Bird’s nest snake plant – Sansevieria hahnii (san-se-VEER-ee-uh HAHN-ee-eye) is one of over 70 different species falling under the heading snake plant.
Hahnii is a sport or cultivar of the Sansevieria trifasciata Laurentii plant and a member of the family Asparagaceae, with several common names:
- Bird’s Nest Sansevieria
- Golden hahnii
- Good Luck Plant
- Dwarf Mother in Law’s Tongue
- Dwarf Snake Plant
Sansevieria plants are native of subtropical areas in Europe, India, and Africa and do well in hot, dry, challenging climates and with poor soil.
A relative of the agave plant, and in its native lands, some of the larger family members find use as a source of textile fiber.
In hot locations (e.g., some areas of Florida, Arkansas and Arizona) Sansevieria grows as a perennial and used as a groundcover like ornamental grass.
It is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.
In all other zones, grow it as a houseplant all year round. It makes an excellent choice as a house plant or office plant in a low light setting.
The Bird’s Nest Sansevieria ‘Hahnii’
The cast-iron qualities of the snake plants have merit, but not everyone likes their tall stiff appearance.
Several “rosette” varieties of a smaller and more graceful design are available.
These “squashed-down” types known as bird nest Sansevieria varieties are just as tough as any of the older, upright types.
Whoever gave them the name, I don’t know, at least it’s a catchy common name.
The Discovery Of Sansevieria ‘Hahnii’ – Bird’s Nest Snake Plant
A New Plant Named Sansevieria ‘Hahnii’ from the book The Sansevieria Trifasciata Varieties by B. Juan Chahinian
The first dwarf cultivar and direct parent of most of the other dwarf varieties, this plant was discovered in New Orleans, at Crescent Nursery Company, by W. W. Smith Jr. and patented as an “improved variety” of Sansevieria. Plant bears patent No. 470 and was dated June 3rd, 1941.
The dwarf grew off a trifasciata var. Laurentii plant. This dwarf develops like a rosette, the leaves growing from the tip of the stem, extension of the underground stem or rhizome, The leaves are spirally arranged around it and their sides are curved upwards and they are erect when young, gradually adopting a more slanted posture and turning flat and recurving backwards as they become older.
The leaves taper towards their bottom, forming a petiole which widens at the joint to the stem. The leaves, averaging eight to ten, are wide and ovate, ending in a tip of variable length but always short and soft. The width of the leaf may be up to 7.5 cm (3 in.) and the length as much as 15 cm. (6 in.), although these dimensions may be exceeded with the various clones and cultural treatment.
This plant offsets freely, producing at times, new growth of upright appearance.
Check out the Bird Nest Varieties of Snake Plant in the video below
Sansevieria Hahnii Care
Size & Growth
The bird nest “Hahnii” snake plant looks like a heavy-textured, open rose that grows slowly, with a dense rosette of dark green leaves with gray-green crossbands
Hahnii Sansevieria is a short, stubby member of the family. It grows no taller than 12″ inches with 6″-8″ inches being the norm.
Give a plant a 3″ to 6″ inches to spread. When the plants become overcrowded, separate them and give each their own pot or container.
The variety “Golden hahnii” has variegated leaves with two or three broad bands of yellow and several longitudinal yellow stripes. The 6″ to 8″ leaves grow in a rosette manner and is sometimes mistaken for a bromeliad.
Never allow water to stand in the center of the plant as this causes rot. Sansevieria does very well when kept with cacti and succulents as its needs are very similar to those plants‘ needs.
Flowering & Fragrance
The evergreen Sansevieria birds nest is grown for its foliage. When overcrowded or stressed it often sends out a stalk of small, inconspicuous but very fragrant greenish/white, tan or yellow flowers.
The flowers are sterile and do not produce seeds.
Light & Temperature
Sansevieria tolerates low light, does best in bright light to full shade. and can stand almost any sort of abuse.
Sansevieria can survive very challenging circumstances. But, it is not the best situation for the plant.
Plants suffering from too little light and water and tolerating inconsistent temperatures become stunted and weak and may lack vibrancy in qualities such as variegation.
For bird nests Sansevieria plants to thrive and reach its full potential, keep your plant in bright indirect sunlight at comfortable, consistent room temperatures.
Watering & Feeding
Water thoroughly from below or at the base of the plant when the soil becomes dry.
Don’t allow water to stand on the leaves. Be careful not to overwater.
When fertilizing, use an all-purpose liquid houseplant food once in the spring and once in mid-summer. But feeding is not required.
Hahnii plants do well without fertilizer. Because they spread quickly, you will probably find yourself providing fresh soil annually.
Fresh soil should provide plenty of nutrients.
Soil & Transplanting
Sansevieria tolerates all kinds of soil conditions. It is not finicky about pH requirements and does well in soil ranging from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.
The plant likes a medium quality, well-draining soil amended with gravel, coarse sand, perlite or other light, airy material providing good drainage.
A standard cactus or succulent mix combined 50/50 with regular potting soil is an excellent choice for potted plants.
Many gardeners allow Sansevieria to become pot bound and do not transplant more often than once every two to five years.
Not repotting doesn’t hurt the plant. For a better-looking plant and not bothering with fertilizing, transplanting we recommend adding fresh soil every spring.
Grooming & Maintenance
Over time the tough leaves become dusty and dingy looking. Wipe the leaves with a damp paper towel.
Do not mist your snake plant because it leaves water spots on the leaves.
If leaves weaken or naturally die, trim them back. If your plant throws a flower spike, trim it off after it finishes its meek bloom time.
How To Propagate Bird’s Nest Hahnii
Sansevieria is easy to propagate. In ideal settings, the plant spreads through rhizomes running on top of or just beneath the surface of the soil.
Take leaf cuttings and poke them into the soil (be sure the upside is up) and they will take root and grow.
When you repot Sansevieria, divide the root ball and plant each division in a pot.
Bird’s Nest ‘Hahnii’ Main Pest or Disease Problems
These durable plants are mostly trouble free.
Plants kept in poor conditions will not be robust and susceptible to common houseplant pests such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.
As with most plants, overwatering causes far more problems than under watering. Water judiciously as described above to avoid problems with root and crown rot.
Is Hahnii Considered Toxic or Poisonous To People, Kids, Pets?
Keep Sansevieria safely out of the reach of children and pets as all parts of the plant are toxic.
Interestingly, a wild African species (Sansevieria trifasciata) is known to be a favorite food of elephants.
Suggested Sansevieria Trifasciata Hahnii Uses
Sansevieria Trifacciata hahnii is easy to care for and makes a nice, attractive, trouble-free houseplant.
Their compact shape and durability make the bird nest type snake plant a choice plant for the bathroom, the kitchen, desk, “dish-garden” or terrarium.
Indoors, it tolerates low humidity and goes without water for long periods.
When used outdoors, the plant is drought tolerant and a good choice for xeriscaping.
It will suffer little from under watering but will suffer greatly from overwatering.
Snake Plants Air Cleaning Claims
Many sources claim NASA found Sansevierias to be one of the best houseplants for clearing benzene, formaldehyde and the like from indoor air. This is actually a misunderstanding.
What NASA actually found was that the soil in houseplant’s pots, combined with activated charcoal and good ventilation is what actually positively affects indoor air quality.
See our article regarding the NASA study on houseplants and indoor air quality.