Sansevieria: Houseplant of the Month November 2020

The story of the Sansevieria
The Sansevieria is one of the easiest houseplants. The plant has rhizomes from which thick upward-pointing sword-shaped leaves with succulent properties emerge. The plant is also known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. It’s the spike at the top of the leaf that is said to resemble a snake, or the sharp tongue of a critical mother-in-law.  

Origin of the Sansevieria
The plant originates from the dry regions of southern Africa and Asia, where it has to survive in the hot desert. Sansevieria is named after the 18th century Prince Raimondo di Sangro from San Severo in Italy. Since around 2004 the supply of traditional Sansevieria trifasciata has been supplemented with cylindrica. In addition to the natural upright growth habit, this variety is also offered in more creative versions, such as braided or in a fan shape. These often come from Thailand. 

What to look for when buying Sansevieria

  • Size: Look carefully at the pot size and the thickness and length of the leaves. On some plants the pot is somewhat distorted by the enormous strength of the underground rhizomes. This can sometimes even cause the pots to tear. In that case repotting is an urgent necessity.
  • Leaves: On some varieties the way in which the leaves are trained or braided is also crucial. 
  • Health: Check that the plants are free of scale insects and mealybugs, suberisation (on older plants), leaf tips and that the roots are healthy. 
  • Rot: If Sansevierias have been kept too wet for a long time they can suffer from rot. So check that they are stable in the pot

Sansevieria range
The range of Sansevierias has expanded in recent years with new species and cultivars. The best-known is Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, the Sansevieria with long green leaves with a golden yellow edge. Within the trifasciata species there are multiple cultivars that differ in terms of leaf colour (green, silver or gold variegated) or in terms of the length of the leaves. The cilindrica species is characterised by its long round leaves. They come in many sizes in a fan shape or braided. The leaves are grey or green. The kirkii species has much smaller, thinner green leaves. This species also comes in various forms. 

Care tips for customers 
Sansevieria is an easy care plant. 

  • The soil can be left to dry out between waterings. Even more so in the winter. The plant prefers to be too dry than too wet. Do not water into the rosette. 
  • The succulent leaves mean that Sansevieria can cope well with dry air. 
  • Give the plant enough light- it can even cope with full sun. 
  • The plant does not require a hibernation period. 
  • The underground rhizome is incredibly strong and can distort the (plastic) inner pot and crack the cachepot. The Sansevieria must be repotted before it gets to that stage.  
  • The Sansevieria has air-purifying properties and ensures better humidity. This improves the conditions in the home, which is helpful information to share with your customers.

Sales and display tips for the Sansevieria
We are increasingly seeking out nature and tranquillity. Sansevieria fits perfectly with this with its simple clear shape. This can be emphasised by placing the plant in a matt pot, in white or a pale natural shade. Surprisingly enough the effect is actually reinforced if the Sansevieria is displayed as a ‘family’ in the same (style of) pots. 

Images of the Sansevieria
You can download and use the images below free of charge if you credit
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Twitter: @thejoyofplants

Sansevieria posters
You can download the posters using the links below. 

Sansevieria poster A1

Sansevieria poster A3


Sansevieria: the Houseplant of the Month for November
Sansevieria: the Houseplant of the Month for November
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