say, whew… Perhaps you have heard this called “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “vipers bowstring hemp.”  Funny enough, both “mother-in-law’s tongue” and the “snake plant” names come from the sharp margins of its leaves and the overall shape. The shape, colors and overall aesthetics of these leaves are very unordinary.  One fact that a lot of people don’t know is that it’s a source of plant fibers that make bowstrings, resulting in the other common name for this plant, “Vipers Bowstring Hemp.”

What kind of light do they need?

These guys are very adaptable.  It’s one of the many reasons they have gained in popularity over the years.  They thrive the best with indirect sunlight, but they will tolerate lower light conditions.  Full sun is not really recommended but they can be adapted to handle even those conditions if done properly.  They do grow more quickly in 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight per day and will reward you with excellent health.  Artificial light is okay.

Do they drown easily?

Lets be honest, some houseplants are just downright tricky to find the perfect balance of water for.  The snake plant is no different.  The answer is, yes, they do drown easily.  A snake plant will rot rather quickly if over watered.  They like to completely dry out before you water again.  Some estimates say 2 to 6 weeks between waterings is ideal.  However, those estimates will vary based on the temperature, light and humidity conditions of your home.  Always check the soil at least 1 inch down with your fingernail to ensure that the soil really is dry and in need of a drink.  These plants can stand a bit of neglect before they can handle being loved too much with H20.

Will I breathe cleaner air with these?

Oh yes!  Very much so.  In fact, “snake plants” were rated one of the top home detoxifiers by the NASA Clean Air Study, reported to remove 4 out of 5 major toxins from the air you breathe!  How amazing is that?  As the saying goes, you can breathe much easier with this friend in your space. clean air

Will they harm my 4-legged kids?

According to ASPCA, this plant is considered toxic to both cats and dogs.  If your precious lil’ one is prone to eating you out of house and home, they may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Much To Love About Sansevieria trifasciata

As you can see, there is so much to love about this plant, no matter which name you refer to it as.  It will adapt to your unique light conditions, is okay with artificial lighting in offices, doesn’t mind being “neglected” for a few weeks with the watering schedule which is good for your vacation time, and it’s at the top of NASA’s plant list for air purification.

Do keep your 4-legged kids in mind though as these can cause a very unhappy tummy for them if eaten.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these snake plants, you may buy one in the link below from Amazon.  This seller has great feedback.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

Comments (8)

    • joshua collins

    I never knew that there was such thing as a snake plant so its interesting to find out more about it. It sure does look good and would certainly add some decoration to our house, so I will have to think about it and ask the rest of the family what they think of the plant.

    The idea that they help you to breathe in cleaner air and get rid of many toxins is a huge bonus!

    Thanks again for sharing,


    October 23, 2018
      • Holly

      Hey Josh,

      Learning something new is always fun!  Hopefully your family will wind up agreeing with you and y’all can add this neat plant to your home to do what it does best. 

      Thanks for coming by!


      October 23, 2018
    • Ty

    I see these all the time but I never knew they were called snake plants. Thats an interesting name for such a common house plant.

    Another fact I didnt know was that they were ranked high in home detoxifying. That alone interests me enough to get one to live with me. But I’m pretty bad at taking care of plants. When I say bad, I mainly mean that I forget to water them. 

    October 24, 2018
      • Holly

      Hey Ty,

      Thank you for coming by!  I appreciate your comments very much.

      These are definitely very popular and in a lot of homes and offices.  You just might be surprised though that if you are one who forgets to water, the snake plant is a good choice for you because they can handle being under watered vs over watered any day of the week. 

      I hope your day is great.  Come back any time.

      October 24, 2018
    • mark kabakov

    I met this plant in the offices of large Russian enterprises. There they explained to me that Sansevieria in the office are simply necessary.Flower – the leader in the production of oxygen.The air, purified from carbon dioxide and saturated with oxygen, improves blood circulation and brain activity, helps to concentrate and overcome fatigue.

    I was interested in this explanation.It exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide using the crassulaceic acid metabolism process, unique because several plant species have adapted it. This allows them to withstand drought. Microscopic pores on the leaves of the plant, called stomata and used to exchange gases, open only at night to prevent water from leaking through evaporation in the hot sun. As a result, oxygen is released at night, unlike most plants, which only change gases during the day.

    Thank you very much for serious useful information.

    October 24, 2018
      • Holly

      Mark, that was absolutely fascinating!  Thank you so much for coming by and commenting.  You just taught me something I was unaware of completely and I love that 🙂

      I hope you will continue to come by and visit with your great insight.  Have a blessed day! 

      October 24, 2018
    • Sondra

    I LOVE your website.

    I didn’t realize that snake plants rated as one of the top plants to detoxify the air. I’ve got a big snake plant in my shop. I probably need to pay a bit more attention to mine. I may be on the verge of over watering it. Speaking of over watering, I do have some flowers that need to be watered.

    I’ll be coming back to your website again to look at your other articles. I just set up an Instagram account last weekend. So, I need to figure out how to log back in so that I can follow you. Your orchid pictures are gorgeous.

    March 16, 2019
    1. Sondra, you are so kind! Thank you so much! Your words mean more than I can say.

      Snake plants are definitely amazing plants. Lack of attention they’re okay with 🙂 I’ve been amazed at just how little water they do need. The ones I have here on the windowsill only get watered every few weeks or so and they love it!

      I am glad to hear you’ll be coming back. I am brand new to Instagram as well (had to learn all forms of social media because I had none) but I’ll be glad to see you link up with me there.

      I sincerely appreciate hearing from you and hope to talk with you again.

      P.S. Glad I could remind you to water the flowers 😉 We all need a little nudge from time to time, hah!

      March 16, 2019

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