Do Snake Plants Need Light?


Snake plants are well known as plants that need little light. Do they need any light?
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Snake plants are very versatile plants with incredibly modest light requirements. These hardy plants thrive in any light condition.

Nonetheless, they are plants that require light to produce energy. But exactly how much do they need?

They Cannot Survive Without Light

Like every green plant, snake plants require sunlight to make their food. This process is called photosynthesis. Without light, the plant will eventually die due to an inability to produce energy.

If your Sansevieria isn’t doing well, check out ways to revive it.

Direct vs. Indirect Light

It’s important for you to find the right amount of light for your Sansevieria. Both too much and too little are detrimental to its growth.

Direct sunlight means the light received by the plant is unfiltered and direct. This type of light casts a distinct and easily distinguishable shadow.

On the other hand, indirect sunlight is when your plant is placed in a location where direct sunlight does not fall on its foliage.

Indirect sunlight is filtered through a sheer curtain or reflected off walls and floors.

Bright indirect sunlight is ideal for your snake plant. With that in mind, you can start thinking about viable places in your house where it can thrive. 

a green snake houseplant in a beautiful white pot

Best Location

Windows facing west, east, or south are ideal. To avoid scorching the plant, keep the plant 6 to 10 feet away from the window.

Avoid moving your plant from a dim area to direct sunlight too quickly, as this may cause it to become stressed. When moving a plant from a darker to a brighter spot, do so gradually over a week or so, slowly exposing it to a brighter and brighter area.

Maintain a warm environment for the plant, with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). In the winter, make sure the windows aren’t drafty.

How to Keep Your Sansevieria Plant Alive in a Dark Room

You can do a few things if you’re trying to keep the plant alive in a dark room, such as a bathroom.

Reduce the amount of water you give it, both quantity and frequency. Plants in darker areas use fewer resources, so they don’t use as much water as plants in brighter areas. Water evaporates much more slowly in cooler, darker areas, so using less water is essential.

If your bathroom is completely dark for most of the day, you may want to rotate your plants every few days to every week. This way, you can enjoy them in the bathroom without permanently harming them.

If you don’t mind having grow lights in your living space, you can put one on a timer and set it to turn on when you’re usually asleep, so you don’t have to see it every day.

Signs That Your Plant Isn’t Getting Enough Light

When a snake plant does not receive enough light, it will naturally try to stay alive. 

The first sign is that it leans toward a light source. You may also notice a significant increase in the spacing between the foliage, giving your plant a sparse appearance. Internodes are the spaces between the leaves. If they’re longer than usual, it’s a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough light.

Another sign of insufficient light is thin, floppy, and leggy growth. This is more common in taller varieties.

Sunlight accelerates the evaporation of moisture from the soil. If you keep your snake plant in a dark place, the soil will not dry out for weeks. This will end up suffocating the roots and causing root rot if not corrected.

Insert your finger into the ground. If the topsoil is wet or soggy, your plant may suffer. If it has been sitting in wet soil for several weeks, it may have black or rusty brown, mushy roots caused by root rot.

A green snake plant in a terracotta pot sitting in a dark corner

Signs That Your Plant Is Getting Too Much Light

Snake plants are prone to leaf burn when exposed to direct sunlight. If the leaves of your snake plant start to turn odd colors, such as yellow, brown, or pale, move it away from the light source.

My Personal Recommendation

I lead a busy life, but I adore my houseplants and all the benefits they provide. I absolutely love Sansevieria plants because they require little care. I keep them in every room with a window. That way, they can get the sunlight they need to survive.

I decorate with other accents or even fake plants in my rooms without windows, such as my bathroom. Fake plants are obviously not as exciting, but some pretty good faux plant replicas are available these days. They add a touch of greenery to my living spaces.

At the end of the day, Sansevieria plants are very simple to maintain. I wouldn’t be afraid to have many of them around the house. If you notice them wilting or not looking healthy, make sure to consult our troubleshooting guide.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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