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If you’re new to plant ownership or are simply looking for an easy-care houseplant, a Sansevieria is the plant for you. These hardy plants remain popular because of their adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions. Sansevieria also called mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant and viper's bowstring hemp, will not give you many problems. I rank it as one of my top 10 beginner plants because of the tolerance this plant has for neglect.


The plants are native to Africa, Madagascar and Southern Asia and for those plant aficionados, they come under the plant family Asparagaceae. As you can tell from the name, the most famous member of this plant family is the delicious garden asparagus.


These plants are survivors even if you are a self-confessed “plant killer”. Caring for the Sansevieria is easy as it only needs to be watered once every few weeks. Actually, overwatering can be the Snake Plant’s kryptonite.


Sansevieria are unique in that they perform a specific type of photosynthesis at night which allows them to release oxygen throughout the night, unlike most other plants that release oxygen only during the day.


The Sansevieria come in numerous sizes and shapes! From the uber tall Laurnetti to the Whale Fin and Fernwood, there is a snake plant for every place in your home.


Light - A sansevieria can be placed anywhere in a room from the darkest corner to the brightest window. The better the light, the faster a sansevieria grows. With very bright light outdoors, the plant's colors become more intense, and it blooms more profusely.


Even though Sansevierias prefer medium light (which is about 10′ away from the west or south window), they’ll also tolerate low light and high light. How versatile they are!

In lower light conditions, the darker leafed species and varieties ( like S. trifasciata & Sansevieria hanhnii jade) do better and are the ones you should buy. Snake Plants with brighter variegations will become less intense and patterned in low light. Just be sure to keep Snake Plants out of the direct, hot sun (west or south window) because they’ll burn in a heartbeat.

Temperature - Sansevierias grow well in temperatures between 60°F and 85° F. Sansevierias will tolerate a wide range of temperatures in our homes. If your house is comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your Snake Plants. Just keep them away from cold drafts and heating or air conditioning vents.

Water  - Over-watering is the main reason sansevieria plants die. Allow the soil to dry out before watering. During the winter, in a low light area, a sansevieria plant may need water only once a month.


My favorite way of watering low light, low water plants is to remember the holidays! From Easter (doesn't matter if is in March or April) to Halloween, give your Sansevieria a good deep watering once a month then stop! Give her a drink Christmas Day and start it all over again Easter morning. This plant goes dormant in the deep, dark days of winter and does not need much water as it is not growing hardly at all.

Humidity - Sansevieria are from the hot, dry regions in Africa and doesn’t mind the dry or stale air in our homes and offices. They’ll also do well in bathrooms where the humidity tends to be much higher.  This is another versatility factor that gives this houseplant the label: “diehard”. No need to mist.

Soil - Snake Plants are easy-going with their soil nutrients requirements. Because root rot is one of its main issues that kill these plants,  I’d recommend a fast and well-draining soil to help prevent this. I like mixing my soil for this plant with 1/2 potting soil, 1/2 sand.

Fertilizer - Snake Plants aren’t that needy when it comes to fertilizer. At the start of spring and again at the start of summer give them a feeding of all purpose plant food at 1/2 strength. Hold off any food during the fall and winter months while she sleeps!

Flowering - Sansevieria plants may produce flowers every few years during the summer. Flower production occurs when the plant is in bright light and experiencing some stress. Stress for a Sansevieria might be severely dry soil or being root-bound in a small pot. The flowers of a Sansevieria, which appear as clusters on long spikes, are fragrant but not particularly pretty.

Re-pot - You don’t need to rush to repot your Snake Plants. They actually do better when pot-bound and I’ve seen quite a few which have broken their grow pots. Yes, the rhizomes and roots are that tough.

Maintenance - Sansevieria need no pruning and little clean up. Cut off flowers to keep the energy going to the roots and new "pups"

Pests - Bugs, fungus and bacteria don't bother sansevieria very much, whether you grow it as a houseplant or outdoors. A more likely problem will be overwatering, which could cause root rot, a fungus that can cause the leaves to wilt or discolor. If you suspect root rot, cut back on watering, check the pot's drainage hole to make sure it's not blocked or repot the plant with a fast-draining soil if necessary. A light root pruning can save a slightly over watered Sansevieria.

Propagation - It's easy to start new plants from either the small new growths, called pups, that grow from the base of the plant or even from pieces of the leaves. Place pups or parts of leaves in potting soil, and keep them slightly moist until they develop roots. Give the plant four to six weeks to develop roots, and then begin to water less often.

Winter Dormancy - When the weather begins to turn cold (55 degrees Fahrenheit or less on a consistent basis) and the days get shorter, bring it in the house, reduce watering and let is settle in for a long winter sleep.

Special Notes - Sansevierias are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Typically, ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.