ZZ Plant vs Snake Plant | 6 Key Differences

ZZ Plant (Zanzibar Gem) and snake plants (Sansevieria) have some key differences so if you are trying to decide between them here is an easy guide. They are both drought tolerant, work great indoors, can tolerate deep shade and can fit in a tight pot.

To find out all you need to know about ZZ plants vs snake plants, check out this article. Each section will get a winner for the ease of growing the plant and which one I would choose.

My indoor ZZ plants.

ZZ plant vs Snake plant key differences and similarities

 ZZ PlantSnake PlantSame or different
Beginner GardenersGreat choiceGreat choiceDifferent
WateringDeep water once per monthDeep water once per monthDifferent
Light ConditionsLow lightLow to high light conditionsDifferent
Pot SizeSmall pot size, increase as neededSmall pot sizeDifferent
FertilizerSlow release all purpose 1x per yearSlow release all purpose 1x per yearSame
Soil TypeGeneral, all-purposeGeneral, all-purposeSame
Pests and ProblemsLow pest attackAlmost no pest attackDifferent
HumidityHigher humidityLower humidityDifferent

My outdoor snake plant that I grew from cuttings.

Beginner gardeners

ZZ and snake plants are ideal if you are a beginner gardener. They are forgiving, they will survive if you forget to water them and they will live for many years in a tight pot and a small space. You can buy the plant from your garden center and leave it in the same pot and it will be fine.

Both plants are beginner friendly, will recover if you make a mistake and can be placed almost anywhere in your house. Both plants are (almost) unkillable and look great in your house.

Key Differences

Snake plants prefer slightly lighter positions than ZZ plants so if you have a sunnier spot then I would choose a snake plant. As far as unkillable goes, snake plants take the prize as they will tolerate almost anything.

Winner – Snake Plant


Both ZZ plant and snake plants tolerate a low amount of water. ZZ plants grow from a rhizome so they will store water in their roots which look like a potato. They will reproduce by growing new rhizomes and then new stems.

These rhizomes make ZZ plant super drought tolerant but make it easier to overwater them. One of the most common problems with ZZ plants is overwatering where the leaves will turn black and the rhizomes and root can rot. Both plants grow best with a deep watering once per month making sure it can drain well and is not sitting in a pot tray full of water.

Key differences

The key differences between the watering needs between ZZ plant and snake plant are that ZZ plant is the most drought tolerant and prone to overwatering. ZZ plant can die quickly if their rhizome is damaged.

Winner – Snake plant

Light conditions

Both snake plant and ZZ plants can survive in low light conditions. They are not fussy if you put it in a dark corner but can also thrive on filtered light. Keep both at least 2 feet away from a glass window so that they don’t get reflected heat or burn.

Key differences

ZZ plant can tolerate the lowest light conditions that I have ever seen from a plant. I have kept mine in a dark corner under the stairs and it still grows well. These have grown in forest conditions which can be deep shade and low water. Snake plants will grow better if they get more sun and can even thrive outdoors in a sunny spot.

Winner – ZZ plant

Pot size

Both ZZ plants and snake plants can tolerate very small pot sizes compared to the size of the stems. Both grow long, vertical stems which mean their pot size can be relatively small. Most of the time you can buy the plant and leave it in the pot without transplanting it for 2-3 years.


Both plants tolerate tight spaces in pots but I find that snake plant is the most tolerant of this. ZZ plant will stop sending up new shoots but may increase the size of the current stems rather than bushing out. Snake plants on the other hand will fill a pot and bush out until they fill the space.

Winner – Snake plant

Soil Type

Both ZZ and snake plants light a light, well-draining soil that is high in organic matter but not necessarily high in nutrients. Both will survive in a general, all purpose soil with very little added to it.

Winner – Tie


Fertilizer needs of both ZZ and snake plants are minimal and both can survive on almost nothing. For the best and fastest growth however I have found that adding some slow release fertilizer to the plant in spring will help it to continue to grow well. I like a specialized indoor fertilizer for my indoor plants because it is balanced and doesn’t smell.

Winner – Tie

Pests and problems

Both ZZ and snake plant are not prone to pest attack. Both seem to be the last to be touched by pests indoors and out. ZZ plant have a sap that deters bugs and snake plants have a tough skin and are not a delicious snack for passing bugs.


Snake plants are probably the most tolerant of pest attack. They are an unpleasant, tough leafed plant which is not attractive to pests. ZZ plants have slightly softer stems so are more prone to sap sucking insect attack including mealy bug.

Winner – Snake plant



The humidity needs of ZZ and snake plant differ slightly. ZZ plant thrives in high humidity conditions and being a tropical plant they will love humidity in the air. Snake plants on the other hand are happy with dry air conditions having developed in desert conditions.

Winner – this depends on your climate, if you live in a high humidity area, choose a ZZ plant. If you live in a dry area, go for a snake plant.

ZZ Plant vs Snake Plant | Summary

ZZ plants and snake plants are known as some of the 2 hardiest plants out there which are perfect for beginners, a tough spot or if you travel. These plants can survive for 4 weeks without water, can tolerate low light levels and can live in a small pot. These plants are forgiving but are more likely to be damaged by too much love like too much water, fertilizer or sun.

Happy growing.