The story of the Sansevieria
The Sansevieria, also known as the Mother-in-Law plant is one of the easiest houseplants to care for, needing little attention, much like cacti.
The plant is part of the Asparagaceae family, originating from the dry regions of southern Africa, Madagascar and Southern Asia, where it has to survive in the hot desert. Sansevieria is named after the 18th century Prince Raimondo di Sangro from San Severo in Italy.
The plant has rhizomes from which thick upward-pointing sword-shaped leaves with succulent properties emerge. It’s the spike at the top of the leaf that is said to resemble a snake, or the sharp tongue of a critical mother-in-law.
Another nickname for the plant is Viper’s Bowstring due to the fact the strong fibres in the plant were once used as strings for bows.
As a whole the range of Sansevierias are slow growing, with some varieties growing up to 50cm tall whilst others remain compact and grow no higher than 30cm. We believe that despite their slow growing nature they are a worthwhile plant to add to your home.
The range of Sansevierias has expanded in recent years with new species and cultivars. The best-known is Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, the Sansevieria with long green leaves with a golden yellow edge. Within the trifasciata species there are multiple cultivars that differ in terms of leaf colour (green, silver or gold variegated) or in terms of the length of the leaves.
Cilindrica species is characterised by its long round green or grey leaves that come in many in either fan shape or braided.
Kirkii species has much smaller, thinner green leaves and also comes in various forms.
- The soil can be left to dry out between waterings, even more so in the winter. The plant prefers to be too dry than too wet and when watering make sure to not water into the rosette. The leave swill rot if the plant is over watered.
- The succulent leaves mean that Sansevieria can cope well with dry air so there’s no need to mist the plants.
- Give the plant enough light, ideally bright, filtered light but the plant can tolerate partial light conditions making the plant useful for those darker spaces in the home.
- The underground rhizome is incredibly strong and can distort the (plastic) inner pot and crack the cachepot. The Sansevieria must be repotted before it gets to that stage.
- The Sansevieria has air-purifying properties and ensures better humidity.
- Sansevieria are toxic to pets so keep them away from cats or dogs.
Text courtesy of The Plant Council Holland.
Images courtesy of The Joy of Plants.co.uk