Snake plant is also called a sansevieria plant. Other names for this sword-like plant is elephants toothpick. Another famous common name is “mother-in-law’s tongue” or viper’s bowstring hemp.
The green, partially spiraled leaves extend vertically from the pot and make statements wherever placed.
The striking appearance combined with minimum care required to make snake plant a “must own” combination.
According to NASA, Man’s existence on earth depends upon a life support system involving an intricate relationship with plants and their associated microorganisms. When he attempts to isolate himself in tightly sealed buildings, problems arise. There are synthetic organic chemicals off-gassing indoors in sealed environments besides man’s own waste products causing indoor air pollution.
Let us look at the benefits snake plants can provide us indoors.
Benefits of Indoor Snake Plants
Snake plant is one of the best plants to keep indoors as it cleans the air and removes a lot of harmful toxins.
Snake Plants Cleans Indoor Air
Snake plants clean the air better than most indoor plants. They have the ability to absorb a lot of toxins thus filtering the air from harmful chemicals.
The harmful toxins snake plant is quite efficient against are- benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
Benzene and effect of snake plant
Benzene is present in many basic items as a solvent like gasoline, oil, paint, plaster, detergents, dyes, etc. benzene is known to irritate skin, eyes, promotes bacteria to form and increases the cell culture and is also known to cause cancer. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory diseases.
The snake plant, in the NASA study, removed 52.6% benzene in a sealed chamber. That is 28,710 micrograms of benzene removed per plant in 24 hours exposure.
Formaldehyde and effect of snake plant
Formaldehyde is another harmful chemical found indoors. It is present in pressed wood products, consumer paper products including grocery bags, facial tissues, and paper towels. It is present in kerosene and natural gas used as a fuel for cooking and is present in many household cleaning agents.
Formaldehyde causes irritation of the upper respiratory tract including eyes, nose, throat and causes headaches. Long term exposure to formaldehyde can cause a rare type of throat cancer.
The amount of formaldehyde removed by snake plant and its soil in a sealed experimental chamber was found to be a whopping 31,294 micrograms per plant!
Trichloroethylene and effect of snake plant
Trichloroethylene is found in paints, varnishes, varnish removers, lubricating oils, sheet vinyl floorings, and adhesives. It causes irritation to the upper respiratory tract, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. It causes cancer and institute of cancer studies terms it as a potent liver carcinogen.
Snake plant effectively removed 13.4% trichloroethylene effectively from a sealed gas chamber that is 9,727 micrograms removed per plant.
Xylene and toluene
Xylene and toluene are other toxic chemicals that are effectively removed when the snake plant is placed indoors. Xylene is found in thinners, paints, wooden furniture, varnishes, and pesticides while Toluene is found in gasoline, paint solvents, paint cosmetics, plastic, and soda bottles.
Xylene causes irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, upper respiratory tract, chest pain and shortness of breath.
Both xylene and toluene can cause nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Toluene affects mental health and causes nervous system dysfunction. It is known to interfere with the reproductive system of females and cause developmental problems in children. Long term exposure can lead to necrosis.
According to NASA clean air studies, snake plant was found to be quite effective against xylene and toluene.
Snake Plants Release Oxygen (Even at night)
It supplies us with fresh oxygen. A study done by Harvard education extension found that plant with thick leaves produces more oxygen due to more number of photosynthesis cells.
A study conducted by Thailand university found that snake plant absorbs carbon dioxide quite effectively. They used 4-5 snake plants approx 60-80 cms tall in office rooms and found the CO2 concentration reduced drastically compared to office rooms with no plant.
Snake plant also reduces carbon dioxide even at night. This is because the snake plant is a CAM plant ( crassulacean Acid metabolism). CAM plants are drought tolerant and open their stomata from evening to minimize water loss.
Humidifies Air and Help Combat Sick Building Syndrome
Snake plant is a natural humidifier and due to its filtering of harmful chemicals, it is a powerful anti-allergen. It is very effective in treating sick building syndrome. Poor ventilation indoors is responsible for SBS along with emission or off-gassing of harmful chemicals.
