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How to Propagate Snake Plant, or Sansevieria, in Water

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Rooting and propagating snake plant, or Sansevieria, in water has got to be one of the most fun propagation projects. It is very quick and simple to set up. The hardest part is waiting!

Let’s take a look now at how to water propagate snake plant!

how-to-propagate-snake-plant

Another common name for this plant is mother in law’s tongue. Depending on where you come from, the common name can vary! The genus, Sansevieria, is the botanical name so this is the accepted universal name.

It really is super simple to root Sansevieria in water. The process is as follows:

  • Choose a healthy leaf, but not one that is too old.
  • Cut the leaf off with a sharp pair of scissors.
  • Allow the leaf cuttings to sit for a couple days to let the cut scab or callous over.
  • Place in water and wait.
snake plant propagation in water
Photo credit: @marissalmcgraw on Instagram

Simple right! Now why do we do all these steps? Let me explain a little more in detail now.

Choose a Healthy Leaf

Choose a healthy leaf, but not one that is too old. Plants are like people. As we get old, we no longer function like we used to, and are not quite as vigorous 😀

To increase your chances, take a few cuttings if you can!

Cut off the Leaf

Cut the leaf off the plant with sharp, preferably sterilized scissors. You can use a single leaf, or even cut the leaf into sections.

Each section will actually grow baby plants! So from a single leaf, you can get multiple plants.

Aim to have leaf segments that are at least 2-3 inches or so (5-7.5 cm). Or you can use the whole leaf.

Allow the Cuttings to Air Dry

This is not absolutely 100% critical for Sansevieria, but I like to let the cuttings sit for a couple days before placing them in water just in case. I have had success both ways.

This is so that the cuts on the leaf will dry, callous over, and help prevent rotting.

Place in Water and Wait!

This is the hard part! It takes a LONG time to root Sansevieria. However, rooting Sansevieria in water is actually quicker than rooting them in soil. Substantially quicker!

There is one important tip to remember if you decide to cut each leaf into multiple segments. You must keep the leaf segments in the same orientation as they were growing on the plant.

As you can see in the photo above, on the right, you can see that I cut one leaf in half. You can NOT turn the leaf segments upside-down or they will not root.

Place the whole leaves, or leaf segments, in a glass or jar with at least an inch of water or so. If you use a glass that is narrower at the bottom, it can hold the leaf in place so that the bottom of each leaf doesn’t rest at the bottom of the glass.

You can also use small orchid clips or hair clips to hold the leaves up securely to propagation vessel but so they’re not resting at the bottom on the glass.

This will allow room for the roots to grow. The roots will grow anyway, but this is a little better.

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS

Be sure to change the water frequently. I would start with once or twice a week. If you notice that the water is getting cloudy or dirty, change it more frequently.

Even if you do this, you can still run into issues so here is the real secret to success with water propagation of Sansevieria that no one is talking about!

This is critically important! You may notice especially in the beginning part of the water propagation process that your leaf cuttings will get slimy.

Gross right? Check your cuttings in water often!

Take them out and feel the parts of the leaves that were underwater. If they are slimy, rinse the leaves off under warm or tepid water in the sink and gently rub them with your finger to remove the slime.

Once all your cuttings are clean, you should also clean the container that you have your cuttings in with soapy water. Rinse completely, add the cuttings back in, and add fresh water.

This should greatly diminish the chances of your cuttings from rotting!

Place the rooting cuttings by a window. Bright indirect light, or even a little bit of sun, would be fine. I would avoid placing the cuttings in full sun though, and definitely avoid placing them in the dark.

One last note, if your home uses a water softening system, don’t use this water for your plants! These systems typically place sodium in the water, which is toxic to plants.

snake plant propagation in water
Photo credit: @houseplantdiaries on Instagram

How Long Will The Roots Take to Grow?

Like I mentioned, if you use the water propagation method, it will be MUCH quicker!

From all the people that I’ve communicated with on Instagram, the quickest I’ve heard is 15 days. This is pretty rare and exceptionally fast. These results are not typical.

I would say the average is about 2 months before you’ll see any roots emerging. Sometimes it takes much longer. (Soil propagation of sansevieria can take several months for roots to form, and even longer for the pups to form.)

After the roots form, you will have to wait a bit longer for the pups to form. The roots will form first, and then perfectly formed little pups will start to grow.

snake plant propagation in water
Photo Credit: @thegirlwithplants_ on Instagram

Another tip to remember, is that if you have a variegated plant, the resulting pups that grow from leaf cuttings will NOT be variegated!

