Does A Snake Plant Need Drainage?

While snake plants don't require a lot of water, they do need some water to survive. If you are new to the world of snake plants you may be wondering whether or not your snake plant actually needs drainage within its soil. We've looked into the proper ways to care for a snake plant and provide optimal drainage. In this post, we will discuss them with you.

Snake plants are susceptible to root rot and other fungal diseases. Because of this, it is important to make sure that your snake plant has drainage within its pot. Yes, snake plants may not require as much water as other indoor plants, given that they're succulent plants. But it is best to ensure that the water that they do receive, drains out properly so that the roots of the plants aren't standing in a pool of water for prolonged periods of time.

The great thing about snake plants is that they are incredibly easy to care for. They require only a minimum amount of water and can survive in average weather conditions. However, making sure that the plant stays healthy means ensuring that that is soil is also healthy--which translates into adequate drainage. Continue reading to learn how to best care for your snake plant soil and it sure that it has the right drainage for the plant.

A small snake plant on a round plastic container, Does A Snake Plant Need Drainage?

Drainage And Snake Plants

Snake plants thrive best in soil that is free-draining and well-aerated. Though snake plants might be able to survive four days in standing water, they can develop root rot. Roots need water to thrive and grow, however too much it can cause them to suffocate, swell, and supply the bark and foliage of the plant with too much water. As a result, you will see the leaves of a snake plant start to lean over or become or wither. You also noticed that the leaves made turn yellow and brown.

The snake plant can also develop fungal and bacterial issues if too much free-standing water is left in the plant pot after a watering session. Having at least one hole in the pot for drainage is optimal. Good drainage keeps the soil healthy and allows it to provide the tree with the nutrients that it needs without overloading it with excess water.

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Does A Snake Plant Need Drainage Holes?

Yes. Your pot should have at least one drainage hole. You can set your snake plant up for success by creating an efficient drainage system within its pot. If your snake plant doesn't have a good drainage system, it can develop several diseases that can be hard to fix once they've set in.

Simply put, an over-watered snake plant can quickly become stressed out and die from poor nutrition. Even if you purchase a plant pot that doesn't have a drainage hole, you can add one using a utility knife or a pair of wire cutters.

See this utility knife on Amazon.

Do Snake Plants Like To Be Crowded?

Yes, snake plants do prefer a crowded root system. You'll notice that your snake plant will grow faster and taller if you leave it in a small pot as opposed to repotting it every 6 to 8 months. As the root system of a snake plant becomes more developed, the roots will get bigger and start to bulge out. In some cases, they can even break the pot--which is definitely a reason to re-pot the plant.

However, if you don't see any signs that the roots are hindering the plant's growth, you don't need to re-pot a snake plant. Reasons to re-pot the plant would include if it is suffering from a fungal or bacterial infection, if the roots are starting to stick out from the soil, or if you want the snake plant to grow taller.

How Do You Know If Your Snake Plant Is Healthy?

A healthy snake plant has stiff and fleshy green leaves. The leaves will be plump with pointed tips and yellow edges, depending on the variety of the snake plant. If your snake plant is unhealthy, it will quickly let you know. Conditions such as root rot, pest infestations, underwater or overwatering, and environmental factors can cause a healthy snake plant to struggle to survive.

This is why it's always best to monitor your snake plant on at least a weekly basis to ensure that it is healthy and thriving. Here are a few ways that your snake plant will display signs of stress.

Signs Of An Unhealthy Snake Plant

Yellowing or browning leaves

A snake plant that has leaves that are turning yellow or brown can be suffering from a bacterial infection, underwatering, or over-watering.

Soil that smells bad

If you notice a pungent or foul odor coming from the base of your snake plant, chances are that your plant has a fungal infection. If you touch the roots and notice that they are mushy and soggy instead of firm and plump, this is definitely evidence of a fungal infection.

The most common infection and the snake plant is root rot. Root rot comes from over-watering and can be remedied by removing the plant from its current soil base and planting it in fresh soil. You may also need to apply fertilizer to the plant depending on its current state.

Deteriorating or wilting leaves

Take a look at the leaves of your snake plant to determine if they appear healthy and vibrant. Are the leaves standing upright or leaning to the side? Do they have a rich green color, or are they turning yellow and brown? Do you notice any wilting on the leaves?

One of the quickest ways to determine the health of your snake plant is to closely inspect the leaves for signs of infection or high stress. If any leaves are curling up or have white spots on them, it could be a sign of a pest or bacterial infection. For example, mealybugs inject toxins on the leaves of snake plants, which can cause the leaves to develop white spots and droop downward.

The Plant Isn't Growing

Though snake plants aren't the fastest growing indoor plants, you should see noticeable growth every few months of the plant's life. If the leaves of the plant appear unusually small for an extended period of time, it may be a sign that the plant needs a bit of TLC.

The best way to troubleshoot any potential issues is to first inspect the plant's roots and foliage. Look for signs of stress on the leaves and the roots. It's also helpful to test the pH level of your snake plant's soil. The ideal pH range for your snake plant is between 4.8 and 8.5.

Click here to see this soil testing kit on Amazon.

How Do You Get Good Drainage In Your Pots?

To get optimal drainage in your pot you'll need three things:

  • A quality soil mix that promotes sufficient draining
  • A plant pot with a least one drainage hole
  • Drainage promoting materials

Let's discuss each of these items in more detail.

A quality soil mix that promotes sufficient draining

The density of your plant soil will determine how it will drain water. For optimal drainage, it's best to combine your snake plant soil with an additive to aerate it. Most potting soil comes mixed with additives, which means that you typically won't have to add these materials in yourself--though there are exceptions to the rule. When you purchase your snake plant, ask the nursery for the best potting soil mix for your snake plant.

A plant pot with a least one drainage hole

A deep plant pot works best to help your snake plant's soil wick away any excess water. Taller pots can hold more soil, which means that more water and air can penetrate the surface of the soil so that even if the base layer is saturated, other areas of the soil won't be. If a plant pot is on the shorter side, the entire soil mix may hold too much water.

Remember, it's all about keeping the roots just moist enough so that they don't become stressed. With snake plants, it's always easier to overwater them than to underwater them. If the plants become overwatered, the roots will not be able to take in air, and the plant will suffocate from the lack of oxygen.

Drainage promoting materials

If you find that your snake plant soil is too wet or compact, there are a few materials that you can add to the mix to help increase its drainage capabilities. Let's take a look at them.


Perlite is a white highly-porous and lightweight material that's commonly used in potting media. It can increase the drainage and aeration in your snake plant soi. You can buy perlite at your local nursery or online for around $10. If you notice that your plant's soil has become clumpy and heavy, you can mix it with perlite to help loosen it up and increase its drainage ability.

Click here to see this perlite on Amazon.


Vermiculite is another highly porous material that you can use to increase drainage in your snake plant soil. This material is often used to help smaller plants that may struggle with root development or have moisture issues. The great thing about vermiculite is that it can hold onto soil nutrients and then slowly release them into a plant's soil.

It is highly absorbent and can hold water way better than perlite. You can add vermiculite to your snake plant soil if you are struggling to keep it dry or are having issues with fungal infections.

Click here to see this vermiculite on Amazon.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has answered any questions that you may have had regarding proper drainage for your snake plant. Remember, it's always best to underwater a snake plant than to overwater it. To ensure that your snake plant remains healthy, it's best to do a weekly check of the plant's foliage and soil to ensure that they are healthy.

Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts:

Can Snake Plants Grow In Water?

5 Common Snake Plant Diseases & Pests

9 Snake Plant Arrangement Ideas

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