Snake Plants are prized for their low maintenance and refined looks, with many stylish varieties. Some are readily available, like the familiar ‘Laurentii’ and compact ‘Hahnii’.
But others are harder to find, like the gorgeous ‘Moonshine’ (Dracaena trifasciata ‘Moonshine’, formerly Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’). This rare cultivar is rapidly gaining popularity among Snake Plant fans.
Moonshine, also known as the Silver Snake Plant has broad, upright, silvery gray-green leaves outlined with a thin, dark-green margin. It can grow to a little over two feet tall indoors, and its care is almost the same as for other Snake Plants.
Quick Glance: Snake Plant ‘Moonshine’ Care
|Caring for Moonshine Snake Plant|
|Origin||Native to West Africa, Nigeria, and the Congo.|
|Light||Needs more light than other Snake Plant varieties. Prefers bright, indirect light, such as from a west or east-facing window, including direct morning sun. It can grow in medium to low light conditions, but foliage will adapt by becoming darker green.|
|Temperature||Prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F. Can handle temperatures up to 85 degrees and below 60.|
|Humidity||Tolerates very low humidity, about 5 to 25%, but will do just fine in ambient household humidity levels, about 30 to 40%, and lower in the winter.|
|Soil and Pot||Requires loose, well-draining soil with plenty of air space. Avoid heavy soil without enough air space. Use a succulent potting mix or one amended with perlite, coco coir, or pumice. Terracotta pots are preferred, but plastic, composite, or ceramic pots will work with at least one drainage hole.|
|Water||Water only when the soil is dry or almost dry. Do not follow a rigid schedule as environmental conditions vary. Use a moisture meter or your finger to test the soil’s moisture levels.|
|Fertilizer||Slow growth means it doesn’t need frequent fertilizing. You can mix an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer into the soil once in the spring, or add a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer.|
|Pests||Prone to pests like spider mites, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and scale. If infected, isolate the plant and treat with insecticidal soap, Neem oil, or both.|
|Diseases||Primarily prone to root rot due to overwatering or poor drainage. If identified, remove affected parts and replant in fresh soil.|
|Propagation||Can be propagated with leaf cuttings or by division.|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans and pets. Keep out of reach of children and animals.|
|Additional Care||Requires more light than most other Snake Plants, well-draining soil, and careful watering to keep its light green color and overall health.|
Moonshine Snake Plant Care Guide
Snake Plants are generally native to West Africa, Nigeria, and the Congo, where it is hot and dry with occasional monsoons. They are resilient, drought-tolerant succulents but need the right kind of care to keep their beautiful looks.
Moonshine needs more light than most other Snake Plant varieties since its leaves are light-colored and have less chlorophyll to make food energy. Therefore, give it plenty of bright indirect light, such as in a west or east-facing window, including direct morning sun.
Although it will grow in medium to low light conditions, its foliage will adapt by becoming darker green with more chlorophyll to capture whatever available sunlight. So be sure to give your Moonshine enough light to keep its beautiful gray-green color.
If you bring your snake plant outside in the summer to enjoy the warmth and light, keep it in the bright shade, like under a tree or on a patio, where it will get plenty of light yet won’t be in the full sun’s rays that can cause leaf burn.
As a houseplant, your Snake Plant will be happiest in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F. Still, it can also handle temperatures up to 85 degrees and below 60. High and low temperatures outside that range will make it necessary to adjust their care to keep them healthy.
If you bring your plant outside in the summer, keep it as cool as possible when the temperatures soar. And be sure to bring it inside when it’s predicted to be colder than 60 degrees.
Your Moonshine plant is native to areas with very low humidity, about 5 to 25%. Still, they will do just fine in ambient household humidity levels, about 30 to 40%, and lower in the winter when the heat is on.
Soil and Pot
Snake Plants are succulents that need loose, well-draining soil with plenty of air space. These air spaces allow water to drain and air to circulate the roots to absorb oxygen.
Heavy soil without enough air space, such as some commercial potting mixes, will not drain well and can cause overly wet soil, root rot, and invite fungus gnats.
They can also become dense and compact, especially those with a high percentage of peat moss. This can choke the roots and keep the plant from “breathing” and absorbing water.
It’s best to choose a succulent potting mix or one that you amend with perlite, coco coir, or pumice to add extra air space and increase its ability to drain.
The pot that you choose is essential, too. Terracotta pots are an excellent choice because they “breathe” and water can evaporate faster from their soil. But plastic, composite, or ceramic will work if your pot has at least one drainage hole.
Watering your snake plant Moonshine correctly is essential to its health. Since it’s a succulent and stores water in its leaves, it doesn’t need frequent watering, but it does need water when its soil is dry or almost dry.
Don’t water on a schedule!
Environmental conditions in your house will vary according to the time of year, the amount of light, heating or air conditioning, and humidity, so you’ll have to determine when it’s time to water rather than locking yourself into a specific timetable.
Test the soil with your finger or a chopstick down 2 to 4 inches to see if it’s dry. If it’s still wet, wait a while; if it’s dry, it’s time to water your plant. A moisture meter can also help you determine how moist or dry the soil is.
