Sansevieria trifasciata (san-se-VEER-ee-uh try-fas-ee-AY-tuh) is an evergreen perennial plant and one of the most popular houseplants today.
This hardy, rugged perennial member of the Asparagaceae family of plants originally comes from the rocky, dry regions of West Africa.
This plant is also a member of the Asparagaceae or Asparagus Family.
It may also rightly be called its botanical name, Dracaena trifasciata.
The plant’s common names include:
- Mother-in-law’s Tongue
- Viper’s Bowstring Hemp
- Common Sansevieria
- Mother In Law Plant
- Golden Birds Nest
- Good Luck Plant
- Snake Plant
- Sansevieria Trifasciata Care
- How To Propagate Viper's Bowstring Hemp
- Snake Plant Main Pest Or Diseases
- Suggested Mother-in-law's Tongue Plant Uses
In this article, we’ll learn how to properly grow and care for your Snake plant at home.
Sansevieria Trifasciata Care
Snake Plant Houseplant Care
Size and Growth
Mother-in-law’s Tongue may grow 2′ or 3′ feet tall. Leaves are arranged in a loose rosette of up to six lance-shaped blades.
This sturdy plant is fairly fast-growing and will quickly spread and fill its container. When planted in a tropical landscape, the plant travels by rhizome and will cover quite a bit of ground quickly.
Flowering and Fragrance
The Good Luck Plant rarely blooms outside its native setting. However, when it does bloom, it produces very fragrant white or yellow blossoms atop tall, slender stalks.
The blooms are very attractive to pollinators and are so aromatic that you may need to move your blooming Snake Plant outdoors if it does happen to bloom.
Dracaena trifaciata’s blade-shaped leaves are thick, sturdy, and erect. Depending upon the cultivar, they may be 2′ or 3′ feet tall and quite slim or under a foot high and quite wide.
Regardless of the height and width of the upright leaves, it is important to know that the pointy leaf tips are just about the only delicate part of the plant. Therefore, if you break a leaf tip, the leaf will cease to grow.
Light and Temperature
Snake Plants can do well in low light, but they will thrive in an area where they can enjoy 2 to 6 hours of direct or bright, indirect light daily.
They will also grow incredibly well in a wide range of light conditions, such as very bright light to full sun. These plants can also tolerate low light levels or in dark corners of the house but may lose their leaf variegation in deep shade.
This plant can tolerate temperatures down to 50° degrees Fahrenheit. In your home, your snake plant is happiest at temperatures ranging from 65° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Feeding
Common Sansevieria is very drought tolerant, meaning it can survive without water for a long period of time.
Like most succulent plants, Common Sansevieria can store water in their leaves and need low water requirements.
During the growing season (spring to fall), use the soak and dry watering tactic to provide full, occasional watering.
Water thoroughly again when the top couple of inches of soil has dried. Water very little or not at all in the winter.
Moreover, your snake plant will require less watering in the winter months.
If you repot your Mother-in-law’s Tongue annually in the springtime, you may not need to give it fertilizer. Good quality potting soil should have all the nourishment your indoor plant will need.
If you decide to give it fertilizer, limit it to a half dose of liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer. A slow release fertilizer once a month during the growing season in the spring will also work well.
Do not fertilize in the autumn and winter.
Soil and Transplanting
Mother in laws tongue likes light, loose, well-draining soil. Remember, this plant will not tolerate excessively wet soil and may rot quickly.
Standard, high-quality potting mix with a bit of coarse sand will also do fine for potted and container plants.
In the landscape, amend the soil generously with light gravel, coco coir, and organic matter. You can also add worm casting to the top layer of soil.
Moreover, when container-grown, ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes to drain the excess water. You can also add aeration stones to create air pockets, absorb excess water, and promote healthy growth.
Sansevieria tends to multiply rapidly, so you will probably need to divide and repot container plants annually in the springtime.
Grooming and Maintenance
Viper’s Bowstring Hemp needs no pruning. Instead, wipe the leaves with a soft, damp cloth from time to time to remove dust and facilitate photosynthesis.
How To Propagate Viper’s Bowstring Hemp
It is easy to propagate Common Sansevieria by simply dividing the plant when you repot.
Using a sharp, sterile cutting implement or sharp knife, you can cut smaller “pups” away from the parent plant.
You may also be able to pull the plants apart with your fingers simply. Then, pot each one up in its own pot and begin caring for it as a mature plant.
Growing Sansevieria from leaf cuttings is extremely easy. Although some plant enthusiasts have good luck starting Golden Birds Nest blades in the water, that has never been my personal experience.
A Snake Plant leaf (or healthy leaf that includes the sharp, undamaged leaf tip) planted in a pot of good quality potting mix and treated as a mature plant will almost always set down roots and start to grow.
It can take quite a while before new growth is seen, but if the cutting maintains its color and texture, leave it alone and keep caring for it. It will eventually begin sending out new leaves.
Snake Plant Main Pest Or Diseases
Snake plant is virtually pest and disease-free and hardy plants. However, overwatering, freezing temperatures, or a severe lack of light will lead to fungal problems like root rot and yellow or brown leaves.
If you notice a rotting smell on your soil, it’s likely root rot.
Excessive amounts of sunlight or exposure to harsh, direct sunlight can also cause leaf scorch.
Exposure to extreme cold temperatures and drafts may also damage the foliage and cause the leaves to appear mushy, scarred, or yellow.
Snake plants may also become susceptible to many common houseplant pests, including:
- Spider mites
To prevent insect invasion, ensure to keep your Snake plant healthy. Moreover, remove them by picking them off or using organic neem oil to keep them at bay.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?
Mother-in-law’s Tongue can be quite toxic when consumed in vast quantities; however, it tastes bad, so it is unlikely that a curious kid or critter would eat much of it.
Is the plant considered invasive?
Although Common Sansevieria is not currently listed as invasive in the United States, it is predicted (by the University of Florida) to become highly invasive in Florida and similar settings.
The slow-growing plant is considered a noxious weed and/or invasive in many tropical and semi-tropical settings worldwide.
Suggested Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plant Uses
For the most part, Snake Plant is grown as a house plant. It makes a perfect plant in a low-light area, such as a bedroom or bathroom.
Because of its durable nature, Mother-in-law’s Tongue is often used in planters in public spaces, such as malls.
Its ability to tolerate neglect makes it a nice addition as an office plant.
In tropical settings, Common Sansevieria can grow outdoors year-round and be used as a specimen plant in a container, backdrop, border plant, or ground cover.
If you are interested in selecting plants for air quality improvement, you will be happy to know that Sansevieria was among the top-rated air purifier plants in NASAs 1970s air-quality study. It converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen at night, purifying the air.