Snake plants are some of the most popular houseplants around, renowned for their easy-going nature and minimal care requirements. But while snake plants are generally kept for their gorgeous, highly patterned or contrasting spiky leaves, if you’re lucky, your plant may bloom too!
Although snake plant flowers are rare, with proper care and a little bit of know-how, you can create the correct growing conditions to encourage your snake plant to flower. These mysterious little blooms are well worth the effort and make a stunning display that complements snake plant’s dark, vertical leaves.
If you’re interested in learning how to get your snake plant to bloom, or you just want to learn more about these intriguing plants, you’ve come to the right spot. This guide will cover everything you need to know about snake plant care and how to grow highly prized snake plant blooms too.
About Snake Plants
Also known as sansevieria, mother-in-law’s tongue, Saint George’s sword and viper’s bowstring hemp, snake plants are beginner-friendly plants that are very common in the houseplant trade and usually quite easy to find.
Native to the tropical regions of Western Africa, including Nigeria, snake plants are semi-succulent plants, that are able to store water in their stiff, vertical leaves, making them quite drought tolerant. Those spiky leaves terminate in sharp points (hence the name mother-in-law’s tongue), and are often edged in contrasting yellow tones or display a zigzagged patterning, which lends an architectural feel to these eye-catching plants.
But while snake plants are primarily kept for their gorgeous leaves, what many plant keepers don’t realize is that snake plants will occasionally flower too. While it is rare, especially with indoor plants, snake plants will sometimes produce tall flower spikes, usually in spring. Less commonly, some varieties of snake plants don’t produce flower stalks at all, but rather grow small blooms around their bases.
Snake plant flowers are small and tubular, forming in clusters, with delicate, thin petals that spray outwards and somewhat resemble honeysuckle blooms. Depending on the snake plant variety, flowers can appear in white, cream, yellow or a greenish-white hue.
Snake plant flowers are night-blooming, closing up during the day and then reopening when the sun sets. Highly fragrant, flowers smell a bit like vanilla, although the fragrance is quite unique and difficult to describe. The nectar-rich blooms can be somewhat messy, dripping nectar down flower stalks, but they are still highly coveted by plant keepers. Blooms only last a few weeks to a month, and then will die back, being replaced by orange berries.
Snake plants themselves are quite long growing houseplants, easily living over 25 years under the correct conditions. Spreading via underground rhizomes, snake plants are also easily propagated via stem cuttings or by carefully dividing the parent plant.
In today’s market, you can usually find quite a few different varieties of snake plants for purchase, with popular options including:
- Cylindrical snake plant (Sansevieria cylindrica)
- Bird’s nest snake plant (Sansevieria hahnii)
- Sansevieria black coral (featuring dark cross bands on the leaves)
- Sansevieria moonshine (featuring leaves with a silvery-tone)
If you are hoping to encourage your sansevieria to flower, just keep in mind that not all varieties bloom. Sansevieria hahnnii, for instance, doesn’t flower, so you’ll want to doublecheck which variety of snake plant you’re growing to know for certain if it is capable of flowering.
How to Encourage Your Snake Plant to Flower
Flowers are a pretty rare occurrence in snake plants, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t get your plant to bloom. Flowering is more likely to occur in areas where snake plants can be kept outdoors all year long, but there are certain things you can do to increase the likelihood that your indoor plant will bloom.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to do your best to replicate the environment where snake plants naturally grow. This means, adjusting lighting, watering and other factors to provide your snake plant with the ideal growing conditions to promote flowering.
Snake plants are quite tolerant plants and are known for their ability to be able to adapt to bright to low light situations. However, if you’re trying to get your plant to flower without success, a low light environment may be the problem.
Producing flowers uses up a lot of a plant’s energy, so in order to encourage your snake plant to bloom, you’ll want to place it in an area that receives lots of bright, indirect light. For best results, try locating your plant in an east-facing window and ensure that your plant receives at least 3 to 4 hours of bright, indirect sun. If your window is very hot and bright, try placing your plant behind a sheer curtain to prevent leaf burn.
As semi-succulents, snake plants don’t need a lot of water and can store water in their leaves, making them somewhat drought tolerant. These hardy plants much prefer dry soil to wet, so soil should be allowed to dry out completely in between watering. In spring and summer, snake plants should be watered every two weeks (or less), but watering should be reduced even further during winter dormancy.
Too much water can lead to root and leaf rot, as well as leaf splitting. On the other hand, further reducing your snake plant’s watering regime can stress your plant out, causing it to flower. While flowering isn’t guaranteed with water reduction, it is one technique seasoned gardeners employ to encourage blooming.
Soil and Repotting
As semi-succulents, snake plants require light and airy, well-draining soil. Often, the best choice is a premade soil mix made for cacti or succulents; however, you can adapt other potting mixes by adding sand or another suitable substrate to increase drainage. Poorly draining soil can promote waterlogged conditions and root rot and will discourage flowering.
