Moonshine Snake Plant Care (Sansevieria trifasciata)


Indoor potted shilver white moonshine snake plant.

Moonshine Snake Plants are stunning houseplants. They add a unique beauty to your home and purify the air around it.

Keeping a new type of houseplant can be a daunting prospect, but you are in good hands! 

Below you will learn everything you need to know about how to keep a Moonshine Snake Plant alive and well.

With a few simple tips and tricks under your belt you will be on your way to a thriving relationship with your plant. 

Moonshine Snake Plants need lots of indirect sunlight to thrive. They are prone to rot issues, so be sure to let your plant dry completely between watering. These are a hardy plant, but prefer warmer conditions. It is important that you keep the leaves dry to prevent disease.

Where to Start: What Does a Moonshine Snake Plant Look Like?

The Moonshine Snake Plant does not look like other typical houseplants you will find. Thick vertical leaves stretch upright with little over pour over the edge of the pot.

The silvery-white color on the leaves looks as though the plant is bathing in moonlight.

As the plant ages (or if it is in a room with low light levels) the leaves shift from silvery-white to dark green. It is a stunning plant that adds sleek elegance to any room. 

Is This a Good Houseplant?

The Moonshine Snake Plant is an excellent houseplant! The beautiful foliage adds depth to any room. They are easy to care for. It is one of the best air purifying plants that you can keep in your home.

Scientists have discovered that there are a variety of houseplants that can purify the air.

They take in the toxins from the air and transform it into clean oxygen that we can breathe. (Source: American Society for Horticultural ScienceOpens in a new tab.)

The Moonshine Snake Plant does this well. It is especially good to keep your Moonshine Snake Plant in a bedroom because it purifies the air at night.

Breathing higher quality air during sleep can improve your quality of sleep. Better sleep at night translates to improved mental facilities during the day.

By adding the Moonshine Snake Plant you are beautifying your space and cleaning your air. Pretty cool!!

Caring For Your Moonshine Snake Plant (At A Glance)

We will dive into each of these items in detail, but here is a chart of basic care facts for your Moonshine Snake Plant.

Taking a photo (or bookmarking this blog post) can be a great way to find this info whenever you may need it.

OriginWest Africa.
Scientific NameSansevieria Trifasciata
FamilyAsparagaceae family.
Common NameMoonshine Snake Plant, or Moonglow Sansevieria.
TypeSnake Plant, Succulent.
Max Growth (approx)24 in (61 cm).
Watering NeedsMinimal. When the top soil is dry. (Every 3-6 weeks.)
Light RequirementsBright, indirect light.
HumidityRoom Humidity. Extra not needed.
FertilizerCactus and Succulent Blend. Only in summer.
SeasonSpring/Summer.
Temperature55°F (13°C) – 85°F (29°C)
PestsMealybugs, and Spider Mites.
DiseasesRoot Rot, Soft Rot, Red Leaf Spot, and Southern Blight.
PropagationLeaf Cutting or Division.
PruningCut leaves off at base.
RepottingEvery 2-6 years.
ToxicityDogs, Cats, Fish.

How to Care for Your Moonshine Snake Plant (In Detail)

How Much Light Does My Moonshine Snake Plant Need?

Moonshine Snake Plants can survive in a variety of light conditions. They live in full sun or little direct light. But they do best in bright, indirect light.

Finding a spot in your house that gets a lot of sunshine, while not putting the pot directly in the sunbeams is ideal.

Bright, indirect light allows the plant to get the nutrients that it needs to flourish. If your leaves are swapping their silvery-white essence for a deeper green your plant could do with more light.

The dark green color is also beautiful, and the plant can survive in low light, so green leaves do not immediately mean trouble.

How Do I Water My Moonshine Snake Plant?

Moonshine Snake Plants are a type of succulent, which means that they don’t need much water.

Allow your Moonshine Snake Plant time to completely dry out between watering. This will help prevent rotting issues from happening. 

While watering try to keep your leaves dry. Your Moonshine Snake Plant will stay much happier if the soil gets wet, but the leaves do not. 

Each plant is different, as is each environment. This makes it difficult to assign a “one timeline works for all” approach to how often you will need to water. Water your Moonshine Snake Plant roughly every 3-6 weeks.

The surefire way to tell when your plant needs a drink is sticking your finger into the soil. If the top layer of soil is completely dry (as deep as your first knuckle) then it is time to water!

Give your Moonshine Snake Plant a thorough watering. The soil should be very wet, but no standing water should be at the bottom of the pot.

This, too, can cause rotting issues. Remove any standing water that comes through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot.

