Sansevieria (Dracaena) trifasciata 

(san-se-vear' ee-ah tri-fas-cee-ah' tah, dra-CEE-nah)

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

Family: Asparagaceae (Asparagus), subfamily Nolinoideae--formerly Ruscaceae family

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. In 2017, based on molecular phylogeny, it was moved to the Dracaena genus yet it is usually still known by the former genus.

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:S. cylindrica-  (now officially Dracaena angolensis)-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.

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