Sansevieria (Snake Plant / Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)

Snake Plant Care Guide


All Snake Plants like bright light with at least some direct sun for several hours a day, however they will still grow in any position (although a little bit slower) as long as it’s not deep shade.


Water moderately from Spring to Autumn/Fall, significantly less in the Winter months because it does not need as much water then and you will reduce the possibility of your Snake Plant rotting from being over watered.


Unimportant for all varieties of Sansevieria


When it comes to feeding a standard cactus or all purpose fertiliser during the Summer months is perfect. Careful not to over do it though.



Tough though Sansevieria is, it will suffer with very cold Winter temperatures. If the soil is dry it will survive without issue down to 5°C / 41°F. Good average growing conditions will need temperatures between 18°C – 27°C / 65°F – 80°F.

If you want flowers on your Snake Plant (see below) it will need to be pot bound. In any case due to their upright growth habit the plants look best in a smaller narrow pot. If you do decide to repot then you can do it at anytime of the year.


You can propagate S. laurentii, S. trifasciata, S. cylindrica and S. hahnii when you repot by removing the rhizome offsets at the base of the plant. Let them dry for a few days before pushing into a good drainage potting compost mix. You may also have luck with leaf cuttings; cut 2 – 3 inch of leaf from a mature leaf and after waiting a day for the edges to dry, push the cuttings about 1 inch into a compost mix (you must plant it the right way up i.e. matching the direction of original growth).

Be warned that If you try and propagate S. laurentii in this way you will almost certainly lose the yellow edges as it will revert back to the original all green S. trifasciata variety.

Speed of Growth

The Snake Plant does grow slowly which can be a draw back if you want a large one to screen an area immediately. If that’s the case, go large at purchase time.

Height / Spread

S. cylindrica, although rare, has the potential to reach 5ft after many years. S. hahnii in comparison will only reach a lowly 4 in. high. S. laurentii and S. trifasciata can get to 3ft or more, although this is quite unusual and normal expected height is between 1ft and 2ft. However if you want a more compact and wide spread plant rather than height, simply remove the very tops of the growing leaf when its reached your ideal height. Bear in mind if you do this that particular leaf will never grow taller.


Yes! Flowers do appear on S. trifasciata and S. laurentii in Summer on very fast growing stems from the heart of the plant.

They’re attempting to attract moths for pollination, so during the evening and night they smell strongly of something similar to Ylang Ylang. During daylight hours the smell is musky and not very pleasant, you may also notice sticky resin dropping onto or around the plant (There is a close up picture of the resin in the gallery above).

However, if you want to try getting them it can be tricky, in our experience you only get Sansevieria flowers when you are “cruel”. The plant needs to be so pot bound that there is literally no space for new shoots to emerge out of the soil (this may happen naturally in the center of a congested plant which isn’t fully pot bound yet). You also need to nick the top off some of the leaves which prevents it growing upwards. With absolutely no where left to grow you might get the plant trying to propagate itself by seed, i.e. through the elusive flowers.

Is the Snake Plant Poisonous?

The Snake Plant does bite back if it’s eaten. The plant contains Saponins which usually irritate and can cause gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This effects most pets such as cats and dogs and also humans.

Anything else?

A fantastic hardy plant that will cope with masses of different conditions and treatment, however if you want it to perform at its best you do need to treat it right.

Snake Plant Problems

Sansevieria has only two weaknesses, excessive cold, and excessive watering, everything else you throw its way will be taken in its stride and is therefore an almost impossible to kill house plant. One year my brother left his in a hot south facing window all Spring and Summer without watering it once. Some of the leaves went very pale and one died completely, but the plant slowly recovered as soon as conditions became more favorable.

Rot at base / Leaves are yellow and dying back

Likely basal rot disease. It typically happens in Winter from being watered too much (Remember, in Winter water less.) There is no treatment, but if only part of the plant has been affected you can simply cut the rot out. If all leaves around the bottom have it, the plant can’t be saved. You might like to try taking leaf cuttings from the leaves above the rot and try propagating replacements.

Rot at base (not over watered)

This is caused by cold damage. 5°C / 41°F is the lowest safe temperature, as you get lower the risk of serious damage increases.

