Published on January 29, 2020

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Photography by Andie Diemer

Tall, sturdy, and dependable: When you’re picking your perfect plant, there’s a whole lot to love about the snake plant (otherwise known as Sansevieria trifasciata). Not only is it easy to care for and not too picky about water or lighting, it can also make your home feel more relaxing and maybe even help you to breathe a little easier. 

Its strikingly variegated leaves make a great accent in any space, and the science behind the benefits of snake plants holds up, too. Read on to find out why this tropical, West African houseplant might just deserve a spot on your bedside table. 

Can snake plants purify your air?

Yep. According to NASA’s clean air study, the leaves remove toxins like benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air. A Harvard study also noted that this species, when compared to other houseplants, produces a solid amount of oxygen (though top marks went to the pothos). And a 2015 study conducted at Naresuan University in Thailand showed that the greenery was effective at reducing carbon dioxide levels in an office. Plus, while most don’t photosynthesize at night, snakes have a particular metabolism that enables them to absorb CO2 when you’re sleeping, says Bloomscape’s resident plant mom Joyce Mast.

Research might not be enough for you to totally discard your air purifier, though. A study at Drexel University pointed out that you’d need a whopping 93 plants per square foot to get the same level of filtration as a high-tech purification system. But that said, a snake plant or two can make a small difference in helping you to breathe better. 

Can they improve your mood? 

“Having plants around just makes people feel good,” says Mast. After all, studies have shown that interacting with indoor greenery (as in, watering or potting) reduces stress, and keeping them in your workspace can help enhance creativity and problem-solving skills. While these snake plant benefits might hold true for most species, these facts, coupled with its air-improving effects, make this particular one all the more covetable. 

How can you take care of them?

You don’t need a green thumb to be a great parent to a snake plant. According to Mast, they tolerate low light as well as direct sunlight, but they appreciate indirect light the most. Make sure that soil is totally dry before you water it (around every two to six weeks), and avoid getting the leaves wet. And don’t worry if you forget every now and then: “It thrives when it’s ignored,” Mast adds. Beginner-friendly and beautiful? Sign us up.

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