Almost everyone is familiar with the upright, thick, uniquely coloured leaves of the Snake plant, also referred to as the Mother-in-law’s Tongue plant. This plant, native to Nigeria, is a hardy plant suitable for lower light areas of the office or home. It is available in a number of varieties exhibiting a wide range of colourful markings on the leaves. ‘Zeylanica’ has many shades of dark green. ‘Laurentii’ displays bold yellow stripes on the leaf margins, and ‘Moonshine’ has pale green, almost solid colour leaves. ‘Cylindrica’ is a very unique variety with cylindrical, striated leaves. It is a favourite of designers, but difficult to grow. The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue as a single specimen in a tall, graceful pot gives a very architectural appearance. The small dwarf varieties work well as understory plantings. They can be used as ground cover, or border plants in large planters. We often use Snake plants in long linear planters as space dividers in offices. Repeating rows of table-top Sansevieria give depth and interest to a large open space.
This plant can tolerate fairly low light levels, although it does require light for a few hours every day. It needs very little water, and does best when allowed to dry out thoroughly between waterings. It is a slow growing plant that does not need to be pruned often. Remove dead leaves promptly, and cut any excessively tall leaves at soil level.
Although a rare event, the Snake plant may occasionally produce flowers. The flowers appear on short spikes with small, fragrant, cream-coloured flowers along the length of the spikes. This plant is hardy and resistant to most disease and pests. Mealy bug can infest stressed plants. The most common problem we encounter is over-watering. The Snake plant is very prone to root rot.
Remember to fertilize monthly during the spring, summer and fall.