Brown blotches on the leaves

Random blotches on the leaves might just be sun scorch, for example if the plant has been in a very dark place for a long time and you suddenly put it outside in the baking midday sun. However if the blotches appear on the tips of the leaves and work there way down then it is something much worse; the cause of this disorder is unknown and there is no cure. Fortunately it’s very rare and none of the Our House team have ever seen it in real life.

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

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Snake Plant Info – How To Grow A Snake Plant And Snake Plant Care

If a prize were available for the most tolerant plant, snake plant (Sansevieria) would certainly be one of the frontrunners. Snake plant care is very straightforward. These plants can be neglected for weeks at a time; yet, with their strappy leaves and architectural shape, they still look fresh.

Additionally, they can survive low light levels, drought and have few insect problems. NASA research has even shown that snake plants are able to help keep the air inside your home clean, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. In short, they are the perfect houseplants.

Snake Plant Info – How to Grow a Snake Plant

Growing snake plant from cuttings is relatively easy. The most important thing to remember is that they can easily rot, so a free draining soil needs to be used. Leaf cuttings are the usual method but probably the easiest way to propagate snake plants is by dividing. The roots produce fleshy rhizomes, which can simply be removed with a sharp knife and potted up. Again, these will need to go into a free draining soil.

Snake Plant Care

After they have been propagated, the care of snake plants is very easy. Put them in indirect sunlight and don’t water them too much, especially during the winter. In fact, it’s better to let these plants dry out some between waterings.

A little general purpose fertilizer can be used if the plants are in a pot, and that’s about it.

Types of Snake Plant

There are around 70 different species of snake plant, all native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are all evergreen and can grow anywhere from 8 inches to 12 feet high.

The most commonly used species for gardening is Sansevieria trifasciata, often known as mother-in-law’s tongue. However, if you’d like something a little different, the following species and cultivars are worth looking out for:

  • Sansevieria ‘Golden Hahnii’ – This species has short leaves with yellow borders.
  • Cylindrical snake plant, Sansevieria cylindrical – This snake plant has round, dark green, striped leaves and can grow to 2 to 3 feet.
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’ – As the name suggests, this cultivar has twisted leaves. It is also striped horizontally, has yellow variegated edges and grows to about a 14 inches tall.
  • Rhino Grass, Sansevieria desertii – This one grows to around 12 inches with succulent red tinted leaves.
  • White Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ – This cultivar grows to around 3 foot tall and has narrow leaves with white vertical stripes.

Hopefully, this article has helped to explain how to grow a snake plant. They really are the easiest of plants to look after, and will happily reward your lack of attention by giving clean air to your home and a little cheer in the corner of any room.

Sansevieria Trifasciata (aka Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)

Ever wonder why you never see artificial snake plants? It’s because you don’t need artificial versions. The real thing is pretty much unkillable and survives in almost any growing condition.

Heck, as I was putting this together I realized our readers don’t need a growing guide for Sansevieria. All we need to do is to look at what we don’t want to do with a snake plant. Like many houseplants, it thrives on neglect and suffers from too loving a hand.

Thrives on Neglect

Yep, that’s right. Snake plants don’t need a tender hand to prune their foliage, and they don’t want much to drink. They can tolerate deep shade and full sun, and they’ll even put up with a few nights of freezing temperatures.

It doesn’t need to be repotted often, either. My aunt had a colony of snake plants in every corner of her home and would never repot them until their root-bound rhizomes cracked their clay pots.

However, it’s worth nothing that you can easily break the plant up and divide it into multiples, each ready for a new home as an individual potted plant.

This species thrives in poor conditions because they evolved in the jungles of the Congo. Despite being cradles of life and biodiversity, jungles tend to have very poor soil quality. That’s because those minerals and nutrients are locked up inside the overwhelming amount of greenery.

Costa Farms 12-Inch Snake Plant via Amazon

Snake plant wants a cramped, poor quality home to mimic the soil conditions of its native habitat.

Care and Water Requirements

My wife loves the houseplants decorating our home, and she’s got an artful hand when it comes to propagating clones from our established greenery. But she’s given up the duty of watering our indoor foliage to rest squarely on my shoulders.

Many of the houseplants we’re familiar with need an articulate watering schedules to ensure their best health. But even a schedule of “once or twice a week” could stretch out into several weeks without a drink if conditions are right, and that’s where a watchful eye comes into play.

