Before you bring home a new plant, you should habitually pay attention to its basic requirements. Every plant deserves its ideal growing conditions.
These include a variety of factors, and drainage constitutes one of them. While some plants require well-drained soil, others prefer to be in wet conditions.
In case you plan to buy a new snake plant, you might be wondering whether you need to buy a pot with a drainage hole. Well, while snake plants do not necessarily require such a pot, it would definitely be helpful if it does have a hole for drainage.
Most houseplants require pots with a drainage hole to let out the excess water.
Waterlogging can lead to a number of problems, including overwatering and root rot. Hence, it certainly makes sense to check whether a plant you are planning to buy would need a drainage hole under the pot.
Do snake plants need a drainage hole?
To keep your snake plants in healthy conditions, it would be wise to place them in a pot with a drainage hole.
Snake plants are extremely popular when it comes to houseplants. One of the key reasons behind this is that a snake plant is hardy and can adapt to different conditions easily, without any specific requirements.
You do not necessarily have to place your snake plant in a pot with a drainage hole as these plants survive well in wet soil conditions. In fact, one could even keep a snake plant in a pot filled with water.
However, it is advisable to use a pot with a drainage hole for your snake plant. While your snake plant doesn’t exactly need it as a requirement, the absence of a drainage hole can cause problems for the plant.
Well-aerated soil is helpful to snake plants, so buying a suitable pot would surely be a good idea. The lack of drainage could potentially lead to certain problems for the plant.
Why drainage is Important for your snake plant?
As mentioned above, snake plants can survive in pots without drainage holes, but it could lead to certain issues. These include:
The fertilizers you add to the soil, as well as tap-water, contain a variety of minerals. While these minerals are good for plants, excessive amounts can be harmful.
Without a drainage hole for your snake plant, it would suffer from mineral accumulation in the soil. These minerals would collect around the plant’s roots once they gradually build up.
As a result, the roots would sustain damage, and the plant would suffer from root burn. Eventually, you would notice the leaves turning brown, and the growth of the plant would cease.
Root rot is a common and deadly problem for houseplants. When a plant pot becomes waterlogged due to the lack of drainage, the soil remains wet for too long.
This creates the perfect growing conditions for a variety of fungi. Not only do the fungi feed on the plant’s roots, but they also reproduce rapidly in such wet conditions.
This can cause significant damage to the roots, eventually resulting in problems like drooping, dry, and curling leaves. Plant owners often mistake these symptoms for dehydration and water the soil, even more, aggravating the issue.
Inadequate root system development
When the roots of your snake plant stay surrounded by water, they would fail to grow properly. Now, a growing snake plant requires strong and healthy roots for the necessary nutrition.
While the water restricts the root development, the shoot would initially continue to grow. The snake plant would then end up with a shoot that is too big for the underdeveloped root system.
The nutrients supplied by the roots wouldn’t be adequate for the shoot anymore. This can even kill the plant, besides causing problems like the leaves drooping and dying.
Often, households overlook the importance of oxygen for their houseplants. While it is true that plants mostly take in carbon dioxide from the air, they do need oxygen as well.
Plants absorb oxygen from the soil, through their roots. Now, waterlogged soil can prevent a plant from absorbing the necessary oxygen and suffocating it. Oxygen deficiency would stop your snake plant from growing, cause the leaves to yellow and fall off and eventually kill the plant.
Hence, while the absence of a drainage hole wouldn’t cause much of a problem for a short period of time, it might harm your snake plant in the long run.
You might also want to note that often, the above-mentioned problems go hand-in-hand with the others. For instance, if your plant is suffering from root rot, the chances are high that it’s also lacking oxygen.
How do you know if your snake plant needs a drainage hole?
In case you have already planted your snake plant into a pot without a drainage hole you should keep an eye on it. In case signs of any problem appear, you would have to repot the plant into a pot with a drainage hole immediately.
Problems like root rot can escalate fast, so you shouldn’t make any delays in changing the pot. Here are a few signs that your snake plant needs a drainage hole:
- Mushy roots: When the roots start rotting, they turn soft and mushy. Now, as root rot shares symptoms similar to that of dehydration, it can be hard to identify. In case you notice that the leaves are drying and dropping, check out the texture of the roots. Besides the mushy roots, you might also find the soil to be smelly, which indicates root rot.
- Waterlogged soil: Waterlogged soil is one of the most obvious signs that the plant needs a drainage hole. Touch the soil to see how it feels. While the standing water would be clearly visible, you would have to check for excessive wetness in the soil. Keep in mind that snake plants stay healthier in well-aerated soil.
- Other symptoms: Besides these signs, also look for other symptoms that could indicate overwatering and waterlogging issues. When you notice stunted growth or your plant seems to be dying, immediately check for the problem. In most cases, the reason behind these issues is excess water stuck in the soil.
In case you repot your snake plant to place it in a pot with a drainage hole, make sure to take good care of it for the next few days. Proper drainage, necessary nutrients, and adequate sunlight would likely revive your snake plant and help it grow healthy again.
Can you grow a snake plant without a drainage hole in a container?
As it must be evident by now, a drainage hole would be beneficial for your snake plant but isn’t an absolute necessity. You could certainly grow a snake plant in a container that does not have a hole for drainage. However, to avoid the problems mentioned earlier, you might want to follow these steps.
- Add draining rocks: To substitute the drainage hold, you could add a layer of draining rocks at the bottom of your snake plant pot. This way, any excess water would drain into the rocks instead of keeping the soil wet and waterlogged. The layer of rocks would also prop up the plant higher, such that the roots do not suffocate in water.
- Check the water levels: Do not water your snake plant simply because it’s the scheduled time. You need to be especially careful about this when there is no drainage hole under the pot, as any excess water would start pooling inside. Water the plant only when the soil gets dry. You might also want to poke a finger into the soil or use a wooden stick to check the moisture levels, rather than watering the pot whenever the soil surface dries up.
- Do not pick an oversized pot: While planting your snake plant in a pot without a drainage hole, be careful about the size of the pot you choose. In case you pick a pot that is too big for the plant, the root system would be too big to absorb all the water. This can cause the soil to remain moist for far longer than preferred.
- Provide adequate sunlight: Besides the fact that snake plants thrive well in a sunny environment, it also helps to dry up excess water. Take your snake plant and place it in a location where it would receive adequate sunlight. However, try not to leave it in the sun for more than a few hours.
- Do not water too frequently: One of the key benefits of keeping a snake plant at home is that you do not have to worry about watering it daily. The ideal frequency would depend on the climate and the type of soil in the pot. Usually, you need to water a snake plant only once a week in summer and twice a week in winter.
Although snake plants do not require a pot with a drainage hole, it is sensible to use one. Proper drainage would save your plant from a variety of issues and keep it safe.
If you absolutely have to keep the plant in a pot without a drainage hole, at least deploy the necessary measures to protect it from overwatering issues.