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Sansevierias: An Easy Care Houseplant

Sansevierias are tough as nails and about as easy a houseplant as you’ll ever come across. Their common names are bound to bring a smile (or snicker) to your face: Mother In Law Tongue, Snake Plant and Devils’ Tongue.

Obviously, they are not soft and fuzzy so the look may not appeal to you but their maintenance, or lack thereof, certainly will.  I was an interior landscaper for a few years and these plants could take every condition a typical office has to offer – lack of natural light, dry air, no fresh air coming in through the windows, heating, air conditioning and little or no pampering.

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Sansevierias combine well with other plants, especially succulents.

Alone or in a grouping they can be considered accent plants and give a modern, architectural feel.

Their stiff leaves are particularly suited to highly trafficked environments such as shopping mall seating areas and building lobbies. They grow skyward and come in a wide variety of leaf sizes and patterns as you can see in the photo below taken at Island View Nursery.

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Mine grow outdoors here in Santa Barbara (the photos below are a couple of the varieties I have) but today I’m going to give some words of advice on how to care for them as houseplants.

These are great plants if you travel a lot or want vegetation without too much commitment. There are a couple of videos at the end of this post where I also talk about this if you prefer to listen rather than read.

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Watering

Easy does it.  Sansevierias not only store water in their leaves and rhizomatic roots but are native to hot, dry environments.  A good watering once a month will do it unless your home is highly heated then twice will do it.  They don’t like to sit in water so make the pot and/or saucer are dry.

Exposure

Bright light is best. I’ve found them to take low light situations just fine but every once in a while they appreciate some natural light. No hot south-facing windows though – they’ll burn.

Humidity

They love dry air.  Unlike other houseplants which might require misting or pebbles in saucers filled with water, these babies can take all the dryness our interiors offer them.

Fertilizing

None needed.  If you feel you must, then use a liquid organic fertilizer for houseplants diluted to half strength.

Update: Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

Pruning

Again, none needed. And, the leaves don’t fall off so you won’t have a mess to clean up.

Repotting

Only necessary after the grow pot cracks. They can actually stay in the same pot for years but if the need arises, then use a loose organic potting soil. Cactus mix does the trick too.

Grooming

The only thing you’ll want to do is wipe the dust and buildup off the leaves twice a year.

Added Bonus

They are air purifiers.   Toxins are absorbed into their leaves and oxygen released.   We can all breathe easier!

In terms of propagating them, it couldn’t be easier.

The first photo below shows a rhizome spreading – that little plant has propagated itself. The other photo not only shows a rhizome I’ve cut off with new roots emerging from the baby plant but the other way I propagate them – by leaf cutting.

I cut at an angle and let the leaf heal over for a couple of weeks. I then plant it directly in the ground or into a pot with a loose potting mix. Keep it on the dry side and there you have it – a new plant.

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Simple as can be.  Does anyone else out there find Sansevierias, aka Snake Plants or Mother In Law Tongue, to be the easiest houseplants to grow and keep thriving on our planet?

Videos

You might also enjoy:

Sansevierias!

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