Sansevieria, more commonly known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, has become a perennial houseplant.
The charm of snake plants comes from their pointed, structural leaves, some edged in yellow or striped with irregular lines. Part of their charm is their laid back nature and ability to survive most indoor and outdoor conditions.
The most unique thing about the snake plant is not its striking appearance, but its dazzling yet elusive flower. Yes, snake plants can and do thrive.
However, the occurrence is so rare that owners will likely never see a delicate white flower sprout on their snake plant. Some varieties do not flower at all.
If you have a flowering variety, you might wake up one day to a flower between the leaves of your snake plant. But if you want to coax your own flower, there are several ways to help your snake produce its mysterious flowers.
Related Reading: 10 Common Snake Plant Problems and How to Fix Them
The flower of the snake plant
On the exceptionally rare occasions when your snake plants flowers, you will see tiny buds scattered along a long flower stalk. This stem can reach a height of about three feet, sometimes protruding above the tips of the snake plant leaves. Snake plants usually have no more than one stem.
These stems bear dozens of small, tubular flowers that grow in clusters and have slender petals. These small flowers look more like honeysuckle or small lily flowers. Some varieties do not grow stems. Instead, its flowers bloom in large clusters at the base of the plant.
Different types of snake plants also have different colored flowers. Typically, these colors range from white or cream to greenish-white or even yellow. The flowers are a stunning display, especially against the contrasting leaves of the snake plant.
Although the flowers are rare, they make a name for themselves with their striking beauty and powerful fragrance when they bloom.
When the snakes flower, they only do so once a year, usually in the spring. The flowers last for a few weeks and may develop berries as the flowers begin to die.
Fortunately, snake plants do not die once they finish flowering. Instead, new flower stalks may appear each year to give you their beautiful blooms.
Now that you know all about flowers, you can’t wait to get your snake to bloom.
The reality is that no one knows exactly how the snake plant is supposed to bloom. Several factors play a role, such as the age of the plant. Sometimes snake plants only flower when their basic needs are met, and they can be made to flower with a little neglect.
Related Reading: How To Transplant A Snake Plant (And 5 Signs You Need)
How to get your snake to flower
Snake plants are notoriously easy plants, thriving even under the care of the most careless plant parents. Snake plants typically grow in a variety of light conditions, including full sun and shade.
But snake plants prefer a steady stream of indirect sunlight. As gardeners know, producing flowers takes a lot of energy, and that energy comes from light.
To increase its chances of flowering, move your snake out of dark corners of your home. Instead, place it in front of a transparent window with curtains, where it gets plenty of bright light throughout the day.
Snake plants need very little water to thrive. They are considered semi-succulent because they can store water in their leaves, so their water requirements are quite low.
Snake plants also don’t like wet feet and prefer dry soil to soggy or moist soil. Overwatering can cause the leaves to split and rot. That being said, prolonged dry spells can also be detrimental.
It is best to only water snake plants when the soil feels dry to the touch. Depending on temperature and weather, this can be as little as twice a month. In winter, you need to water your snake even less.
Many believe that as long as snakes’ light needs are met, they will thrive if under stress. Some suggest that as little water as possible stresses the snake plant enough to thrive. If you’re happy to risk other potential problems caused by flooding, try this tip.
soil and nutrients
The soil for the snake plant should be very light and well-drained. As mentioned above, snake seedlings can develop root rot if the soil becomes silted with water. Improving the drainage and aeration of your soil is as simple as adding a little river sand to your potting mix.
Snake plants generally do not need additional nutrients to thrive. But spraying with a high-phosphorus fertilizer can increase your snake plant’s chances of flowering. Don’t use too much, as it can create a nutrient imbalance in the soil that will negatively affect growth.
Snake plants are native to West Africa and prefer tropical conditions. They thrive best in USDA zones 9 through 11. Outdoor snake plants should overwinter indoors, as they will not survive temperatures below 50F.
While some stress can help your snake plant thrive, exposure to drafts and freezing temperatures are detrimental. Higher temperatures or less water are much safer options that won’t kill your plant right away and can be fixed later if the damage isn’t excessive.
The age of the plant plays a big role in when and if your snake plant will flower. Occasionally younger plants may flower, but this is extremely rare.
Older, more established plants are more likely to produce flowers under the right conditions.
Established plants are also more likely to become tangled in the roots or in the pot, which increases stress on the plant. When exposed to enough light but neglected, snake plants tend to take up available space in the pot and more. The confined space causes the snake plant to shift its energy from producing leaves to producing flowers.
Snake plant flowers are so rare that few people know the plant is flowering. These flowers sometimes appear out of nowhere or for no reason.
Snake plants require little care to thrive, and some even believe that neglect helps the plant thrive. Ultimately, patience and meeting this plant’s light needs, along with a little extra healthy stress, can result in soft, elusive white blooms.
Note that these flowers have a strong aroma and produce thick, sticky nectar. This nectar tends to attract pests and can cause quite a mess. Plus, these rare blooms are a real treat when and if your snake plant decides to bloom.