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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.

Be sure not to miss my YouTube video where I discuss snake plant propagation and how to avoid rotting, along with other tips!

Looking to purchase a special Sansevieria? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the vast Sansevieria selection (link to Etsy) today!

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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Adrian Chilembo

Wednesday 2nd of November 2022

This is beautiful. I have some snake plants and l will try the method.

Raffaele

Wednesday 2nd of November 2022

It's very fun! Give it a shot Adrian.

Aideen

Monday 3rd of October 2022

Hi Raffaele!

I'm trying to propagate a snake plant leaf in water and it's gone all soggy: does that means it's rotten and it's not working, or is that part of the process?

Raffaele

Monday 3rd of October 2022

Sometimes the part where you cut the leaf can appear a little soggy. Keep changing the water and cleaning the leaves frequently until it starts to root. This will help!

Dorlis Grote

Thursday 22nd of September 2022

I have a Sanseveria "Moonglow" with very light ime green leaves, will it produce moonglow pups or regular?

Raffaele

Monday 3rd of October 2022

I'm not familiar with that cultivar. Time will tell :-)

Sarah

Tuesday 6th of September 2022

I have a nice pup and need to transfer to soil, but do I cut down the long-ish leaf that I propagated it from? Can I leave it and they will continue to live and grow happily together?

Raffaele

Tuesday 6th of September 2022

You can leave the original leaf for sure! Some people don't like the look of a chopped off leaf, so they will cut the pup off and plant it. Either way is fine, and it's probably better to leave the leaf cutting attached.

Erin

Friday 12th of August 2022

I have the same problem every time I try to put the leaves in water (after letting them harden off for a couple days) and they go mushy! How can I avoid this? Thanks!

Raffaele

Monday 15th of August 2022

Hi Erin! Have you changed the water frequently and cleaned off any slime that forms on the leaf cuttings? This is really important.