How to care for Sansevieria trifasciata - Mother-in-law's Tongue

    How to care for Sansevieria trifasciata - Mother-in-law's Tongue

    Snake Plant – Mother in Law’s Tongue

    It’s easy to grow as an indoor plant, Sansevieria trifasciata adds a strong architectural look to the home and cleans the air, commonly called the ‘Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tounge. This plant has recently been renamed Dracaena trifasciata however is primarily referred to using the old nomenclature.

    As they thrive in low light they grow well indoors, and if you happen to be going away for a few weeks, they will survive without you.

    As for drought, low light and insect pests, they are just as hardy as the cast iron plant and that is known as the cast iron plant. This is just one of a number of many Sansevieria varieties available for sale.


    How to Grow the Snake Plant.

    This is a plant that requires excellent drainage, so use an open free draining growing medium, such as orchid bark/perlite/peat moss/sand mix:

    1. Plant in a container not much larger than the rootball of the plant itself.
    2. Use an open free draining potting soil or compost.
    3. Water well once after planting.
    4. Do not water again until the growing medium is dry.
    5. Fertilise in spring with a slow release fertiliser. Wait until the plant needs watering, fertilise and water in well.
    6. Keep the plant in bright filtered light for best results.

    Fertilise with a general purpose slow release fertiliser in spring, a 6 month type will do. You do not need to fertilise twice a year.

    In terms of light, these plants will grow in full sun or part shade, try for 6 hours of good filtered light a day as a minimum.

    Watering Sansevieria trifasciata

    This is the most important care factor. As a rule you will only need to water once every 6 weeks, although this depends on where you are growing it. In a warm heated position indoors, you may need to water every 3 weeks as the heating drys the air and the soil.

    Always allow the soil to dry between watering and never let the plant sit in a saucer of water.

    Should you mist spray your Snake Plant ? The simple answer is no. In fact most succulents should never be mist sprayed. One exception is some of the Lithops.

    Common problems

    • They are best grown in filtered or indirect light, full sun can cause leaf burn.
    • In very dark lighting the foliage can begin to go pale in colour.
    • Watering should be kept to a minimum. Overwatering can cause the leaves to go floppy or fall over. On the other hand, a lack of water will eventually cause the leaves to turn yellow.

    Overwatering recovery

    If the plant is over watered it can usually be saved.

    1. You need to remove the plant from the potting soil and remove the soil from the roots.
    2. Any parts of the root system that are rotting need to be cut away.
    3. Leave the plant in a dry position overnight to allow the roots and stem to dry.
    4. Repot in a free draining potting mix that is fairly dry and do not water in.

    Other problems

    • Leaves Turning Brown. This is usually caused by overwatering and therefore root rot. Remove the plant from the potting mix, allow to dry for 3 – 4 days and repot.
    • Leaf Tips turning brown or black. This is usually caused by over fertilisation.
    • Soft or Mushy Leaves. Again overwatering and root rot.
    • Curling leaves. Rare, but caused by under watering. The leaves curl up to conserve water.


    Damaged (or torn) snake plant leaves

    The following are 4 things you can do with damaged or broken snake plant leaves.


    1. Do nothing and let the plant heal itself

    You can cut off dead or damaged leaves if you get tired of looking at them, but it's not necessary. The plant will heal itself over time and any damaged or broken leaves will die and fall off the plant.

    However, if the snake plant is badly damaged, this natural healing process can take a long time. (months).

    If you don't want to see constantly damaged or broken snake plant leaves, you can use one of the following methods.

    Even if the snake plant has damaged Sanseveria (snake plant) leaves through caused by a pest or disease, it is best to cut off damaged leaves. By cutting off affected leaves, you can prevent the pest or disease from spreading further.


    2. Only cut off damaged parts

    Damaged leaves of the snake plant are unsightly, but they can also cause more stress to the plant.

    Pruning away damaged parts can be a good way to make your plant look better and encourage it to produce new, healthier leaves.


    3. Cut off any damaged leaves

    Trimming can be a necessary part of the care process for your snake plant, even when it is healthy. This controls the size of the plant. If the plant isn't healthy, trimming away dead leaves can improve its overall health.

    First cut around the edge of the plant. Use a sharp knife and cut close to the bottom line. Hold the leaves up and apply some downward pressure with a very sharp blade or knife. Keep the knife parallel to the ground to make the cutting easier.

    The leaves can be tough, so apply firm downward pressure to cut each leaf.

    Be sure to remove any damaged leaves by working from the outside toward the center of the plant.

    You don't want to cut the area in the center of the plant Foliage as this may result in excess moisture or other damage to the plant.


    4. Use broken or damaged leaves to propagate

    Snake plants are very easy to propagate which is really fun. You can easily make more of these beautiful plants once you know how to perform this simple process, which you'll find below.



    These are some of the easiest plants to propagate, even with dead leaves that have been cut off.

    How to propagate your snake plant:

    Step 1: Make sure the leaves are not infected with a disease or pest. Look for unusual colors, soft parts, and tiny bugs. You just want to propagate a healthy snake plant.

    Withered leaves can be propagated, but leaves affected by pests or diseases are not ideal for propagation.

    Step 2: Choose a tall container tall enough to hold a plant leaf. If possible, choose a healthy leaf that is clean and fresh. It is best to use one that has just been cut from the mother plant. Place the cut end of the lead in a small amount of water to cover the bottom of the leaf.

    Step 3: Make sure the leaf is upright in the pot as allowed stands to grow.

    You want to provide the right kind of light and temperature for cutting. If you've used peat or moss, you'll have better luck keeping the leaf upright in the pot.

    Step 4: The plant should begin rooting after about two weeks but may take 3-4 to establish decent roots for repotting! You should give it a few weeks to become established before passing it on to a friend or family member.

    If you propagate them for your own use, you can create a lovely little forest of snake plants to enjoy.

    Back to blog
    1 of 4