Few houseplants are as popular and well-known as snake plants. They are notorious for being hardy, low-maintenance, and stylish and can often be spotted in offices, lobbies, stores, and homes alike. Some of the most common and recognizable types of snake plants include the standard Dracaena trifasciata along with varieties like the Dracaena trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, but the moonshine snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata ‘Moonshine’) is a lesser known variety that has been steadily gaining popularity. This striking snake plant has an upright growth habit with thin, broad leaves that are a pale silvery green in color. Like its relatives, it is easy to grow and care for indoors making it perfect for beginners and houseplant experts alike. Before adding this beautiful plant to your home, parents and pet owners should be aware that it is considered mildly toxic to pets and humans if ingested so take caution if you have children or furry friends at home.
|Common name||Moonshine snake plant|
|Botanical Name||Dracaena trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ (formerly Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’)|
|Plant Type||Perennial, succulent|
|Mature Size||4 ft. tall|
|Soil Type||Sandy, well-draining|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Green, white|
|Hardiness Zones||10-11, USDA|
|Toxicity||Toxic to animals, toxic to humans|
Moonshine Snake Plant Care
When it comes to houseplants, snake plants are some of the most forgiving and easy to care for. The moonshine snake plant is no exception. It can tolerate a range of different growing conditions and is known for being hardy and drought-tolerant. In fact, snake plants are actually considered to be succulents due to their water storage capabilities. Like most snake plants, the moonshine snake plant is a relatively slow-growing houseplant so don’t expect to see explosive growth, even if it’s happy. While it is also rare to see snake plants flower indoors, it is possible. Under the right conditions, a snake plant will send up a long, thin stem which will develop fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers that will last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks.
Snake plants do well in a range of lighting conditions, from low light to direct sun (if properly acclimated). That being said, when grown indoors the moonshine snake plant grows best with bright to medium indirect light. If necessary, it can also survive in low light conditions although it’s important to know that it will not grow as quickly and may develop leggy growth over time.
Like all succulents, the moonshine snake plant needs soil that is extremely porous and well-draining to keep excess water away from its roots. A cactus or succulent soil mix is a great choice, or you can make your own soil mix at home by combining equal parts potting soil, perlite, and sand.
Allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings. The moonshine snake plant is drought-tolerant and susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Keep in mind that the amount of water this plant needs correlates directly with the amount of light it gets. If your moonshine snake plant receives several hours of bright, indirect light it will need to be watered more frequently than if it were growing in low-light conditions. Watering also depends on the temperature and humidity the plant is exposed to. For this reason, testing the soil moisture with your finger or a moisture meter between waterings is the most reliable way to determine if your plant is ready to be watered, versus trying to stick to a regular watering schedule. When in doubt, it is always best to underwater a snake plant rather than overwater it.
Temperature and Humidity
In general, snake plants are well-suited to indoor growing because they prefer warm temperatures and average-to-dry humidity levels. To avoid sending your plant into shock, keep your moonshine snake plant in temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 29 degrees Celsius). These snake plants can also be grown outdoors year-round in USDA zones 10 and 11. Otherwise, they should be kept indoors during cold fall and winter months.
To encourage strong growth, it’s a good idea to fertilize your moonshine snake plant regularly during the spring and summer months. That being said, snake plants aren’t known for being high feeders so they won’t suffer if you forget the occasional feeding or two. Use a balanced all-purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength and apply it during watering. Avoid fertilizing in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant.
Propagating Moonshine Snake Plant
Propagating snake plants is a true test of patience, although it is relatively simple. The entire process normally takes several months, with the growth of the new pups being notoriously slow. However, it’s a fun and rewarding way to grow new plants, especially when your plant can be somewhat difficult to get your hands on in the first place (like the moonshine snake plant). Here’s how you propagate a moonshine snake plant.
- Using a pair of sharp, sterilized pruning shears or scissors—cut an entire leaf/stalk from a mature and healthy snake plant.
- Next, cut the leaf into several sections. Each section should be three to four inches tall. As you cut the leaf, ensure that you keep track of the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ of each section. It is important to keep each piece in the same vertical orientation as it grew in the original plant.
- Now that you have the leaf cut up into several pieces, you are going to notch the ‘bottom’ of each piece. This looks like cutting a triangle shape out of the bottom part of each section. This dramatically helps to increase the success rate of snake plant propagation.
