The snake plant goes by many names. In different areas it is known as mother-in-law’s tongue, Saint George’s sword, and viper’s bowstring hemp. The general name of the plant is Sansevieria trifasciata, and it comes from the Asparagacea family. This tough plant is popular for its stiff and tough foliage, making the snake plant care a rather easy activity to do.
Getting to Know Sansevieria’s Characteristic
The snake plant has upright, stiff leaves that stand around 1 – 8 feet tall. What makes this plant interesting is the pattern on its foliage. The most common snake plant has dark green horizontal stripes on the leaves, while the mother-in-law’s tongue variety has a yellow edge around it. Most of the varieties are easy to grow inside a pot, but you can still opt for planting it directly on the ground.
This perennial plant grows in the form of a rosette which depends on rhizome as its roots. In addition, Sansevieria is a succulent plant, which gives it the ability to retain water during the dry season. Unlike other green plants, it photosynthesizes using the process of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism. Through this process, it exchanges gases only at night to prevent excessive evaporation in the daytime.
Besides from being an exotic houseplant, the leaves are also a basic material for making bowstring—considering its strong and durable fibers. Keeping the plant would be an excellent addition to your ornamental garden. However, you need to pay attention to this snake plant care especially if you also have pets like a cat or dog. The snake plant contains high saponins that would be very much poisonous if being eaten by pets.
Buying and Keeping It on Your House
It is rather easy to find popular snake plant varieties at the store. When picking it, make sure you choose the one with dark green foliage. It means that the plant is healthy and not entering its weakening phase. To start with it, use a terracotta pot for the best result if you don’t want to plant it on the ground.
Snake plant Care Tips
Though snake plant has been known as one of the easiest plants to take care of, there are some things that you need to bear in mind. The right temperature, light, air circulation, and watering tricks should be given to the plant to keep it healthy and live longer. Not to mention that this particular plant also has to be protected from attacking pests.
As the plant has characteristics of a succulent, it grows well on warm condition. The perfect temperature to set on snake plant care is around 12˚ C – 29˚ C. It is not recommended to keep the plant under 10˚ C as it doesn’t tolerate freezing temperature.
Being able to live under warm weather does not mean that the snake plant is tolerant with direct sunlight. It is best to keep the plant under the shade where it can enjoy a steady warm temperature.
The snake plant does not include a particular humidity level because it can tolerate any air moisture as long as you keep watch on the watering schedule. This means the plant would live perfectly fine outdoors or indoors.
This mother-in-law plant originates from arid lands of Congo, giving it the ability to survive in a dry and hot season. To avoid the plant from rotting, make sure you don’t overwater it. Signs that your plant already needs watering are when the topsoil becomes pale, and it tends to be dry when touched. The interval between watering might be around 2 – 6 weeks depending on the season—in winter and humid weather the interval may be longer.
Pests and Mites
Though the plant has a high resistance to pests and mites, it can still be attacked by mealybugs and spider mites. Mealybugs and spider mites live on the leaves and suck the sap out of it. If left untreated, the leaves would be wounded and eventually sheds. To deal with this problem, dab alcohol around the infected area or wash the leaves with a wet cloth.
Soil and Fertilizer
It is best to use a mix of potting soil and cactus soil to give the plant well drainage. That soil combination would not retain too much water that can cause root rot in snake plant care. As an easy-to-maintain houseplant, the snake plant does not need a regular fertilizing. Twice a year is considered enough, using an organic houseplant food that you can find easily at the store.
Propagating Snake Plant or the Sansevieria Trifasciata
There are at least three methods to snake plant propagation. However, if you are growing it in your garden, the rhizome root would spread underground by itself—creating new rosettes of snake plant.
Cutting the Rhizome
The rhizome roots would appear slightly under the ground when it is ready to be propagated. You can easily pick it up and cut near the bulged shoots that are ready to form the basic rosettes. Place each part on different pots to give them space to grow.
Dividing the Rosettes
Some snake plants already grow in groups. If you take it off the ground, you can see that one group of plants may consist of several rosettes. Examine it and see where each rosette stands and are able to be placed on separate pots.
Cutting the Leaves
Do you want to get your snake plant to propagate early? You can cut up some of its leaves and plant it on another pot independently. It would take 2 – 3 weeks for the roots to establish. However, this repotting snake plant method is not highly recommended since it would diminish the variegation. The color variation on the foliage may disappear on the next generations of the plant.
Why Snake plant is The Ideal Houseplant
There are many reasons why snake plant is the right plant to have around the house. First, snake plant care is easy to do especially for those who want to keep the house looking fresh without a lot of hassle. The adequate amount of oxygen that is produced is also one of the snake plant benefits to consider. Having it around the house would definitely make the air a lot healthier.
Last but not least, the unique appearance of the snake plant would make a great display inside or outside of the house. Its upright architecture is often used as a divider or natural fencing system on the garden.