But snake plants? Nah, they’ll get by. You could toss one into a closet during the winter and forget about it until you stumble on it during your spring cleaning. Guarantee you’ll find the plant in the same condition.

Sansevieria is very easily overwatered during the winter. I give mine a little splash of water every few weeks during the winter, just enough to keep the soil from cracking too much, but that’s it. Snake plants thrive on ounces of watering during the entire winter, and too much will easily waterlog and rot them.

Costa Farms Snake Plant with 6.5-Inch Wide Planter via Amazon

During the warmer months you can still get away with watering the plant every few weeks, sometimes stretching out over a period of a month between drinks.

The exact timing between watering depends on the conditions of where you’ve got your container situated. Sunnier locations during very warm periods of the summer will dictate more regular watering, but a snake plant tucked into a shady corner can go for weeks without needing a drink even during the summer.

I’ve never fertilized my collection and they seem to be happy as can be, but if you’re interested in giving them a bite to eat you can! I’d suggest using applications at half the recommended rate and at half the frequency. If a fertilizer suggests 1 ounce of material applied every two weeks, I’d go with 1/2 ounce once every four weeks.

Never fertilize them in the winter, or they’ll really suffer from it.

Why So Little Water?

It’s because snake plants are one of the few species that have evolved a metabolic process known as crassulacean acid metabolism.

Plants exchange gases through their stomata and release water vapor in the process. For many plants their stomata can be opened or closed as a reaction to the environment, but Sansevieria opens its stomata only at night to conserve water.

However, that process of gas exchange is often called a “necessary evil” for plants. Plants use very little water in their metabolic processes and expel as much as 95% of it through this process of transpiration. But snake plants?

Their stomata are open only at night, which means they hold onto water far longer than your other houseplants. If we provide too much for them to drink they become waterlogged and begin to rot.

Give Me Light! Or Don’t, Whatever

Many homeowners have a few really great windows for plant growth, but an abundance of locations in the home without adequate light to grow most houseplants. While a good number of houseplants enjoy the shade and many enjoy bright light, few thrive under any light condition at all the way Sansevieria does.

You can throw these guys in full sun or deep shade conditions and they’ll keep on truckin’ all the way.

Something’s Bugging Your Sansevieria?

The only pests I’ve seen bother snake plants are mealybugs and spider mites, both annoying pests but not terribly difficult to control. I’ve become reliant on a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol inside for spritzing on plants with pest problems, but chemical solutions work too.

If you position the snake plant in chilly temperatures for too long it could develop scarring on its leaves. I’ve found this condition to be largely cosmetic and not something that needs to be rectified, but if you want your plant neat and tiny you can snip away browned tips on leaves.

Most of the conditions aside from a handful of pests and scarring from cold weather are caused by too much water or moisture on the plant. In fact it’s the only way a snake plant could be considered “sensitive”. Always err towards underwatering and you’ll find more than half of the conditions afflicting Sansevieria eliminated.

But Wait, There’s More

One of the fringe benefits of growing an easy-to-care-for houseplant like this is that it’s quite beneficial to the air quality of any indoor space. The NASA Clean Air Study tested a variety of familiar houseplants, and snake plant was found to remove four of the five toxins the study targeted.


Propagating whole plants is easy. The plant responds well to a few different methods of cultivation to include leaf cuttings, root division, from offsets, from “pups,” and from seed. We’ll explore this topic in an upcoming guide.


A lot of these guys will actually crack the pots they’re contained in, so don’t place it in one you’re too attached to. When it’s time to repot, it’s a similar scenario for other houseplants.

Remove the plant from the container and repot it into another container one size up; an 8-inch plant should go into a 10-inch pot, and a 10-inch plant into a 12-inch pot. A potting mix for cacti like this one is a good choice to use when repotting your snake plant.

Common Snake Plant Types

You’ll find many different types of S. trifasciata for your tastes and preferences. There are over 70 recognized subspecies of Sansevieria and hundred of varieties and cultivars of Trifasciata (snake plant / mother-in-law’s tongue), but the selections below represent a few of the most common ones that you’ll be to find at your local green house or find online to order.

S. Trifasciata

S. trifasciata is an all-green variant and my personal favorite. It’s more tolerant of deep shade than other varieties of snake plant. It certainly looks more like a snake than other varieties and is the original from which most other cultivars originated from. The leaves tend to be on the thinner side, but it seems to have a much more vigorous growth rate.