- Now that you have notched all of the leaf pieces, fill a shallow glass or dish partway with fresh, room-temperature water and place the leaf cuttings in the water. Ensure that the bottom (with the notch) is facing downwards and is submerged fully in the water.
- Place the container with the leaf cuttings in a location that receives bright, indirect light. A windowsill is ideal. Change out the water once every one to two weeks to keep it fresh. Keep an eye on the cuttings. It will take a couple of months before you start to see small roots growing from the bottom, but if you notice the bottom part of the leaf cuttings starting to rot you should trim the rotted part off as soon as possible.
- Then, wait. First, the cuttings will grow roots, and then eventually they will begin to grow small pups. Technically once the roots are about an inch long you can move the cuttings back to soil if you wish—or you can wait until some pups have sprouted. Try experimenting to see which you have more success with.
- Once the cuttings are ready to be moved back to soil, prepare a small pot with a sandy, well-draining potting mix and plant the rooted leaf cuttings. Water the freshly potted cuttings well and return them to a bright location.
- Allow the soil to dry between waterings and then water well. Growth will be slow, but you will see small pups sprout up and continue to mature with time.
Potting and Repotting Moonshine Snake Plant
This snake plant only needs to be repotted once it has outgrown its previous container and doesn’t mind being rootbound. This means it likely only needs to be repotted once every two to three years. If possible, wait until the spring or summer months to repot as the plant is actively growing during this time. Choose a new pot that is only two to three inches larger than its previous container and refresh as much of the soil as possible during repotting without damaging the roots. After repotting, return the plant to its original location.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests like mealybugs, spider mites, scale, and aphids. While the moonshine snake plant isn’t particularly prone to any pests or diseases, these houseplant pests will happily take up residence on this plant, particularly if other houseplants nearby are already infested. The main disease to watch out for with this snake plant is root rot, which usually results from overwatering.
Common Problems With Moonshine Snake Plant
Snake plants are notoriously low-maintenance and the moonshine snake plant is no exception. For the most part, they are relatively problem-free, however, like any plant, there are a few issues that you may come across when learning how to grow the moonshine snake plant indoors.
Mushy, rotting stems are a telltale sign that your moonshine snake plant is suffering from root rot. Root rot is usually a result of overwatering, but can also be caused by soil that is contaminated with fungi that can cause root rot. Remove your plant from its pot immediately and cut away any leaves, stems, and roots that are rotted. If the entire root system is rotting, the only way to save the plant is to take leaf cuttings from the healthy portions of the plant and use them for propagation.
Brown spots are usually the result of leaf burn, pest infestations, or, occasionally, exposure to dry air (such as from a heating vent). Check to make sure that your plant is not receiving harsh, direct sunlight at any point in the day and then check for pests like spider mites, mealybugs, or scale. Also ensure that your plant is not positioned directly next to a heating vent which can dry out the air and cause dry, brown spots on the leaves.
If new growth is coming in thin and leggy this is a sign that your plant is not receiving enough light. While the moonshine snake plant can survive in low-light conditions, it does best in medium to bright indirect light. You may find that it is actually less tolerant of low-light conditions compared to other types of snake plants that you own. Leggy growth can’t be reversed, but correcting the lighting issues will prevent it from occurring in the future.
Is the moonshine snake plant rare?
Compared to other, more common snake plant varieties like the Laurentii or even the Cylindrica, the moonshine snake plant can be difficult to find depending on your area. That being said, due to an increase in popularity, they are easier to find at greenhouses and nurseries than they used to be.
How big does a moonshine snake plant get?
The moonshine snake plant can grow up to around 4 feet tall. Since it is a slow-growing variety, it will take several years before a small plant reaches this size.
Is the moonshine snake plant a clean air plant?
Snake plants have been recognized as some of the best plants for cleaning the air in the home, moonshine snake plants included. They are known for removing trace amounts of toxins from the air and producing lots of oxygen, according to NASA’s 1989 Clean Air Study. However, it is worth noting that if you are really concerned about the air quality in your home, using tools like air purifiers and filters is a far more effective way to keep the air clean and free of pollutants than adding plants to a room.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Snake Plant.” Aspca.org. N.p., n.d. Web.