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Braided Snake Plant Care

Sansevieria cylindrica (Dracaena angolensis), or braided snake plant, a succulent plant indigenous to Angola, was first discovered in 1837 by the famous Czech botanist, naturalist and botanical illustrator named Wenceslas Bojer. It belongs in the Sansevieria genus along with many other varieties but has been placed recently in the Dracaenaceae genus.

The plant has long striated, smooth, cylindrical leaves that are green-gray. Each leaf can reach heights of 7 feet and about 1.2 inches in diameter. The leaves grow shaped like a fan from a rosette base. It is deemed to be a slow-grower and forms new offshoots from its rhizomes, with each bearing at least three leaves, and usually disperses horizontally when grown outdoors. 

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This species is interesting as its leaves are cylindrical instead of being strap-shaped when compared to other varieties in the Sansevieria family. It produces 1 inch long green-white flowers with a pink tinge on a 3-foot long spike. While these flowers are not eye-catching, their bouquet is very pleasant. 

Feng Shui practitioners also value its capabilities to repulse negative energies. Some gardeners braid the leaves to control growth while the leaves are still young.

It is popularly cultivated as an ornamental as it is simple to cultivate and maintain indoors as well as outdoors if proper conditions are met. When the plant is happy and well-cared for, you will be blessed by the attractive fragrance of its flowers. They can thrive even under occasional neglect by careless or forgetful owners. 

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Sunlight

This succulent prefers bright, direct light to enhance the colors of its leaves, however, very bright intense light might cause the leaf edges to become brown and affect the well-being of the plant. It can tolerate growing in shaded areas or low lighting conditions but growth will be affected.

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Water

This species is tolerant of drought and requires watering about once in two weeks on average during its growing season and once monthly in winter. Since this plant is used to arid conditions, it won’t suffer if you miss watering it occasionally. Wait for the soil to become dry before being watered again as it is a succulent that stores water and can rapidly start rotting if the roots get water-logged.

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Humidity

Humidity levels aren’t really important for this perennial. It will be fine in regular indoor humidity as long as it’s not too dry as brown leaf tips might appear. An occasional mist of the leaves will help prevent this.

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Temperature

This plant does well in temperatures that are also suitable/comfortable for people, so a temperature range of around 50-85°F is an ideal growing range for it to be happy. They do not like to be exposed to cold temperatures, so don’t let the level drop below 50°F as it can be damaging for the plant.

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Soil

Since it’s succulent, the main aspect of caring for the plant properly is a well-draining soil. The best soil to use is a potting mix specifically for cacti/succulents and a well-draining pot. Soil that retains water will cause damage to the roots of the plant.

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Repotting

It is a rather slow grower particularly if it grows in low lighting conditions, so it typically does not require repotting for several years. Repot only if the plant has gotten overcrowded or roots outgrow the pot.

Transplant the plant into a bigger container than the old one, a wider container is better since the plant growth is top-heavy and may topple the container with a narrow base. Give it time to settle down in its new home before resuming regular watering. 

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Propagation

It is usually propagated from rhizome offshoots and leaf cuttings. Wait for the offshoots to be about 6 inches high before propagating. Unravel and remove the rhizome near the plant’s base, then let it heal for a few days. When the cut is callused, plant it in the same cacti/succulent potting mix as the original plant and take care to not cover the leaves.

Propagating with leaf cuttings involves cutting a leaf close to the roots and making several cuttings of at least 4 inches long. Plant these in a container of cactus/succulent potting mix and water as usual. Rooting will start in about 60-70 days and the new plants can now be placed in new pots.

Additional Care 

This plant only needs a good feeding during its growing period. During this period, fertilize the plant with an all-purpose fertilizer once a month or with one specifically made for succulents/cacti. 

A water-soluble one is best as it can be mixed into the water during the regular watering schedule of the plant. Since it only requires a very light feeding, the fertilizer should be diluted to ½ the recommended dose than suggested since too much fertilizer can make leaf stalks start bending. Do not feed them in winter as growth will be slower.

This plant doesn’t require regular pruning like other plants. Simply prune when needed in cases such as yellow leaves, by cutting them off at the base.

Common Problems

If you notice the leaves of the plant curling, it might be either an indication of the soil staying dry for a long time or an indication of under-watering during warm temperatures.

This plant is prone to damage from root rot developing into fungal infections due to overwatering. Also, vine weevils and grasshoppers can attack the plant, munching on leaf edges. These problems can be resolved with the suitable use of fungicides and pesticides, like neem oil. 

This is a reasonably tough plant, even thriving when neglected, except for one issue – water-logging. Root rot makes the leaves turn yellow – cut away the healthier parts and repot in fresh cacti/succulent potting mix. Almost all problems it may face are connected to over-watering.

Over-exposure to low temperatures and insufficient light can also end in problems that can quickly affect the overall growth and even become lethal to the plant.

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