Snake Plant, Mother-in-laws Tongue, Mother-in-laws Nose, Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, Saint George’s Sword
Scientific Binomial Name
Sansevieria trifasciata (Synonyms Sansevieria craigii, Sansevieria jacquinii, Sansevieria laurentii)
Description of Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata
The Snake Plant is a perennial evergreen plant that can form dense stands. It has stiff leathery leaves that grow vertically from a base that is a rosette shape. The leaves are a bright green with cross-banding that is a light grayish-green.
This durable attractive plant has become a very popular succulent because it adds color and is easy to care for.
Plant fibers from the Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, which this is sometimes called, are used to make actual bowstrings.
Mature Size: 36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
Outside Spacing: 3-6 in. (7-15 cm)
Uses: It is a popular succulent for the home and office as a standing floor plant or on tables. It is also a common succulent used in xeriscaping. These look great in groupings with other plants.
Growing Conditions for Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata
Light: This plant tolerates low light very well but brighter light will bring out better color in the leaves.
Temperature: The Ideal temperature for a Snake Plant is 21 to 32oC (70-90oF). They will need to be covered during frosts.
Humidity: Normal humidity is best but they can also tolerate dryer air and even drafts.
Soil: Any well-draining loose potting mix will work although they do best in sandier soils.
Growing Season: Spring through autumn.
Flowers: In mid-summer small tubular creamy tan flowers will bloom. They also occasionally bloom in the autumn. It will rarely flower indoors even if the plant is very healthy.
Hardiness Zones: 10,11
General Care for Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata
Water: The soil should completely dry before you water it again. The soil should never be soggy. In the winter water only sparingly.
Fertilizer: If needed feed it a mild cactus fertilizer in the spring and summer but never in the winter.
Pests and Diseases: Watch for spider mites and mealybugs.
Propagation: These can be propagated by dividing the tubers, rhizomes or bulbs including pups. You can also propagate them from 2 inch leaf cuttings.
Repotting: You should not need to repot this plant unless the roots get crowded. Repot it in the spring with a cactus potting mix. These are known to crack clay pots when the roots grow too large. Some gardeners just purposely wait for this to happen before they repot.
Medicinal and Other Uses
In Australia the Sansevieria trifasciata is considered a weed. Every part of the plant is poisonous when ingested. Handling the plant without gloves may cause an allergic skin irritation for some people. The saponins in this plant are mildly toxic to cats and dogs and will lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Cultivars from the Snake Plant
‘Compacta’, ‘Goldiana’, ‘Hahnii’, ‘Laurentii’, ‘Silbersee’ and ‘Silver Hahnii’
The Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata was one of the plants determined to remove polluted indoor air in the famous NASA studies. It will remove benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, formaldehyde and toluene. It is also one of the few succulents, or any plant for that matter, that will remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen in the nighttime.
Doing an Internet search for “best office plants no sunlight” will always bring up the Snake Plant in the top results. This amazing succulent can still live in almost dark conditions.