The variegated snake plant is a popular and easy-to-grow houseplant. It’s one of the few plants that can tolerate high-stress levels and neglectful owners, making it a great choice for anyone with busy schedules or difficult plant-care requirements. Snake plants are a perfect choice if you’re looking for a relatively low-maintenance plant. These plants typically grow in clumps and can produce new buds pretty quickly.
In this guide, we will explore the variegated snake plant – also known as the “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue,” including tips on how to grow and care for it.
What is a Variegated Snake Plant?
The variegated snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is a popular cultivar, prized for its striking leaves, which feature green, yellow and white bands. The plant is native to West Africa and was first introduced to Europe in the early 19th century, and it has since become a common houseplant in many parts of the world. These tough plants are also resistant to drought and pests, making them ideal for those who want an easy-care houseplant.
This tropical house plant will provide a structural element to your home or workplace design. Its variegated leaves include deep green to light greenish-gray horizontal stripes with bright yellow edges. The stiff leaves grow 3-4 feet tall, standing vertically, and the unusual appearance sets it apart from other plants, making it an excellent addition to any green collection!
It is a real contender for the title ‘easiest plant to cultivate’ since it is practically indestructible. It is a succulent plant that retains water in its leaves, and thus it requires very little care! Variegated snake plants are excellent air purifiers and are perfect for novice gardeners, and they tolerate many growing conditions and can even thrive in low-light situations.
Types of Snake Plant Varieties
There are many snake plant varieties, each with a unique appearance. Some of the most popular varieties include the following:
1. Dracaena trifasciata ‘Jaboa’
This type has a deeper and brighter green mottling pattern and may grow to a height of 24-36 inches. When this cultivar blossoms, it stands out just as much as the entire plant! A tall stem develops with a tuft of feathery buds in yellow and white tones at the top. The blooms then open to reveal cream and white stamens and curved petals.
2. Dracaena hyacinthoides ‘African bowstring hemp’
Dracaena hyacinthoides, also known as African bowstring hemp, is an invasive plant in the wild, but it makes for an excellent houseplant! The stiff, lengthy fibers that run through the leaves of this plant gave rise to its popular name. It is a medium-sized species that grows to be approximately 10-12 inches tall at maturity, with leaves sprouting from the base of the stem. The plants have a compact overall profile, but they expand by offshoots that grow from their rhizomes, allowing them to fill up a larger container over time easily.
3. Dracaena hanningtonii ‘Banana’
Dracaena hanningtonii’ Banana’ is a lovely tiny succulent that looks great on a windowsill or bedside table or snuggled among other potted succulents in your collection. The leaves are robust, glossy, waxy, and sparkly. The color is normally deep emerald green or occasionally blue-tinged, with red margins. This cultivar grows no taller than 4-6 inches at maturity; however, some specimens can grow considerably higher.
4. Dracaena trifasciata ‘Black Coral’
This type is known for its waxy, long, deep green leaves with irregular olive-green and gray streaks that extend to the borders. At maturity, the Black Coral cultivar grows to be a relatively big specimen, reaching around 3 feet in height in most cases. The shades can deepen even more under low light settings, thus the “black” aspect of the name. The pattern is disrupted with more brilliant green under brighter light.
5. Dracaena francisii ‘Francisii’
This variety has a distinct growth behavior that is uncommon among snake plants. This variety could be your best option if you’re searching for a conversation starter. This plant, unlike others, has a stiff core stem wherein the thick, luscious green leaves with gray striping sprout. Though each stem grows to a maximum height of around 2 feet at maturity, the dispersion can become rather broad as new stems emerge and develop.
Growing Variegated Snake Plant
You can propagate variegated snake plants through leaf cutting, root division, and new offshoots. Here’s how to do it:
Propagating via Leaf Cutting
- You’ll need a healthy mother plant from which to take your cuttings. Choose a leaf free of brown spots or blemishes, and make sure it has at least 2-3 sets of leaves.
