10 Reasons the Snake Plant is So Popular
You might imagine the snake plant is a tangling creeper style plant that coils and wraps itself around things, but you would be wrong. The snake plant instead resembles the heads of enchanted cobras lured out of their basket by a snake charmer with a flute. The foliage matching the shape and to some extent the pattern of a cobra’s head.
So why is this serpentine plant so popular? And what makes it an absolute must have house plant? Read on to find out!
What is a Snake Plant?
Snake plants are native to West Africa and enjoy the hot dryish growing conditions you would associate with a West African environment. It is known under the Latin name dracaena trifasciata but you may find it on outdated websites under its previous Latin name sansevieria trifasciata. It also goes by a number of alternate common names – meaning you might find it under one of these instead of listed as a snake plant.
- Saint George’s sword.
- Mother-in-law’s tongue.
- Viper’s bowstring hemp.
In West Africa, the plant is venerated by some of the tribes there, with it even serving as a symbol for a few of them.
8 Reasons the Snake Plant is So Popular
Enough of the horticultural lesson, let’s get stuck into the 8 interesting facts about snake plants. Now, these 8 things are truly fantastic, but there are a couple of things you should know about snake plants that aren’t so great. Read to the end find those.
When NASA completed their clean air study, they concluded that the snake plant was among the best plants for air filtration as it removed 4 out of the 5 most toxic elements known to cause sickness. The problem is that a single snake plant alone wouldn’t remove enough of the elements by itself so you would need a good number of plants to clean up the air. But even a single plant will clean up your air a little bit, even if it isn’t noticeable.
Snake plants are characterised by their foliage, so it often gets overlooked that they also flower. The flowers are unusual looking to say the least and the snake plant isn’t producing colourful displays of showy flowers. Instead, flower strands shoot up from the base of the plant and grow alongside the upright leaves.
As you may have guessed by the name viper’s bowstring hemp, the tribes of West Africa use the snake plant’s hemp to make bowstrings. This only relates to certain types of snake plants, but if you had this type and you were feeling creative, you could use the fibre to make your bowstrings.
It goes without saying that here in the UK it is far too cold for the snake plant to grow outdoors, but it does grow very well indoors. The key thing a snake plant is concerned with is temperature, and unusually it doesn’t need much light to grow. This makes it a popular low-light houseplant.
The snake plant is used to growing in environments where water is a scarcity, and this translates to growing it indoors. The snake plant will not need watering all that often at all, with a monthly water recommended, or even every few months in the winter. The snake plant is very water sensitive, so watering it any more than the prescribed amount and root rot quickly sets in and kills the plant.
Easy to Care For
The snake plant is considered one of the best houseplants for beginners as it doesn’t die easily. Throw in the fact that it needs little in the way of watering and light and you have a real winner for those looking to have a houseplant but without all of the work tending to it.
The Foliage is as Nice as the Flowers
The snake plant is known affectionately pretty much in all quarters of the globe, except for Australia (more on that below). The foliage of the snake plant holds the most appeal which is unusual for a flowering plant, and many think the leaves are mesmerising and beautiful. It is also an evergreen plant, which means that we can enjoy those leaves all year round – except the Australians, they don’t enjoy it at all.
It Makes the Perfect Gift
If you’re looking to buy a houseplant for a friend then the snake plant should be on your list, primarily because it is easy to look after and doesn’t need much commitment. It also looks great too, meaning it will be deeply appreciated by the person you’re giving it to – except if the person is Australian, then they will hate it.
2 Reasons Why the Snake Plant Isn’t the Best
No plant is without faults! Here’s what else you need to know about the snake plant before you buy one as a houseplant.
In Australia – It is a Pest
Australia has a very fragile and finely balanced eco-system, which means that they have had problems when foreign species have been introduced – most notably the cane toad which was introduced from the Americas and has gone on to become an invading pest. The same rule applies to plant life, and because of its ability to grow in most warm, dry conditions, the snake plant crops up all over the place ‘down under’, leading to it being classed as a weed.
Snake Plants Don’t Play Well with Pets
And last but not least, if you’re considering it as a gift, you should be aware that if they have curious pets, that the snake plant is toxic to most pets. It isn’t normally fatally toxic, but ingesting snake plant leaves can leave pets in considerable discomfort – so it is best to pick another plant that is a bit more pet friendly.