Hirt’s Garden Trifasciata Snake Plant – 6″ Pot via

The almost-mottled color is appealing but not striking and makes this plant perfect as a shapely accent plant without stealing too much attention from the others in the room. I’ve used these plants in dry, outdoor containers during the summer in Philadelphia and they take right to the conditions.

S. Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (Golden)

The most recognizable variety is Sansevieria trifasciata ‘laurentii,’ the yellow-edged and variegated snake plant. In zones 9 to 11 it can be grown outdoors. That vivid yellow is at its strongest in the sun and will grow less pronounced the more it’s in the shade.

Sansevieria laurentii superba (Golden Snake Plant) via Burpee

That yellow edge is really lovely and helps the plant pop visually when in a shady corner. My only hangup with this variety is how obvious any damage to the leaves becomes, but otherwise it’s a hardy and handsome plant. The leaves feel thicker and fleshier too.

S Trifasciata ‘Gold Hahnii’

Hanii is a tiny version for cramped spaces and windowsills. I love this plant and find it to be as hardy and forgiving as its bigger cousins. The tiny, compact shape allows for multiple specimens in homes where every inch needs to count.

Green Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’ – 4″ Pot via Amazon

You may be familiar with its nickname “Birdsnest” on account of how much it looks like… well, like a bird’s nest. Pairing these plants with hens and chicks and creeping thyme in containers is a surefire combination for hot and dry conditions.

S. Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’

S. ‘Moonshine’ has a very different look from other cultivars with it’s silvery toned upward pointing dagger shaped leaves. As a specimen, it can give a modern vibe and would work well with white, contemporary furnishings or mid-century modern.

‘Moonshine’ Snake Plant via Burpee

It can also lend to a bit of pop of contrast when set among other snake plant varieties while still keeping an overall theme of shape and form.

So Long, Sanesiervia

Gotta love these guys! Easy to care for, difficult to kill, air purifiers, and readily propagated. What more could you ask for? Sanesiervia makes an awesome gift for people because of all of these attributes, and an excellent addition to your own menagerie.

While the snake plant is handsome on its own, maybe you’re looking for something a bit more colorful like the croton, or perhaps one of these non-toxic options for your home with pets that are just too curious? We’ve also got our handy guide on the basic care of houseplants for your other questions about indoor gardening.

Thanks for reading, please share your tips, comments, and questions in the comments below!


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© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Hirt’s Garden and Burpee. Uncredited photos via .

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.

The Sansevieria pronounced (san-se-vi-ee’-ri-ah) or snake plant – is a genus of perennial herbs with stiff, very thick leaves, often mottled with white, and clustered flowers on slender stalks.

A member of the Asparagaceae Family, popularly goes by other common names. The very “politically correct” Mother-in-Law’s tongue, snake tongue, mothers plant, and Viper’s Bowstring-hemp.

The Viper’s bowsting hemp plant makes an excellent potted plant indoors as a houseplant or outdoors.

What is a snake plant?

Sansevieria is undoubtedly one of the most easily recognized plants in the world.

Honestly, “Who, doesn’t know about snake plants?” I soon discovered, surprisingly enough, except for a few academic papers, very little has been published about this group of plants.

Sansevieria – Snake Plant Quick Growing Guide:

Family: Asparagaceae
Origin: Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia

Common Names: snake plant, mother-in-law plant, viper’s bowstring hemp, devil’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, snake tongue

Uses: Excellent as a houseplant, will grow in both bright light and low indirect light areas. Used in the landscape as a potted plant or directly planted in the ground.

Height: 6″ inches to 42″ inches tall
USDA Hardiness Zones: Grows outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zone 9 – 11
Flowers: greenish-white clustered flowers on slender stalks
Foliage: stiff, very thick leaves, often mottled with white and yellow striping

Snake Plant Care Requirements: As a houseplant, it will grow best in bright light but tolerates low light levels indoors as well. In fact, it is one of the BEST succulents for low light indoors. Outdoors bright direct sun to full sun. Handles dry and poor soil conditions but appreciates good well-drained soil inside or outside. Lightly fertilize with a liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer 1/2 strength. DO NOT over-water or overpot. Temperatures below 40 may cause damage to leaves. Relatively pest free.
Miscellaneous: Approximately 50 “recognized” species and varieties. Potted plants can be heavy to move. Propagate by division.

