Superior Drainage is an absolute must for snake plants if you want them to thrive. Drainage holes allow the potting soil to dry up faster & prevent the chances of fungal infection in the soil.
Succulents are xerophytic plants that are sensitive to wet soil conditions and can easily catch root rot.
If you just brought a snake plant home or are thinking about bringing one home soon, this post is for you. So let’s dive right in…
Importance of Drainage Holes in Snake Plants
Proper Drainage helps in enhancing the chances of your plant being healthy. Indoor plants, in general, are quite susceptible to moisture in the soil.
As the resources available to them are limited hence making sure your plants have great drainage can save you from some headaches down the line.
Reduces the Chances of Root Rot
The most prominent reason behind the death of most succulents is root rot. Succulents are extremely hardy plants that can put up with neglect and adverse conditions.
However, they are extremely susceptible to the presence of moisture in the soil. All succulents including the snake plants absolutely hate sitting in damp soil for days.
This is cause the roots of the plant are very sensitive to fungal infestations & can easily catch a root rot. The rot can then spread to other parts of the plant within weeks and it can be very difficult to save the plant.
Drainage holes help in getting rid of the excess water pretty easily. Hence the soil dries up way faster than it would without the holes.
Improves Aeration in the soil
Snake plants like all succulents belong from drought-prone areas where the soil in which they grow is gritty in nature. This means the soil is rich in inorganic materials which makes them very light.
Hence the soil composition allows proper aeration and this, in turn, means that the roots will get a proper supply of oxygen.
Having drainage holes along with a soil mix rich in inorganic components allows the aeration of the plant to be top-notch. As a result, the roots will develop to be healthier & stronger.
Acts as a Tool for Checking the Soil Dryness
I learned this awesome trick from Cassidy Tuttle if you are confused about whether you should water the snake plant or not, lift the pot up and put a finger on the drainage holes. If it feels wet then the soil is not dry yet, you should wait out a few more days.
- Overwatering is the most dangerous enemy for your succulents & you should only water your snake plant when the soil becomes properly dry.
When in doubt always hold back & wait for a few more days. Overwatering will hurt them more brutally than underwatering.
If you like this trick and wanna know about 4 other ways of checking the soil dryness in your succulents then check out: 5 Simple Ways To Determine Soil Dryness in Succulents.
Prevents the Accumulation of Salts in the Soil
Salt accumulation in the soil is something not many people are aware of when they start growing succulents. However, it is one of those silent killers that affect the health of your precious plant as time goes on.
This is particularly true if you use tap water for watering your snake plant rather than using rainwater, distilled water, or water from RO purifiers.
Tap water can contain chlorine, fluorine & a variety of mineral in it which are completely unnecessary for the growth of the succulents.
With time the salts can accumulate in the soil & adversely affect the root health. Stunted growth, discoloration of the leaves can be the primary symptoms of this.
Drainage holes help in preventing this issue to some extent as the excess water gets drained through the holes and along with that the salts also get flushed out to some extent.
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Problems That Can Occur While Growing Snake Plants With Improper Drainage
Underdeveloped Weaker Roots
Having drainage holes at the pot bottom gives you that extra cushion of safety that allows you to water your snake plant without holding back.
- However, when there are no holes, it’s quite common for you to get tensed while watering your succulents in an effort to not overwater the plant as the extra water won’t get any path to leave.
But, this feebly watering practice leads to the development of weaker roots as the roots don’t need to go deep into the soil in search of water.
The root health is the most important of growing any plant & it gets instantly reflected upon the upper part of the plant.
The Soil can remain Damp soil for days
As there is no route for the excess water to flow out, the potting soil remains wet for days. This is true, especially for the lower soil layer.
Hence the roots will sit on damp soil conditions for days every time you water them. Owing to the absence of the drainage holes, aeration will be hampered as well. This in turn will raise the chances of the plant acquiring root rot enormously.
Accumulation of unwanted salts in the soil
As the salts & minerals present in the water you use for watering the snake plant won’t get any way of leaving the pot, it will accumulate in the soil with time.
In the future, this can affect the root health of the succulent if you are not too careful.
Hence in certain conditions, it is a must to repot your succulents every 1 to 1.5 years to avoid harming your plant in any way. You should be more careful of this if you use tap water for watering your plants.
How to Make Sure Your Snake Plants Have the Best Drainage
- Use a succulent-friendly soil mix: This is the number one requirement to grow succulents indoors. Always use a soil mix that has lesser than 25 to 20% of organic content, fill out the rest with inorganic components like coarse sand, pebbles, gravels, and other volcanic rocks.
Typical garden soil & clay soil that works for other tropical plants won’t work for succulents as those retain water for a long time.
- Buy Pots With Drainage Holes: Always buy pots with drainage holes to avoid hassles down the line. In case you are worried about the water creating a mess, you can also use small plates or trays for keeping the pots and then emptying them every time you water.
In case you have already bought pots without holes in them, you can use a drilling machine for this purpose or you can use red hot metal equipment like nails or something to serve the purpose if the pots are made of plastic.
- Use Terra cotta Pots instead of Plastic ones: Terra cotta pots are extremely aeration friendly as they have small pores in them. This means the soil will get a better supply of oxygen which will enable the plant roots to breathe better.
Can you put Snake Plants in pots without holes?
- How to water snake plants without drainage holes? Only water your snake plants when the potting soil is dry. When in doubt don’t water the plant for another few days. You can use a moisture meter to be 100% sure when to water your snake plant.
- Place the succulent in a place that will get 4 to 6 hours of indirect sunlight daily. Sufficient exposure to sunlight will ease up all your worries as that will fasten up the soil drying.
- Make sure you use akadama, pumice, and loads of gravel to use in the soil mix. All of these materials especially akadama and pumice are extremely porous and drains water pretty fast.
Succulents love growing on this soil base & the best thing is repotting succulents also becomes easy when you use less soil & more of these elements as the soil won’t cling onto the roots.
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Under these conditions of tentative drainage, sunlight becomes a rather very important element that not only helps in photosynthesis but also ends an extra hand in drying up the soil.
Snake plants can grow in pots devoid of any drainage holes but if you want to keep things easy, just grow them in pots with holes. The holes will help in better drainage of water from the soil and will dry up the soil faster.
If you are worried about water leakage, place a small dish or tray under the pot and empty the water after watering the plant. Luckily snake plants have a low thirst for water like all succulents, so you will only need to empty the trays once in a week or two.
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