All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize snake plant or Sansevieria


Snake plant, mother in laws tongue or by its scientific name Sansevieria is the houseplant par excellence. With its origin in the African continent, this succulent is characterized by its beautiful and rustic leaves in the shape of a pointed tongue. They are thick, have a yellow border and a mottled color between light green, dark green and yellow. In this article, we will analyze the use of fertilizer for snake plant or Sansevieria. How and when to apply it, in what proportions and with what regularity.

Fun fact: If we were to list the plants that best purify the air, the snake plant would certainly be on top. It is that at night they are responsible for releasing oxygen through a process called crasulaceous acid metabolism. We will not go into this process in depth because this publication would become somewhat tedious. 😉

1. NPK values – What do they mean?


We can’t start talking about fertilizers without first making sure you understand what the NPK values ​​are. If you have ever bought a fertilizer you will have noticed that each pack has three numbers separated by a hyphen. Did it ever cross your mind to find out what they are?

Yes, yes, those three numbers are nothing more than the famous NPK values. A letter for each of the most important nutrients in the development of a plant. Let’s see which one.

  • N stands for nitrogen. It is the main nutrient that influences the growth of a plant.
  • P stands for phosphorous. It is responsible for promoting the formation of roots and the development of flowers and fruits.
  • K stands for potassium. It is very useful to help the transfer of water and nutrients in your plants.

On the other hand, what each number means is the percentage by weight of each nutrient with respect to the total weight. Let’s clarify this using a simple example:

“Suppose you bought a 10-20-15 bag of 10 kg fertilizer. In that case, that package contains 1 kg of nitrogen, 2 kg of phosphorus and 1.50 kg of potassium. The rest of the weight is completed with other nutrients and other components “.

I have no doubt that with the previous example everything must have been more than clear. Therefore, we are in a position to continue.

2. How to grow your Sansevieria?


In order for your snake plant to improve the indoor air quality of your home, you must carry out certain care. Since although it is a super rustic plant, and the care it needs is few, it is best to know it.

Let’s see what care you should have with your Sansevieria. Please note that this list is not in any order of priority. It has been ordered randomly, each point is as important as the one before and the next.

  • Soil: does not require the type of soil, the most important being its good drainage capacity. Always make sure to place it in a pot with good holes.
  • Light: Although it does very well as a houseplant, it likes to have some exposure to the sun. A good place to place it is, for example, a balcony, under the shade of a good retractable awning, this way the plant can have both shade and a few hours of sun.
  • Temperature: It is characterized by being quite resistant to high and low temperatures. However, when the temperature drops below -3 ° C it can be affected. For those cases, always have it indoors.
  • Humidity: wears out very well in hot, dry environments. Therefore, it is not necessary to spray the leaves with water and try to increase the ambient humidity.
  • Irrigation: We have just pointed out that it develops perfectly in dry climates, you can imagine that it does not need much irrigation. The regularity is quite sporadic, with a couple of irrigations a month is sufficient in summer. While during the winter, one per month will suffice.
  • Pests: we can find some of the most common insects such as snails, mealybugs or fungi. Regularly check any of these pests, so you can treat them on time.
  • Reproduction: it can be done in three ways, dividing the plant, cutting a leaf or by seed. The latter is the most complicated since it does not flower very often.
  • Fertilization: we end the list with Sansevieria fertilization. Although it is not essential for its development, we will see in the following sections that it is very useful in its cultivation.

3. Fertilizing snake plant or Sansevieria


I think I have already said a couple of times that the Sansevieria is very rustic, this being one of its greatest virtues. This rusticity means that this plant does not require the use of fertilizers for its normal development.

Anyway, and if you want to give it a little boost for your snake plant to grow a little bit more, it’s a good idea to apply a couple of fertilizations annually. Let’s see next what is the best option when selecting a fertilizer, how and when to apply it.

3.1 Best fertilizer for snake plant

Given the characteristics of growth (quite slow), and that they do not need large amounts of nutrients, the best fertilizers are those of slow release. These will supply nutrients to your plant in an efficient, controlled and prolonged manner. The acting time may vary, being recommended for mothers-in-law of 6 or 8 months.

What you should look for is a slow-release houseplant fertilizer. You can find fertilizers of this type with NPK values such as 18-6-12, 12-8-16, among others. They are always presented in solid format. Liquid fertilizers have a fast action.