If you have overwatered your moonshine snake plant, then you need to check out this article about How to Save Overwatered Snake Plant. It will walk you through an easy to follow step by step process.

Watering your Moonshine Snake Plant could not be easier. Give it some water and then leave it alone! Don’t overthink it, and don’t overwater and you will be fine!

Here is an article to help you understand the secret sauce of providing perfect amounts of water for your snake plants.

What is the Ideal Temperature Range?

Moonshine Snake Plants thrive in temperatures between  55°F (13°C) – 85°F (29°C). The plant originates in West Africa, where the temperatures are often above 66°F (19 °C).

Attempting you keep your plant in that temperature range at home is a good idea.

The Moonshine Snake Plant is hardy, so if your temperatures fluctuate a bit the plant should do fine.

If you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures in the winter try to keep your plant warm. If your temperatures are over  85°F (29°C) in the summer months, try to keep it cool.

The most important thing to keep in mind with temperature fluctuation is how to adjust the water.

If the plant is cooler you may be able to go longer between watering. If it is warmer, you may need to water every other week instead of every three weeks.

Keep an eye on your plant and follow its cues. It is much easier to over water as the temperatures drop.

So keep an eye on the thermostat and water when the soil has dried out completely.

What About Humidity Requirements?

Moonshine Snake Plants do well with whatever humidity levels are in the room that you keep it in.

As the soil needs time to dry out between watering giving the plant extra humidity is not necessary.

Being a succulent, the Moonshine Snake Plant adapts well to the conditions around it. In West Africa Moonshine Snake Plants are dependent on rainfall  for water.

That geographical area has two long dry seasons where rain (and humidity levels) are rare.

At home, this means less is more for your Moonshine Snake Plant! Bathrooms have more humidity levels than other rooms, such as the bedroom.

Your Moonshine Snake Plant can thrive in any room in the house and adapt to the humidity levels of that room. There is nothing else you need to worry about, as far as humidity goes!

Misting your plant with a water bottle is not recommended because this will wet the leaves. Remember, your Moonshine leaves like to stay as dry as possible!

Which Potting Soil is Best?

Free draining soil mix is best for Moonshine Snake Plants. These plants are prone to rot, and the better drainage there is in your pot the healthier your plant will be.

Free draining soil is a potting mixture that drains well. This makes it possible for your Moonshine Snake Plant to get enough water and oxygen.

A Cactus or Succulent potting soil will work well for your Moonshine. You can also use a soil free potting mix which gets excellent drainage.

Soil free potting mixes have other organic matter, but no soil, so hold on to less moisture.

Besides the type of soil, which pot you use can help dry your plant out well. Terracotta clay pots will assist your soil to dry out.

So are a great choice for your Moonshine Snake Plant. The less moisture that gets trapped, the healthier your Moonshine will be.

How Do I Fertilize My Moonshine Snake Plant?

You don’t need much fertilizer for the Moonshine Snake Plant. Proper light and watering will encourage growth well for your plant.

But if you would like to give it an extra boost you can fertilize a bit during the summer months.

Any fertilizer intended for cactus and succulent varieties will do. Make sure you are using the right amount by following the instructions on the bag.

These plants grow more in the warmer months because they originate from a warmer climate. Adding a small amount of fertilizer can help the plant grow a bit.

But, if you use too much or fertilize too often your plant will suffer. Often this will cause droopy leaves.

Fertilizing once or twice a year (during the warmer months) is all that it needs.

Can I Propagate My Moonshine Snake Plant?

Propagating your Moonshine Snake Plant is an easy process. You can propagate your Moonshine Snake Plant by division or leaf cutting.

Division means that you separate the plant into two or more sections. Rather than taking just a part of the plant (such as the leaves) you divide the roots as well. 

The division is done exactly how it sounds. You carefully separate the plant into two or more parts using a garden spade. Each section is then potted into its own pot and growth can continue.

Leaf Cutting is straightforward, as well. Cut a leaf off of the mother plant near the base, allow some time (a day or two) for the leaf to callus, and then re-pot. Remember quality of soil is key for preventing rot issues down the line.

Once the new leaf is re-potted it will work best if the plant is in a warm environment. This will allow the roots to grow well, a process that often takes several weeks.

Spring or early summer is a great time to do this because the plant grows more in the warmer months. (Source: University of Florida, IFASOpens in a new tab.)

Once roots grow in the new pot you may see new leaves appear in 3-4 months time. It is not a quick process, because Moonshine Snake Plants are slow growers.