On the off-chance that some of you may have just recently returned from a prolonged stay in Tibet, and thus may not be acquainted with sansevierias, let’s start at the beginning.

The Viper’s Bowstring Hemp A Well Known Stranger

The genus was named after the Prince of San Severo born in Naples in 1710.

The primary plant of the genus Sansevieria trifasciata, originates from tropical Africa, Madagascar and Asia. The plant was originally prized for the useful fibers obtained from its leaves.

This is where the common name of “bow string hemp” came from. Where the common name mother in law’s tongue plant came from, I have no idea.

The plants are often called, perhaps only colloquially, “snake plant”, although most people know it by that name, this name is more properly applied to a totally different genus.

The confusion which results from one common name being applied to several unlike plants is one reason why many shy away from using common names.

The snake plant has been in cultivation for over 250 years. But grown in the US foliage trade since the 1920’s.

A tender evergreen perennial with stiff, erect, thick, spearlike leaves with a glossy texture about 2 ft. long. Distinctly marked white-and-green or yellow-and-green foliage.

Sansevieria laurentii is always at the top of any list as being one of the most tolerant (like zz plant care) of all decorative plants. They survive the most unsuitable growing conditions, abuse and neglect a plant could receive.

It’s recommended to and those interested in feng shui and to improve indoor air quality for structures with “sick building syndrome.”

Although this houseplant will stand more neglect than almost any other plant, overwatering is harmful.

Caring for a snake plant comes down to basically this – the plant is easy to care for, you have to work really hard to kill a sansevieria.

Types Of Sansevieria

The genus boast about 70 varieties but roughly 15 varieties find themselves grown commercially.

Snake plants come in basically two types: Tall, upright growers and bird nest type

Upright growing snake plant showing the bloom, rhizomes, and roots

The Upright Snake Plants

The well-known tall, upright snake plant varieties include:

  • Sansevieria trifasciata – grows tall, with bold stiff, glossy, leather-like gray-green leaves with dark green crossbands.
  • Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii – A variegated and much showier cultivar of Sansevieria trifasciata introduced by Emile Laurent. The plant looks just like trifasciata – except for the yellow banding on the outside edges of the leaves.
  • Sansevieria Black Coral – Mature upright leaves develop light gray-green cross-banding over the dark green base color.
  • Sansevieria zeylanica – According to the University of Florida – “Most plants sold as Sansevieria zeylanica are trifasciata. True Sansevieria zeylanica has little appeal as an ornamental.”

… of which you’ll find several forms.

The Bird Nest Trifasciata ‘Hahnii’

Many enjoy the tough, cast-iron qualities of sansevierias but not the stiff upright appearance. To the rescue is the ‘Bird’s Nest Sansevieria Hahnii.”

This appealing little dwarf sansevieria issued a plant patent in 1941, has sword-shaped leaves 6″ inches long, randomly mottled in green and grey. The leaves grow upward from a rhizome, or underground stem, in a funnel-shaped rosette.

These smaller “rosette” varieties carry a more graceful design. These “squashed-down” bird nest varieties hold the same “tough qualities” as the upright types.

Sansevieria golden Hahnii, has two or three broad bands of yellow and several longitudinal yellow stripes.

The bird nest types plants make excellent “dish-garden” and terrarium plants. compact in shape durable.

For more check out our article on the Bird’s Nest Sansevieria Hahnii including it’s “discovery” in a New Orleans nursery.

Potting & Repotting The Mother In Law Plant

Dividing snake plants at any time during the year, however, spring is the best.

The plants are easily increased by division; since most sansevierias sucker freely from the base of the plant, this is usually the preferred method of propagation. They may also be increased by cutting the leaves into three-inch lengths, and inserting the lower third of these in damp sand.

With this method, however, the yellow banding or marginal stripes may be lost, with the new plants reverting to type.

How to repot snake plant and whats the best soil for snake plant?

Remove the plant from of the pot. Using a knife or sharp clippers cut it up as much as you want. Plant each piece along with their roots in a container with a well-drained soil like this at Amazon.

