Snake plants (Sansevieria zeylanica) are native to tropical Africa.They are used primarily as ornamental plants and grown outdoors in warmer climates and indoors as houseplants in cooler climates. Snake plants remove toxins like nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde from the air.
Snake plants usually begin their growing lives as small starter plants, cuttings or roots. They can be started either in three- to six-inch containers or in the ground in warmer climates.
Small leaf cuttings from snake plants are called pups. Leaf cuttings from variegated snake plants will yield all green pups. Dividing a variegated mother plant at the roots (rhizomes) will produce new variegated plants.
Snake plants grow slowly. Snake plants like to be pot bound, but if the plant is bursting the sides of the pot or growing too tall for the pot to support it, transplant it into a larger pot. They require moderate to bright light and sparse watering. Overwatering may result in root rot. In winter, water potted snake plants just enough to keep the soil from drying out.
Snake plants can grow as tall as three or four feet. When they are tall and have grown multiple leaves, they can be propagated by cutting the leaves into horizontal sections New shoots, which emerge from the plant's underground rhizomes, appear as small spikes. These can be divided from the mother plant and potted independently.
Snake plants have a variety of foliage and many feature green banded leaves. Under the proper conditions, mature snake plants produce fragrant whitish green or light yellow flowers. However, flowering is unpredictable. Potted plants must usually be potbound to flower.
Some snake plants have lived from 20 to 25 years. Five to ten years is an average lifespan for a snake plant, but with good care it will live for many years.