Both methods are effective for Moonshine Snake Plants. Propagating can be a beautiful way to expand your plant collection, or to share with others!

How Do You Repot?

Moonshine Snake Plants thrive in a somewhat pot-bound environment. This means that re-potting them every 2-6 years (depending on the specific plant) is perfect.

Many times you will know when it’s time to re-pot because the plant will actually burst out of its current pot. This is your plant telling you it needs more space (obviously).

If you don’t want to wait for a broken pot check your plant every 3 or so years. If the roots look overcrowded feel free to move the plant.

To re-pot, you carefully remove the plant from it’s pot. Move the plant to a larger pot, and add more potting soil.

Pro tip: It is best to do this in the warmer months as the cooler months are a resting period for your plant. This can cause the Moonshine to go into shock and cause more issues.

How to Prune and Trim Moonshine Snake Plant

You do not need to prune your Moonshine Snake Plant often. This can be a great idea if you want to alter the height of your plant, or to remove a damaged leaf. Either way, you want to prune the leaf in question as close to the soil line as possible.

If your plant is growing taller than you like prune the tallest leaves at their base and remove them. This will shorten the height of the plant, giving you the desired look.

Removing unhealthy leaves (browning, droopy, etc.) will improve the health of your plant. You want to remove damaged leaves as soon as you see them because that will keep the plant from wasting nutrients.

The process is the same. Cut the damaged leaf with a clean blade near the soil line to remove it.

Common Moonshine Snake Plant Problems, and How to Fix Them

Pests

Moonshine Snake Plants do not have infestation problems very often. If you are experiencing a pest problem it is likely due to a mealybug or spider mite infestation.

Mealybugs are small, white, and fuzzy looking pests. Spider mites are a deep shade of red, and are often found on the insides of leaves.

They sometimes spin silk webs. Both types of pests will suck the sap from your Moonshine’s leaves, which will affect the health of your plant.

If you find yourself with insects though they are easy to get rid of.  Rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, and neem oil can all rid your plant of an infestation.

Spraying your plants with insecticidal soap or neem oil will work wonders. This suffocates the pests when they come into contact with it.

You can also use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or Q-tip. Dip the cotton in the alcohol and wipe down each leaf. Your Moonshine Snake Plant will be pest-free in no time!

You can prevent an infestation by dusting your Moonshine Snake Plant. Occasionally wiping the leaves down with a damp towel should discourage pests.

Diseases

Moonshine Snake Plants are usually pretty healthy plants. Some fungal, bacterial, and nematode diseases that can infect your Moonshine and cause issues. If you are proactive none should cause major complications for your plant.

Root Rot

Cause: Root Rot occurs when water can not drain well and the roots can’t dry out. The roots become soggy and infected.

Treatment: This will take some care. You will need to get a better soil, a new pot (with better drainage), and spend some time caring for the diseased roots.

Start by peeling away the infected soil, and getting rid of brown or rotten roots. Wash the healthy roots, and repot the healthy parts of the plant in fresh soil and the new pot.

This article goes into more detail about treating snake plant root rot and shares step by step information to save the plant.

Soft Rot (Bacterial)

Cause: This happens if your leaves get too much water on them. The bottom of the cutting will be soggy and infected, and can sometimes put off a foul fishy smell.

Treatment: Remove the diseased leaves and take care to keep your leaves as dry as possible. Once you have cleared the diseased leaves your plant’s health should improve.

In this case, bactericides are not super helpful, so don’t worry about getting one of those.

Red Leaf Spot (Fungal)

Cause: New leaves are too wet and have spores. You will see red spots on the infected leaves. If left untreated it can spread to the rest of the plant.

Treatment: Clearing the diseased leaves is the first step. You can prevent red leaf spot by taking care to not get your leaves wet when you water.

(Sensing a theme here?) If you are keeping your leaves dry and the infection does not seem to be clearing you can use fungicides to heal it.

Southern Blight (Fungal).

Cause: Overwatering or your leaves getting wet. You will see white veins near the soil line that turn tan and then dark as the fungus spreads.

Treatment: Start with removing the diseased leaves, and letting the plant dry out. Fungicides can help heal your plant if the health does not improve.

I have written a separate article about the causes of brown spots and the ways to fix the problem. It will help you get rid of the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Toxicity: Is Your Moonshine Snake Plant Safe for Pets?

Dogs

Moonshine Snake Plant is toxic to dogs, if ingested. But, the consequences are not usually severe.

Snake plants of all varieties have a chemical compound called saponins. It’s a waxy coating on the leaves. Saponin protects the plant from various fungi, insects, and grazing animals. (Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsOpens in a new tab.)

