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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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pot Up Your Rooted Sansevieria Cuttings

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. 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:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

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Raven

Monday 30th of March 2020

Can you keep the plants growing in water? I saw someone had several of them just growing in clear vases without water. So I got the vases and now that I read your article, it seems like you're not supposed to question mark once they root you're supposed to put them in soil? I was actually going to take my plants out of the pot because they're not doing so good and put them in the vases with water instead. Will this kill them?

Raffaele

Tuesday 31st of March 2020

You can really grow anything hydroponically, but I've never tried transferring a fully rooted potted plant to water. I think it would be too tricky with Sansevieria. You'd have to remove all the soil and the rhizomes can be pretty brittle. Why not try and propagate some and let them root in water and then keep them in water. Did you read my snake plant care blog post? It will help you figure out why your potted plant isn't looking good.

Kelly

Monday 13th of January 2020

Hi! What do you mean by dividing ”the plant itself at the roots, if your plant has multiple crowns, and just split the plant and pot up the individual sections.” Could you explain where and when you split it? And what are the multiple crowns referring to? Thanks:)

Raffaele

Sunday 19th of January 2020

Hi Kelly, if you have multiple plants in one pot, you can just take the plant out of the pot and divide it up into any many plants as you want. That's really all I'm talking about. It's hard to really explain just by describing in words!

Runa Haque

Monday 6th of January 2020

Hi there ! I have some snake plans but most of them after I reported they don’t have any established root systems ! But they are somehow just surviving! What did I do wrong ?

Raffaele

Tuesday 7th of January 2020

It's hard to say without knowing how you cared for it and what conditions you provided for the plant. It could have been that there were extremes in soil moisture. Either too dry for too long, or maybe it suffered root rot from the soil staying wet for too long. Do either of these cases seem probable?

Lindsey

Thursday 12th of December 2019

I have a fully formed moonshine bulb with several tall leaves on it. I’ve noticed it is wrinkling and shriveling. I took it out of the soil to see if it was root rot and it looks totally fine aside from it oddly not having any roots really at all. Head scratcher. Can I put the whole thing in water to root it and save it or should I just keep it in the soil and keep the soil moist? It just doesn’t seem to be getting any water I guess since it doesn’t have roots. This is a new plant btw and I hadn’t repotted it yet to know it didn’t have any roots. I’m so confused by it.

Raffaele

Thursday 12th of December 2019

Hi Lindsey, I assume that it was that way by the time you received the plant. It might be easier on the plant if it kept it in soil. Maybe put a small support stake in the pot so the plant doesn't wobble around. You want it securely in the pot. Place the plant right in front of a window. It will be OK even if it gets some morning sun. Eastern exposure windows are great. Water thoroughly and let the top inch or two dry out. Then repeat. If you keep an eye on it, it should bounce back for you. Hope this helps! You could also put it in water to root, but it will probably be easier on the plant this way in your case.

Whitney

Sunday 10th of November 2019

I didnt know you could keep them in water until the pups grew! They won't drown? I put mine in water for about 3-4 weeks and then planted in soil but its been about 2-2.5 months and I dont have any pups yet so I think Im going to put them back in water. Would love to watch them grow :) Thanks so much for this post, really helpful! x

Raffaele

Sunday 10th of November 2019

Hi Whitney! The pups take a while to form. Sometimes several months! No, they will not drown in just plain water.