Take this beautiful variegated Sansevieria of mine:

snake plant care

See those beautiful yellow edges? If I were to take leaf cuttings of this snake plant and root them, the resulting pups will not be variegated.

If your goal is to have variegated offspring, you will have to divide the plant itself at the roots, if your plant has multiple crowns, and just split the plant and pot up the individual sections.

Here is one of my own water propagations and it took less than 6 weeks to root, which is pretty good!

This vessel was placed right in front of an Eastern window so it would get some morning sun.

Take a look at this beautiful pup that grew from one of the leaf cuttings!

If you are interesting in hydroponically growing your Sansevieria pups, and not plant them in soil, check out my blog post on how to grow snake plants in water permanently. You CAN grow them permanently in water! In the post I also show you how to separate the pup from the leaf.

Pot Up Your Rooted Sansevieria Cuttings

If you’d rather plant the pups in soil, then follow the procedure below.

After your leaves have about an inch of roots, you can pot them up into soil. Some people wait until they can see the pups growing, and then pot them up. Honestly, either way is fine.

Here is another rooted Sansevieria (Sansevieria cylindrica) that I rooted in water. This one took a few months and it still doesn’t have pups!

snake plant propagation in water
Photo credit: Me! (@ohiotropics) My Sansevieria cylindrica

It’s fun to actually see the pups growing in water before you pot them up! Don’t wait too long though if your intention is to grow them in soil. I will probably pot this cutting up before the pups start to form. They will establish better, but really, either way is just fine.

What kind of soil is good for Sansevieria? Check out my blog post on Sansevieria care where I talk about this topic.

If you’d like to propagate Sansevieria in soil instead of water, be sure to check out my blog post on soil propagation of snake plants. The process is a little different and takes longer, but requires less maintenance.

That’s all folks! Have you tried Sansevieria propagation in water?

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

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Emi

Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

My leaf was out in water and it rotted.

Raffaele

Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

Try again? If you follow the steps in this post, it should help :-)

chelle

Wednesday 20th of January 2021

thank you so much for giving simple, easy to follow instructions!!! one question, why do some of the pictures show cuttings in a V shape? is that better than straight across?

Raffaele

Wednesday 20th of January 2021

Either way will work! I just like it because I can tell which side should go into water, and also to give the roots more room to grow. It also creates more surface area for pups to grow, so I'd imagine it would result in more pups.

Kyra

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

My snake plant has portions hanging down and then turning back upwards. One of these bunches fell off! After removing the dead leaves I’m left with about 20 healthy leaves that come together with pointed end. Rather than a single leaf, can I propagate the entire bunch?

Raffaele

Monday 4th of January 2021

You can try it! It should root as well. You can even just place it directly into potting mix and maybe support it temporarily with a stake and tie it so it is secure. Is it in poor light though? That's maybe why it started to hang over to begin with.

Raffaele

Monday 4th of January 2021

Yes, you can try that. It should work too!

Mars

Thursday 17th of December 2020

I separated my sansevieria whitney pup in the fall and noticed that it kind of stunted its growth but I'm hoping it's just building up its rooting system under the soil during this coming winter months.

Now just today, my kids hit the poor little pup with a ball and its biggest leaf (not so big... about 3") cracked in different places. Can I just cut that leaf and try to propogate it separately or do I leave it all cracked along with the little centre leaf that's only about 2cm tall :(

Mars

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

@Raffaele, Thank you! I ended up cutting it because it was disappointing to see it so broken. Trying to propogate in water... nothing yet. The center part of the pup that I cut it from still looks healthy but now growth yet. Hoping it will grow bigger and that I didn't stunt it's growth by cutting it from its mama too soon!

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I love my Whitney and am looking forward to more pups!!

Raffaele

Monday 21st of December 2020

If it is unsightly for you, you can always cut it off and try and propagate it if you'd like! Try and leave the center leaf if you can. It's hard to help more without seeing a photo.

Maria Avery

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

Great information. I have propagated snake plants and sansevieria leafs and have great success. Both of them have little pups(cute). This has been great information.

Can you leave the cuttings in water indefinitely??

Raffaele

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

Glad you enjoyed the post! You can grow them in water for a long time. They probably won't be as vigorous as those grown in a potting mix, but it's fun to try.