Note: When repotting plants such as sansevieria, it is not always necessary to transfer them to a larger pot, unless you want to increase the size of the plant.

The plants grow actively during the summer, dividing in spring will produce the quickest results. Each division will soon grow and produce a nice plant.

Snake plants do well in a good potting soil as they are not very demanding. Sansevierias are very “succulent“; “heavy plants” which hold lots of water in their leaves. It is often recommended to create a “heavy soil” by amending the potting mix with some sand.

How Often Should You Water In Sansevieria Care?

Be cautious when snake plant watering, especially during the winter. The wintertime is when most people experience root rot.

TIPS: Better to err on the dry side. Watering is usually a matter of personal judgment. I water my snake plants whenever they seem to need it, about every 2-3 weeks. I always allow the plant root area and soil dry between watering, before watering again.

Few plants should be kept constantly wet, fewer should ever be allowed to suffer from lack of moisture.

The Snake – One Tough Indoor Plant

Plants as with fashion seem to come and go and come back again. Over the last few years Sansevieria started to make somewhat of a comeback.

No discussion on hardy houseplants would be complete without some comments on the Sansevieria or viper’s bowstring hemp.

This well-known genus has many friends and some enemies.

The critics call attention to the snake plant’s stiff, upright growth habit, and they are apt to name it mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant. Devoted friends, on the other hand, praise its hardy constitution and ability to thrive under exceedingly difficult conditions.

Others approve the modernistic form of the plant and select it for backgrounds calling for vertical line.

The viper’s bowstring hemp makes a great houseplant due to their versatility in both size, use and growing conditions.

You’ll find Sansevieria used in small dish gardens all the way up into 14″ containers 42″ inches in height. They handle full sun, look great on a patio during the spring and summer, but also can go inside into very low light.

In fact, the toughness of this low-light makes the snake plant one of the Best Bathroom Plants for low or no light areas.

This plant can hang with the best of all low light plants. However, the plant will do best in bright light.

The Mother’s Tongue plant, the spider plant and others were Top plants NASA tested and found for absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen at night.

Sansevieria does this through the crassulacean acid metabolism process.

Temperatures below 45 degrees for extended periods is one climatic condition it will not tolerate. When the plants become damaged it can show up slowly over a 1- 4 week period.

One Downside To Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Everything seems to have a downside and the Sansevieria is no different. Their downside – weight.

Because of their relationship to the succulent family they hold a lot of water.

As plants reach 10″ and larger in pot size the weight goes up dramatically. I’ve seen 10″ plants that weight 25 pounds or more.

If You Want A Houseplant That:

  • Is tough indoors
  • Can be placed just about anywhere
  • Takes up little space
  • Goes a long time between watering
  • A good starter plant for the house
  • Can start outside in spring and move inside
  • Has no real pests problems. Spider mites even have a difficult time with their succulent plant leaves.

Take a look at the Sansevieria.

Propagation – Dividing & Leaf Cuttings

In south Florida, stock plants grow in beds out in full sun. One very unusual production method of this crop; growers actually mow down the tops of the plants forcing them to produce new growth.

Details on Snake Plant Propagation

Sansevierias propagate easily by division; since most varieties sucker freely producing rhizomes, this is usually the preferred method of propagation. Snake plants propagate from leaf cuttings, clumps or rhizome cuttings.

Propagate by cutting the leaves by cutting leaves into three-inch lengths, and inserting the lower third of these in damp sand. With this method, however, the yellow banding or marginal stripes may be lost, with the new plants reverting to type.

snake plant propagation cutting in a bowl of water. image: via madaise

This video from Nell provides lots of details on repotting snake plant.

Sansevieria Cylindrica – The Popular Oddball

Sansevieria cylindrica the snake plant with cigar like leaves.

One odd sort you may discover when searching for a “different” or rare sansevieria species is Sansevieria cylindrica. The plant has dark green leaves marked with faint light green bands.

A native to Angola, sometimes called the African spear, Cylindrical Snake Plant, Spear Sansevieria, used as an ornamental plant because of its unique features.

The difference? The leaves are cylindrical instead of being flat or concave. This somewhat fan shape plant is also found in Sansevieria Ehrenbergi, a much more colorful plant with red and white pencil stripes on the upper margins of its bluish leaves.

