The Houseplant for this summer month is the Mother-in-law’s tongue, also known as the Sansevieria. Each month a different plant is given the centre of attention as Houseplant of the month. Why don’t you join in? You can download some POS material for your shop, underneath
- The story of the Mother-in-law’s tongue
- Mother-in-law’s tongue production
- What do you need to look out for when purchasing Mother-in-law’s tongue?
- Range of Mother-in-law’s tongue
- Care tips for consumers
- Creative tips for the Mother-in-law’s tongue
- You can download the images and poster (link) below for free:
- Snake Plant Overview
- Snake Plant Varieties
- Snake Plant Care
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria) Care Tips
- How To Make A Terrarium For Under A Tenner
- How to make it
- Looking after your terrarium
The story of the Mother-in-law’s tongue
Mother-in-law’s tongue is one of the easiest houseplants. The plants have rootstocks, out of which thick, tall, sword-like shape leaves with succulent characteristics grow. The name, Mother-in-law’s tongue, refers to the pointed tips of the leaves, which symbolises the sharp tongue of the Mother-in-law!
Mother-in-law’s tongue production
The plant originates from the dry areas of Southern Africa and Asia where it had to survive in the hot desert climate. Sansevieria was named after the 18th Century prince, Raimondo di Sangro from the Italian San Severo. Since approximately 2004, Sansevieria cylindrica has been in production, as well as the traditional Sansevieria trifasciata. This cylindrica now accounts for 38% of Mother-in-law’s tongue production. There is also a braided version and this cylindrica is produced in Thailand.
What do you need to look out for when purchasing Mother-in-law’s tongue?
• Size. Take a good look at the pot size and the thickness and length of the leaves.
• Leaves. Some varieties are determined by the way the leaves are grown or braided.
• Health. Check if the plants are free of scale insects and suberisation (on older plants). Also check the quality of the leaf points and the root system.
• Rot. When the Mother-in-law’s tongue has been too wet for a long period of time, they can begin to rot. So check if they are sturdy in the pot.
Range of Mother-in-law’s tongue
The range of Mother-in-law’s tongue has significantly expanded in recent years, with new varieties and cultivars. The most well-known is the Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, the Mother-in-law’s tongue with green, long leaves and golden yellow edges. Within the variety trifasciata there are more cultivars which differ in leaf colour (green, silver or gold variegated) or in leaf length. The variety cylindrica is known for its round, long leaves. They come in many different sizes; fan shaped or braided, and the colours of the leaves are green or grey. The variety kirkii has a much smaller, thinner green leaf. This also comes in different shapes.
Care tips for consumers
Mother-in-law’s tongue is an easy care plant. The root ball needs to stay a bit damp and in the winter a bit dryer. Staying too damp for a long time isn’t advisable; the plant would rather be too dry. Don’t water the leaf rosette. Because of its succulent leaves, the Mother-in-law’s tongue can cope well with dry air. Give the plant enough light, it can even cope with full sun. A rest period isn’t absolutely necessary. The Mother-in-law’s tongue is air purifying and improves the humidity level. This improves the environment which is good news to share with your customers.
Creative tips for the Mother-in-law’s tongue
Because of its straight tall shape, the Mother-in-law’s tongue is very suitable for plant arrangements with a vertical line. Especially in combination with lovely tall pots, this will create a trendy result, especially in modern interiors. Another nice idea: place a whole family of Mother-in-law’s tongues together, which will work well with so many varieties.
If I had to create an award for the best houseplant for beginners, the humble snake plant or “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue” would win it.
You can pretty much ignore this plant for a month and it will be fine. They have a beautiful and striking appearance in your home, and even remove toxins (benzene, formaldehyde) from your home.
Without further ado, let’s get into exactly how to care for, troubleshoot, and propagate the wonderful snake plant.
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Snake Plant Overview
Full snake plant care guide on my YouTube channel.
|Common Name(s)||Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp|
|Scientific Name||Sansevieria trifasciata|
|Height||Up to 40 inches|
|Light||Direct sunlight, filter harsh light|
|Soil||Free draining soil|
|Fertilizer||Fertilize in spring with a 20-20-20 fertilizer mixed in a watering container.|
|Propagation||Cuttings or divide|
Mother in Law’s Tongue has thick, vertical sword shaped leaves. The leaves are dark green and are accented with lighter green bars going horizontal along the blade like leaves. Some varieties have a yellowish colored border along the leaves.
