If you feel that you can never have enough potted plants, or if you want to share a rare and beautiful favorite with family or friends, propagation from leaf cuttings is a great way to increase your collection.
Many plants can be propagated in this way and growing snake plants from leaf cuttings is easy and fun. Sometimes a leaf is broken or damaged in some way, or grows at an angle you do not like. You can cut off that leaf and multiply it.
This process can take a long time, but it can be very worthwhile. Snake plants grow slowly, but with time and patience you can grow a wonderful new addition to your indoor garden. And the satisfaction you get can not be measured!
A word of warning though. Sometimes the new sansevieria plants do not grow to completely mimic the appearance of the mother plant. For example, Sansevieria ‘Laurentii’ with its yellow-edged leaves may lose that variety. You can still grow a beautiful plant; it may not look like you intended.
Things you need to grow snake plants from cuttings
- Your sansevieria plant – Choose a healthy leaf, with no signs of insects or diseases. Leaves that have been broken or damaged are okay to use, as are leaves that grow too long or at an odd angle.
- Clean empty pots – 3 ”or 4” pots work well for a single leaf cutting. Since most leaves can be cut into 3 or 4 pieces, you will need as many pots. You can put more than one piece in a pot, but they will eventually need to be transplanted. Or you can put a few pieces in a larger pot.
- Pot mix – How much soil you need depends on the number of pots you have. You can calculate that 3 cups of soil fill a 4-inch pot. The soil should be designed for cacti and succulents or it may be a specialty for sansevieria potting soil. You can also make your own. Here is a good recipe for plants that need really good drainage, not just snake plants:
- 1 part pot mixture
- 1 part peat moss or coconut
- 2 parts sand or perlite
- Rooting hormone – useful to get a good start on the cutting, but it is not a necessity.
- A clean, sharp pair of pruners or a clean, sharp knife.
Steps for growing snake plants from cuttings
- Fill pots with soil almost all the way to the top. Keep the soil light and loose, do not compact it. When it settles, it will be at the right depth – about 1 inch from the edge of the pot. This space gives you space for watering.
- Select the leaf you want to remove and cut it all the way down to the base of the plant. Cut the blade into pieces between 2 and 4 inches long. Make sure you keep track of which road is “up”. Sansevieria do know up and down! If you plant the leaf cut upside down, it will not grow.
- Dip the “down” end into the root hormone and insert the piece into the pot. Continue until all pieces are planted.
- Water gently and allow the soil to settle. Keep your cuttings away from direct sunlight and keep them moderately moist. Do not let them dry out, but if they are too wet they can rot.
- At first, it may not seem like much is happening. The original leaf does not grow, but it happens a lot below the soil surface. The leaf builds roots and then develops a rhizome and a new leaf shoot.
Start snake plant cuttings in water
You can also start cuttings in water. Take longer cuttings and place them in a glass container. Add water to cover the lower ¼ of the cuttings. Check the water every few days – make sure that the bottom of the cuttings stays wet and that the water is fresh and clean. It takes a while to form roots and rhizomes, sometimes as long as 2 months. When a new shoot develops, you can plant the cuttings in soil as described above.
Alaine has worked far too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts and hotels. She is a part-time landscape designer who works full time to take care of a 28,000 square meter public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square meter plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois – Zone 5b.