How to Grow a Snake Plant in a Terrarium

As an indoor gardening enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about the snake plant, Sansevieria or Mother-in-law’s Tongue. Its striking architectural leaves and hardy nature make it a favorite among plant lovers. But have you ever considered growing a snake plant inside a terrarium? This blog post will guide you through the entire process, step by step.

Snake Plant in a Terrarium
Snake Plant in a Terrarium

Understanding the Snake Plant

1. The Characteristics of Snake Plants

Native to West Africa, snake plants are revered for their stiff, vertical leaves that can grow from 8 inches to 12 feet tall, depending on the species. The leaves, usually dark green, may display different patterns and hues, including silvery or golden variegations.

Snake plants are succulents, storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. They’re also known for their ability to tolerate various growing conditions, making them an excellent choice for terrarium gardening.

2. Why Snake Plants are Suitable for Terrariums

Snake plants’ tolerance for various light levels and ability to withstand drought periods make them ideal for growing in a terrarium. They also have a slow growth rate, so they won’t quickly outgrow their enclosed environment. Plus, their impressive vertical growth adds an element of height and interest to the terrarium landscape.

Types of Snake Plants Best for Terrariums

While there are over 70 species of snake plants, a few are particularly well-suited for terrariums due to their compact growth habit. Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii,’ often called the bird’s nest snake plant, stays small and forms a rosette, making it an excellent choice.

Hahnii snake plant for terrarium

Another variety, Sansevieria ‘Futura Superba,’ has a compact growth habit and features beautiful yellow margins on its leaves.

Futura Superba for terrarium

Getting Started with Your Terrarium

A. Necessary Materials

To start your snake plant terrarium, you’ll need a few basic materials:

  1. A glass terrarium with a lid or cork
  2. Pebbles or small stones for drainage
  3. Activated charcoal to keep the environment fresh
  4. Cactus or succulent soil mix
  5. A small snake plant
  6. Optional decorative elements like moss, shells, or figurines

B. Choosing the Right Terrarium

When selecting a terrarium, remember that snake plants prefer a dry environment. A terrarium with a removable lid or cork allowing air exchange is ideal. The terrarium should be large enough to accommodate the plant’s growth but small enough to fit in your chosen spot.

Preparing Your Snake Plant

1. Choosing the Right Snake Plant

When selecting a snake plant for your terrarium, look for a healthy specimen with firm, vibrant leaves. Avoid plants with any signs of disease or pests.

2. Preparing the Plant

Before placing the plant in the terrarium, remove the loose soil from the roots and check for any signs of root rot or pests. If the plant is too large, you can divide it into smaller plants by cutting through the root ball with a sharp knife.

Setting Up Your Terrarium

1. Layering the Terrarium

Start by adding a layer of pebbles or small stones at the bottom of the terrarium for drainage. Next, add a thin layer of activated charcoal to help keep the environment fresh. Then, add the succulent or cactus soil mix.

2. Positioning the Snake Plant

Dig a small hole in the soil and place your snake plant inside. Fill around the roots with more soil, ensuring the plant is securely in place. You can add decorative elements, like moss or shells, to create your mini landscape. Just remember not to overcrowd the terrarium to allow your snake plant some room to grow.

Caring for Your Snake Plant Terrarium

1. Light Requirements

Snake plants are adaptable and can tolerate low-light conditions. However, they prefer bright, indirect light. A spot near a north or east-facing window is ideal. If natural light is insufficient, fluorescent or LED grow lights can also be used.

2. Watering Schedule

Snake plants are drought-tolerant and are more likely to suffer from overwatering than underwatering. Water sparingly, only when the soil is completely dry. In a terrarium, this might be every 2-4 weeks. Avoid watering the leaves as it can lead to rot.

3. Temperature and Humidity

Snake plants prefer temperatures between 70-90°F (21-32°C) and can tolerate dry air. But they can also survive in less-than-ideal conditions, which makes them perfect for a home environment.

Common Problems and Solutions

A. Yellowing Leaves

If the leaves of your snake plant start to yellow, it could be a sign of overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. If the problem persists, you may need to repot your plant with fresh, dry soil.

B. Root Rot

Root rot is often a result of overwatering or poor drainage. You may have root rot if you notice a musty smell or if the plant is loose in the soil. Remove the plant from the terrarium and cut away any rotten roots, then let the plant dry out before replanting in fresh soil.

C. Slow Growth

Snake plants generally have a slow growth rate. However, if your plant is remarkably stagnant, it might need more light. Try moving your terrarium to a brighter location.

Propagating Your Snake Plant in a Terrarium

1. Propagation Steps

Snake plants can easily be propagated through leaf cuttings or division. For leaf cuttings, cut a leaf into 2-3 inch sections, let them callus over for a day or two, then plant them in the soil. The new plantlets will grow from the cut edge.

2. Timeframe

Propagation can take a while, so be patient. Seeing new growth may take several weeks or months, but the wait will be worth it.

Benefits of Snake Plant Terrariums

Air Purification

Snake plants are known to purify the air by removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. A snake plant terrarium in your home can improve air quality and create a healthier living environment.


A snake plant terrarium can be a stylish addition to your home decor. The sleek lines of the snake plant and a beautiful terrarium can create an attractive focal point in any room.

Easy Maintenance

Due to the hardy nature of snake plants and the self-contained ecosystem of a terrarium, these miniature gardens require minimal upkeep. This makes them a perfect choice for novice gardeners or busy people.


1. Can snake plants grow in water in a terrarium?

While snake plants can tolerate many growing conditions, they often prefer their roots to be dry. Growing them in water in a terrarium can lead to root rot.

2. How often should I water my snake plant in a terrarium?

Snake plants are drought-tolerant, and they usually need watering every 2-4 weeks in a terrarium. Letting the soil dry out completely between waterings is crucial to prevent root rot.

3. Can I propagate snake plants in a terrarium?

You can propagate snake plants directly in the terrarium through leaf cuttings or division. However, remember that propagation can take several weeks or even months.

4. How big should the terrarium be for a snake plant?

The size of the terrarium depends on the snake plant’s variety. For smaller types like Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii,’ a small to medium-sized terrarium would suffice. But remember, the terrarium should offer room for the plant’s growth.

5. What other plants can be grown with snake plants in a terrarium?

When pairing plants in a terrarium, matching plants with similar light and water needs is crucial. Other succulents or cacti could be suitable partners for snake plants. However, the snake plant’s robust growth and unique aesthetic often make it a standout choice as the sole inhabitant of a terrarium.

6. How to handle pests on snake plants in a terrarium?

If pests infest your snake plant, isolate the terrarium to avoid spreading the problems. Use a soft cloth soaked in a solution of mild dish soap and water to wipe down the plant. For severe infestations, consider using a suitable pesticide. Prevention is the best method, so regularly check your plant for early signs of pests.


Growing a snake plant in a terrarium is a rewarding endeavor that combines the beauty of these hardy plants with the elegance of a glass terrarium. Whether you’re a seasoned indoor gardener or a complete novice, this project offers an easy and enjoyable way to bring a bit of nature into your home.