“How often do you water a snake plant?” is a question I get often from readers. That’s because this succulent is a very popular houseplant.
It is also different in due to drought tolerance.
As such, a snake plant’s watering schedule is different from most other houseplants.
I would also like to add that in addition to knowing when to water the plant, it is important to understand how much water does a snake plant need.
This will allow you to know when and how to water this beloved houseplant.
How often should I water my snake plant? Always allow part of the soil to dry out between waterings. Snake plants don’t need regularly watering. Therefore, check the soil once a week.
If the top 2-3 inches of soil is completely dry, you can then water the plant. But never do so before then.
Watering the soil when it is still moist or wet increases the risk of overwatering and root rot.
How Often Should I Water My Snake Plant
Knowing how often to water your snake plant is very important to keeping it healthy.
While snake plants are tough, resilient and drought tolerant, they still do need water. But this features also makes them prone to too much water.
As such incorrect watering can easily become an issue that affects how well your snake plant grows.
And it can also be the source of problems.
How often you water your snake plant can cause it to get too much or too little water. In either case, this will result in unpleasant issues.
Overwatering is by far the more dangerous issue for snake plants. It can happen when you water the plant too often or give it too much moisture without allowing sufficient drainage.
When this happens, it puts the plant at risk of root rot.
Therefore, overwatering is something you want to avoid as much as possible.
But because snake plants store moisture to allow them to get through drought, they are more susceptible to overwatering as well.
Underwatering happens when your snake plant does not get enough moisture.
Lack of water is not too much of a problem as long as the plant is not very underwatered or left that way for too long.
However, problems start when you let your snake plant consistently get underwatered. Things can likewise get worse if you allow it to get dehydrated.
Since plants rely on water to stay healthy, an underwatered snake plant won’t grow properly.
When to Water Your Snake Plant
Now that you know the consequences of too much or too little water, it is time to figure out when to water a snake plant.
If the weather were constant and did not change through different times of the year, then knowing when to water your snake plant would be easy.
You could use the same watering schedule all year round.
However, unless you live in a tropical or subtropical country where the climate is almost the same every month of the year, you cannot do this.
The changing weather will affect how fast or slow water evaporates due to how much sunshine and what kind of temperature there is.
Therefore, a better way to tell when to water your snake plant is to regularly check the soil.
Here, you rely on how quickly the soil dries based on the time of year.
The simplest way to do this is to stick your index finger into the soil down to your second knuckle. If the soil at that level is completely dry, then it is time to water your snake plant.
Never water the plant before then.
If the soil feels moist or wet, adding more water increases its risk of overwatering.
If you want to be more conservative, you can wait until the top half of the soil has dried out between waterings.
For larger snake plants, I recommend using a wooden stick.
Just insert the stick into the soil all the way down until it hits the bottom of the pot. Then take the stick out.
The wet part of the wood will indicate up to what level the soil is still moist.
Once this water line is below the halfway point of the soil, it is time to water.
Keep in mind that snake plants are drought tolerant. And they can go for 3 to 4 weeks without watering. As such, it is safer to stay on the dry side of things.
This means if you’re not sure, don’t water.
Watering too often puts the plant at risk of overwatering.
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How Much Water Does a Snake Plant Need?
In addition to knowing how often you should water your snake plant, another important aspect is to understand how much water does a snake plant need.
Together, you’ll be able to better understand when and how to water it.
Below, I’ll take you through the important things to keep in mind.
Allow the Soil to Dry Between Waterings
The most important thing regarding how to water snake plant is to always allow the soil to dry between waterings.
This means that you should not water your snake plant when the soil is still moist or wet.
Doing so puts it at risk of overwatering.
Instead, allow the soil to dry between waterings.
Here, there are a few things you can go with. Just choose one.
At the very least, wait until the top 2-3 inches of soil has dried out before adding more water. This is why gardeners will stick your index finger into to soil down to about the second knuckle to check soil moisture.
Other growers prefer to wait until the entire root ball has dried. In short, they let the soil completely dry between waterings.
While you cannot do this with other plants, the snake plant’s ability to tolerate drought makes it ideal for this kind of watering.
With other plants, they’ll be underwatered if you let the soil dry out. And you’ll notice that plant wilt and droop.
That’s not the case for snake plants.
So, you can wait until the soil completely dries out.
This is why you’ll see some gardeners lift the pot to check when it is time to water.
A light pot means that the soil has dried whereas a heavy pot means that the soil is still wet.
Option 3 is somewhere in between.
Here, you allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Once the soil is dry past the halfway point, you water the plant.
Any of the 3 methods will work.
The one similarity between them is allowing the soil to at least partially dry between waterings.
Keep the Soil Moist, Not Wet
In between waterings, the goal is to keep the soil moist, not wet.
This means you do not want mucky, soggy or wet soil to persist for days after you watered the plant.
That means you’re either watering the plant too often or giving it too much moisture.
Instead, you want the soil to be moist after the first few days and then get dry after that.
This takes a little practice.
However, by allowing the soil to dry at least partially between waterings, you’ll be better able to avoid wet, mucky soil.
