How to Propagate Snake Plant Pups and Re-pot Them

You know it’s growing well, when snake plant pups start sprouting! 

Sprouting snake plant pups is a sure sign that your plant is healthy and growing. If you see baby snake plants starting to sprout up around your main plant, don’t worry – this is normal! In fact, it’s a good sign that your plant is thriving.

In fact, a recent study published in Harvard University Extension stated that the snake plant is one of the most oxygen-producing houseplants, so no wonder the snake plant is a gardeners’ favourite for indoor growing. 

Often showing up near the top of low-maintenance house plant lists, the snake plant or Sansevieria can be seen everywhere from hotel lobbies & schools to shopping mall corners. Why you may ask? Because they are so easy to propagate!

You can propagate snake plants by separating the pups followed by repotting them in fast-draining soil. These pups typically sprout about their very own root structures so they can easily be sliced through and linked to the root mass. 

In this blog, I will be discussing how to repot and propagate snake plant pups in detail. Let’s get started! 

Separating a snake plant pup from a larger mother plant

How Do You Get Snake Plant Pups? 

Snake plants undergo asexual reproduction by using a reproductive strategy through snake plant pups. The spread-like leaf structure allows the plant to grow vertically without taking up much space, but the reliance on underlying root structure is quite significant. 

In order to get pups, you will have to wait 3-4 months after planting. Once the plant has matured, a fleshy rhizome extends from the main root ball and comes out as a separate leaf adjacent to the main plant. This is called a ‘pup’. 

Once the foliage develops from underground roots, the snake plant will develop new rhizomes and produce a new cluster of plant pups. These lateral extensions have their own system separated from the main plant, which is why you can even slice them out of the plant without causing any damage. 

This plant has myriads of common names such as Mother-In-Laws-Tongue and Sansevieria, and comes in varieties like Laurentii, Black Coral and Cylindrical. 

Why Divide Snake Plant Pups? 

There could be many reasons for someone wanting to divide snake plant pups. Maybe you want to sell them in bulk, give them away as presents or simply have more green-goodness in your space! 

But, why can’t you just multiply snake plants from leaf cuttings? All that trouble of digging them up and slicing the roots? 

Let me tell you why! The most crucial reason to do so is that new snake plants that develop from old leaf segments rarely have the same color. Propagating is the way to go if you want your baby snake plants to look exactly like the parent plant. 

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In some cases, they may even be lacking the vertical strips that characterize popular snake plant varieties such as: 

  • Laurentii: These have vivid yellow bands at the margins. 
  • Bantel’s Sensation: Tall Sansevieria plants that have white vertical stripes 
  • Golden Hahnii: A dwarf variety which is majorly yellow in color. 
  • Black Gold: Their leaves are particularly striking because of the contrast between their yellow margins and black core. 

Lastly, dividing snake plant pups also ensures that your plant does not get too crowded due to being root bound. If the plant pot is too crowded, the roots and rhizomes will begin to squish together, cutting off the plant’s air and nutrient supply. 

Snake plant pup growing from leaf cutting

How Long Does It Take to Get Snake Plant Pups?

Snake plants can be propagated easily. Plant pups may begin to emerge from the soil roughly 2-4 months after cutting. Most snake plants can take up to three months to root and then start producing new pups. Pups are dependent on the parent plant when they initially emerge from the ground. 

Underneath the soil, you will see a smooth tube that has grown from the main root system. You will have to be careful not to cut the new rhizomes at an early stage, because they cannot absorb moisture until they develop their own roots. Wait until the pups are at least a few inches long before cutting them off. 

The middle of spring is the ideal period to grow a Snake Plant from split rhizomes. The new leaves will be able to soak up the sun‘s rays and flourish in their new containers for quite some time before winter comes over. 

How Do You Remove the Pups from the Snake Plant?

In order to remove the pups from the snake plant, you will need the following: 

  • A snake plant
  • A pot
  • A sharp knife 
  • Potting soil 
  • A hard surface 

First things first, how do we determine that the pup needs to be removed if not doing it for propagation purposes? If your plant is in a plastic pot, look out for any areas that are bulging outwards. This could be a sign that the ‘pups’ rhizome is pushing against the plastic. If the plant is not looking too crowded in its spot, then you shouldn’t really re-pot it. 

Lastly, if you just want a change of aesthetic and to transfer your plant into ceramic pots, then I would recommend you simply buy a bigger sized pot and drop the current pot in there with some setting soil. 

Follow the following steps to remove the pups: 

  1. Remove residual dirt from your plant and place it on a firm surface. 
  2. Use a clean and sharp blade to make a cut in the centre of the rhizome. Ideally, you should be left with 3-4 roots and some portion of the rhizome after making the cut. 
  3. Place the new pup in potting soil and hydrate it. 
  4. You should hold off if you can’t find any roots. Wait for the soil to dry before watering again. 
  5. Place the plant in a medium light location and not under direct sun. This is because harsh light may stress the new roots. 
Snake plant and supplies of water, new pot and soil

How to Propagate Snake Plant Pups (Steps)

Now that you know all about snake plant pups, and have decided on propagating Snake Plants through pups, I will share one of the best methods to do so. Aside from that, we will also go over alternate techniques to propagate Snake Plant. 

