how to choose the best snake plant fertilizer

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how to choose the best snake plant fertilizer

The slender, dense blades of a snake plant can grow up to several feet tall if you know which fertilizer to use. Choosing the best snake plant fertilizer isn’t quite as easy as it sounds though, let alone timing your plant feeding schedule to achieve the best results! A year-round care schedule will keep your snake plant on track to achieving a healthy, mature size. But this isn’t a one-size-fits all routine, plant friends. The light and soil conditions your plant is in, as well as its size when you start, will affect the amount of fertilizer it needs.

Don’t be confused by the powders, liquids, slow-release pebbles; fertilizer comes in many forms, and they each have advantages we’ll describe in this guide. Liquid, granular, synthetic, and organic fertilizers should be applied in different ways and in different quantities at a time based on your snake plant’s needs and the climate it’s chilling in. Generally, snake plants are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to fertilizer, and will be happy with a dose once or twice a year.

what to look for in a snake plant fertilizer

Native to the tropical climate of West Africa and South East Africa, snake plants are adapted, generally, to a pretty diverse range of soil nutrient profiles. This member of the Dracaena genus is actually a succulent, with long, thick leaves, no stem, and small, fibrous roots, and it doesn’t need a lot of water to stay healthy. Snake plants stores an above-average amount of moisture in its large leaves, which gives it good drought tolerance and means it’s one of the desirable few plants that don’t need much drainage to stay strong. Healthy, moisture-retaining leaves depend on nutrients in the soil, which you can supply to your snake plant on an annual schedule.

snake plant growing in the wild

Snake plants will sip up the nutrients in their soil over time, so they appreciate a dose of fertilizer now and then. All-purpose nutrient mixes are great, especially indoor plant fertilizers specially formulated for domestic plant life! The snake plant needs all three of the NPK essential nutrients to support its growth.

  • Nitrogen (N) is an essential component of chlorophyll, which the large leaves need to make a lot of to produce and store energy.
  • Phosphorus (P) supports a snake plant’s roots and bud production, as well as general cell health.
  • Potassium (K) helps plant cells retain moisture and regulate the leaf’s stomata, or breathing pores.

You’ll see these nutrients displayed in a three number ratio. Most all-purpose fertilizers are well-balanced for your snake plant already, but def nerd out on how to decode the NPK ratio for more advanced plant-alchemy 🤓 

Snake plants are most grateful for a boost of fertilizer during its growing season (whenever it’s sunniest where you live in the world). The size of the plant and speed of its growth will define how much fertilizer it needs. A tall snake plant that gets lots of bright, indirect light and grows quickly may like to be fertilized a few times a year, while a smaller snake plant in low to medium light that grows slowly only needs to be fertilized once in spring. In general, a little less fertilizer is better than too much. 

types of snake plant fertilizers

Before you pick a fertilizer, we definitely recommend that you start with the best soil for snake plants to make sure whatever you add to your plant’s pot will be absorbed properly. There are a few different forms of snake plant fertilizer that are designed for both your convenience and specific growing conditions. These are some of our reader’s favorites:

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Liquid fertilizers can be diluted and applied multiple times over the growing season, but slow-release fertilizer should only be applied once or twice, depending on the plant. No matter the form, choose a fertilizer labeled “all-purpose” to deliver the right nutrients to your snake plant. The best fertilizer for your snake plant pretty much depends on what’s most convenient for you! 

liquid fertilizers

Liquid fertilizers are usually synthetic, isolated nutrients that are made to be available immediately to the plant roots. Liquid snake plant fertilizer is usually applied in diluted form by adding the recommended dose to your watering can throughout the growing season. A big plus with these fertilizers is that they’re easy to integrate into your normal watering schedule. Depending on how often you water your snake plant, this can be a good choice if you’re a creature of routine and want to keep things simple. The snake plant’s small roots won’t be able to absorb a lot at once, so if you choose a liquid fertilizer, we recommend spreading out the recommended dosage over several applications for the most efficient nutrient absorption.

slow release fertilizers

Ever seen those little green or yellow balls in a bag of conventional potting soil and wondered if someone spilled a box of Wonka Nerds in there? Better than candy to plants and definitely worse for people (ha! 🤢 Don’t eat!!), slow release fertilizer comes in organic and conventional varieties and only needs to be applied to snake plants once a year. 

Organic slow-release fertilizers include compounds that break down slowly over several weeks or months like worm castings, blood meal, fish-meal, and other unprocessed organic material. You can also opt for the candy-colored balls, which some claim attract fewer pests. All slow-release fertilizers supply your plant with a steady release of nutrients that roots can absorb at their own pace as soil and light conditions change.

granular fertilizers

Granular fertilizers can be synthetic or organic solids designed for either quick-release or slow-release delivery. They can also be dissolved in water and added in liquid form, but most often, you’ll find products that instruct you to sprinkle in soil and then water directly after. 

Granular fertilizers are concentrated, nutrient-dense, and stay in the soil longer than liquid formulas do. One advantage to granular fertilizers is that they’re easier and cheaper to transport than liquid fertilizers due to their concentrated form. You won’t need much of this type of fertilizer to get your snake plant glowing! 

how often to fertilize snake plants

Just as when you overwater your snake plant, you can run into trouble with too much fertilizer. How much is too much? With fertilizer, too much of a good thing can mean damaged roots, leaf burn, and potentially the end of your plant 💀

Snake plants absorb the macro- and micronutrients in potting soil, which need to be replenished from time to time, but it’s important not to apply fertilizer when your snake plant enters dormancy in the cold months. That’s like trying to feed a baby while it’s sleeping! Bad idea. In addition, keep in mind that: 


❌ Too little fertilizer can result in stunted growth of the plant, at best, or yellow and/or limp leaves and weak roots at worst.

❌ Too much fertilizer, however, can damage your plant’s roots and cause leaf burn, so always measure and dilute your nutrients as directed. 

spring 

The increasingly bright and warm days of spring coax snake plants out of their winter dormancy and stimulate growth in the plant. Spring is the best time to fertilize your snake plant since it is the most active growth period of the year as the plant reawakens and starts absorbing nutrients again.

Snake plants will appreciate a fertilizer that has a balanced NPK profile, using all the nutrients at this time of year: nitrogen for chlorophyll, phosphorus for strong root growth, and potassium for cell health and moisture retention. This is also the best time to apply slow-release or organic fertilizers, which will break down and become available over several weeks or months.

summer / fall

The warmer months are a period of regular growth for the snake plant. For larger plants, or those in lots of indirect sunlight, you can fertilize a couple of times during the growing season since the plant will be actively absorbing nutrients. Smaller snake plants, or those growing in low light conditions, don’t need more fertilizer following the spring application, and too much can be damaging to the plant.

Fertilizer can be applied up to the end of summer for large specimens, when the plant will begin absorbing less and less nutrients as fall progresses. The snake plant will start conserving its energy in fall to get through the upcoming period of winter dormancy.

winter

Snake plants don’t need any fertilizer in the winter since they aren’t growing much at all during this time. The low light and low temperatures keep the plant in a dormant state, unable to produce as much chlorophyll as it does in brighter months. Like many other indoor plants, the snake plant is a warm-season grower that won’t do much during the short, dark, and cool days of winter.

FAQ

How much fertilizer should I give my snake plant?

This tropical plant is used to a constant supply of nutrients from bioactive topsoil. Solid fertilizers only need to be applied once or twice a year, depending on the depletion rate by the plant. Liquid plant food can be applied more frequently during the growing season since it will be quickly absorbed and the remnants will drain more easily from the pot. Smaller doses at a time will help avoid over-fertilizing.

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