Sanseveria

Mother in Law's Tongue Plant

There aren't many plants whose common names have such negative connotations as the Sanseveria. Snake plant, mother in law's tongue plant, and devil's tongue are all nicknames this plant picked up because it's leaves are long, tough, and sharp.

Sanseveria 'Moonshine'.

It's not really fair because this is a very easy-going plant.

Though it is most often grown as houseplant, it can be grown outside in the ground as far north as zone 9a. In very cold winters it will suffer some leaf damage. Just remove the "fried" leaves in the spring and you won't even be able to tell there was a frost.

The other thing you need to know before you put a snake plant in the ground is that it will spread. It grows from a rhizome. If you plant one, you will soon have a clump. Unchecked, the clump will just keep growing.

This is easily managed. The roots don't go that deep, so it's easy to dig up and divide--or just to remove some in order to restrict it to a certain area.

As a houseplant it grows much more slowly. It will live in the same pot for many years before needing to be divided.

The evergreen, strap-like leaves of mother in law's tongue are often mottled or striped. There are several different types:

  • S. cylindrica - A fan-shaped succulent with plain green leaves formed like cylinders.

  • Sanseveria bacularis - whose bright green leaves are even more tightly rolled than those of S. cylindrica.

  • S. 'Black Coral' - whose narrow, dark green leaves are marked with wavy gray lines is shown below. If you look closely, you can see a pup coming up a few inches from the main clump. Also, there is a tiny flower stalk emerging. The photo at the top of the page is of the cultivar 'Moonshine'.
  • Sanseveria 'Black Coral'. All are equally easy to grow.

    Sanseveria is grown for its dramatic foliage. It can flower under ideal conditions. The tiny white blooms are fragrant if not showy. In fact, I didn't know that a snake plant growing inside my screen porch was in bloom until I smelled the perfume.

    This plant will grow in any type of soil and is not picky about its food or water. Too much sun gives it a bleached out look, so keep it in the shade.

    Snake plant is not vulnerable to diseases or insects.




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