Also known as Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law’s tongue, or Bowstring Hemp, sansevieria varietals have been common houseplants across the world for centuries. The plants, predominantly native to Africa and southern Asia, have been popular in the west since at least the 18th century. NASA has even sent sansevieria into space due to its extreme hardiness and air purification capabilities.
Sansevieria are hardy specimens that are tolerant of a more diverse array of conditions than almost any other houseplant. They are slow growers that thrive in bright light, but will subsist in low light conditions. Sansevieria can even survive off of fluorescent light alone. When placing your Sansevieria, ensure it’s not in the direct path of any air vents and try to choose a spot that receives bright, indirect light. They appreciate warmth, so make sure they’re not placed in a room susceptible to temperature drops.
Sansevieria are called Mother in Law’s Tongues because they’re sharp and will hurt you when you don’t expect it.
Sansevieria are an ideal plant for the neglectful or beginner gardener. The plants require little attention but are extremely sensitive to overwatering. It is always safer to err on the side of too little water rather than too much; a plant may recover from dehydration, but it cannot recover from rot. Sansevieria like dry soil and will rot when too much moisture is present. If soil is dry and beginning to pull away from the planter walls and the sansevieria leaves are beginning to wrinkle, it is time to water.
For a large plant, use only about 1/2 cup of water every few weeks. For a small plant, let it drink until water comes out of the catchment tray, give it a few minutes, and then soak up the excess water. Do not pour water on the leaves, instead water around the base of the plant. Once you get to know your plant and it has acclimated to its new environment, you should be able to get a sense for when it is in need of a drink. Timing for watering your sansevieria will vary depending on sun exposure, general humidity and the season. Less water is required in the darker winter months than in the summer growing season.