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Mother In Laws Tongue

Picture of mother in laws tongue

The sansevieria trifasciata picked up the name mother in laws tongue from the sharpness of the evergreen sword like leaves that grow in an upward fashion. As mentioned above this plant is a flowering type, however, grown indoors it's fairly hard to encourage flowers (not impossible).

Varieties: There is a number of these succulent type varieties available that includes, golden edged leaves, white edged and the green and grayish mottled type. The golden edged leaf S. trifasciata laurentii is the most common of these.

Flowering: Small greenish white flowers can appear once this species matures in age. This seems as though it happens by luck rather than effort for some growers. Keeping to the correct conditions gives the plant a higher chance of buds and then flowers appearing.

Foliage: The tall looking leathery upright leaves is what makes this succulent visually appealing rather than the flowers that may appear. The leaves are fleshy that sit within a rosette arrangement and can grow up to 3ft tall.

Air purifitying: While all plants purify air-borne toxins the snake plant is among the top plant's tested and added to a list by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for removing, benzene, formaldehyde and other harmful toxins.

Poisonous for pets: If cats or dogs ingest parts of this plant it can cause them to feel unwell, start vomiting or have diarrhoea. They are not highly toxic but still can cause uncomfortable symptoms.


Origin: Western Africa. Names: Mother in law's tongue and snake plant (common). Sansevieria trifasciata (botanical/scientific). Max Growth (approx): Height 30 in (70 cm). Poisonous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs.
sansevieria trifasciata picture

Mother In Laws Tongue Care

Temperature: Average warmth is fine of approximately 60-75°F (15-24°C) and no lower than 50°F (10°C). Light: The mother in laws tongue is well known for coping with direct sun and low light conditions, although bright light conditions with some sun light and shade is preferred. Watering: Because this plant is a succulent it stores water within its foliage, so it is not necessary to keep the soil damp. Water from spring to fall when the soil becomes dry to the touch and during the winter only once a month. Be careful not to over water as this can cause the root and base of the plant to rot. Soil: I would just use a common well draining cactus and succulent potting mix available from all garden stores. Re-Potting: The snake plant does not enjoy being re-potted very often, so re-pot only when the pot cracks from growth. They're best potted within a clay pot that can crack once maximum growth space within the pot is used. Fertilizer: During the main growing season (spring - fall) feed with a diluted cactus and succulent fertilizer once a month. Humidity: Average house humidity is advised - but this plant can tolerate dry air conditions and drafts. Propagation: Propagate by division when its re-potting time or when you see enough plant growth. You may also remove offsets that appear near the base of the plant or propagate 2 inch leaf tip cuttings. Dividing the plant seems to be the most successful approach. Note: Handle this plant with gloves just in case the plant causes skin irritation.

Potential Problem

Base rot: The most common cause here is over watering in cold conditions which may first be identified by the leaves yellowing or drooping. You will need to remove the most affected parts or discard the whole plant if all the base is completely affected.

If you know you have not over watered check the temperature of the room because it may just be below 50°F (10°C)and causing the rot. Remember to take cuttings for propagation if this happens - unfortunately .

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