Snake Plant Varieties
While most people recognize the snake plant as the one classic green-yellow variegated leaves, there are plenty of different cultivars to choose from.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Gold’
‘Black Gold’ has starkly contrasting leaves, with extremely dark-green centers surrounded by light yellow / gold edges.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Jack’
‘Black Jack’ has a similar leaf pattern, but grows much shorter than it’s ‘Black Gold’ relative.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Robusta’
‘Black Robusta’ looks like a fully black-leafed snake plant from afar, but the leaves are actually a dark shade of green. The leaves have flecks of silver sprinkled throughout.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Cylindrica’
‘Cylindrica’ is the most unique cultivar, with completely round stems that look like bamboo stakes stuck in soil.
Learn More: Sansevieria Cylindrica Care
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Futura Robusta’
‘Futura Robusta’ has wider leaves and grows much shorter than other varieties. The leaves are primarily a silvery-green, with dark green stripes.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Futura Robusta’
‘Futura Superba’ has the classic snake plant leaf pattern, but it grows much shorter. Great for small spaces and apartments.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Golden Hahnii’
‘Gold Hahnii’ is a compact cultiva with thick golden edges and a light green center. A very bright choice!
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Golden Flame’
‘Golden Flame’ is one of the most interesting cultivars. The new leaves start out a fully bright yellow color and then slowly “fade” to a natural green color.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’
‘Moonshine’ is best thought of as an ‘albino’ cultivar. The leaves are almost pure silver, creating a beautiful contrast to other cultivars.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
‘Laurentii’ is one of the more popular cultivars sold in stores, with bright yellow edges and a zig-zagged green pattern in the middle.
Snake Plant Care
Because the snake plant has succulent leaves, it falls into the category of “set it and forget it” type of houseplants. It doesn’t need much care, water, or light, but you still have to give it a LITTLE bit of love if you want it to thrive.
Give your snake plant bright, indirect light if you want it to do well. While it can survive in low-light conditions, it will grow slower and have less color. A good spot for it would be about 3-6′ away from a window that gets a lot of light.
Because snake plants have succulent leaves, they don’t need a lot of water. Keep the soil slightly moist and never over water. If you water too often your snake plant will become mushy and start to rot quickly.
The best type of soil for snake plants is an African violet soil mixture with a bit of sand added for additional drainage.
If you’d like to mix your own soil, use this recipe:
- 1 part garden soil
- 1 part peat
- 2 parts perlite or builder’s sand
To give your snake plant a good chance at thriving, fertilize once monthly during spring and summer. Use a quality houseplant fertilizer that is free of nitrates.
During the winter months, forgo fertilizing completely as the plant grows slowly.
Full repotting guide on my YouTube channel.
You don’t need to re-pot your snake often as it likes to be root-bound. However, if it becomes top heavy and starts to tip over, re-pot it into a pot that is only a couple of inches larger than the current pot.
Learn More: How to Repot Your Snake Plant
Sometimes the tips of leaves will turn brown or entire leaves will die. If this happens, all you need to do is cut the leaf of right at the soil surface to remove it completely. There’s no point in cutting part of a leaf as it will not grow back from the cut point.
Be sure to use a sterilized cutting instrument!
Snake Plant Propagation
Like most succulent-type plants, propagating snake plants is easily done through leaf cuttings or division. We’ve got a lot more information on how to do it in our article on snake plant propagation techniques.
If you want to preserve the variegation of your snake plant, propagate by division instead of leaf cuttings — if you try via leaf cuttings the plant will revert to green leaves.
Leaf Cutting Propagation Process
Cut a leaf off of your snake plant and slice into 3-4″ pieces. Make sure you remember which side of the leaf is the top and which is the bottom.
Put the cuttings right-side-up in fresh soil mix and keep the pot in an area that gets bright, indirect light.
After about 3-4 weeks, the cuttings will start rooting. After a few months, you’ll have a fresh batch of snake plants to enjoy!
Like many houseplants, snake plants are susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites. Both of these pests attack the leaves of your spider plant in a similar fashion, sucking the sap out of the leaves.
If you have a heavy infestation, it’s best to just start over with a new plant. But if you catch them arly, you can prevent the infestation from growing.
Combat spider mites by misting the plant and wiping them off. For mealybugs, wipe them off with a cotton swab of rubbing alcohol
The most common disease will be a root rot due to over-watering. It’s common because gardeners tend to treat snake plants like other types of houseplants that aren’t succulents, watering on the same schedule.
The solution for root rot is simple: water less, and repot into fresh soil to allow the roots to dry out. You may also need to cut off any mushy leaves.
