How to Get Snake Plants to Grow Straight: 5 Easy Tips

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There are numerous reasons why your snake plant is not growing straight. In this post, I talk about 5 different reasons why your snake plant may not be upright and what to do about it. And it doesn’t always mean that something is “wrong”! 

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HOW TO GET SNAKE PLANTS TO GROW STRAIGHT

Here are 5 common reasons why your snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue may not be growing straight up.

Although they are one of the easiest houseplants to grow, here are some things to consider.

1. NOT ENOUGH LIGHT

Contrary to popular belief, snake plants suffer when kept in low light conditions. They will take a long time (months, or longer) to show the results of poor light, but eventually, the leaves can start to curl and not grow straight up.

Snake plants can actually take a lot of direct sun, so don’t hesitate to move your plant to a brighter location! I’ve seen many snake plants grow in full sun outdoors in the ground in warm climates. Our light indoors is much weaker, so they can take your sunniest window with no issues.

Take a look at this plant below. It is growing at a restaurant that I like to frequent at lunchtime, and it has been there for a long time. You can see the snake plant leaves bending and curling from lower light levels. 

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The plant is sitting several feet away from windows in mostly just overhead lighting. Snake plants can definitely survive in these indirect light conditions, but you would just have to manage your expectations of what your plant will eventually look like if you choose to grow in lower light.

Ideally, snake plants like bright light, including a few hours of direct sun indoors in order to look their best. 

Keep in mind that if your plant has been growing in low light conditions for a long time, the old leaves will not miraculously straighten out after you move it to higher light. Any new growth, however, that starts growing under the new, brighter conditions should exhibit stronger and straighter growth.

If you don’t have enough sunlight, you can always use a grow light for your snake plants. 

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There is nothing wrong with some arching leaves. As they get longer and heavier, some leaves can start arching over.

2. YOU’RE NOT TURNING YOUR PLANT

This tip goes for any plant, not just snake plants. If you’re not turning your pot regularly, your plant’s growth can become quite lopsided. Indoors, plants routinely experience what is called phototropism.

This basically means that plants will bend towards the direction of the light source (typically, your windows indoors).

So if you want to keep your plant growing more evenly, turn your plants regularly throughout the growing season. I usually turn my plants 180° once a week or so. Try and do it at least once a month for best results. 

3. NOT ALL TYPES GROW COMPLETELY UPRIGHT!

​Keep in mind that there are many snake plant varieties and not all of them grow straight up. The plain old Sansevieria trifasciata (now reclassified as Dracaena trifasciata), have straight, long leaves that grow straight up.

​Many other varieties have leaves that will grow a bit sideways or arch over naturally. These include the ‘Fernwood’ cultivar and many others. Check out my blog post to see some beautiful examples of snake plant types so you know what to expect.

4. YOUR PLANT IS HEAVING OUT OF THE POT

If your plant has gotten really root bound, often times, your snake plant will literally heave itself out of the pot! Snake plants grow and spread from rhizomes that are under the soil.

When the rhizomes grow a lot and your pot is getting crowded, the rhizomes will have nowhere to go and often press up against the pot, causing the entire plant to lift and tilt over.

Take a look at the two examples below of my own plants where I’ve had this happen. 

snake-plant-coming-out-of-pot

And here is another example below. This is my Whale Fin snake plant. You can see it heaving out of the pot.

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In order to remedy this situation, simply take your plant out of the pot and repot it. When you place your plant in the new pot, simply straighten it out as you’re adding soil. You can also divide your mature snake plant at this point and make two plants, which is probably what I’m going to have to do with the plant above.

5. WHEN YOU REPOT, DON’T GO TOO BIG 

If it is time to repot your plant into a larger pot, when you choose a new pot, make sure that you don’t go too big. My general rule of thumb is to only go up one pot size. If your old pot was 4 inches in diameter, only go up to a 6 inch diameter pot and no bigger.

Many snake plants can get quite top-heavy, so if your new pot is too big, there will be more of an opportunity for your plant to tilt over with the excess potting mix.

Not only this, but if you keep your plant in lower light and end up using a pot that’s too big, the excess soil can end up causing root rot. And if you have rotten roots, your plant will end up tipping over from the weight of the leaves. 

If you find that your roots rotted out, first try and understand why. Then take your plant out of the pot, cut away any rotten parts with a sharp knife or set of pruners, and pot it up into a smaller pot. 

There are numerous reasons why your snake plant roots may have rotted. Here are some important things to consider.

Reasons Snake Plants Rotted

Your Plant is Sitting in Water

This can happen if water collects in the drainage saucer underneath the plant, or maybe you have your plant growing in a pot without drainage holes and too much water collected at the bottom of the pot.

Combination of Poor Growing Conditions

A combination of poorly draining potting soil, low light conditions, and pots that are too big are a recipe for root rot. A well-draining soil is very important, so don’t underestimate the importance of good drainage!

I find that regardless of the type of soil that I buy, I usually have to amend it to improve drainage. Even if you use potting soil that is meant for succulents and cacti, I tend to add either perlite or pumice to improve drainage. Check out my blog post on the best soil for snake plants for my favorite blends.

In order to have a healthy root system, your plant should be in plenty of light right in front of a window, have a well-draining potting mix, and good watering practices. Feel your potting mix, and when the top couple inches are dry, give your plant a good soaking and let excess water drain away.

Although snake plants can definitely tolerate infrequent watering, try not to let the soil stay completely dry for too long.

Good cultural conditions and care practices will make for strong roots, and thus healthy growth. 

Lastly….your snake plants don’t have to be completely upright. Appreciate it for what it is! There is nothing wrong with adding a support stake and some twine or clear fishing string to gently support your plant like I show in the photo below of one of my specimens. Even a healthy snake plant can be be imperfect. 

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on how to get snake plants to grow straight. Have you experienced any of the issues mentioned in this post? Comment below. I’d love to hear!

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