The Encyclopedia of House Plants

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Family: Agavaceae.

Sansevieria trifasciata Common name(s): Mother-in-law's tongue, Snake plant, Bowstring hemp
Sansevieria Genus of about 60 species of stemless, xerophytic rhizomatous, evergreen perennials from dry, rocky habitats in tropical and subtropical Africa, Madagascar, India, Indonesia and South Florida. Sansevieria is an easy-to-grow plant. This plant is known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue in Britain and Snakeskin Plant in the US. It will grow in bright sunchine or shade, withstand dry air, draughts and periods without water, and it rarely needs repotting. It can, however, be quite easily killed by prolonged overwatering in winter and prolonged exposure to near freezing temperatures. Sansevieria
Growing conditions Watering and misting Propagation
Average warmth in summer - minimum 55F in winter.Brightly lit spot. Keep well away from direct sunlight. Keep compost moist at all times but never waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter. Take leaf cuttings in spring or devide plants. Offsprinf from variegated cultivars will lack variegation if raised from leaf cuttings.

User-submitted additions and corrections:

30th May 2006
In the country where I was born it's called the Sable Plant - and I never knew it blooms. Well, today I went to water it and it has flowers on a stem, right in the middle of the plant. The flowers have very fine pettals that curled in, and on them they have drops of clear sap-like liquid.The flowers seem to have parfum as well.. I was trying to find out more about it when I ran into this site...
11th Apr 2008
I rescued a mother-in-law tongue 8 years ago that had been left outside all winter. I repotted and nurtured. Since then, I have split into 4 different plants 3 different times. I had it in fairly cheap 8" plastic pots and a sprout will eventually break through the side of the pot and continue growing. That is when I split it. Several of them have bloomed, but I didn't notice fragrance because they were always outside at the time. They have required very little maintenance.
5th Jul 2008
I have a "Son-In-Law's tongue" plant! Same thing but my Mom changed it! Anyway, mine has bloomed twice. They have the smell of a honeysuckle bush but more stonger.
16th Jul 2008
I have had my plant for 40 years, never had it bloomed until recently. Thought when the bloom shoots started to show and proceed to grow at a very rapid pace that there was something wrong. Very nice to look at and the smell is distinctive. I don't know what I did differently after 40 years to make it bloom but I hope I don't have to wait another 40.
17th Jul 2008
My mom had one of these plants(top left). I went away to college in August. Came back in December and found the plant in the back bedroom where the plant sat unwatered the whole time I was gone. I watered it and believe it or not, this plant grew another three inches while I was home on break. I was truly amazed.
Kentucky, USA
11th Sep 2008
I went to water my Mother-in-plant or Snake plant this afternoon and low and behold...there was a 10" bloom stalk with at least 50 buds on
it. I have had it for 14 years and have given some to my sister and made 2 other house plants out of the original. After reading every one else's comments I realize that these plants do bloom...I can't wait for it to bloom this week...will certainly take I have never seen this before...on of God's little happy surprises.
Arkansas, USA
22nd Sep 2008
I did not know this plant bloomed. But mine did. I could not smell it. It bloomed early summer. Now it has a orange fruit about middle ways down the shoot where th flowers were. Has any one else seen this? can I plant this fruit and grow another plant?
United States
27th Jan 2009
I have one that is 55 years old. It had belonged to my mother and I am not sure how long she had it. When I got it, it was in a small plastic pot and is now in a very large pot. Every time I take some out to transplant, the new transplant gets small purple flowers on a tall stem that have a strong perfume ordor. Mine is about 4 feet tall but is not the varigated type. At times this plant gets very little lite but always seems to do well.
12th Feb 2009
I was walking thru Ikea depressed because I hate shopping (I was with a friend who's a shopping nut) so I picked up this little Mother's In Law plant. It was in okay shape since Ikea doesn't tend to their plants as they should so since it looked as if it needed a friend; I picked it up and carried it throughout the store and I brought it before we left. I came to this site to get some info about it. I've had it two weeks and it's grown almost 3/4 of an inch and it's looking happy now. I've always love plants; got that from my Mom but since I moved a few years ago I gave all of my plants away. Big mistake but, I do believe that all plants or at least 99% of them can produce flowers at times during their life cycle.
United Kingdom
23rd Feb 2009
Just today, I've had to re-pot my Sansevieria due to it toppling over. I've had mine 6 years now and it looks fabulous, I love it. It's a real stand alone architectural, feature plant, well mine is. It gets watered sparingly, hardly ever really and stands about four feet tall. It's in a big clay pot around 25cm high, diameter about 30cm and has pushing 30 upright leaves growing now.
28th Feb 2009
I just found this site and it will be bookmarked. This is great for plant lovers. I rescued my plant from the garbage. There were a few with roots so I took it home and planted it. It has grown up great and I've only had it for about 4 months. When I was watering it the other day I noticed a flower stem, I didnt know they grow flowers until I read everyones comments. Thanks happy growing.
Chuck Edwards
Mich Ottawa Co.USA
1st Apr 2009
When I was 6or 7 years old I injured my right eye and was in hospital for a week. The church we attended at the time gave me a mother-in-laws plant and I promitally dropped it and broke the pot. My mother told me to put it in a glass or vase and fill the vase with water. I did so and the plant remained in that vase until I broke that one when I was 12-13. I put it soil from the yard in pot I found and promptally forgot to water it and all the leaves died. I put what I thought was an empty pot in the laundry room and came out there about a week later and noticed a small, but alive green nub in the middle of the pot!!! I watered it and it came back to life. That mil tongue stayed with me for over 15 years and traveled all over the United States as I was in the Navy. I finally lost it in a divorce. The last time I saw it it was over 3 ft tall in a pot with a diameter of I would say 3ft around and 2 foot tall. I do not now were that pant is now or if it is even alive. I like to think that someone took care of it and it is still living to this day 48 years after I got it in hospital.
Ree Ona
26th Jul 2009
I have had my snake plant for 3 or 4 yrs now. This week I noticed these blooms! I called my mom to ask if she had ever seen such. In all her years of owning them too. She never has! It's a special thing she says. Guess so!!
21st Aug 2009
I've had my MIL tongue over 20 years, neglected it for months on end, repotted it once a long long time ago. The dirt is cracked, crumbly and gross.. yet it survives. And wonder of wonders, this morning there is a small stem with an odd top - a bloom in the making! Since I've never heard of such a thing, it's a delightful surprise. Once the bloom is complete, I'll feel even better about splitting the plant (given to me by my Mother in Law) and give to my new daughter in law!
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