In the event that this spring you have to transplant your snake plant, you can do it without fertilizing. With the change of substrate it will be more than enough. Wait until the second spring to start fertilizing.

Since what we need is a slow-acting fertilizer, you can also opt for an organic fertilizer. Some examples that can be useful are worm castings, compost, animal manure, etc. In the next section I will teach you how to make some homemade fertilizers for snake plants that can be very useful for you.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3.2 Homemade fertilizer for snake plant

I always say that our houses are an inexhaustible source of organic matter, so we will always have material on hand to make organic fertilizers. If you have a lot of plants at home, it will not only help you take advantage of said organic matter, but you can also save money.

Let’s see some of the most useful homemade fertilizers for Sansevierias.

3.2.1 Banana tea

Using the banana peel is a natural, ecological and sustainable option, as well as very economical. They have multiple benefits, especially it is rich in potassium, a vital component for plant growth. Using it in an occasional moment can be a perfect natural solution.

Preparing this potassium-rich homemade compost is easy. What you should do is place several banana peels in a container with water and let them rest for a few days. Then remove the husks and you can use it diluted in more water to water your snake plants.

3.2.2 Fertilizer with eggshells

Eggshells provide an extra calcium that, on occasions, will favor the development of any plant. It is also a biological and homemade way to fight against snails and slugs and keep them away from our plants.

You can simply grind the shells and spread them on the ground or prepare an infusion based on eggshells. To prepare the infusion you must crush the shells in a food processor or mortar, and then place them in a container with water for a week. After a week, you need to filter the solution and use it for watering.

3.2.3 Compost tea

Compost is undoubtedly one of the most complete organic fertilizers. In my indoor plants they preferred not to apply compost directly. I find it more practical to make an infusion of compost to apply it with irrigation.

Making this infusion based on this compost is simple. You should place a quantity of mature compost in a cloth bag and soak it in water for a few hours or overnight. Then, use the water that the compost has absorbed to water your snake plants.

Compost tea should have a yellowish hue. If you see that the color is brownish or dark yellow, it is better that you dilute the infusion in water before applying it.

3.2.4 Nettle-based tea

As you may have noticed for my indoor plants I like to prepare liquid fertilizers. So this last subscription that I recommend will not be the exception.

To prepare this nettle-based fertilizer you must place a handful of fresh nettle leaves in a large bowl and cover it with water. Then let the mixture sit for a few days, shaking it daily, until it has a strong odor and a greenish-brown color. Filter the solution and use it to water your plants your Sansevierias.

Do not doubt that there are many more homemade fertilizers that can be applied to this type of indoor plants. I only leave you four so as not to extend the article too much. 😉

3.3 How and when to fertilize?

Fertilizing your snake plant will not take long. Also, I assure you that it has taken you longer to read this short publication than to fertilize. 😉

Sansevieria should be fertilized between the months that cover spring and summer. In other words, those in which the plant is active. You should never fertilize it in autumn or winter. In those seasons you must leave her alone to rest.

Once the first days of spring arrive, we will begin with obtaining a slow release indoor plant fertilizer. These types of fertilizers are more than common, so you can find them in any nursery. If you see the nutrient concentration is something like 18-6-12, 12-8-16, buy it without hesitation. Otherwise, you can consult the seller, maybe you can find the way.

The frequency with which you should fertilize will vary depending on the fertilizer you have purchased. In case of slow release, which lasts 6 months, an annual application (early spring) is sufficient. In case you opt for faster acting fertilizers, you may need a few more applications. Although it is not recommended to do more than one monthly fertilization, and only in spring and summer.

As a last tip, never forget to read the instructions for use. Every good fertilizer has complete instructions for use in its container. In case of not having it better look for another fertilizer.

4. Snake plant fertilizer (video)


To end this publication, we have selected a video from the Deco Bliss channel. In it, you can graphically review how to fertilize your mother in law´s tongue. As you can see here, a slow-release fertilizer was used, which will last 6 months slowly releasing nutrients.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

With this we have already finished this article. I hope you have no doubts when you need to use fertilizer for your snake plant, Sansevieria, your mother-in-law’s tongue or whatever you call this beautiful houseplant.

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