Plant Parenting 101 Guide on the Best Soil for Snake Plants

Plant Parenting 101: Guide on the Best Soil for Snake Plants

Snake plants do best in a well-draining, highly porous soil mix with a slightly acidic to neutral pH, preferably within the 5.5 to 7.0 range. It’s best to grow them in succulent soil mixed with perlite, coarse sand, coco coir, and pine bark.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand more about the soil requirements of snake plants so you can choose the best medium to grow them. We’ll also recommend recipes you can follow to keep your snake plant upright and thriving.

Things to Consider When Choosing Soil for Snake Plants



Snake plants, like other varieties of Dracaena, are succulent plants. This means they store water in their leaves and roots, so there isn’t a need for heavily moisturized soil.

In fact, too much moisture in the soil will only cause damage to the plant and its roots. Hence, it’s important that you look for a soil mix that allows excess water to drain away to prevent waterlogged growing conditions.

It’s also common for snake plant owners to overwater the plant since it uses water far less than other house plants. Using a well-draining mix will reduce the risk of making this mistake.



Oxygen helps snake plants produce energy that they’ll use to grow and reproduce. It’s a vital element that every plant needs to survive and thrive.

Without oxygen, the roots will suffocate and have difficulty absorbing nutrients. This not only causes stunted growth but also makes the plant vulnerable to pests and diseases.

That’s why you should always choose a mix that allows oxygen to penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Avoid soil that gets compacted easily because it will impair air and water movement around the roots.

Nutrient Content

Nutrient Content

Snake plants are native to the tropical areas of West Africa, so they’re used to growing in poor, sandy, or rocky soils that don’t have much nutrients. That said, it doesn’t mean they can survive without nutrients at all.

The soil should still have at least the three primary nutrients that all plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They’ll also benefit from small doses of micronutrients like iron and manganese in the soil.

Avoid soil mix that contains too many nutrients, like the ones made for orchids, because it can burn the snake plant’s roots.

Moisture Retention

Moisture Retention

While snake plants love well-draining soil and can tolerate periods of drought, a soil mix with some moisture-retaining properties can still be beneficial for their growth. 

Since they’re known for their ability to withstand neglect, some plant owners often make the mistake of neglecting them, resulting in excessively dry conditions. Soil with modest moisture-retention properties can help buffer against fluctuations in watering schedules.

Without moisture-retention properties, water might dry up faster than the snake plant is able to absorb it. This makes it hard for the plant to store water in its leaves and roots.

pH Level

pH Level

Snake plants thrive in a slightly acidic to neutral pH range, typically around 5.5 to 7.0. This is the ideal pH range for them, but they can tolerate slight deviation from this range.

However, if the soil is too acidic or alkaline, your snake plant may start exhibiting signs of distress. Their distress may manifest through slow growth and leaf discoloration.

Additionally, prolonged exposure to highly acidic or alkaline soil can damage the roots. Their ability to absorb water and nutrients may be impaired, further intensifying the plant’s health problems.

Components of a Snake Plant Soil

Succulent Soil

Succulent soil is a special type of potting mix that’s designed to replicate the native growing conditions of succulents like snake plants.

This type of soil is formulated to provide excellent drainage, which is crucial for snake plants that are highly sensitive to overwatering. It helps prevent waterlogged conditions and root rot.

Succulent soils are also porous, which helps promote root respiration and prevent root suffocation.


Perlite is a popular soil amendment for many plant growers and horticulturists. It’s an ingredient you’ll always find in any soil mix designed to have excellent draining properties.

Since it usually has big particles, it helps improve soil aeration and drainage by creating air pockets. These air pockets allow excess water to flow freely into the soil and into the drainage holes.

Snake plants are also sensitive to cold, so adding perlite, which has good insulating properties, can be particularly beneficial for them.