You may also run into brown rust spots on the leaves, which is caused by allowing water to sit on the leaves during cold or cloudy periods.
Q. My snake plant isn’t growing and I’ve had it for months. What is going on?
A. If you bought it during the fall and winter months, it’s completely natural for growth to slow down. These are the dormant months that new growth is either completely stopped or extremely slow. However, if you are in the spring and summer months and it’s still not growing, revisit the care guide above and see if you’re not giving your snake plant what it needs.
Q. The leaves of my snake plant are becoming mushy but the soil is dry and I am not over watering it. What’s happening?
A. If you are positive you’re not over watering your snake plant, then there are two probable causes: your soil is holding too much water, or you have some kind of leaf rot. Check to see if your soil is too peaty and holds too much water, and re-read the diseases section to see if you may have a rot.
Q. The leaves of my snake plant are drooping or wrinkling, what is going on?
A. Unlike most plants, the leaves of a snake plant will droop when they’ve gotten too much water not too little! However, if the leaves have a wrinkled appearance or start to bend, it’s a surefire sign that your plant isn’t getting enough water.
Q. Is the snake plant toxic?
A. All parts of the snake plant are mildly toxic. The poison found in the plant can cause the tongue and throat to swell and be numb. In severe cases there may be distress in the digestive tract.
While low doses of the plant normally don’t produce any symptoms, large doses can cause vomiting or nausea.
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Sansevierias (snake plants) are some of the toughest plants you can find. Whether indoors, in your garden or on your balcony, these spiky beauties can put up with almost anything. They’re easy as can be, but there are a few things you should know. Keep reading for Snake Plant care. You’ll see how low maintenance they really are!
These plants are not favored by everyone because of their strong, bold look and tough, pointed leaves. They’re definitely not the soft, “touchy-feely” kind of plants.
I, on the other hand, love them and have quite a few of them. I’ve had many varieties, both growing in pots and in the ground in my Santa Barbara garden.
Yes, indoors and out – I like sansevierias that much!
These are my little Snake Plants, “Moonshine & Futura Superba”, soon to be transplanted into larger pots.
Their modern, edgy feel appeals to me along with how easy they are to take care of. I now live in Tucson, Arizona where I have them growing in my home along with some in pots outside in the bright shade. The strong desert sun would fry them but they handle the dry air like champs.
These evergreen perennials are very long-lived, unlike some houseplants. If you’re looking for your own snake plant, there are many different species and varieties on the market with more being introduced each year.
You can find them tall or short, with round, flat or concave leaves, and variegated with dark green, silver, light green, yellow, chartreuse or white. My personal favorites are the old standbys Sansevieria trifasciata and “laurentii“, cylindrica (this is the 1 they braid), “moonshine“, “futura superba” and “gold hahnii“.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria) Care Tips
Easy does it with the watering. You want to be careful not to overdo it because your plant will rot out. Always make sure the soil is almost completely dry before thoroughly watering again. Water your Snake Plants every 2-6 weeks, depending on your home’s temperature, light levels, and humidity. So, if you travel or tend to ignore plants, this is the 1 for you.
Even though Sansevierias prefer medium light (which is about 10′ away from the west or south window), they’ll also tolerate low light and high light. How versatile they are! Just be sure to keep them out of the direct sun because they’ll burn in a heartbeat.
These plants don’t mind the dry or stale air in our homes and offices. They’ll also do well in bathrooms where the humidity tends to be much higher. This is another versatility factor which gives this houseplant the label: “diehard”.
Sansevierias will tolerate a wide range of temperatures in our homes. I have a few in pots outdoors and we get very hot in the summer and cool in the winter. If your summer outdoors, just know they don’t tolerate frost or snow so get them indoors before the temperatures drop too low.
Snake Plants are highly pest-resistant but in poor conditions, they can get mealybugs and/or spider mites. If yours gets mealybugs, I’ve got you covered with this post on how to get rid of mealybugs and aphids. Here you can find spider mites control.
Me in the grower’s greenhouse hanging out with a Sansevieria “laurentii”.
Once you’ve got a Snake Plant you may never need to buy another one. They’re very easy to propagate. You can check this post and video I did about the 3 Ways To Propagate Sansevierias. In the garden they’ll propagate on their own, spreading by underground rhizomes. As a houseplant, division followed by leaf cuttings are the easiest ways.
Snake Plants are easy going with their soil nutrients requirements. Because root rot is one of its main issues that kill these plants, I’d recommend a fast and well-draining soil to help prevent this. I use succulent and cactus mix combined with potting soil.
