Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > September 2014 > DON'T BE AFRAID OF SNAKES--SNAKE PLANTS, THAT IS!


It seems that people either love ‘em or hate ‘em…Snake Plants.  The haters may be reacting to the “snake” part of the name, as lots of people hate snakes!  The alternative common name, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, is also not very endearing.   Those of us who “love ‘em” appreciate both the easy maintenance and the sculptural, tidy habit of this ubiquitous houseplant.
Sansevierias are native to tropical Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia, and are members of the lily family.  There are at least 130 species and cultivars of sansevieria and 60 or so cultivars of the most commonly produced species, S. trifasciata, the species commonly called snake plant.  Sansevierias are succulent perennial herbs that spread by stout creeping rhizomes and are considered invasive in tropical areas of the globe.  This aggressive, robust habit, however, is what makes them such good houseplants.  They are fast-growing, tolerate a wide range of soils and light exposures, drought tolerant, and long-lived (up to 50 years.)  They are also considered good “air purifiers”, removing toxins commonly found in indoor environments.

For those of us who appreciate snake plants, there are many attractive cultivars available, with variation in leaf shape, color, and variegation.  Snake plants can be placed into three basic groups:  regular or full size, growing to four feet in height; medium size with shorter, wider leaves; and dwarf, birdsnest types.  Taller thinner-leaved S. trifasciata cultivars include ‘Laurentii’, ‘Black Gold’, ‘Bantel’s Sensation’, and ‘Silver Queen’.  While many of these taller snakes start out in dish gardens, they quickly outgrow this situation, and should be potted up into their own containers.
The shorter, fatter-leaved ‘Robusta’, ‘Futura’, or ‘Moonshine’ are less likely to get leggy, especially when grown in lower light.  The short, reflexed leaves of the ‘Hahnii’ birdsnest type snake plants are a little slower-growing, and make attractive, easy-care potted plants for window sill or desk top.
Another popular Sansevieria is S. cylindrical, or “Spear Sansevieria”, with stiff, circular arching leaves tapering to a point.  Hybridizers have produced some new snakes with interesting markings and leaf shapes, like S. ‘Japonesa’ and S. ‘Vittorio’.

Sansevieria will let you know when they need a larger (or sometimes just deeper) pot, as they will either push themselves up out of the container, or their strong rhizomes will break the pot open.  They may also surprise you by producing an erect raceme of small fragrant flowers.  Although these plants are very reliable, almost indestructible, over-potting and exposure to cold temperatures can do them in.      
Posted: 9/3/2014 by Margot | with 1 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
This plant will make your cat's tongue swell up and they will be miserable and cannot eat.
9/11/2014 9:54:31 AM

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