Make Sure the Moisture Reaches the Roots
One thing I’ve notice some beginner gardeners do is give their plants a light watering every now and then.
They do this to make the chore of watering their plants fast since they are busy.
Regular, light watering may seem logical in theory. But it is not advisable in the real world.
That’s because if you do this, only the top portion of the soil receives water.
More importantly, the amount of moisture is not enough to penetrate the soil such that the roots get the hydration they need.
Therefore, it is important to provide enough water so it can get to the roots.
After all, it is the plant’s roots that absorb the water for your snake plant to use.
The best way to water your snake plant is to do so thoroughly.
Watering thoroughly or deep watering ensures that the roots get enough to drink.
In contrast to light watering every few days, snake plants prefer the opposite. That is, you only need to water them when part of the soil has dried out.
But when you do water the plant, it is best to saturate the soil so the roots get all the hydration they need.
To do so, water directly on the soil.
You can aim the opening of you watering can on the soil or leave your garden hose on the rim of the pot.
Keep letting the water flow until you start seeing the liquid drip from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, then stop.
This is a sign that the entire root ball is saturated with water. In short, the soil is completely soaked or drenched at this point. This will allow the roots to get as much water as they want.
Then leave your snake plant to drain. You want to allow all the excess moisture in the pot to completely drain before returning your plant to its original spot.
Since watering can get the surroundings wet, it is best to do this in a sink (for smaller snake plants) and outdoors (for larger snake plants).
Water in the Morning
Another important thing to keep in mind when it comes to when to water your snake plant is timing.
Ideally try to water the plant earlier in the day.
You can do this any time. But remember, the excess moisture needs to dry. And if the leaves get wet, you want to have enough sunlight to help quickly dry the water spots.
Therefore, avoid watering later in the day since the sun will be out and the temperature is usually lower.
This can cause the excess water to stay around for long periods of time increasing the risk of infection and overwatering.
Don’t Wet the Leaves
When watering your snake plant, do not water overhead such that you wet the entire plant including the leaves.
This usually creates a mess as the water will splash against the leaves and go every which way.
More importantly, wetting the leaves increases the risk of fungal disease especially if the water spots or wet leaves take a very long time to dry.
Diseases thrive in damp environments. So, you want to avoid leaving foliage wet.
That said, in some cases, you may need to give your plant a shower.
This is true when the humidity is low or you want to give your snake plant a quick wash. You can also wet the plant when trying to get rid of pests.
In these cases, you can use a showerhead or garden hose.
But make sure that you let the plant dry and drain afterwards.
This is easier if you wash your plant in the morning. You can then leave it in bright, indirect sunlight to dry for the next few hours.
Use Well-Draining Soil
In addition to knowing when to water your snake plant and how much water it needs, one thing that’s often overlooked is the soil mix.
If you’re growing your snake plant in a container, make sure that it is in well-draining soil.
This ensures that the plant does not end up sitting in lots of moisture for long periods of time.
When it does, your snake plant ends up overwatered. This condition puts it at higher risk of root rot.
Why does the type of soil matter?
Once you water the plant, it is now up to the soil to hold or drain the water.
What happens while the moisture is in the soil depends a lot on the kind of potting mix you use.
If you use a heavy soil or something that holds lots of moisture, it will retain most of the water. This means that your snake plant’s roots can end up sitting in lots of water for extended periods of time.
As a result, it is overwatered and the risk of root rot increases.
On the other hand, if you use very sandy soil or something that drains too much moisture too quickly, the soil will dry very quickly.
So, unless you water very often, at some point, your snake plant will be at risk of underwatering.
Ideally, snake plants like well-draining soil.
This allows the soil to hold some moisture to keep the roots hydrated. But it will quickly get rid of excess moisture as well.
Additionally, choose a sterile potting mix to ensure that the soil does not come with pests or diseases. And pick a soil that does not get compacted over time.
Soil with good drainage is very important since snake plants are succulents.
Therefore, they are susceptible to overwatering.
By using well-draining soil, you’re also able to avoid waterlogging.
Waterlogging happens when the soil stays wet because the moisture does not drain quickly enough.
As such, the soil gets saturated with water.
This puts your snake plant’s roots at risk of rotting due to overwatering.
The thing is, there are two main factors that cause waterlogged soil.
One is poorly draining soil. We discussed this in the item above.
Second is something blocking the moisture from draining out of the pot.
Thus, in addition to well-draining soil, it is important to choose a container that has sufficient drainage. In short, it has to have holes at the bottom.
This will allow the excess liquid to drip out of the pot.
Otherwise, even if your soil drains the excess moisture, that liquid has nowhere to go.
Instead, it will accumulate at the bottom of the pot, which will keep the soil wet.
Sometimes, your pot may have holes at the bottom. However, something may be blocking the holes. This can be debris or clumped up soil.
Therefore, always check to make sure there are no clogs.
Another sneaky problem that can happen is that the water can pool in the saucer you put under the pot.
Many home gardeners place a saucer or a catch tray under their plant containers. This keeps the liquid from dripping and wetting the floor.
But the saucer or anything you put under the pot can block drainage.
As such, make sure to throw any water that’s collecting in the saucer. Otherwise, it can cause the soil to stay wet.