Mother In Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria) — The Ultimate Guide

This is another simple yet elegant-looking succulent plant. It is called Sansevieria. Here’s how this magnificent plant can be grown in the comfort of your homes.

The Mother in Law’s Tongue (Sanseveria) is an intriguing and stately plant. The most common name is Mother-In-Law’s Tongue because its leaves have sharp edges – hurtful like words. This plant keeps the air clean and filtered because of its air-purifying abilities; removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from the air. It also makes a lovely-looking houseplant.

Mother In Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria): An Overview

Sansevierias are native to Africa, Madagascar, and Southern Asia. They come in many variants but only a few of them managed to enter the popular world of collectors. It includes Sansevieria Cylindrica, Snakey Sansevieria, and Sansevieria Fernwood Punk.

They are called many names but the most common one is the Mother-In-Law’s Tongue because of their sharp edges that can be hurtful just like the words of a Mother-In-Law.

Ideally, they grow around 50 cm tall for larger plants and 35 cm tall for smaller plants granted that the right conditions are met.

Obviously, it will vary from one place to another given the environmental conditions that might be in favor or against the plant.

More importantly, the different variants of Sansevieria grow in different sizes; the Snakey Sansevieria can grow for around 60 cm tall while the Sansevieria Fernwood Punk can only grow around 25 to 30 cm tall.

Nevertheless, they are beautiful and unique on their own and it is up to the preference of growers and collectors which one best matches their needs.

If you want a tabletop Sansevieria, you may use the Sansevieria Fernwood Punk. If you want to have a bigger image of a plant in your living room, you might choose either Snakey Sansevieria or Sansevieria Cylindrica.

More importantly, this amazing plant can keep the air clean and filtered because of its air-purifying abilities that stunned many scientists and collectors alike.

They can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. This makes them a great houseplant, but they can also be grown outdoors.

How to Propagate Sansevieria

To plant a Sansevieria, you must perform the process of propagation. There are three methods to propagate a Sansevieria: leaf cuttings in water, leaf cuttings in soil, and division of rhizomes.

Each method has its advantage and disadvantages, so continue reading to find out which one you like.

For Leaf Cuttings in Water:

• Cut A Healthy Leaf from A Mother Plant

Using a sharp and sterile scissor, cut a firm and healthy leaf near the base of the mother plant. Make an upside-down V-cut at the bottom. It will look like the leaf cuttings have two tails.

• Place The Cuttings in A Clean Jar with Freshwater

It is vital to use a clean jar and freshwater to avoid contaminating the leaf cuttings or else they will die.

The water should be a half-inch above the V-cut because the root will grow from the wounded area. The V-cut serves the purpose of giving more space to grow inside the jar.

• Transplant The Leaf Cuttings After 8 Weeks

At 3 to 5 weeks, the cuttings will formally develop roots and for additional 2 to 3 weeks, tiny pups will arise. From there, you can start transplanting them into the soil.

Propagating leaf cuttings in water is the easiest way among the three methods. You only must put them in water and witness the majestic root growth of the cuttings.

However, the downside of propagating in water is that some variants such as Sansevieria Moonshine and Sansevieria Laurentii or Gold Flame lose their color and revert to the common green color.

For Leaf Cuttings in Soil:

• Cut A Healthy Leaf from A Mother Plant

Here, you don’t have to make an upside-down V-cut from the leaf. Cut the leaf from the base of the plant. Use a sterile scissor or a sharp knife and wear gloves for safety.

• Allow The Leaf Cuttings to Dry or Callous

Leave the cuttings in an area with partial shade and proper aeration for 1 to 2 days to dry or callous. This will protect them from getting contaminated when planted in the soil.

• Plant The Leaf Cuttings Using a Well-Draining Soil

Once the leaf cuttings have been calloused, you can now plant them in individual containers using well-draining soil.

Put a little amount of water to set everything and wait for the soil to dry before watering again. Do not soak them in wet otherwise, they will rot and kill the plant.

Propagating in the soil is time-efficient because you don’t have to transfer them in soil when rooted compared to water propagation.

Also, they look lovely and cute especially when you combine different varieties in one pot. However, it has the same problem with water propagation as variants with margins or stripes will revert to common green.

For Division of Rhizomes:

• Take An Established Mother Plant and Divide It

Dividing rhizomes is the process wherein the mother plant is broken down into pieces while keeping the root and the grown intact. Be gentle as you divide the plant to avoid causing too much damage to the roots

• Plant The Divided Parts in Individual Containers

The divided rhizomes will develop new growth and planting them in individual containers allow them to have more space to grow. Again, only use well-draining soil.

Propagation through dividing rhizomes is the best way to preserve the margins and stripes of Sansevierias. However, you must do this to one of the bigger plants.

How to Plant Sansevieria Indoors and Outdoors

Another advantage of Sansevieria is their ability to grow both outdoors and indoors. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, you can grow them outdoors all year long. You can also grow them indoors if you are unfortunately located outside such a hardiness zone.

For Outdoor Planting:

• Plant Them in A Container with Well-Draining Soil

It is recommended to plant them in a container so you can easily transfer them when the conditions outside are hostile to them.

The soil should have an excellent drainage system because soaking the plant in wet will result to root rot and kill the plant.

• Place Them Under Full Sun

Sansevieria prefers full sun and rather thrive in dry conditions instead of wet environments. This ability makes it a great choice for the desert landscape.

They can grow in moderate sunlight but anything below it will cause the plant to have weak spindly leaves.

• Divide The Plant When It Gets Invasive

Once the plant has established, they are more likely to overpopulate in one pot hence you must divide the rhizomes and plant them in individual pots. The space will then encourage new growth.

For Indoor Planting:

• Plant Them in A Container Using well-draining Soil

You can use a cactus potting mix combined with perlite or coarse sand for an improved drainage system.

• Place Them in A Spot with Good Sunlight 

Place the pot near a south-facing window and rotate the plant occasionally for equal distribution of sunlight throughout the plant.

They can also tolerate low sunlight but if there is no sunlight passing inside your home especially in winter, you must use grow light to supplement their lighting needs.

• Do Not Overwater 

Indoor Sansevieria are most likely susceptible to root rot especially if they receive an inadequate amount of sunlight.

The moisture in the soil will last long and watering them with the same schedule repeatedly will soak them. Hence, check the soil first if it is dry or not before watering again.

• Keep Them in A Warm Room

Sansevieria are tropical plants which means they are not cold hardy and sensitive to cold temperatures. Keep them in an area with a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will result in the death of the plant.

Final Thoughts

Typically, Sansevieria is known for their stiff and sword-like leaves growing in an upright position thus symbolizing a real sword.

However, they are not threatening like a real sword can be. They make a great choice for modern and contemporary interior designs due to their seamless natural look.

Moreover, these architectural and sturdy plants are unique in such a way that they perform a certain type of photosynthesis at night allowing them to release oxygen throughout the night.

It can be surprising and interesting at the same time knowing that most plants only release oxygen during the day.

If you are looking for a new plant that is both elegant and easy to care for, a Sansevieria plant is the best solution. What makes this plant popular is its ability to adapt to different growing conditions.

If the right conditions are met, you can continue to have this plant for many years and even grow more copies of it. We love the way it always looks so elegant, stylish, graceful, and sophisticated.

The origin of the word Sanseveria is from the 18th century new Latin. The plant was named after Raimondo di Sangro (1710–71), an Italian scholar and Prince of San Severo!

If plants had the lives we have, we’d see it as red-carpet royalty!

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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