How to care
for your Sansevieria
Sansevieria, likely one of the first house plants you’ll encounter in people’s windowless bathrooms, is native to the deserts of Africa and Southern Asia. There are around 70 species of Sansevieria, also commonly known as “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “snake plant” due to their shape, margin of its leaves, resilience, and their ability to make you feel like a terrible plant child when you neglect them, don’t call them, or forget to water them. They’re also one of the few plants that release oxygen at night rather than in the day – so maybe keep one on your nightstand instead of your aromatherapy essential oils.
Sansevierias make for the perfect gift for those with no plant experience – they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. FYI – the ones seen in the market are often the trifasciata species because they grow much faster compared to their non-commercially grown species. So, if you’re on a mission to catch all 70 of ‘em like you do Pokémon, then you’re in for a real treat – just look both ways before crossing the street, thx!
Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Twisted Sister’
Care Level : Beginner, Expert or Somewhere in the middle.
Coming from arid climates and naturally harsh conditions – they’re the best and easiest house plants for beginners (or anyone). They’re the Keanu Reeves of plants – incredibly famous for their chill, laisse-faire low-maintenance. Easy to grow and nearly indestructible unless you throw it against a wall (we don’t recommend that) – they thrive in both bright light and dark corners of your home.
Sansevierias do best in moderate to bright indirect light, but they’ll also do fine in low light areas or in the full blast of the sun. Ideally, we’d recommend bright light since it’ll grow faster and bigger that way. We did say near-indestructible, but tell-tale signs of its kryptonite-poisoning is when the leaves start to look sad and droopy (needs more light) or thinning, blackening, browning and/or crispy tips (needs less light)
Water once every 2 weeks during the summer and once every 6-8 weeks during the winter. Water only when the soil is thoroughly dry. To check, drive a wooden stick carefully into the soil and pull it out – if there’s dirt/sand/potting mix stuck to it then hold off on watering. If it comes out clear, feel free to water it or leave it alone for another day or two, if you’re the overwatering type (we’re looking at you). Try to avoid getting the leaves wet and give them a good wipe with a damp cloth when it starts to collect dust.
Sansevierias do not require any extra humidity, so no need to concern yourself over something so feckless as humidity! One of the Snake plants’ superpower is that they store extra water in their leaves, stems, and roots – making them thrive in drier environments.
Sansevierias can withstand quite a bit – their ideal growth temperature is between 21 and 32 °C. Just keep them away from any cold drafts.
Sansevierias’ are mildly toxic to pets because of the saponins it contains. Done Googling saponin? Should they chew on a leaf, it can cause nausea and vomiting – but if your pets are smart – they won’t do it a second time. If they aren’t, then you should probably keep it out of their reach.
Other fun facts:
- Snake plants are unique for their look: upright, stiff and sword-like structure. We’re surprised they haven’t landed on the cover of Architectural Digest yet since they’re often paired with modern interior décor and are an easy way to brighten up dark corners of your home or office.
- Sansevieria uses a Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) process of photosynthesis. Feel free to Google that one too. CAM plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night, unlike most plants that release oxygen only during the day.
- Putting about 9 Sansevierias’ per 100 square meters purifies the air significantly – deep, calming and clearing breaths around Snake Plants are recommended.
- They’re often associated with good feng shui as a sign of good luck, prosperity and protection.
- This plant has some fun, some biblical and some misogynistic nicknames: "mother-in-law's tongue", "Saint George's sword", "Devil's tongue", "snake plant" and “viper’s bowstring hemp” – the latter more utility-based since its plant fibers were used to make bow strings.
- Sansevieria was named by the Italian botanist Vincenzo Petagna after the scientist Raimondo di Sangro, who also happened to be the prince of Sanseviero (now the city Sanse Vero). History!
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