Saponins upset a dog’s stomach. So if they eat any of your Moonshine Snake Plant’s leaves they may experience some pain. Your dog might throw up, have diarrhea, or feel unwell for a while.

Most research indicates that Moonshine Snake Plants are only mildly toxic to dogs.

But, if symptoms persist, or you feel like you need to please reach out to your dog’s vet. While informational, this article is not intended to diagnose plant toxicity. 

Cats

Cats also experience discomfort if they inject Moonshine Snake Plant. Their symptoms are the same as dogs.

If eaten in large amounts, your cat may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is also evidence that saponins can cause numbing in the throat. This can lead to a swollen tongue.

Often the toxicity levels of consuming Moonshine Snake Plant is not dangerous. That does not mean it is a comfortable experience for your cat.

Don’t hesitate to call the vet or an animal poison control number to ensure your cat will be alright.

Fish

In general, most saponins are poisonous to fish. It seems unlikely that any of your Moonshine Snake Plant leaves would end up in your home aquarium.

But, this information is still useful. Especially if you have young children in the home. My child loves to put anything he can get his hands on in the water. So the idea of Moonshine Snake Plant leaves going for a swim is not unrealistic.

Saponins (a compound in the Moonshine Snake Plant) dissolve in water and can kill your fish. Historically, saponins were used as a fishing aid, but are now illegal in most places. The good news is that this toxicity is preventable.

Keep your Moonshine Snake Plants in a separate room from your fish bowl or aquarium, and all will be well! If only it were that easy for everything, right?

Bottom Line

Moonshine Snake Plants can harm your pets (especially dogs and cats). Symptoms are usually mild, but never hesitate to call your vet if your animal is unwell.

The good news is that Moonshine Snake Plants are only toxic to animals if ingested.

Keep your plant out of reach of your dogs, cats, and toddlers (who might feed them to your fish), and this shouldn’t come up. It is possible to have a Moonshine Snake Plant without causing harm to your pets.

Moonshine Snake Plant Care Tips

  • Water infrequently. The plant needs plenty of time to dry out between each watering. Take care to not water the leaves, just the soil.
  • Keep in a room with lots of indirect sunlight. If the leaves are trading their silvery-white glow for a deep green that is a sign that it could use more light.
  • Keep your plant in 55°F (13°C) – 85°F (29°C) weather. If you have to choose between warmer or cooler, go warmer.
  • Pot your plant with a quality soil with lots of drainage. A soil-free potting mix also works well for these plants.
  • Don’t mist! The humidity level of the room is enough.
  • Only fertilize once or twice a year, preferably in the spring or early summer.
  • Repot every few years. These plants like to be pot-bound, so leaving it be until it seems like it won’t stay in that pot any longer is the key.
  • Let it be. Moonshine Snake Plants do well with little attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Moonshine Snake Plants Rare?

Moonshine Snake Plants are one of the rarer types of snake plants. The silvery white leaves are distinctive, and only seen on the Moonshine.

Snake Plant varieties that are more common include the Black and Gold Snake Plant, and Twisted Sister Snake Plant.

How Do I Keep My Moonshine Snake Plant Silvery White?

The key to keeping your Moonshine Snake Plant’s leaves silvery white is sunlight. The color of the leaves will shift if the light levels are too low for the plant to thrive.

Once the leaves start to go green it’s not possible to reverse that. So it’s important (for maintaining silvery white leaves) that you make sure your Moonshine is getting enough light from the moment you bring it home. 

Why is My Moonshine Snake Plant Turning Green?

Green leaves are a sign that your Moonshine Snake Plant is getting too low of light levels. While your plant can survive low light levels, it will lose it’s distinctive silvery sheen.

If you notice your leaves greening, move your plant to an area that gets more (indirect) sunlight. The silver that has been lost may not return, but it will improve the health of your plant and can prevent further greening. 

Are Moonshine Snake Plants Lucky?

Many consider the Moonshine Snake Plant to be a lucky plant variety to keep in the home. This is due to the fact that the plant is so good at purifying the air, improving the oxygen quality of the room.

In Feng Shui, the location of the Moonshine Snake Plant in a room can boost the good luck qualities of the plant.

How Fast Will My Moonshine Snake Plant Grow?

Moonshine Snake Plants grow slowly. That is how these plants function. They usually do not grow beyond 2-3 ft tall. They often establish deep roots more than stretching their leaves.

The key to getting your Moonshine Snake Plant as tall as possible is good light and watering. Your Moonshine Snake Plant has many amazing qualities. Rapid growth will never be one of them. 

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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