Can Snake Plants Live Outside? Tips & Tricks for a Thriving Outdoor Plant

In the vast world of indoor plants, there is one that stands tall, proud, and slightly menacing: the snake plant, also known as Dracaena trifasciata or, more colorfully, Mother-in-law’s tongue. 

These hardy, low-maintenance houseplant wonders are often found sprucing up the corners of living rooms and offices, but the question remains: can snake plants live outside? 

Join us as we embark on a journey to explore the fascinating possibilities of snake plants living outside and learn how to help them flourish in the open air.

The Short Answer: Can Snake Plants Live Outside?

Yes, snake plants can thrive outdoors in USDA zones 9-12, with temperatures between 70°F-90°F (21°C-32°C). Ensure well-draining soil, balanced lighting, and proper care for healthy growth in gardens, patios, or balconies.

Guide to Growing a Snake Plant Outdoors

snake plants outdoors

Follow these tips and you should have no problem growing your snake plant outside. It’s time to break out of the indoor box.

Climate & Temperature Requirements

Snake plants, being the resourceful creatures they are, can adapt to a wide range of temperatures. However, they do have a soft spot for a mild climate. 

The sweet spot for these plants lies between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit; avoid temperatures below 55 degrees and bring them indoors if temperatures drop below 40-45 degrees.

Beware, though: frost and prolonged freezing temperatures can damage or kill your beloved snake plant. Regarding USDA zones, snake plants are happiest in zones 9 and warmer.

Location & Lighting: A Delicate Dance with Sunbeams

When it comes to location, all types of snake plants can be surprisingly fussy. They enjoy a spot that provides bright, indirect light or even partial shade. While they can handle some full sun, too much direct sunlight can cause the snake plant’s leaves to turn yellow and may scorch their tips. 

Conversely, if placed in full shade, your plant may become a slow, reluctant grower. Therefore, balancing light and shade is vital to keeping your outdoor snake plant content.

Soil and Watering: A Symbiosis of Earth and H2O

Snake plants are succulents, which means they have evolved to store water within their leaves. As such, they favor well-draining soil that prevents root rot. 

A mixture of quality potting mix and perlite or coarse sand will provide the perfect foundation for your outdoor snake plant. Regarding pots, terracotta pots with drainage holes work well, allowing excess water to escape (unlike ceramic or porcelain pots).

When it comes to watering, these plants have a rather stoic nature. They can tolerate a bit of neglect, so be careful not to overwater them. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.

Humidity: A Balancing Act for Outdoor Snake Plants

Humidity plays a significant role in the overall well-being of these plants, mainly when grown outdoors. These hardy plants are native to arid regions in Africa, which means they are naturally adapted to thrive in low-humidity environments.

However, when grown outdoors snake plants may encounter varying humidity levels, depending on your local climate. 

While Sansevieria can tolerate a range of humidity levels, it’s essential to ensure that their soil and environment don’t become too moist, as this can lead to root rot or other fungal/bacterial problems.

To strike the right balance, consider the following tips:

  • Well-draining soil: As mentioned earlier, snake plants prefer well-draining soil that allows excess moisture to escape. This is particularly important in humid environments, as it helps prevent the roots from sitting in soggy soil.
  • Proper watering: Be mindful of your watering schedule, especially during periods of high humidity. Water less frequently, and also allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent over-saturation.
  • Air circulation: Good air circulation is vital for maintaining humidity levels. Ensure that your outdoor snake plant is placed in an area with adequate airflow, which can help to reduce the risk of plant fungal infections and other humidity-related issues.
  • Terracotta pots: Consider using a terracotta pot if your snake plant is potted. These pots are porous and can help to wick away excess moisture, providing a more balanced humidity level for your plant.

Transplanting Indoor Snake Plants Outside: A Grand Migration

A gradual acclimation process is essential if you’re considering moving your indoor snake plant to an outdoor location. 

Start by placing your plant in a shaded area for a few hours each day, then gradually increasing the time spent outdoors over a week or two. This will help your snake plant adjust to the new environment without too much shock.

Protecting Outdoor Snake Plants: A Shield Against Nature’s Wrath

snake plant outside

Mother Nature can be both nurturing and fierce. To protect your outdoor snake plant from extreme weather conditions like pouring rain or strong winds, consider placing it in a sheltered location or using a windbreak.

Additionally, keep an eye out for pesky pests like spider mites and mealybugs, which can cause pest infestations. These can be treated with insecticidal soap or also neem oil.

Companion Planting: Friendly Flora 

When choosing companion plants, consider those that share similar light and water requirements. For example, succulents like sedums or echeverias make excellent partners, as do drought-tolerant plants like lavender or sage.

Fertilization: A Nutritious Boost for Robust Growth

To ensure healthy growth, fertilize with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer during the growing season. Be cautious, though: over-fertilizing can cause more harm than good.

Potential Issues: Troubleshooting the Trials of Outdoor Living

Growing snake plants outside can present a few challenges. 

For example, yellow leaves may indicate too much sunlight, while leggy growth can indicate insufficient light. 

Adjust your plant’s location as needed to maintain optimal conditions. Watch for pests and diseases, and if you spot them treat promptly to keep your plant healthy and happy.

A Leafy Analysis: Examining the Snake Plant’s Leaves

Keeping a close eye on the plant’s leaves is essential, as they can provide valuable insights into its overall health. For example, if you notice the snake plant’s leaves beginning to droop or show signs of discoloration such as turning yellow, it may be time to reassess the plant’s environment and make necessary adjustments.

Conclusion: A Serpentine Verdict on Outdoor Living

So yes, snake plants can live outside, given the right conditions. By following the tips and advice, you can enjoy the beauty and resilience of snake plants in your outdoor and indoor spaces. 

Let your plants bask in the glory of the great outdoors while you relish in the satisfaction of nurturing these versatile, hardy specimens. Remember to monitor their needs and adapt their environment as necessary. 

You’ll be rewarded with a thriving Mother-in-law’s tongue plant that adds charm and character to your garden, patio, or balcony. So embrace the adventure of outdoor snake plant care, and revel in the delightful partnership between Mother Nature and your serpentine friends.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.