Complete Sansevieria Guide + FAQs

Types of Sansevieria

All varieties of Sansevieria have been brought under the genus of Dracaena, following molecular phylogenetic studies - however, this varied collection of plants is still commonly known by its original name. There are approximately 70 species of this plant known at present, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise as Sansevieria types can look remarkably different from one another. 

 

Root Houseplant sells the following species of Sansevieria:

 

  1. Sansevieria zeylanica

  2. Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii

  3. Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Diamond’

  4. Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Superba’

  5. Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’

  6. Sansevieria masoniana

  7. Sansevieria hahnii

Find out more about the Sansevieria genus and how each plant differs below, as well as tips on where to position your Sansevieria, tips on how to properly care for your Sansevieria, other useful facts and FAQs.

Growing to a maximum height of between 75cm-100cm, this striking plant can be easily spotted by its tough hardy, sword-like leaves which point straight upwards.

 

These green leaves often feature attractive dark variegation and can also be prone to slight browning, which only serves to lend them more character.

 
 

Native to Nigeria, this plant is often given the common name of ‘Mother-in-laws tongue’ thanks to its signature long, wavy leaves.

 

This plant is a perfect match for beginners as it can grow in a wide variety of conditions, and rarely requires repotting. Its leaves feature dark-green striped variegation, as well as yellow stripes along the edges. 

 

The dark black colouring of this species of Sansevieria makes it stand out from its relatives.

 

This plant is particularly easy to care for, and is capable of withstanding bright sunshine, shade, draughts and extended periods with no water. With that being said, overwatering and near-freezing conditions will still kill it off.

 

Originally found in Nigeria and tropical Africa, the black colouring of this particular species is offset with distinctive yellow edges.

 

Similar to the ‘Black Diamond’ variation, this plant is a hardy sort which will only be killed off by the most careless of house plant keepers. 

 

Named for the almost silvery sheen that adorns the leaves of this plant, this West African species of Sansevieria is another striking member of the family which is suitable for almost any place in the house.

 

This plant is used to arid conditions, so no misting is required to keep it healthy.

 

Sansevieria masoniana

One strong, single-bladed leaf sets Sansevieria masoniana apart from the other members of the family.

 

Whilst this plant may not have the same vibrant variegation of its siblings, however, what it lacks for in colour it makes up in unique style. This single blade can grow up to 4m tall, making it a real talking point, once it reaches maturity.

 

Sansevieria hahnii is sometimes known as ‘Bird’s Nest Snake Plant’ for its elegant rosette arrangement of variegated leaves.

 

The attractive grey-green striped variegations will be more prominent if this plant is kept in bright, indirect light, however, like its siblings, this plant will tolerate lower-light conditions too. The ultimate height of this plant is around 30cm, making it a good choice for those short on vertical space.

 

How to Care for Sansevieria

 

Does Sansevieria need sun?

Sansevieria needs sun to thrive properly, like most other houseplants, however they can often survive in shady or even dim conditions if need be.

Do snake plants need a lot of light?

Snake plants don’t need a great deal of light to grow, however, they will likely grow quicker if they are exposed to more indirect light. 

Can snake plants survive without sunlight?

Snake plants can survive without sunlight for weeks at a time, however, they should still be given some time in the sunlight in order to thrive. 

Is Sansevieria an indoor plant?

Sansevieria is an ideal indoor plant thanks to its hardy nature and its ability to grow in shady or dark places. They can also withstand draughts and dry air.

Can a snake plant stay outside?

Snake plants should not be kept outside in the UK. Although these plants can withstand the occasional draught, they are not suited to being kept outside in the UK’s unpredictable weather.

Where should I keep my snake plant at home?

When keeping a snake plant at home, find a spot that receives bright, indirect light to ensure that the plant can continue to grow at a natural pace. If you’re happy to let it grow slowly, or don’t have such a spot available, then you can keep it in a shady corner or low-light area if you wish. 

Can snake plant be kept in the bedroom?

A snake plant is a good houseplant to keep in a bedroom, as it is capable of surviving in low-light conditions and has also been noted as a natural air purifier. Sansevieria converts CO2 into oxygen during the night, purifying the air in your bedroom as you sleep.

How do you know when Sansevieria needs water?

You’ll know when your Sansevieria needs watering when the top inch of its soil is dry to the touch.

How long can snake plants go without water?

Snake plants can go without water for up to a few weeks, depending on the conditions that they are growing in. 

How often should I water Sansevieria?

You should water Sansevieria less frequently in the winter compared to the summer, as during this time the plant is much more susceptible to over-watering. 

