Sansevieria trifasciata 

(san-se-vear' ee-ah tri-fas-cee-ah' tah)

Common name: Snake Plant, Mother-in-law's Tongue, Bowstring Hemp

Family: Agavaceae, Agave

Height x width: 6-48" x 10-36" depending on cultivar

Foliage: stiff, fleshy, linear to broadly ovate, upright leaves, produced in clumps or rosettes

Flowers: racemes or panicles of nocturnally fragrant creamy flowers rich with nectar, tubular, 6-lobed

Light: bright to low

Temperature: warm to cool

Watering: allow to dry between waterings

Fertility: low

Humidity: average, very tolerant of dry

Soil: well-drained

Pests and Problems: mealybugs, spider mites; leaves falling over or corky growths on leaves indicate excess wet soil

Growth habit, uses: upright effect, low light, poor conditions, neglect

Other interest: native to dry rocky habitats of west tropical Africa; named after 18th century Prince Sanseviero

Other culture: perhaps easiest, most adaptable and tolerant houseplant, withstands most conditions except freezing and overwatering

Propagation: divide suckers, root leaf sections (not variegated leaves which regrow green)

Related species:cylindrica--erect, cylindrical, dark green upright leaves with sharply pointed tips


In addition to the species, those marked * are most common.

'Golden Hahnii'--dwarf rosettes of broad leaves to 8" long with golden yellow vertical stripes

*'Hahnii'--Bird's Nest, dwarf rosettes of broad leaves to 10" long with darker green crossbands

*'Laurentii'--upright, light and dark green horizontal marbling, broad yellow margins

'Silver Hahnii'-- dwarf rosettes of broad leaves to 10" long with silver bands

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS121, Indoor Plants.

Return to  Perry's Perennial Pages | PSS121 course