I’ve never fertilized my Snake Plants. I feed them every spring with a topping of worm compost and compost. If you prefer fertilizing, then an organic all-purpose houseplant food would be fine. Just be sure to fertilize in the spring and/or summer, twice at the most.
You don’t need to rush to transplant your Snake Plants. They actually do better when pot-bound and I’ve seen quite a few with broken grow pots. Yes, the rhizomes and roots are that tough. Generally, I repot mine every 2-5 years at the most. If yours is growing in low light, transplanting every 5-10 years will be fine.
Safe For Pets
My cats have never ever chewed on any of my Sansevieras, indoors or out. Their leaves are pretty tough so I imagine they’re not as appealing as a crunchy leaf like a Spider Plant. I don’t test how toxic plants are on my kitties (thank goodness for them!) and rely on reputable sources to get info on this subject.
Most sources say Snake Plants are mildly toxic to cats and dogs and can cause nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. A couple of sources say they can kill them, but for that, I imagine your pet would have to ingest quite a bit. On this subject, I say do a little more research and come to your own conclusion.
Yes, they do, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the flowers to appear. It doesn’t happen very often and seems to be hit or miss. 1 of the varieties of Snake Plants growing in my garden in Santa Barbara would flower almost every year but the others wouldn’t. The flowers are whitish to greenish and smell oh so sweet.
The sweetly scented flower of a Sansevieria.
Reasons to Love Sansevierias
Sansevierias are one of the best plants when it comes to air purification. They filter out formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide. They do this at night time making them great plants for the bedroom. You can go to bed and this plant will clean the oxygen around you. Maybe this is the reason why it’s considered they’re considered to be good luck plants.
They’re virtually indestructible unless you have a heavy hand with the watering can or place them in a hot, sunny window. Snake Plants seem to thrive on the dry air in our homes, as well as neglect. The more you ignore them, the better they do. This is why they are one of the easiest care houseplants.
If you’re looking for Snake Plants, here are a couple that might appeal to you: Black Coral Snake Plant and Sansevieria Laurentii.
And, as I said earlier, I also love Snake Plants because of their bold, architectural, sassy look.
If you’re looking to liven up your indoor space with some gorgeous foliage, be sure to check out our book: Keep Your Houseplants Alive. It’ll help you choose the right plants for the right places and the right plants for you. And, our book will help you keep those plants alive and lookin’ great!
Like This Content? Here Are More Snake Plant Care Posts:
- Repotting Snake Plants
- Snake Plants: Tough, Easy-Care Houseplants
- Why Are My Snake Plant Leaves Falling Over?
- How To Plant Small Snake Plants
- 15 Easy To Grow Houseplants
- 10 Easy Care Houseplants For Low Light
- 7 Easy Tabletop & Hanging Plants For Beginning Houseplant Gardeners
You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
You can also view our houseplant index here.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read our policies here. Your cost for the products will be no higher but Joy Us garden receives a small commission. Thank you for helping us spread the word & make the world a more beautiful place!
How To Make A Terrarium For Under A Tenner
Optional (totally worth it) extras
Dinosaur figures – £1 for 12, Poundland). Dinosaurs are having a moment, guys.
You could keep these neon, or spray them gold like ours. Craft spray, £2.50 eBay.
How to make it
And just to prove that the terrarium possibilities really are endless, we made a whole other one in a tall vase because, why not! You’ll find some really funky terrariums online, planted in a silver brogue and even an old telephone. Go get inspired. Let your creativity take over…
Looking after your terrarium
As we said, there’s not much maintenance needed. The ‘best’ advice when it comes to watering varies. Some say every two weeks, some say every month. I’ve found the best way to know if your plants need watering is to touch the soil. It should always be damp, not wet or dry. Too much watering can be worse for the plants than too little. You can fill a spray bottle with water to spray the leaves, but this isn’t a necessity.
Your terrarium will be happy at room temperature. To avoid overheating, keep the terrarium in bright but indirect light. It is also a good idea to rotate your bowl say, every few weeks so the plants get even exposure. You can tell if the plant has too much sun by its colour as it’ll go white or yellow. If this happens though, just move your terrarium out of direct sunlight. You can also feed the plants with cacti feed (available at larger supermarkets and garden centres) every two or three months.
Like this? You might also be interested in…
How To Garden When You Don’t Have A Garden
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The 8 Inevitable Arguments You Have With Your Housemates About Decor
Follow Jenny on Instagram @jennybrownlees
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.