How To Care For A Sansevieria Plant

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Sansevieria pronounced (san-se-vi-ee’-ri-ah) – Are members of the Lily Family, and popularly go by the common names of Snake-plant, Mother-in-Law’s tongue or Bowstring-hemp.

The primary plant of the whole group, originating from tropical Africa is Sansevieria trifasciata and has been grown in cultivation for over 250 years.

The genus was named after the Prince of Sanseviero who was born in Naples in 1710.

Sansevieria tops the list as being the most tolerant of all decorative plants to survive the most unsuitable growing conditions, abuse and neglect a plant could receive. Basically, you have to work really hard to kill sansevieria.

The leaves are generally with stiff, very thick, spearlike, glossy texture, often mottled with white, and clustered flowers on slender stalks.

Types Of Sansevieria

There are basically two types of varieties:

The well-known tall ones – sansevieria trifasciata or which there are several forms and the squashed-down types known as-birds-nest. Whoever gave them that name, I don’t know, at least it’s a catchy common name.

Sansevieria hahnii super marginata

The bird nest type is usually Sansevieria Hahnii, a dense rosette of dark green leaves with gray-green crossbands, and its variety, Sansevieria golden Hahnii, having two or three broad bands of yellow and several longitudinal yellow stripes.

These are choice “dish-garden” and terrariums, plants, not only because of their compact shape but also because of their durability.

Check out the Bird Nest Types in the video below

Potting & Repotting

Plants can be divided 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.

They do fine in a good potting soil as they are not very demanding. Remember, Sansevierias are succulents; they are “heavy plants” holding lots of water in their leaves, so it is often recommended to create a a “heavy soil” by amending with some sand.

How Often Should You Water?

Be cautious when watering, especially during the winter, better to err on the dry side. Watering is usually a matter of personal judgment, and I water mine whenever they seem to need it, which is about every 2 -3 weeks. Few plants should be kept constantly wet, but even fewer should ever be allowed to suffer from lack of moisture.

Propagation – Dividing & Leaf Cuttings

Sansevierias are easily increased by division; since most varieties sucker freely, 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.

Sansevieria Cylindrica – The Popular Oddball

Sansevieria cylindrica

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

The difference is that the leaves are cylindrical instead of being flat or concave. The plant has somewhat the fan shape which 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 have 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.

Uses of Sansevieria

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 snake plant.

sansevieria trifasciata potted

Admittedly they are not most very graceful plant, but the compact birds nest species Sansevieria Hahni are more interesting in their smaller size and also tolerant of dry hot rooms and poor light.

The appearance of these plants is greatly enhanced by an attractive pottery container, and clean leaves free from dust and grease. Other care consists of keeping the plants moist but not wet, and feeding occasionally.

Sansevieria trifasciata is a bold stiff plant with dark green leaves. The variety Laurenti has leaves banded with light yellow-green, and is a bit showier.

Sansevieria Hahni has short leaves arranged in a rosette. It is a good low plant to use on a coffee table where little light may be available.

Does Sansevieria Bloom or Flower?

Sansevierias are primarily used as foliage plants, but when conditions suit them, they are likely to 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 that individually the flowers are not much, but borne in racemes a foot long, on tall, stout scapes, they make a lovely display. The blossoms are usually white or cream, sometimes greenish (those of Sansevieria cylindrica have a pinkish color), and are often fragrant.

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