How to Care for the Sansevieria
Hardy and adaptable to most growing conditions, the Sansevieria is the plant often recommended to first-time plant owners or to those who want something easy to care for. Also known as the Snake Plant and the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, these plants are characterized by their stiff, sword-like leaves that grow in an upright manner. Given the right care and light, they can grow anywhere between 6 inches to 12 feet tall. They thrive in warm weather, struggle in cold environments, and are very drought-resistant.
This plant grows slowly, but it is virtually indestructible and has an incredibly long lifespan, averaging from 5-10 years, but have also been known to reach up to 20-25 years in lifespan. Sansevierias’ ability to survive low light conditions—and subsist off fluorescent lighting—make them one of the ultimate crowd favorites among plant owners. As they are native to the arid deserts of east Africa, they don’t require frequent watering. Overwatering is its actual kryptonite and will cause rot from the roots upward.
In Korea, potted Sansevierias are often presented as a gift to celebrate auspicious events. In Barbados, it is referred to as the money plant, holding the belief that any person in possession of it will always be financially abundant. They are also special in the sense that they perform a specific type of photosynthesis at night, which allows them to release oxygen at that time.
They are, unfortunately, toxic to pets—especially when eaten—so put them out of reach in any areas where you allow your furry friends to roam. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation, and possible vomiting due to the presence of saponins in the leaves.
There’s not too much to worry about in terms of keeping your Sansevieria alive; there’s a lot that they tolerate, and little that they dislike. Though preferential to medium, indirect light, they can grow just fine in low light environments, doing better in the higher range of temperatures within the 65-85°F spectrum. They like dry environments, so there’s no need to mist. Let the soil dry completely between watering, and never overdo it as frequent watering will harm your plant and cause the roots to rot, or the foliage to sag.
Both propagating and pruning are done best during the growing season. When propagating, do so via root division. Pull the root ball out of the old pot and use a knife to divide the plant into sections, making sure the roots remain intact. Replant the new snake plants into new pots, water, and place in partial sunlight. You can propagate using offshoots, too; locate the offshoot’s root, cut it out, and plant. You may also propgate by taking a cutting, and rooting in water. To do this, cut a v-shaped notch into the bottom of a chopped ansevieria stem, and submerge it in water until roots develop. This may take up to 2 months to see significant root growth, so be patient, and make sure to change the water weekly to encourage proper water oxygenation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Why are the leaves on my Sansevieria leaning?
Though this plant is tough to kill due to how little it needs to survive, underwatering can cause it to have soft, floppy leaves and shriveled roots. Overwatering can be your culprit, too. Your Sansevieria will rot at the base of its leaves, causing them to droop. Learn to ignore this plant, and water only when its soil is 100% dry.
How do I get my Sansevieria to bloom?
Your plant flowers annually when its needs—water, light, and humidity—are met. However, this is quite rare when your plant is kept indoors all year round.
Why should I prune my Sansevieria?
This encourages new growth and controls the height of your plant. Prune when it is in the growing stage to induce less stress by removing any damaged or diseased leaves.
Can I grow Sansevierias from seeds?
Yes, but it takes longer compared to the other methods of propagation due to the seeds’ long germination rates.
Why does my Sansevieria have brown, calloused areas?
These scar-like markings may occur due to several reasons, with overwatering and fungal diseases being the most common. Though such damage is irreversible, this will not spread to the healthy leaves of your plant.