Gold Flame Snake Plant 101: Essential Care Guide & Tips

Gold Flame Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata ‘Gold Flame’, previously Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Gold Flame’) is a graceful, variegated plant with fleshy, sword-shaped leaves that grow in a compact rosette 12″ to 24″ high and wide. New leaves emerge yellow and mature to dark green with golden yellow vertical stripes.

This beautiful plant is a tabletop version of the taller Snake Plants. It has the added value of cleaning benzene and formaldehyde from the air, and it makes a beautiful addition to any spot in a home or office if the conditions are right for its growth.

Care Guide: Gold Flame Snake Plant

Sansevieria Trifasciata Gold Flame leaves

Snake plants are known to be easy-care houseplants that will grow in a wide range of conditions. If you can provide them with their basic requirements and keep them healthy, they will reward you with their beauty for years.

Here is a rundown of what your Gold Flame snake plant needs.

Light

For your Sansevieria Gold Flame to photosynthesize well and keep its water use in good balance, it will need to grow in bright indirect light, but out of the direct sun’s rays that can burn the leaves.

A brightly lit position in an east- or north-facing window is best, but if only a west- or north-facing direction is available, set the plant back or cover the window with a sheer curtain.

If you give your plant a vacation outside in the summer, set it in the shade under a tree, porch, or patio so the light will be bright without scorching the foliage.

Temperature

Snake plants were originally native to tropical West Africa and have naturalized in other hot, dry environments such as Madagascar, India, and Indonesia. They are comfortable in 60 to 90 degrees F, which are well within average household and office temperatures.

Above 90 degrees, they will dehydrate and wilt, so bring them in if they’re outdoors when temperatures soar in the summer. Low temperatures below 60 degrees will also damage the foliage, so keep your plant warm.

Hot or cold drafts from a heating vent or air conditioner will stress your plant and cause it to droop. It needs average air circulation to keep it healthy but away from direct drafts.

Humidity

Average households have approximately 30% to 50% humidity, depending on the time of year and location in the house. Your Gold Flame will be okay with that since it is native to very dry areas.

Too much humidity can cause fungal problems for the plant, so keep it away from high-humidity areas of the house, like the bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room. Instead, make sure it’s in a bright location with average air circulation but out of the way of any drafts.

Soil & Pot

gold flame snake plant in pot

The soil and the pot you choose for your plant will affect its growth.

Soil

Soil is made up of chunks of solid material that give the plant stability and air holes that allow water to drain through and the roots to “breathe.”  Since Snake plants are succulents, they need light soil with plenty of air holes for excellent drainage.

They need either a succulent potting mix or one you make from an indoor potting mix mixed half and half with coarse sand, peat, coco coir, perlite, or pumice.

Heavy, dense soils don’t allow for good drainage, so keep the soil light to avoid problems like root rot and fungus gnats.

Pot

Indoor plant pots are made of terracotta, ceramic, plastic, or composite materials. Terracotta is porous and allows moisture to evaporate through its walls, while ceramic, plastic, or composite pots are not porous and retain moisture.

Terracotta is the healthiest type of pot, but whichever you choose, make sure it has at least one drainage hole in the bottom.

Water

Watering the correct way is crucial to your snake plant Gold Flame’s health. Snake Plants are drought tolerant and retain moisture in their fleshy leaves, so they don’t require as much water as some plants, but they still do need to be watered.

Here’s the best way to do it.

Several things affect how often you will need to water your snake plant – the amount of available light, temperature, humidity, and type of soil and pot. Some of these things will vary according to the time of year and conditions in your house, so it’s best to test the soil rather than keep to a watering schedule so you don’t overwater or underwater your plant.

Dig your finger or a chopstick down 3″-4″ into the soil. If it comes out dry, it’s time to water. But if it’s still damp, wait several days to a week and test it again.

When you water, run it through the soil and let it drain out the hole in the bottom of the pot. Empty any remaining water from the dish under the pot so the roots don’t sit in water.

You will need to water your plant more often during the spring and summer, especially if you have it outside during the warm weather. But as temperatures drop and the light is lower in the fall and winter, you will need to water far less.

Fertilizer

Snake Plants grow slowly and are not heavy feeders, so they don’t need to be fertilized often. The fertilizer and nutrients already in the potting mix are enough for the plants. However, the soil becomes depleted over time as the plant is repeatedly watered and the roots take up the nutrients.

If you haven’t repotted your Gold Flame for a couple of years, you can boost its nutrition with some fertilizer during the growing season.

