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Snake Plant Propagation

Snake plants are easy to propagate. However, propagating this tolerant hardy succulent can fail if you do the process incorrectly. Read our guide on propagating sansevierias to learn more about propagating these popular houseplants.

How do you propagate a snake plant? This easy going succulent propagates well by leaf cuttings in soil, water propagation, and division. Or you can grow them from seed. It just takes a long time.

We walk you through several Sansevieria (recently reclassified as dracaena trifasciata) propagation methods in this propagation guide.

How Do you Propagate A Snake Plant?

Snake plants are easy houseplants to grow from seed, leaf cuttings or division.These basic methods of propagating a snake plant will all succeed. However, Each method works best under certain conditions.

Read through all the propagation method processes to determine which best suits your snake plant and circumstances before you choose a propagation and growing method for your snake plant.

Can Snake Plants Lose Variegation when Propagated?

Variegated Sansevieria can lose variegated color patterns when propagated by leaf cutting. Propagate variegated Sansevierias by division or seed to ensure the plant grows true to that variegation pattern. 

snake plant propagation
variegated Snake Plants should be divided or grown by seed to retain original colors

How long does it take to propagate Snake plants? 

Snake plant Leaf cuttings can take 6 to 8 weeks, to actually begin new root growth. Root division is the quickest method of propagating a snake plant since you are starting with roots and merely dividing the plant into sections.

Can you Propagate a Snake Plant by One Leaf?

Snake plant can be propagated with one leaf by Leaf soil cutting and leaf cutting water propagation. These methods are simple ways to root cuttings but the leaf may take months to root.

Soil Propagation by Leaf Cutting:

When you want a new snake plant to grow in soil, it’s easy to grow one by leaf cutting. It will take some time to root. But the roots will be soil roots and are well suited to absorbing water and nutrients from soils.

I used this method recently when my snake plant had a broken leaf top. I cut the leaf at the break point and planted it into the soil surrounding the plant.

After a long period of time (well over a  month) that leaf grew a baby root. Snake plants grow slowly. Mine grew especially slowly since I forgot about it and let the soil dry out. The leaf survived but it was a near thing.

Patience, moist soil and indirect bright light encourage the cutting to root.

Kayti shows you how to propagate snake plants by leaf cutting and division in the video below.

The downside to soil leaf cuttings.

A variegated snake plant will revert to solid green and lose the variegation permanently with the leaf cutting method propagation. And it takes a long time to root a leaf cutting. At least a month. 

Fortunately snake plants are hardy. Even if the leaf takes months to root, it should survive.

How to cut leaf segments for soil propagation.

Have a green snake plant with healthy leaves? Propagation by leaf Cuttings In Soil is as simple as snipping a leaf up and planting the sections.

Cut one leaf into several sections as shown below to make more than one snake plant cutting.

Propagating a Leaf Cutting in Soil :

  1. Cut a leaf into sections with a sharp knife. Use at least 2-3″ long leaf segments to ensure you have enough to start a new plant. 4-5″ long leaf cuttings will work as well. But don’t get the segments too long or the leaf will not support itself before rooting.
  2. NOTE: Mark the leaf (or remember) which part of the cut leaf section is the bottomRoots will ONLY form on the of the leaf cutting bottom edge.
  3. Before planting, allow the cut leaf sections to heal until the bottom end is fairly dry.
  4. Place the bottom of the leaf segment into a well draining soil mix like cactus soil. Use a container with drainage holes. you don’t want the soil waterlogged,  just moist.
  5. Keep the soil moist while the cutting is rooting. But excess moisture will rot the cutting.
  6. NOTE: Make sure the Soil is evenly moist but not soggy to properly root the leaf sections. Too wet soil will cause the leaf to rot.
  7. Place the leaf cutting in bright indirect light. Avoid strong direct light that can burn the cutting and dry soil quickly. Proper light will encourage the cutting to grow roots.
  8. New root growth will take a month to 60 days.

Snake Plant Propagation in Water:

Can you propagate snake plant in water? Snake plants will propagate in water.  Propagating cuttings in water is the easiest method to set up. Water propagating will take a month or two for the root systems to begin growing.

The leaf cutting may rot rather than take root in water so you need to check the cutting periodically and make sure it is firm and healthy.

snake plant water Propagation
How to water propagate snake plants.