SBS leads to skin rashes, nausea, fever, eyes and upper respiratory tract irritation. According to WHO, around 4.3 million people die due to poor quality of indoor air.
Place snake plants to get rid of SBS and to control indoor air pollutants. Breathe freely with snake plants without worrying about any allergy.
Looks great and adds to the decor
If we look at it from a decor point of view, it is eye-pleasing due to its unique vertical partially spiral form. The horizontal stripes look different and artistic.
This plant can fill any awkward or empty corners and stands out beautifully. It enhances the beauty of the surroundings. The different shades of yellow and green make it a desirable plant to own and decorate indoors.
Snake plants like all other plants can boost productivity, decrease stress and provide a soothing atmosphere. This plant is, therefore, an excellent plant for great health and overall well being.
NASA recommends keeping at least 15-18 medium to large-sized plants for an 1800 square foot home.
Helps Reduce Noise Pollution (Echo)
Because of its wide and fleshy leaves, the snake plant is also a great way to reduce noise pollution (especially if you live close to a busy road).
It’s also quite effective in removing the echo from the room (this is especially useful for people who do any kind of video recording or podcast recording). Having multiple snake plants in the room will make sure sound waves are absorbed and don’t keep on bouncing off creating echo.
How to care for Snake Plants
Snake plants are easy to care for plants. They require very little maintenance. They are hardy and tolerant plants. What this means is that it will thrive under neglect- give it sun or shade.
It also means you have to work really hard to kill the snake plant.
They do need some care, however, in order to stay healthy.
Where to place the Snake plant?
Snake plants are highly adaptable. They do well in bright light areas and tolerate low light areas equally well. They can also be placed outdoors in shady places. The ideal location is partial or indirect sunlight with some shade.
Place them in a warm spot with temperatures above 50 degrees F. anything above 85 degrees Fahrenheit and below 50 degrees F is dangerous and can kill the plant. snake plants like natural light so avoid placing them in rooms which don’t have windows.
Rotate the pot from time to time so that all the sides get even light exposure. Rotate about a quarter turn. This will also help the plant to grow vertically rather than leaning in one particular direction. An easy technique is to rotate the pot every time you water the plant.
Soil and fertilizer requirement
Snake plant can grow up to 1 meter tall. A strong pot is highly recommended for this plant. Use a well-draining porous soil. A succulent mix is ideal. Use clay or a terracotta pot as it will drain out excess moisture. You can also use a soilless potting medium like vermiculite, peat moss or perlite.
Snake plants are not heavy feeders. Feed them with an organic manure every 4-5 months in the growing period. An all-purpose organic fertilizer will also do. Do not fertilize in winters.
Water Requirement of Snake Plants
Snake plant does not need a lot of water. A good watering once a week is sufficient. Let it dry between waterings. Feel the soil with your fingers to check for moisture.
If the leaves start turning yellow, it is an indication that the plant is overwatered. Water even less about once every three to four weeks in winters. Keep the leaves free from dust by wiping with a damp cloth from time to time. Since the snake plant is a succulent and stores water, the soil does not need to be damp or moist or wet. Never keep the snake plant’s soil waterlogged as that can kill the plant.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Keep the plants away from small children as well. Although the level of toxicity is low they can cause pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Unlike other houseplants, trimming does not stimulate the growth of the snake plant. Avoid trimming the snake plant. Trimming can damage and even kill the plant and slow its growth.
Keep an eye out for mealybugs and spider mites. They like to feed and make their home on snake plants. As these pests suck sap from the leaves, they can cause small wounds and leaf shedding. Use alcohol to get rid of mealybugs. Simply dab a drop of alcohol on them.
Wash the leaves with warm water and a cloth to remove spider mites. Increase humidity around the plant.
If you are looking for bold and classy decor indoors along with good health benefits, then this plant is for you. It is an ideal plant for a beginner or for someone who travels a lot. Growing snake plant is pretty easy. Set up the right environment and watch the snake plant thrive towards a long and healthy life.
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