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Things You’ll Need  

  • Soil is highly crucial when propagating leaves. Since snake plants are vulnerable to overwatering, you need the right growing medium for the best results. You can either purchase a ready-made succulent blend or combine the following: 
    • 30% orchid bark 
    • 40% coarse perlite 
    • 20% coconut coir 
    • 10% vermicompost 
  • Next, you need pots to place the snake plant pups in. Use small containers since the potting mix will take too long to dry after being watered if the soil volume is large in comparison to the size of the root ball. Also make sure that the pots have drainage holes so that the water can seep out. 
  • A garden knife with a serrated edge or pruning shears should be fine for cutting through dense rhizomes of a snake plant. 
  • Purchase some isopropyl alcohol (3% concentration) or bleach (10% solution) to use as a disinfectant to deter any microbial growth on the surface of your blades and avoid root rot.
  • Lastly, have a paper towel to cover the surface. You don’t want the dirt that comes out of your snake plant’s roots to land on your floor when you pull it out. 

Step-by-Step Guide 

  1. Uprooting and Cleaning 

Grip your plant near the base of its foliage and turn it upside down. Since the root system of snake plants is not very deep, you shouldn’t have to work too hard to uproot the plant. 

If the plant is strongly root bound, try patting the bottom of the pot a few times to loosen the tight soil. If you have a plastic container, you can try to squeeze it. 

Once your plant is out of its pot, clean the roots and get rid of any soil lumps near the roots. You can use some lukewarm water to loosen up the clods if necessary. 

  1. Eliminating Root Rot

Before moving forward with the removal of plant pups, check for signs of root rot. Plants with brown tips, wilted leaves or mushy and flaky roots are probably rotten. Healthy roots are light orange in color whereas infected ones are gray, dark brown or black. Remove the affected tissue using your cutter. 

When removing infected roots, be sure to wipe the blades off with some disinfectant using a clean washcloth or a microfiber cloth. 

  1. Separating Plant Pups

Now that you have a healthy plant cutting, you will see that your snake plant has a big mass of fine roots as well as a few hefty rhizomes that connect pups to the rest of the plant. 

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You need to ensure that each plant pup that you cut has a few roots attached to its bottom. You should only take about one-third of the root mass of the parent snake plant. 

After identifying a point of division, use a knife to slice through the crown and separate the smaller plant. 

  1. Replanting the Pups

If you are using a container which is the same size as the one containing your parent snake plant, fill about ⅓ or ¼ of its volume with soil and leave some space in the center for rhizomes. 

Then, tuck the new plantings into the soil while ensuring that you completely cover the rhizomes with soil. You can add some water to get the right consistency and hold on the potting soil mix. 

Method of Propagation Water Propagation Soil Propagation Division Propagation 
Pros Fun process Easy for beginners One-step method You can mix leaves from different varieties New plant retains the look of the original plant
ConsNew plants often lose their patterns and design New plants lack the same color and patterns as their parent plantCan only be done with a large snake plants as smaller ones can get damaged easily 
Lush snake plant pups taking to their new soil

Snake Plant Aftercare

Snake plants have a reputation for being practically indestructible, resilient and hardy plants. However, any plant will suffer stress from being dug up, trimmed and replanted. 

Until your baby snake plants recuperate from the stress and begin growing, they will be in a precarious position. Here are a few aftercare tips for snake plants: 

  • Keep the soil moist and avoid placing the plant in direct sunlight after replanting. This promotes formation of new roots and prevents the pups from drying out. You can limit watering once it has been 3-4 weeks post replanting. 
  • Never apply fertilizer immediately after planting, doing so might cause root and leaf burn. If the growth is sluggish even after two months, you can use a good fertilizer. 
  • Due to their strong tolerance, snake plants can thrive in a wide range of light conditions. If you want your plant to stay healthy, you should avoid placing it indoors. Pick an area where they can get the occasional sun exposure. 
  • Too much water might even kill a snake plant. Wait until the soil is dry before watering again. 

How Do You Know When to Re-Pot a Snake Pup

If your plant’s leaves start to become soft and mushy, it is time to repot. This could either be a sign of root rot, or could be happening because your plant is not getting enough nourishment due to being too crowded. 

Snake plants are low maintenance and easy to care for, but any plant will eventually die in poor soil conditions. Another scenario where you need to re-pot your plant is if you see any part of your pot bulging outwards or too many plant pups growing beside the main root. 

This could hinder the channelisation of nutrients between the soil surface and main rhizomes leading to discolouration overtime. 

Final Thoughts

Snake plant pups can be easily re-potted by making a division amidst the main plant and placing the new pup with roots in a different pot. When doing this, you need to make sure that you do not overwater your plant and get rid of any infected roots. 

Once you are done replanting, make sure that you do not place your plant under direct sunlight and avoid adding fertilizers immediately. 

Brock

Brock is the head gardener and editor-in-chief at Bigger Garden. Every year you can expect to see something new in his raised beds, from purple broccoli to cotton candy peppers.

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