Water Propagating a Leaf Cutting-Process:

  • Cut a leaf into sections. Use three inch long sections (or less if the leaf is small).
  • NOTE: Mark the leaf (or remember) which part of the cut leaf section is the bottom. Roots will ONLY form on the bottom of the leaf cutting.
  • Let the leaf sections sit until the bottom end is fairly dry
  • Plant bottom of leaf sections into soil.
  • Place in bright indirect light.
  • Water soil.
  • NOTE: Make sure Soil is moist but not soggy to properly root leaf sections. Too wet soil will cause leaf sections to rot.
  • New growth will take at least 30 to 60 days.

How Long does it take for a snake plant to root in water?

It takes at least a month for a snake plant leaf cutting to grow new roots in water. You may need two months to get enough roots to plant in soil. Plant the rooted leaf in well draining soil and keep the soil moist until you see the leaf get larger and show signs of healthy growth.

Can a Snake Plant Live in Water ONLY?

Water propagated Snake plants grow water roots and can easily live in water only. Grow them as either hydroponic or semi hydroponic plants. (read all about how to grow plants with the LECA semi hydroponic system here.) 

This may seem counterintuitive since snake plants die in constantly wet soils. Wet soggy soils give sansevieria plants root rot. Growing a snake plant in water requires the plant to grow water roots rather than soil roots.

The best way to transition a snake plant from soil to growing it in water is by water propagation of a leaf cutting.

Can a Water Propagation be planted in Soil?

Water propagated plants can be planted directly into soil. But keep the soil moist until you see signs of new growth approving in the leaf size or new leaves. The plant needs time to transition and make soil roots before allowing the soil to get dry.

How do you Encourage the Roots to Grow from Cuttings?

To encourage rooting,  dip leaf cuttings into a growth hormone before planting them in containers of water or soil. A healthy leaf cutting will grow fastest under an indirect bright light.

Rhizome Division Methods:

This is the propagation method to use if you have a variegated snake plant and want to make sure it retains variegations after propagation.

When you propagate using the roots and rhizome the genetic information to continue variegation is included as the plant is propagated.

snake plant rhizomes
Snake Plant Rhizomes and Roots. Cut pups off at the rhizome where shown.

Methods Of Dividing Sansevierias:

Mature Snake plants will grow one or more new healthy snake plant that are easily divided from the parent plant.

How do you propagate snake plant buds?

  • Cut off snake plant buds, a baby plant is called a pup, with a sharp knife at the rhizome. Each pup will give you a new plant.
  • Allow the cut rhizome end to dry several hours before planting in fresh soil.
  • Plant each pup in a separate planter from the mother plant. Use well draining soil with a light moisture content. Once the plant is settled allow the soil to dry before adding more water and grow as usual.
  • Lighting will help a new plant grow and get established. Even though these plants are famous for growing in very low light, set pups in indirect bright light until new growth begins.
snake plant dividing and repotting
Mature snake plants are easy to divide.

Can You Split Up a Snake Plant?

Snake plants can be easily split up if two or more are growing in the same pot. This happens to all Sansevierias if they grow long enough in the same pot.

If you want to repot a plant that has grown multiple sections of rhizomes, you do that by dividing its roots.

To divide a Sansevierias pull apart the rhizome sections of the parent plant (or cut the roots with a sharp scissors if they won’t easily untangle).

Replant each plant in its own pot with proper snake plant soil.

Propagating By Seed:

Purchase your seeds and follow the instructions on the packet. Once germinated the seeds will need 3 to 6 weeks to pop up from the ground.

Summary of Tips:

These methods of propagation are very simple and give good results with snake plants. But keep these tips in mind.

  • A variegated snake plant must use rhizome division to reliably retain its variegated colors true to the mother plant pattern.
  • Snake plants will easily rot. When propagating these succulents in water keep an eye on the leaf tip. If it gets mushy trim the much off and clean the jar to eliminate pathogens. Keep the water changed at least weekly.
  • Leaf cuttings MUST be plantedbottom side downor the roots cannot grow.
  • For soil leaf cutting the soil must have some moisture but a soggy soil will just rot the cut leaf end. Keep the soil slightly moist not heavily moist.
  • Some plant people harden off the cut places on the leaves and rhizomes before propagation. We consider this optional for the snake plant unless the rhizome or leaf sections are oozing liquid when cut. In that case leave the cut end out for up to 24 hours to dry and callus before continuing.

More Useful Ideas on Plants and Their Care:

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how to propagate your snake plant-pin image
Snake plants are easy to propagate. However, propagating this tolerant hardy succulent can fail if you do the process incorrectly. Read our guide on propagating sansevierias to learn more about propagating these popular houseplants.

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