Mother in Law's TongueScientific name: Sanseveria
Synonym: Snake Plant , Mother in Law's Tongue
Mother-in-Law's Tongue (also known as Snake Plant) is popular due to its ease of care and ability to live in almost any indoor or outdoor conditions. It’s perfect for beginners, as it’s almost impossible to kill. But experienced gardeners are also fans of its striking sword-shaped leaves.
Native to Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia, Sansevieria varieties in need little water and rarely require repotting. While not a typical flowering plant, small, white flowers may grow at the base of a plant after a few years. Years may pass between flowering, so enjoy it when it does.
And good news - Mother in Law's Tongue seems to be immune to any houseplant pests and diseases! Keep the leaves clean and glossy by wiping them with a damp cloth to keep them dust free. With good care, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue will live for years.
NOTE: These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children.
Top Tip: Sansevieria can be planted bare-root in water! Find a nice glass vessel, fill with water (preferably spring or rain water), remove the plant from its pot, shake off any excess soil and place in the glass vessel. Feed with good balanced liquid fertilizer, as normal, but remove any unsightly, fertilizer-brackish water after a few days.
- Yellow leaves and leaves that are soft at their base are a sign of overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out before resuming watering and wipe any residual water off the leaves with a cloth.
- Sunken Lesions or Reddish-brown spots are an indication of a fungal infection. Remove any infected leaves and pay a little more attention to the plant care. Treat with topical organic fungicide.
- Origin: Africa, Madagascar and Southern Asia
- Height: Up to 60cm
- Light: Will thrive in most light conditions, even low light. To avoid bleaching, don’t move the plant from low to bright light too quickly.
- Water: Water the soil only, taking care not to get any water on the leaves or the centre of the rosette of leaves. This can cause rot. During Summer, allow the top 2.5cm of soil to dry out between waterings and in Winter, water just enough to keep the soil from drying out. Overwatering is the main cause of death. If in doubt, don’t water.
- Humidity: Sansevieria thrives in dry air, but average room humidity is also fine.
- Temperature: Average room temperatures (16-24°C) are ideal. Do prevent extreme cold temperatures and drafts, e.g. an open window or air conditioner.
- Soil: Use a rich potting soil that drains quickly. Sand can be added if the soil doesn’t drain well.
- Fertilizer: Use a balanced general liquid fertilizer at ½ the strength and feed the plant monthly during Spring and Summer when it is actively growing.
- Repotting: Repotting is possible at any time of year, but preferably in spring. It’s time to repot when the plants get crowded and need to be divided. Ensure that the rosette of the leaves is kept at soil level and use a heavy container as this tall plant can get top-heavy and topple over.
- Propagation (Division): The best way is through Leaf Cuttings or Division. For Leaf Cuttings, cut the end of a leaf with a sharp knife, let the cut end dry out for a few days and then plant ‘tip-up’ about 1cm into soil. For Division, remove the plant from the pot, use a sharp knife to separate the thick roots of plant clusters, and simply repot.
If in stock, shop for Mother in Law's Tongue (Sansevieria) here.