If you want to grow flowers, avoid repotting your plant as you’ll want your snake plant to become a bit root bound. Under the correct conditions (lots or bright light and minimal watering), snake plants will grow quite rapidly, producing lots of roots that fill up their pot. After becoming root bound, snake plants will still have a lot of excess energy but, as they can’t grow further, they often redirect that energy into producing flowers instead.
Snake plants are not heavy feeders and often don’t need any fertilizer at all. Adding fertilizer won’t necessarily get your plants to flower, but it can help. To encourage flowering, a phosphorous-rich fertilizer is usually the best choice, but only use a little bit to avoid creating a nutrient imbalance in your plant’s soil.
Temperature and Humidity
Snake plants are tropical plants, so they prefer warmer temperatures between 60 and 80° F. Additionally, these plants can be sensitive to cold, so keep them away from drafty windows in winter and avoid placing them near air conditioning or heating units to eliminate temperature extremes.
Household humidity levels of around 40% are usually ideal for snake plants. Too much humidity can cause issues like leaf spot and other diseases, while too little humidity can result in drooping leaves.
Pests and Diseases
Pest and pathogens can cause significant stress to otherwise healthy plants and direct valuable energy away from plants that would otherwise use that energy for flowering and growth. That’s why, if you’re hoping for some snake plant flowers, you’ll want to be extra diligent about checking your plant for signs of common issues, like aphids, spider mites, southern blight and root rot.
If pests, like spider mites, occur, try treating your plant with an organic insecticidal soap spray or neem oil. On the other hand, issues like southern blight, are caused by fungi and should be treated with organic fungicidal sprays.
When caught early, root rot can sometimes be corrected by repotting your plant; however, if root rot is severe, propagating your plant and starting over is usually the best solution.
Why Do Snake Plants Flower?
Snake plants flower to produce seeds that will grow into the next generation of plants. For this reason, snake plants only flower when fully mature.
When kept as houseplants, often the best way to get snake plants to bloom is to create conditions that slightly stress the plant out. This stress makes the plant produce flowers (and thus seeds) as a means of self-preservation and to create the next generation of snake plants.
Should You Let Your Snake Plant Bloom?
Many houseplant keepers worry that if their snake plant blooms it signals the plant is near the end of its life. However, unlike bromeliads and air plants, which do bloom once before dying back, this is not the case with snake plants. In fact, under the correct conditions, snake plants can bloom year after year without issue.
Flowering does not harm your snake plant at all, so the main reason you may want to discourage flowering is mess. When they do bloom, snake plant flowers produce a lot of sticky nectar which forms as dewdrops on blossoms and even trickles down flower stalks. Although this won’t hurt your plant, it can attract pests, which can be a nuisance.
That said, considering the rarity and beauty of snake plant flowers, most keepers are quite happy to allow their plants to bloom.
After blooming, it’s a good idea to trim off spent flower stalks at the base. This helps redirect energy back into the plant and creates a tidier appearance too. Additionally, it’s particularly important to snip off old flower stalks as they will develop into berries if left on their own. These orange berries may look quite appealing, but they are toxic if ingested and can pose a hazard to pets and small children.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about snake plant flowers:
Do flowering snake plants produce seeds?
Yes they do! If you manage to get your snake plant to flower and those flowers develop into seeds, you can definitely try planting those seeds to grow new baby snake plants.
However, if you want to grow new plants, it’s much easier to propagate snake plants by taking leaf cuttings.
The simplest way to propagate snake plants is to take a 6” long cutting from a leaf on an established plant. Then just place the cutting in a glass of clean water in bright sunlight and wait. Refresh the water as needed and, after about 2 months, your cutting should begin to sprout roots and is ready for transplanting.
I’ve followed the care instructions above, but my snake plant is still not flowering. What do I do?
Not all snake plant varieties flower, so the first step is to make certain you know what type of snake plant you’re growing. Sansevieria hahnnii, for example, won’t flower no matter what you do.
Next, you’ll want to consider how old your plant is. It is very rare for young snake plants to flower, while flowering success rates increase with older, more mature plants. The exact age when snake plants reach full maturity is a matter of debate, but since snake plants can live over 25 years, it may take a few years for plants to reach maturity.
If you have an older plant that still isn’t flowering and you’ve tried all the steps above, it may just be that your plant doesn’t want to flower, and that’s okay. Flowering is quite rare in snake plants and, if your plant doesn’t flower after adjusting growing conditions, don’t try to further force your plant to bloom. Forcing blooms can cause too much stress on otherwise healthy plants, slow growth rates and cause other issues.
It’s no wonder why snake plants are such popular houseplants. These easy-going plants have gorgeous foliage that comes in a range of colors and variegation patterns and is sure to delight. But, if you’re really lucky, your snake plant will reward you with new leafy growth and a profusion of pretty blooms too.
While snake plant flowers are rare, it is possible to grow them at home. By understanding the natural growing requirements of these plants, and how to best mimic them in your home environment, you greatly increase the likelihood that your snake plant will eventually flower. But even if no flowers ever occur, don’t despair. You’ll still have a beautiful plant to add color and flair to your home for years to come.