So, you recently moved into a new house – congratulations! Aside from adding your own personal touch to what will soon be a home filled with memories, you want to add some greenery to help liven it up. But what kind of plant should you go for? You heard about snake plants, but want to learn more about them. Do they require a lot of maintenance? How do you take care of them? Do they have any benefits?
The short answer is that snake plants – known formally as Dracaena trifasciata (or in some cases, Mother-In-Law’s tongue) – do not require a lot of maintenance. These plants can tolerate long periods without water and can thrive in both sunlight and shade. And in terms of benefits, they can purify the air in your new home, combat allergies, and even boost your mental health because of all the oxygen they release.
In fact, several studies have shown the correlation between the snake plant’s oxygen production and the positive effect it has on improving one’s mental health. I can vouch for this, as I’ve felt myself to be happier with them scattered around my workspace. If you’re looking to add beautiful snake plants to your home, keep reading for some top benefits and tips and tricks you can use to care for it.
- 1 What are the Benefits of a Snake Plant?
- 2 Snake Plant Care Tips
- 3 Final Thoughts
While there are numerous benefits of snake plants (I’ll get to those later), the biggest benefit is that they act just like us – well, sort of, anyway.
Humans breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Snake plants convert that carbon dioxide to oxygen at night. In fact, one of the unique facts about snake plants is that they’re able to convert and produce this oxygen at night.
Here are some other really neat benefits of snake plants (and why they make the perfect houseplants for beginners and experts):
I mentioned this briefly above, but let’s take a deep dive into how exactly this process works. Through the process of photosynthesis (every plant lover’s favorite word), the snake plant converts carbon dioxide into oxygen – approximately 1 liter per day.
The average human needs about 11,000 liters of air a day to survive, so needless to say, you would need a lot of snake plants near you to solely live off them, but it’s still an impressive number. So, impressive, in fact, that it was actually the basis for NASA’s Clean Air Study in the 1980s.
Back in 1989, NASA’s team conducted a study to find out which plants would be effective in absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back into the air to combat common chemicals such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde. The study found that certain plants if placed every 100 square feet or so, can purify the air. What plant made that list? A snake plant!
Though there’s no scientific research to back this claim up (specifically), many plant experts agree that their snake plants have offered, albeit in a small way, some relief for minor aches and pains. This includes inflammation reduction and headache relief.
In reality, these so-called “benefits” are more than likely attributed to the high amount of oxygen they release. For example, a 2006 study conducted by Markus Shurks, et al determined that “…oxygen was the most effective acute treatment for cluster headaches.”
That being said, if you routinely suffer from headaches, investing in a snake plant may be a great way to find some much-needed relief.
3. They Can Combat Allergies
Do you own a dog even though you’re allergic? Or, do you have asthma?
If you’re tired of dealing with the aftermath of dust or pet dander and anything else that triggers breathing problems, then a snake plant may offer you some relief because it can actually combat common airborne allergies such as these.
Like other benefits mentioned on this list, this ability to combat allergies is thanks to the snake plant’s oxygen production, which adds moisture to the air and lessens the impact of these common allergens.
After all, who wants to deal with allergies in the comfort of their own home? Not me, and chances are, not you, either.
That NASA study was onto something when they discovered that snake plants can combat toxic chemicals such as benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Not only can these toxins trigger allergies, but they’re found in many commonly used items inside your house. Trichloroethylene, for example, is found in many household cleaners and cleaning wipes, whereas toluene can be found in glue, nail polish, and stain removers.
So, if you use any of these items in your house, it releases harmful toxins you end up breathing in. By having snake plants scattered throughout your home, you can reduce these toxins, so you not only breathe easier but lower your risk of cancer and other ailments caused by such harmful toxins.
Plants have long been linked to being good for your mental health, and a snake plant is no different.
In general, plants have been known to reduce anxiety levels, while simultaneously increasing attentiveness and focus. If you’ve ever wondered why you see so many plants around an office, this is why.
However, the real benefit comes down to what the snake plant produces. And, you guessed it: oxygen. Think about it: have you ever noticed how much easier you breathe when you’re taking a walk outside? Or, that you feel less stressed, anxious, or even depressed?
This is because of the abundance of oxygen that greets you outside compared to what’s available inside your home. And that, in itself, is a mood booster. This same concept applies to your snake plant.
Since snake plants produce so much oxygen, you can enjoy the benefits of being outside from the comfort of your living room. This helps increase productivity, reduce stress, and lift your spirits, especially during the winter season when seasonal depression can be a major issue.
6. They’re Easy to Take Care Of
Last but not least, snake plants are just easy plants to care for. And, if you’re just starting out with plants, this is just what you need to ease into the responsibilities.
Because they need indirect sunlight, it gives you more options in terms of where you can place them throughout your house. Because the soil has to dry out in between waterings, it’s okay if you miss a day or two.
And, because they come in a variety of heights and styles, it won’t necessarily look like you have the same plant in every room of the house.
To elaborate on their versatility, Halina Shamshur, a botanist with NatureID, says that snake plants are “…very undemanding…they’re often grown on windowsills in houses, apartments, and different public buildings.”
If you’re looking for a plant you can take care of easily on your own, a snake plant is definitely it!
Now that you know the benefits of these beautiful snake plants, here are some tips for taking care of them:
Yes, snake plants can survive in both shade and sunlight, but they’ll be better off if you keep them in indirect sunlight, as that is the kind of lighting environment they truly prefer.
The longer a snake plant is kept in the shade without any sort of sunlight, it’ll start to droop and the leaves may even begin to lose their vitality a little bit.
Snake plants can go somewhat long periods without water, which, unfortunately, makes it easy to accidentally overwater them, especially if this is your first time taking care of this type of plant.
This is because plant owners may believe that since a plant hasn’t been watered a lot, it needs to be drenched to make up for it.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and unfortunately, adding too much water may cause root rot, which will kill your snake plant. To make sure you’re watering your snake plant appropriately, let the soil dry completely before watering it again.
Also, if you can, try to water the plant from the bottom up. This helps promote growth and stronger roots.
3. Use a Well-Draining Potting Soil
Another important care tip is to use well-draining potting soil. The more sandy or rocky your soil is, the easier it’ll be for water to drain through, preventing root rot (as mentioned above) to occur.
If you’re worried about overwatering your snake plant, invest in this kind of soil when you go to pot it. It will not only help your snake plant thrive, but it’ll ease your mind, as well.
Maybe you have your snake plant by your bedroom window. While this is great during the spring and summer, come wintertime, you could be in for some real trouble.
This is because snake plants need to be in temperatures of 50 degrees F and above. Moving your snake plant away from drafty doors and windows during the winter season will keep it thriving all season long.
I know, I know, Tip #1 just talked about keeping it in indirect sunlight, but you can give your snake plant a little growth boost if you put it in direct sunlight for a few hours during the spring and summer.
Just be mindful that when you do this, you don’t move it from an indirectly lit area to a direct one quickly because that can cause the plant to go into shock. Rather, make this transition slowly.
It’s not required that you do this, but it can be an easy way to get your snake plant to grow a bit taller, especially if you think it’s taking too long with indirect sunlight exposure.
There you have it: all the unique benefits of owning snake plants. Though snake plants come in a variety of sizes and styles, these plants can literally breathe new life into your home, while simultaneously boosting your mood.
These tips can help you take care of your new snake plant for years to come!