Another unusual type I’ve become mildly fond of is Sansevieria arborescens, a sort of tree-like plant wholly unlike the customary stemless varieties. This, by the way, has white edges on dull green leaves.

It is a fan shape plant but some gardeners and growers have experimented with braiding.

Braided Sansevieria cylindrical at Whole Food, Winter Park Florida 2014

Sansevieria cylindrica is a low-maintenance houseplant, versatile and drought-tolerant. In fact, it seems to thrive best with little water.

Almost like the ZZ plant or cast-iron plant and other of the best indoor houseplants they do fine when watered once or twice a month or less when if used indoors as a houseplant.

Uses For The “Snake”

The durability of Sansevieria makes it an excellent choice for apartment dwellers who often have limited success with houseplants due to lighting issues. They should take a good look the bowstring hemp plant.

Sansevierias adapt to almost any temperature and light conditions. True, the plants will freeze if it gets too cold, and sunburn if it is too hot, and no plant will grow in absolute darkness.

But they will tolerate very dim light for long periods, and can be used in many places where other houseplants would scarcely survive a week.

Sansevieria aka Mother in Law’s Tongue – three 10 inch pots planted in one large decorative planter Volusia Mall, Daytona Beach, Florida May 2018

Display Them Attractively

Too many people lose half the beauty of their houseplants (not only sansevierias, but others, too) by not displaying them properly. Some varieties of sansevieria, notably those whose silhouettes are unusual, deserving to be grown as individual specimens; others look better when used in group plantings.

‘Snakes’ displayed in rustic planters

An attractive pottery container greatly enhances the appearance of these plants.

Admittedly Sansevierias plants are not the most very graceful plant. The compact bird’s nest species Sansevieria Hahni are more interesting in their smaller size and also tolerant of dry hot rooms and poor light.

The bird nest varieties are perhaps of the greatest value to the window gardener, with their amiable disposition, which allows them to persist under the most adverse conditions.

Keep leaves clean and free from dust and grease. Other care consists of keeping the soil moist but not wet, and feeding occasionally.

Sansevieria Hahni with short leaves arranged in a rosette. Hahni makes and excellent low plant for use on a coffee table where little light may be available.

3 Sansevieria Hahnii bird nest snake plants displayed in attractive decorative planters

Q&A: How To Care For Snake Plants

Does Sansevieria Bloom or Flower?

Primarily used as foliage plants but when conditions suit them Sansevierias will burst suddenly and unexpectedly into glorious bloom. The psychological reaction for most sansevieria owners is comparable to finding a peacock on their front lawn!

A friend describes the plants as “inelegant” either never saw one in bloom or else needs new glasses.

Granted, individually snake plant flowers do not look like much, but borne in racemes on tall, foot long, stout scapes, making a lovely display. The blossoms usually white or cream, sometimes greenish (those of Sansevieria cylindrica have a pinkish color), are often fragrant.

By now you probably know how tough and durable qualities of the “Mother-in-law plant.” If you’re looking for other tough houseplants to keep indoors also consider the ZZ plant (zamioculcas), Cast-Iron plant, and Aglaonemas.

When Is The Best Time To Repot or Transplant?

I have a pot of sansevieria that has so many young ones coming up the plants are very crowded. When is the best time to transplant some of these into another container? Kaleigh, Memphis, Tenn.

Divide Sansevierias at any time during the year, and each division will soon grow into a nice plant. Dump the plant out of the pot, break it up as much as you want and plant each. The plants grow actively during the summer, so spring is the best time to divide the plant to obtain quick results.

Is The Mother In Law’s Tongue Plant Poisonous?

The Mother In Law’s Tongue plant is low in toxicity to people but according to the ASPCA – all parts of the snake plant are poisonous or toxic to cats and dogs.

Read our article to learn more about the Snake Plant poisonous properties.

Why Do Snake Plants Leaves Fall Over?

Leaves falling or flopping over is usually caused by several conditions:

  • Overwatering
  • Low lighting issues
  • Incorrect repotting practices

Read our article for details on the Causes and Prevention of Snake Plant leaves falling over.

Can You Root Them In Water?

Can you tell me how to start another viper’s bowstring hemp sansevieria plant? I’ve tried rooting leaves in water, but this method doesn’t seem to work. Nina, Michigan State University

Nina, the common variety of Sansevieria roots readily from cuttings. Cut a leaf into four-inch sections and plant each in sandy soil, one inch deep.

