Sansevieria Plant


A Sansevieria plant, also called a Snake plant, Mother in Law’s Tongue, Bowstring Hemp, and Devil’s Tongue, was originally found growing in Africa and southern Asia. This is a hardy, almost impossible to kill houseplant that thrives on neglect.  Sansevieria plants can grow in bright light or shade, are not harmed by low humidity or cold drafts, rarely need to be repotted, and are drought resistant. The only way to kill a sansevieria is by over watering or keeping it in temperatures 40°F ( 4.4°C) or less for aa extended period of time

Description of a Sansevieria Plant

A Sansevieria plant can be used as a table plant when small, or a stately floor plant as it mature.  The leaves are arranged and grow in a rosette pattern. Sansevieria plants developed hard, leathery leaves to adapt to the dry, arid regions where they were originally found growing. The thick, succulent leaves store water and the thick leaf cuticles help to reduce the loss of moisture. The flowers of a sansevieria  are usually greenish-white and grow atop a long, leafless stem. Flowering usually occurs during the summer or fall.

Popular Sansevieria Varieties

1. S. Trifasciata is the most popular variety sold. It has long, sword-like, succulent leaves that grow about 2-3ft tall. The many trifasciata types include the S. Futuro            Robusta” that has grayish green muted patterns on the leaves; and the S. laurentii with variegated leaves that have bright golden edges;

2. S. Zelanica is a bit shorter than the trifasciata and has dark green leaves with creamy white horizontal pattern.

3.  S. Hahnii varieties have thick, compact, very short (4”) rosettes of fleshy leaves. The Golden Hahnii and the Silver Hahnii are two popular varieties.

4.  S. Cylindrica is a stemless plant with stiff, tall, narrow, grey-green leaves that have  horizontal, dark green stripes.

5.  S. Braided Cylindrica is created by gently braiding the tall, narrow stems of S. Cylindrica and then gathering the tops of the stems together with a decorative tie.



S. Gold Hahnii                  S. Cylindrica      S. Zelanica                Braided Cylindrica         S.  Hahnii


A sansevieria plant is one of those plants that can only be killed with too much kindness and attention. It is perfect for someone who loves having plants in their home, but doesn’t have the time (or interest) to constantly care for them. The only thing to remember is do not over water!

These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. Read more about common houseplants that are dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants, 

Plant Care


How much light does a sansevieria need: This plant can be placed anywhere in a room, from the darkest corner to the brightest window. The better the light, the faster a sansevieria plant grows. The more coloration in the leaves, the more light the plant needs.


How to water a sansevieria plant: Over-watering is the main reason a sansevieria plant dies. Allow the soil to practically dry out before you water. During the winter, in a low light area, a sansevieria plant may need water only once every month or two.


How to feed a sansevieria plant: Fertilize monthly when the plant is actively growing with a cactus plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never use a fertilizer that contains nitrates.


Best temperature for a sansevieria plant: Sansevierias grow well in warm temperatures between 60°F (15.5°C) and 85° F (29°C)


Does a sansevieria plant need high humidity: Low humidity or basic household humidity is fine for a sansevieria plant.


Does a sansevieria plant flower: When the conditions are right, a sansevieria plant may produce flowers every few years during the spring and summer. Flower production occurs when the plant is in bright light and experiencing some stress; stress might be severely dry soil or being root-bound in a small pot. The flowers appear as clusters on long spikes. Sansevieria flowers are fragrant but not particularly pretty.


Sansevieria plant pests: Mealy bugs and spider mites can be a problem. Fortunately they are easily seen on a sansevieria plant and can be quickly treated. Read more about how to identify and treat spider mites and mealy bugs in the Glossary of the website.


Sansevieria plant diseases: Red leaf spot disease causes red spots on the plant leaves. Remove any diseased leaves and spray the plant with a fungicide. Keep the leaves dry and provide good air circulation to prevent red leaf spot disease from reinfecting the plant. Over- watering a sansevieria results in bacterial root rot. Replace the wet soil with dry Sansevieria plant diseases: Red leaf spot disease causes reddish brown spots on the leaves. Remove the diseased leaves, spray the plant with a fungicide, provide good air circulation, and keep the leaves dry. Root rot due to over watering is the main reason a sansevieria plant dies. Get rid of all of the wet soil. Allow the plant to sit out bare root over night. Repot in dry loose soil, and water less. soil and reduce the amount of water you are giving the plant.


Best soil for a sansevieria plant: Use a good, rich, organic soil that drains quickly. If the soil isn’t draining well and appears heavy and clay-like, add some builders sand.

Pot Size

What size pot does a sansevieria plant need: Keep a sansevieria root bound in a small pot with drip holes in the bottom. This helps a sansevieria flower more often and prevents over watering.


How to prune a sansevieria plant: Use a sharp, sterile knife to remove leaves that are too tall or damaged in any way. Be careful not to damage the smaller leaves that are still growing.


How to propagate a sansevieria plant: Plant division, leaf cuttings, and using the offsets that grow around the base of the plant are the best propagation methods. When using cuttings or offsets, always allow the cut ends to dry out for a few days before planting it.

Clean Air Plant

Is a sansevieria a clean air plant: All varieties of a sansevieria are excellent clean air plants. They have been shown to remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.

Poisonous Plant Info

Is a sansevieria plant poisonous: A sansevieria is a mildly poisonous plant with a #1 level toxicity. It is toxic to dogs, cats, and small children.


Do Sansevieria Plants Ever Flower?

A Sansevieria Plant, in bright light and under stressful conditions (pot-bound or very dry), may produce flowers every few years. The Sansevieria Plant sends out long spikes filled with numerous small fragrant white or cream-colored flowers. These flowers won’t slow the plants growth or shape, so enjoy them.

Why Are the Leaves on My Sansevieria Plant Brown and Mushy at the Base and Fall Off When I Touch Them?

Brown mushy leaves on a Sansevieria Plant means you over-watering your Plant. Remove all of the damaged leaves and re-pot the plant into a smaller container with new DRY soil. Place your Sansevieria in a warm sunny location and don’t water until the soil is totally dry.

How Do I Propagate My Mother in Law’s Tongue Plant?

There are a couple of ways to propagate a Mother in Law’s Tongue. The easiest way is by plant division. You can also use leaf cuttings to propagate a Sansevieria Plant. When using leaf cuttings, cut some leaves into 4” segments, allow the cut ends to dry out for a few days, then plant two or three segments per small pot.

Why Are Sansevieria Plants Called Mother in Law’s Tongue Plants?

Sansevierias are sometimes referred to as a ” Mother in Law’s Tongue Plant” because the leaves are long, sharp, and pointed. If you happen to nibble on one of the leaves, your mouth may become numb. People who don’t get along with their Mother- in- Law find a connection with this description.