How Much Light Do Snake Plants Need? [Explained]

how much light do snake plants need

I’m sure we’ve all seen a happy little snake plant living in a dark corner of a bathroom absolutely thriving.

Now, most plants in this situation would very soon wilt but snake plants are something special. The real question is how much light do snake plants need?

Snake plants can thrive in almost any light situation from low light to bright direct sunlight. However, they enjoy bright, indirect sunlight the most.

There is a reason why snake plants are such popular houseplants, they literally let you neglect them and they will still soldier on, even when the light is low.

This article will shed some light on what your snake plants need and the best conditions to make them thrive.

Grow Your Yard Tip
Snake plants are known as dracaena trifasciata but, up until 2018, they were known as sansevieria before they were reclassified by scientists. You will see them advertised as both in garden stores.

What is The Ideal Climate for Snake Plants?

Snake plants are native to the tropical areas of West Africa so they love a climate that is hot and dry. They like to be kept between 65 and 85 C and ideally in bright, indirect sunlight. They do best with very infrequent watering, which makes them incredibly drought resistant.

Since snake plants found their start in some quite harsh circumstances. They are actually really adaptable and hardy. They can put up with just about anything from dark conditions and underwatering just don’t get them cold, that’s their Achille’s heel.

One factor that is actually more important to snake plants than light is their soil conditions (we’ve picked out the best potting soil here) because they are very prone to root rot if overwatered. So keep that in the back of your mind while you’re thinking about adding a snake plant to your home.

Although keeping snake plants inside is the easiest way to control their environment, they can also be grown outside in a variety of different light qualities. As long as you know what your plant is looking for, you should be able to get it to live in almost any circumstance.

Grow Your Yard Tip
When designing your garden, especially a waterwise garden, it can be hard to get variations in height. Snake plants are perfect for this! Try planting a row of snake plants at the back of your bed to create a beautiful vertical backdrop.

How Much Light Do Snake Plants Need?

Snake plants can live in just about any light condition from bright and direct to medium and low light. Ideally, snake plants need 8-10 hours of indirect light per day.

This makes snake plants really popular in rooms like bathrooms and other rooms with little to no natural light.

That said, when we talk about plants that can survive in low light it doesn’t mean that they thrive in low light just that they can adapt to suit their environment. They are still plants at the end of the day and they need light for photosynthesis.

Snake plants have stunning mottled green and white leaves and if you want to bring this color out we recommend putting them near a north-facing window so they get the perfect amount of indirect light.

If you are planting them outside then snake plants might be a good bed filler for areas that are in the shade for most of the day.

It is worth noting, however, that too much light can be an issue for snake plants. Strong direct sunlight can burn and yellow the leaves if they are in these conditions for too long so we suggest that you take that into consideration before placing your snake plants in your house or garden.

As with most plants, it’s always a good idea to check the labels on your snake plants when you buy them as some varietals have specific lighting needs.

Grow Your Yard Tip
Did you know that you can propagate your snake plants at home? All you need to do is wait for your plant to grow a little plantlet with small leaves and then carefully dig it out, and transplant it to its own pot.

How Do Snake Plants Grow Under Different Light Conditions?

Even though they can live in a variety of situations, as we have discussed so far, the way the snake plants grow might change depending on what light situation it lives in.

Let’s have a look at the differences:

Direct Light Indirect Light Low Light
Grow more quickly Grows slower but regularly Grows very slowly
Very tall Will get taller slowly if near a window Will stay reasonably short
Lighter with yellow patches Vivid green Washed out
Leaves may burn or wrinkle Leaves should be firm and straight Leaves may droop

After looking at everything side by side, we can gather that the best lighting situation for snake plants is in partial sun to shade. However, as we said, if you don’t have this environment available then the snake plants will adapt to fit almost any situation.

What are the Best Ways to Help Snake Plants Thrive in Low Light?

Ok, let’s say you have your heart set on decorating your bathroom with a snake plant, there are a few things you can do to help it grow under these conditions

  1. Water it less– Plants that are living in darker situations are using less of their resources especially since less evaporation is happening 

Due to this you want to make sure that you are watering your snake plant very infrequently. Usually, they will only need watering every month or so but if it is in a dark situation you want to water it even less. Overwatering can cause the leaves to droop and the roots to rot so only water when the soil is very dry.

  1. Give it sun once in a while– If you want your snake plants to adorn the dark corners of your home, we also suggest occasionally taking the pots outside or near a window to get some sun just to boost their growth and keep them healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I know if my snake plant is getting enough light?

There are a few ways your snake plants might let you know that it has got too much light:

  • It won’t grow– Snake plants do grow very slowly but if you have a had it a while and it just doesn’t seem to be growing you might want to move it to a brighter spot.
  • Long thin leaves– If the leaves have started to grow in very long and thin it might be because they are desperately searching for light. This is known as etiolation and it’s a sure sign that your plant doesn’t have enough light.
  • Leaning– Just as with etiolation, if your plant has started to lean at a strange angle it is very likely that it is searching for light and it may need to be moved.

What is the best indoor light for snake plants?

The best light situation for snake plants inside is indirect sunlight about 6-10 ft from a north-facing window. This way they won’t get overheated and burn but they will have plenty of light to stimulate photosynthesis and keep it growing nice and healthy.


So, now that we have looked in-depth at snake plants and what light they like, what have we learned?

Snake plants are so hardy, there’s a reason they are such popular house plants. There are not many plants you could stick in a shady corner of your living room without dying immediately but snake plants somehow manage it.

However, if you want to put your snake plants in a spot where they are going to grow happily in we suggest placing them in bright, indirect light.

We hope this has given you some useful insight into the wonderful world of snake plants and inspired you to pick some up for yourself.

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