How often to water snake plant?

Firm the soil so that the leaf will not fall over when watered. Water sparingly and keep the cuttings in a warm bright place. Each piece of the leaf will produce a new plant.

The Sansevieria with the yellow margin on the leaf propagates only by division, each piece with roots will soon produce a new one.

If the leaves with yellow margins are used as leaf cuttings, the plant, if it does grow, will revert back to the green leaf and lose its yellow margins. Generally, Sansevieria cuttings in water get too much moisture and decay.

Where Can You Buy Types of Mother In Law’s Tongue Plant?

The “Mothers Plant” is available at most home improvement stores and garden centers. The small birdnest types of viper’s bowstring hemp are often found in dish gardens, the larger varieties are usually available in 4-inch and 6-inch sizes.

Below is a list of 50 species and Sansevieria varieties recognized by The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families at Kew as of August 23, 2017.

Image: Top source

Snake Plant Mother in law’s tongue, Bowstring hempSansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’

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Perhaps you call it the Snake Plant, or maybe Mother-In-Law’sTongue. Some call it “Bowstring Hemp,” as it had actually been used to make bowstrings. Whatever you call it, the Sansevieria Trifasciata is famous for being wonderfully unique, blissfully hardy and even a clean air provider for interior spaces. (Yes, it’s true! NASA research has proven Snake Plants cleanse the air inside your home, removing such toxins as formaldehyde and benzene. That’s why so many folks have a Snake Plant or two in their bedrooms.

The Snake Plant has long, architectural leaves that can grow up to 6 feet in height. They’re darker green in the center with an outline of pale green around the edges. Green/white blooms come out during the spring.

Great for container gardening, this plant prefers partial shade. Caring for these plants is straightforward and perfect for those with less than “green thumbs.” You can neglect these (please don’t!) for weeks at a time and they’ll still look fresh. Additionally, they can survive low light levels, drought and have few insect problems. Do note, however, that if ingested, they can be harmful to pets and children. In all other ways, this is the perfect houseplant.

Categories: House Plants / Indoor / Interior, Perennials, TropicalsTags: Container Friendly, Interior, Low Maintenance, Office Plants, Ornamental, Scandinavian Design

Sansevieria Trifasciata Golden Hahnii, Snake Plant

Product Description

Sansevieria trifasciata is a species that belonged to the category of flowering plant and belongs to the family of Asparagaceae, native West Africa and Congo. It is most commonly known as the snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, and viper’s bowstring hemp, among other names.Sansevieria trifasciata is commonly called “snake plant”, because of the shape and sharp margins of its leaves. It is also known as the “viper’s bowstring hemp”, because it is one of the sources for plant fibers used to make bowstrings.It is an evergreen perennial plant forming dense stands, spreading by way of its creeping rhizome, which is sometimes above ground, sometimes underground. Its stiff leaves grow vertically from a basal rosette. Mature leaves are dark green with some light gray green patches.

    Instruction for planting:

  • There are 3 ways to propagate snake plant. One is with the rhizomes which spread, second one is with division and last one is leaf cutting.
  • To plant a snake plant tree, take a green and healthy leaf and cut the leaf into 3-4 inches segments keeping track of the upward and downward side.
  • After cutting the segments, insert the cuttings into fresh potting soil in such a way that they are right side up.
  • Spring is considered to be best for propagation else can be done in summers or falls too but is not that much good. Propagation should not be done in winters.
  • Repot the plant only when it starts breaking the pot.
  • Plant should be kept within the temperature between 40º and 85ºF.
  • You can use an organic succulent and cactus mix but a good potting soil will do too.
    Instruction for care:

  • Bright sunlight should be provided to snake plant but direct sunlight should be avoided.
  • Even light exposure should be provided to the plant for which you can turn the pot quarterly.
  • Water the plant in winter when you feel leaves are drooping and the pot feels dry.
  • Water at room temperature should be used to water the plant. It will be better if water is either distilled or it is rainwater.
  • Always water the plant from the corners and never water the plant from the center portion.
  • Fertilize in spring with a 20-20-20 fertilizer mixed in a watering container.
  • If leaves of the tree gets dusty then wipe the leaves with damp cloth.

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