An all-purpose liquid fertilizer or crystals that you dilute in water once a month in the spring and summer are good choices, but it’s good to use only half-strength to prevent fertilizer burn.

Another choice is granular succulent fertilizer that can be mixed in with the top layer of soil once in the spring. Again, use less than recommended.

Pests

The main pests that attack Gold Flame snake plants are spider mites, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.

If there is webbing on your plant or you see tiny red or black creatures with eight legs, you have spider mites. Mealybugs are white or cream-colored, cottony-covered insects 1/10 to 1/4 inch long.

Both of these pests thrive in warm, dry conditions with low humidity. They suck the juices out of the leaves, causing stippling and discoloration, and you can control them with a horticultural soap and/or Neem oil spray.

Fungus gnats infest the soil. Dormant gnat eggs are already in many of the commercial potting mixes you buy, and they will wake up out of dormancy in soggy soil, such as when it has been overwatered.

Tiny larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the plant’s roots and the organic matter in the soil. After about two weeks, the larvae mature into flying adults that emerge from the soil and fly above the plant. You may see a cloud of them fly up when the pot is jostled. The adults lay eggs back in the soil, and the cycle will continue.

To control them, you’ll have to treat the eggs and larvae in the soil and the adults above the soil. First, pour a solution of one part 3% hydrogen peroxide to three parts water through the soil. This will kill the eggs and the larvae, and the plants will love it since it releases oxygen.

Catch the flying adults by putting sticky traps on top of the soil. Yellow traps are the best color, and you can obtain them easily online. 

You may have to repeat the hydrogen peroxide treatment after two or three weeks when you’re ready to water the plant again. If you have a significant infestation, it would be best to discard the soil, wash the roots with the hydrogen peroxide solution, and plant your Snake Plant in fresh soil in a clean pot.

Disease

The most common disease of Snake Plants is root rot, a fungal disease that comes from overwatering and poor drainage. When the soil becomes saturated without proper drainage, the roots can’t “breathe,” and it becomes a perfect environment for fungal growth.

If your plant is droopy, the leaf tissues have begun to deteriorate, and the soil has been wet without drying out, your plant may have root rot. Here’s how you can make a diagnosis.

Tip the plant on its side, gently pull out the root ball, and shake the soil off so you can get a good look at the roots. Healthy Snake Plant roots should be white to light orange, but if they are black, mushy, and foul-smelling, your plant has root rot.

Cut the infected roots and any droopy, wilted leaves off with clean scissors or a knife. Wash the remaining roots and drench them with a commercial fungicide with copper as an ingredient, Neem oil, or even cinnamon, a natural fungicide.

Once you have treated the roots, plant them back in fresh soil in a clean pot with a drainage hole, and set it in a warm spot in medium light, out of hot or cold drafts. The initial moisture in the potting mix should be enough to give the plant a good start. Then water it after about a week; after that, only water when the soil is dry or almost dry. Hold off on fertilizing it until a month or two goes by.

Propagation

snake plant water propagation

If you want to grow more plants for your collection or to give them away, Gold Flame Snake Plants can be propagated by leaf cuttings or by rhizome division.

Leaf Cuttings

The best way to propagate your snake plant with leaf cuttings is in soil. Cut a leaf into 2-inch to 4-inch segments with clean scissors or a knife and plant them in a moist, loose, peat-free potting mix.

Make sure that they are standing upright so that they grow straight, and you should see new roots in one to four months.

NOTE: Always plant your cuttings with the tops facing up. Cuttings planted upside-down will not develop roots.

Division

Snake Plant leaves grow directly from rhizomes which easily separate into sections. Gently remove a rhizome from the soil with or without its leaves. Cut or break it into segments between the nodules where leaves of offsets will grow.

Plant the rhizomes an inch or two down in a moist, loose potting mix, and you should begin seeing new growth after a month.

When propagating your plant by either method, set the pot in bright light out of hot or cold drafts from air vents or windows.

Toxicity

dog with toxic snake plant

All species and varieties of Snake Plants are toxic to humans and pets such as cats and dogs. Keep everyone in your household safe by setting your Gold Flame snake plant up and away from curious little fingers and paws. 

Author & Editor | + posts

Nancy has been a plant person from an early age. That interest blossomed into a bachelor’s in biology from Elmira College and a master’s degree in horticulture and communications from the University of Kentucky. Nancy worked in plant taxonomy at the University of Florida and the L. H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University, and wrote and edited gardening books at Rodale Press in Emmaus, PA. Her interests are plant identification, gardening, hiking, and reading.