When you water, run it through to thoroughly wet the soil, then let it drain entirely out the drainage hole. Next, empty any remaining water from the dish or tray underneath the pot so the roots won’t sit in water. Then, only water your plant again when the soil dries out.
Your Moonshine doesn’t grow all that fast, so it won’t use up the soil nutrients quickly.
The nutrients present in the potting mix will probably be enough for several years, but if you want to boost the nutrition, you can mix an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer into the soil once in the spring, or add a half-strength liquid fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer.
Too much fertilizer can burn the roots, so don’t overdo it. Instead, follow the instructions and then apply even less than recommended.
Pests & Diseases
Snake Plants aren’t subject to many pests, but the common ones that will attack them are spider mites, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and scale. If you notice any pests on your Moonshine, quarantine it immediately so that the critters don’t attack your other plants.
You can effectively eliminate spider mites and mealybugs by hosing down your plant to knock as many pests off as possible. Then spray all surfaces of the leaves with insecticidal soap, Neem oil, or a combination of both.
Fungus gnat eggs are present in most potting soil but will stay dormant unless the plant has been overwatered and has developed some root rot. When this is the case, you’ll see little black flies swarming up from the soil when the pot is bumped.
Your control measures will have to be twofold. First, you’ll need to kill the eggs and larvae in the soil, and also the flying adults.
Water the soil with a solution of one part 3% hydrogen peroxide, and three parts water to kill the eggs and larvae. (The roots will love it because it releases oxygen in the soil.) Unfortunately, you may have to repeat this treatment more than once to kill all of the fungus gnats.
Next, use yellow sticky traps to catch the adults. A layer of sand on top of the soil will also help to keep young adults from emerging from the soil and older adult from laying eggs back in the soil.
Scale insects have a hard, protective shell or armor, which is impervious to spray. So the best way to handle scale is to pick as many off as you can and then wipe the leaves down with rubbing alcohol to eliminate any remaining ones that you didn’t see.
The primary disease of Snake Plants is a soil-borne fungus called root rot, which comes from overwatering or poor drainage. When air spaces in the soil are filled with water and can’t drain, conditions are suitable for the fungal disease to grow in the soil and on the roots.
Root rot is a severe disease that can kill your plant if you don’t care for it. Soft, yellow leaves that droop down and brown spots at the base of the leaves are a good indication of root rot, especially if the soil has remained wet and you suspect the plant has been overwatered.
To remedy a case of snake plant root rot, turn the pot on its side and gently pull out the root ball. Shake or wash off the soil to look at the roots. They should be firm and white or light orange. If they are black, mushy, and smell foul, your plant has a case of root rot.
Cut away any black, mushy roots with clean scissors or a knife. Then drench the roots in Neem oil or a fungicide with copper as an ingredient. Cinnamon powder is a natural fungicide and works, too!
After washing your scissors or knife, prune any mushy, drooping leaves at the base above the rhizome. Discard the infected soil, roots, and leaves, and wash the pot with soap and water.
Replant the remaining Moonshine in fresh, moist soil in a clean or different pot. It will need some TLC and low-stress conditions, as with all repotted plants.
Give it some warmth, out of any hot or cold drafts, moderate light, and no water for about two weeks. The moisture in the soil should be enough at this point.
Hold off on fertilizing it, too, since that would cause unnecessary stress on the roots.
Moonshine can be propagated with leaf cuttings or by division.
Leaf cuttings can be propagated in either water or soil.
Cut a leaf into several pieces for water propagation and set them in a bowl or jar right-side up in bright, indirect light. Change the water every four or five days to keep bacteria and algae from growing. And then, when the roots are 2” to 3” long, plant them in a fresh potting mix and only water when the soil is dry or almost dry.
For soil propagation, cut leaf sections and set them in well-draining potting soil right-side up in bright, indirect light. As an option, you can dip the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone before you place it in the soil.
It will take a number of months before the cutting will develop roots.
Note: When propagating Snake plants, always orient your cuttings right-side up in the water or soil. They will not develop roots if they are upside-down.
Division is the easiest way to propagate your Moonshine. If you have more than one leaf growing in your pot or a pup that you want to separate from the mother plant, brush away the soil to gently expose the rhizomes and cut or break them to separate the plants.
Allow them to callus over in the air for a few days, then plant them in separate pots in fresh potting mix—only water when the soil is dry or almost dry.
Another way to propagate by division is to cut or break off a separate piece of rhizome that is not attached to a leaf. Allow it to callus over for a few days, then put it in well-draining soil in a small, shallow pot in bright, indirect light.
Water it whenever the top of the soil is dry until it develops roots. Then plant it in a larger pot in well-draining soil.
According to the ASPCA, all Snake Plants are toxic to people and pets. They contain saponins that cause mouth, throat, and stomach irritation, which may lead to nausea and vomiting.
Protect your fur babies and your little ones by keeping the Snake Plant high or out of their reach.
Your Moonshine is a beautiful plant and well worth taking good care of. But, remember – it will need more light than most other Snake Plants to keep its light green color, it will need loose, well-draining soil, and it will need to be watered only when the soil is dry.
If you can supply it with those growth conditions, it should be healthy for you to enjoy for a long time.
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.