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Sansevierias!

 I love these sensational, architectural and tough as nail plants which thrive on neglect!  And to add to their appeal, they are considered to have good Feng Shui because their leaves point straight up towards the heavens.   Using those same Feng Shui principles they are often placed at the entrance of the home to welcome in good fortune and send the evil spirits flying away.   The common names I learned for Sansevieria are Snake Plant and Mother-In-Law Tongue both of which conjure up an instant image (good or bad – you decide!).  They make excellent houseplants because they can handle the dry air often found in interiors.  As a matter of fact, they are one plant which is considered an air  purifier because they not only add oxygen but they also remove the toxins from the air.

“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” – Erma Bombeck

The one way to cause their demise is by overwatering – go easy and infrequently with the watering can.  Never let the roots sit in water either or you’ll be bidding them adieu.   They prefer bright indirect or moderate light (their form and color will maintain better that way) however, in my days as an interiorscaper we would install them in low lit office corners and they’d be fine.  They really do not need any fertilization but during the growing season would appreciate a couple drinks of Moo Poo Tea – a gentle, all natural soil conditioner my houseplants get 2 or 3 times a year.

My Sansevierias all grow outdoors here in Santa Barbara.   The ones pictured above are underplanting to a Mediterranean Fan Palm which conceals the unsightly gas meters.

The view from the other side.

Last winter we had a lot of rain in a short period of time in December and for the first time,  the Sansevierias yellowed and some rotted out.  I let them be until spring and removed all the mushy foliage.  They are coming back but slowly –  “Sansevieria Hill” is not nearly as dense as it used to be.

Sansevieria “Moonshine” completely succumbed to the winter rains because it was newly planted.  I salvaged the surviving leaves (these plants are stemless by the way), hardened them off for 3 months and planted them back in the same spot.

They travel by rhizomes and wander out onto the gravel area.  I let them go because they are not in a heavily trafficked area where they could be crunched underfoot.  The roots are very strong and can crack a pot – actually, most I have bought have cracked their grow pots.  They are one plant that easily transplants and adjusts to its new home even though it has been potbound.

Did you know that Sansevierias flower?   The flowers, which appear on mine in the late winter/early spring,  are not very showy  nor produced in great abundance but they are sweetly fragrant.

“When one of my plants die, I die a little inside, too.” – Linda Solegato

Fortunately Sansevierias are easy to propagate by rhizome or leaf cutting so mine carry on!

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