Wondering if a snake plant can live outside? The answer is – yes and no.
Snake plants, also known as mother-in-law's tongue, are among the most popular houseplants due to their low maintenance and ability to thrive in various lighting conditions. They're hardy plants that can grow in water but, ironically enough, can suffer from overwatering when grown in soil.
Snake plants can survive happily outside with the right conditions, but they need some special considerations to thrive.
In this blog post, I will explore the conditions snake plants need to live outside and whether they can survive in different climates.
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Snake Plants Outside
1. Choose the Right Variety for Outdoor Placement
Choosing suitable varieties is vital if you want your snake plant to survive outdoors.
When choosing the best varieties of snake plants for outdoor growth, there are a few factors to consider.
Here are some of the best options:
Sansevieria trifasciata - It's the most common snake plant and is also known as mother-in-law's tongue.
It is a hardy plant that can tolerate various growing conditions.
Sansevieria cylindrica - Also known as the cylindrical snake plant, this variety has long, narrow leaves that grow upright, making it an excellent option for adding height and structure to a garden.
It is also highly resistant to drought and pests.
Sansevieria masoniana - This variety is also known as the whale fin snake plant due to its large, flat leaves that grow in a fan-like shape.
It is a hardy plant that can tolerate full sun and is resistant to pests and disease.
Sansevieria patens - This variety is known for its blue-green leaves that grow in a rosette shape.
It is a slow-growing plant that is highly resistant to drought and pests.
Sansevieria' Golden Hahnii' - This is a small, compact variety of snake plants ideal for growing in pots or as a ground cover.
It has yellow-striped leaves and is resistant to pests and disease.
It's important to note that while these varieties are well-suited for outdoor growth, they still need proper care and attention to thrive. Make sure to provide them with well-draining soil, partial shade, and regular watering to ensure their survival.
2. Temperature Requirements
First and foremost, it is crucial to understand the natural habitat of snake plants.
Native to West Africa, snake plants are used to:
hot and arid conditions
temperatures ranging from 50-100°F (10 - 38°C)
This means they can tolerate hot and dry weather, making them well-suited for outdoor growth in regions with similar climates.
Snake plants prefer climates with low humidity and warm summers. However, they can tolerate warmer climates if there are also cooler temperatures in the winter.
Regarding hardiness, snake plants can survive in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, which means they can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F (-7°C).
Nonetheless, protecting snake plants from frost is vital, which can damage their leaves and roots.
To protect them from frost, it is recommended to:
bring them indoors
provide a protective covering during the winter months
If you live in an area where night temperatures remain above 50°F (10°C), a snake plant can survive outside but not necessarily thrive.
3. Light Requirements
Snake plants are highly adaptable and can grow in low to bright light conditions.
When grown outdoors, it is best to place them in an area with partial shade to protect them from direct sun exposure, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
4. Soil Requirements
Another important factor to consider is soil. Snake plants prefer well-draining soil that is not too moist.
When grown outdoors, it is essential to plant them in soil that drains well to prevent water from sitting on the roots, which can lead to root rot.
If the soil in your garden does not drain well, it is recommended to add the following to improve drainage:
5. Water Requirements
Snake plants are known for tolerating periods of drought.
However, watering them regularly when grown outdoors is important to ensure they receive enough moisture to grow and thrive.
It is best to water snake plants deeply, allowing the soil to dry out partially before watering again.
6. Shelter From Predators and Pests
For your snake plant to survive outdoors, you'll need to provide it with some protection from predators like:
Slugs and snails
These common garden pests feed on the leaves and can cause damage to the plant. You can use copper strips or a commercial slug and snail bait designed explicitly for outdoor plants to control slugs and snails.
Rabbits and deer
These larger predators can cause significant damage to outdoor snake plants by feeding on the leaves and stems. To protect your plants from rabbits and deer, use a commercial repellent or construct a physical barrier around the plants.
Providing an artificial shelter, such as a greenhouse or fence, may help prevent damage from animals and insects looking for a snack.
The Bottom Line
If you're a gardener in a hot and arid region looking to add some low-maintenance greenery to your outdoor space, snake plants are a great option to consider. With the proper care, snake plants can make a great addition to any outdoor garden.