What is the best fertilizer for snake plant?

A balanced liquid fertilizer is the best product for a snake plant, however it is not an essential part of caring for this plant. 

What does an overwatered snake plant look like?

An overwatered snake plant often has root-rot, which manifests as brown or mushy roots. Another tell-tale sign is browning or wilting leaves, drooping leaves or yellowing leaves. 

How do you fix an overwatered snake plant?

Fix an overwatered snake plant by giving it time to properly dry out. If you’ve left water standing in the pot, then pour this off and allow to dry off until half the potting mix is dry to the touch. You can resume normal watering once yellowing leaves or wilting has stopped. 

Why is my Sansevieria dying?

Root rot is the most common reason for Sansevieria to appear that it’s dying, however, pest infestations, fungal infections and extreme temperature fluctuations can also contribute to this. 

How do you save a dying Sansevieria?

Save a dying Sansevieria by first understanding the root of its suffering. Check the leaves for pest, inspect the roots for root rot and consider the space that you’re keeping it, and how the ambient temperature or light conditions could change throughout the day. Your treatment should be guided by an informed diagnosis.

Useful facts about Sansevieria

 

Is the snake plant bad luck?

Snake plants have been mistakenly attributed as contributing to ‘bad’ energy in a room by some Feng Shui practitioners. Whilst the plant is known for its ‘aggressive energy’, due to its spiky appearance, it is said to have ‘strong protective energies’ that make it useful for offices or homes.

How long can a snake plant live?

Snake plants can live as long as 20 to 25 years if given the correct care, however, the average life span for these plants is closer 5 to 10 years. 

Do snake plants grow fast?

Snake plants do not grow fast, compared to other houseplants. In indoor conditions, where they are given moderate indirect light throughout the day the plant grows at a steady rate. The snake plant can benefit from bright indirect light, which can encourage faster growth.

Do snake plants have babies?

Snake plants can produce babies (or offsets as they’re more commonly known), these are new plants which grow at the base of the existing plant. These offsets can be separated from the mother plant and grown in separate pots.

Where does Sansevieria look good?

 

Sansevierias are uniformly attractive plants, however, there are certain parts of the home where they can shine brightest, depending on the species that you choose to purchase. 

 

For example, Sansevieria trifasciata zeylanica’s spiky leaves and height makes it a good candidate for brightening up the corner of a kitchen or conservatory. Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii can grow up to 1 metre tall, so it makes sense to keep this plant on the floor. 

 

Meanwhile, Sansevieria masoniana arrives just 30cm tall (including the pot) so will look good on a coffee table for years, until it grows to a height where it would be more suitable to be placed on the floor. 

FAQs

 

What is Sansevieria good for?

Sansevieria species (specifically Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii') can clean the air in their surroundings, this was proven by NASA’s Clean Air Study which tested a variety of houseplants’ abilities to clean the air of known toxins, such as benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

Can I split a snake plant?

Splitting a snake plant (or dividing, as it’s more commonly known) is a simple process which involves cutting taking the mother plant from its pot and using shears or a saw to cut the rhizome base into two sections. Each section should have three rhizomes and a healthy leaf so that it can recover and grow independently once repotted in fresh potting soil.    

Why is my snake plant splitting?

Snake plants leaves can split if they are damaged by pets, mishandled by their owners, exposed to extreme temperatures, attacked by pests, underfed or overwatered. You should investigate their living environment to discover the root of the issue before formulating a remedy.

Do snake plants like small pots?

Snake plants can grow in small pots, as they have shallow root systems, however as they grow upwards, they can be susceptible to falling over. Choose a heavy pot to avoid the plant toppling over as it grows.

  

Do snake plants like to be root bound?

Snake plants prefer to grow slightly root bound (or pot bound), meaning that the plant is happy to grow whilst its roots collect within the pot. 

How do you know when to repot a snake plant?

Repot a snake plant every 3-6 years, depending on the size of the pot it's growing in and the size of the plant itself. Avoid repotting during the winter or early spring, as you’ll want the plant to be in active growth mode when it’s transplanted to a new pot. 

How do I replant Sansevieria?

Replanting (or repotting) Sansevieria is a simple process which involves transplanting the plant from the old pot into a new pot that is 1-2 inches wider. You should ensure that you use fresh potting medium of a similar composition to what the plant is used to. Remove the plant from its original plant and use a sterile knife to cut away mushy or dark roots, as well as any large roots that have wrapped around the root ball. Repot the plant at the same depth as its old pot and ensure its leaves are well supported before watering.

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