Coco Coir

Coco coir’s main purpose in a snake plant’s soil mix is to help it retain the moisture it needs to grow and survive. It can retain water up to ten times its weight, so even a small amount of it will greatly help the snake plant.

When mixed with other ingredients, coco coir’s fibrous structure helps create small spaces where air can pass to reach the root zone. This means coco coir’s excellent moisture-retention properties won’t impair the soil’s aeration.

If you don’t have access to coco coir, you can use peat moss as an alternative. The two provide almost the same amount of benefits, so they’re great substitutes for each other.

Coarse Sand

Coarse sand has large particles and a gritty texture that can help mimic the rocky and sandy growing conditions snake plants are native to. 

It can help loosen the soil and reduce compaction, allowing the snake plant’s roots to grow more freely and access nutrients and water more effectively. This will also improve the soil’s porosity and drainage, resulting in a better growing condition.

Just make sure to use clean and contaminant-free sand to avoid introducing pests to the soil. Choose those with a “horticultural” label on their packaging to be safe.

Pine Bark

Pine barks are another soil amendment that improves the overall structure of a potting mix by providing air pockets that allow excess water to escape and oxygen to pass by.

These also contain lignin that helps them resist decay and decomposition, so they can be used in the soil for a long time. They retain their shape, making them excellent in preventing soil compaction.

Like perlite, pine barks are great insulators, a beneficial property for snake plants that are quite sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations.

Soil Mix Recipes for Snake Plants

Soil Mix Recipes for Snake Plants

Recipe #1

  • 2 parts succulent soil
  • 1 part coarse sand
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part coco coir

This recipe creates a well-balanced soil mix that provides a snake plant with excellent drainage, moisture retention, and good aeration.

The succulent soil, perlite, and coarse sand all focus on providing the plant with great, well-draining, and well-aerated growing conditions. They’ll prevent moisture from pooling in the root zone and ensure the roots have enough space to grow.

Coco coir will help the snake plant store enough moisture to survive. It gives the plant a constant supply of moisture even in a period of drought.

Recipe #2

  • 2 parts potting soil
  • 1 part perlite or coarse sand
  • 1 part coco coir
  • 1 part pine bark 

This recipe is ideal for those who don’t have access to succulent soil and only have generally potting soil. For this mix, the snake plant might need less watering than what it would’ve needed if you used the first recipe.

Despite the lack of succulent soil, perlite and pine bark will do a good job of improving the potting soil’s draining properties. The coco coir, on the other hand, will retain some moisture without subjecting the roots to waterlogged conditions.

Just make sure to mix each component properly to maximize their benefit.

Signs That The Snake Plant Is in the Wrong Soil

Discoloration on the Leaves

Discoloration on the Leaves

One common indicator of poor soil condition is discoloration on the snake plant’s leaves. This could indicate that the soil isn’t draining properly and the roots are exposed to waterlogged conditions.

This could also mean that the soil isn’t providing enough nutrients, resulting in nutrient deficiency in the plant. Don’t forget to fertilize your plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer monthly during its growing season to prevent this from happening.

Drooping Leaves

Drooping Leaves

Snake plants are known for their upright leaves, so limp and drooping leaves could only mean they’re in distress. One possible reason behind their suffering is poor aeration and drainage.

If the soil is too compacted, it will be difficult for the plant to access oxygen. This can suffocate and weaken the roots, resulting in drooping leaves.

Similarly, if the soil doesn’t have good draining properties, the roots will struggle to access nutrients and oxygen because of too much moisture. This leads to some leaves not getting the resources they need and becoming limp. 

Stunted Growth

Stunted Growth

Snake plants are relatively slow-growing, so this can be quite hard to notice for first-time owners. They usually only grow 1 to 3 inches monthly and 2 to 3 new leaves during the growing season.

If your plant’s growth is significantly slow, then you’re probably using the wrong soil. The soil could be compacted, have poor draining properties, or its pH is way out of the ideal range for snake plants.

Leave a Comment