5 key signs it's time to repot your snake plant, plus expert tips on how to do it

Learn how to repot a snake plant to keep it healthy and growing well

person repotting a snake plant on a white table
(Image credit: Pixel-shot/Alamy Stock Photo)

Snake plants, or sansevierias, are famous for being low-maintenance. However, knowing how to repot a snake plant and when to do it will help you get the most out of this fast-growing, versatile species. 

Snake plants are a top houseplant choice for many people thanks to their easygoing nature and adaptability to relatively low-light conditions. Repotting yours regularly will ensure that your snake plant grows well and is as healthy as it can be. Here's how to repot a snake plant, plus the top signs that you need to do it now. 

snake plant in a large pot against a grey tiled wall

(Image credit: Emmanuel LATTES/Alamy Stock Photo)

Discover when to repot a snake plant with these key signs

You may be wondering, 'but how do I know when to repot a snake plant?' The good news is that it's usually quite easy to tell that your snake plant needs a new pot. If you spot any of these telltale signs, repot your indoor plant sooner rather than later. According to Brody Hall, certified horticulturist of The Indoor Nursery (opens in new tab) , the main signs your snake plant needs repotting are as follows: 

  1. The roots are sprouting from drainage holes This is the most common sign of a snake plant that is rootbound and needing a new pot right away.
  2. The soil drains too quickly A rootbound snake plant will have difficulty taking up water. If you keep watering it and it collects in the tray underneath, it's time to find your plant a new pot. 
  3. Your snake plant has stopped growing or is growing too slowly A healthy snake plant can easily grow 10 inches (or more) per year, eventually reaching a height of up to eight feet. If yours is growing significantly under this normal rate, it's likely too big for its pot and has no more room to develop.
  4. The pot starts cracking or is distorted In severe cases of a rootbound snake plant, its root system may begin to push at the sides of the pot, expanding or cracking it.
  5. The plant is flowering Snake plants only flower when they feel stressed: if yours is flowering it likely is trying to tell you it doesn't have enough room in its pot.

repotting a snake plant into a bigger pot

Once your snake plant has outgrown its pot, you'll need to repot it to ensure it can continue to grow well

(Image credit: Vlad Stenko/Alamy Stock Photo)

How to repot a snake plant in 7 quick steps

Regular repotting your snake plant, usually every 3-5 years, is an essential part of caring for these typically low maintenance indoor plants. According to Aaditya Bhatta, Editor and Founder of Plantscraze (opens in new tab), you should follow these steps:

  1. Pick a new planter The diameter should be 'about 2in (5cm) bigger than the one you already have,' says Aaditya Bhatta. 'Make sure you sterilize all instruments and any previously used pots to stop the spread of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.' 
  2. Hydrate the plant before repotting 'Watering plants at least an hour before starting the snake-plant repotting procedure will avoid wilting and lessen transplant shock,' Bhatta advises. 
  3. Remove gently 'Turn the pot on its side and push or touch the bottom to release the snake plant without injuring its leaves or roots.' Use a similar method when repotting a peace lily too. 
  4. Prune the roots if necessary As guidance, the color of healthy roots is white or off-white, and they feel firm to the touch. Sections showing deterioration should be cut out. To promote new development, remove or loosen the tangled web of roots. 
  5. Divide the plant 'Snake plant pups should be removed and replanted for a neater appearance. You can keep these free plants for your own indoor garden or give them to friends and relatives.'
  6. Line the pot To stop soil from leaking out of the new pot, put a coffee filter, coir liner [available from Amazon] (opens in new tab), or a circle of landscape fabric in the bottom. 'Gravel should not be used in the pot's bottom since it interferes with drainage and can cause root rot.'
  7. Favor shallow planting A snake plant should be repotted at the same depth it was before to prevent plant shock. Ensure the soil level is left approximately an inch (2.5cm) below the planter's top edge. Water and position in bright but indirect light.

A snake plant being repotted

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What is the best soil mix for a snake plant?

When repotting a snake plant, remember that they prefer very light, free-draining soil. Aaditya Bhatta recommends making your own by combining two parts gritty perlite or pumice, one part pine bark, and one part peat moss or coconut coir. Creating this type of mix 'helps with drainage, but it also means adding fertilizer to the area to give your snake plant the nutrients it needs.'

You can buy cactus soil potting mix on Amazon (opens in new tab) and try using that if you don't want to make your own.

Keep your soil mix full of nutrients to help your plant grow healthy: 'Once every month or so, you can either fertilize plants with a liquid fertilizer added to the water for your Sansevieria plant, or mix in some slow-release pellets.'

What is the best type of pot for a snake plant?

Miguel Palma, who is a professional gardener and owner of JardinTienda (opens in new tab), explains that 'terracotta pots are best suited for growing snake plants rather than plastic pots since the former allow faster drainage of the soil compared to the latter.'

Choosing the wrong size pot can be one of the reasons your snake plant is falling over, so bear this in mind when you're repotting yours. It prefers to be a little restricted, so don't choose one that is too large. 

Anna writes about real estate, interior design, and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications in the US and the UK. Before embarking on her writing career, Anna taught English at university level and is the author of a book called London Writing of the 1930s. She currently splits her time between London and the Midwest US. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.