- Using a sharp knife or scissors, make a clean cut just below a leaf node (the point where the leaves meet the stem).
- Next, fill a small pot with well-draining cactus or succulent mix, and insert the cutting about an inch deep.
- You can leave the pot uncovered or covered it with a plastic bag to create a mini greenhouse effect. Keeping the soil moist without being wet and placing the pot in bright indirect light is essential.
- In 4-6 weeks, you should see new growth emerging from the soil.
- Water your plant more frequently and move it into direct sunlight once it has acclimated to its new environment.
Propagating via Root Division
- To propagate through root division, you’ll need a clean container, a sharp knife, and a cactus potting medium.
- Remove the plant’s root ball from the old container and set it on a level surface. Brush the earth away from the root system or rhizome with your hand.
- Split the plant into portions with a sharp knife, ensuring that the roots of each section stay intact.
- Place the new snake plant parts in a clean container filled with cactus potting soil.
- Water it and put it in a partially sunny spot.
Propagating New Offshoots
- To get started, the plant must have grown baby offshoots or new pups that you can plant separately.
- As with root division, a clean pot, cactus potting soil, and a sterilized sharp knife are necessary.
- Remove the root ball from the container, find the root of the offshoot, cut off the pup, and place the cut root end inside the cactus potting soil.
- Water it and set it in an indirect bright light spot.
Caring for Variegated Snake Plant
The variegated snake plant is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a stylish and easy-care houseplant. Although it’s a low-maintenance plant, here are some care tips to keep in mind:
Variegated snake plants can grow in a wide range of lighting conditions, from full sun to low light. However, they will produce the most vibrant colors in bright, indirect light. If your indoor space is darker, consider placing your variegated snake plant near a south-facing window.
Variegated snake plants are drought-tolerant and can go long periods without water. It would be best to wait until the top inch or two of soil dries out before watering again in winter or when growth is slower. Overwatering this plant can lead to root rot and is one of the most common mistakes you should avoid.
Variegated snake plants prefer well-draining soil, and a cactus or succulent potting mix is a good option. Add extra perlite or sand for drainage if your plant grows in regular potting soil. This procedure will help drainage, as the variegated snake plant does not like to sit in wet soil.
Variegated snake plants are native to tropical regions and prefer warm temperatures. They can tolerate cooler temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit but may go dormant below this point.
Fertilize variegated snake plants once every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. Cut back on fertilization during the winter months when growth slows down.
Potting and Repotting Variegated Snake Plant
Choose a solid pot material for potting since powerful roots may quickly split and destroy weak pots. Snake plants are normally slow growers that rarely need repotting, but if given enough sunlight, they can grow quickly and require division or repotting. Spring is the optimum time to repot these plants. When repotting, use cactus mix, fresh potting soil, or a combination of both.
Pests, Diseases, and Common Problems of Variegated Snake Plants
Variegated snake plants are relatively tough and resistant to most pests and diseases. However, there are a few pests and diseases to be aware of when growing variegated snake plants. Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites can feed on the plant’s leaves, causing damage. Using insecticidal soap and neem oil weekly is the best way to control these pests.
In addition, the variegated snake plant can be susceptible to root rot if grown in overly wet conditions. The best way to avoid this disease is to ensure the pot has good drainage and the plant is not sitting in water. Other common problems you might encounter when cultivating this plant include yellow leaves, curling leaves, drooping leaves, and foul-smelling soil.
To combat these problems, manage the water level appropriately and avoid overwatering. Use a magnifying glass to cut out the curled leaves or spray them with vegetable soap or neem oil; you can also inspect the leaves using a magnifying glass.
Plants such as the variegated snake plant are easy to grow and popular due to their hardiness, ease of care, and aesthetic appeal. Whether you grow a variegated snake plant in a pot or directly in the ground, you will receive many years of enjoyment from this plant, indoors and outdoors.