Sansevieria AKA Devil’s Tongue / Bow String Hemp / Mother-In-Law’s Tongue

Encompassing a huge variety of quirky and attractive houseplants, the Sansevieria genus is a houseplant superstar. Even if you consider yourself a bit of a plant newbie, these hardy growers can flourish under unreliable conditions and will forgive you for missing the odd watering session. Offering a dizzying range of leaf shapes, colours and sizes, you could fill a room with Sansevieria and still have no two the same in your collection. Read on to learn more about how to get the best out of your snake-plant purchase! 

hardy house plants

Where Does It Come From?

The tag ‘sansevieria’ covers an enormous genus of flowering plants all native to the steamy climates of Africa, South Asia and the island of Madagascar. The incredible diversity of the ecosystems contained within this territory is reflected in the plants themselves. Depending on which variety you go for, your Sansevieria could range from a spiky succulent desert plant, to lush and leafy forest-dwelling climber. 

Why Should I Get One?

  • Famed as a fantastic air-purifying houseplant, many Sansevieria species have been proven to remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and all sorts of other nasty little toxins from the air. Experiments conducted on space stations (yes, literally in outer space) have proven that one snake-plant per 100-feet-squared is enough to improve indoor air quality!
  • A natural resistance to disease and pests within the genus also means that these attractive little plants really are a star pick for any new plant-parents looking to avoid overly intense plant-care regimes.

How Big Can It Grow? 

As we’ve already touched upon, how big your plant can grow varies hugely depending on exactly which species you opt for. The spikier snake-plants have long, cylindrical leaves that, if looked after well, can easily reach the height of a human, even in a small or medium sized pot. Some varieties, (such as the Honey Bunny!) Have more rounded, flatter leaves that grow in tidy little rosettes. These more petite varieties are easy to keep neat and small, making the perfect addition to a self-contained terrarium.

Where Should I Keep It? 

Snake-plants tend to prosper best in positions where they are drenched in bright, filtered light. However, not ones to be fussy, many species also grow to their full potential in partial or low light conditions making them an ideal choice for hallways or offices. Due to their exotic origins, they are a little more tolerant of direct light conditions than many other common houseplants too. Ultimately, as long as they’re somewhere with a warm ambient temperature, they should not give you any problems. 

The leaves of most Sansevieria subspecies are toxic to both animals and humans, so these plants should be kept well out of the way of any pets and children in the home. 

How Often Should I Water It? 

Don’t test this if you can help it, but most Sansevieria are pretty indestructible. Across most common varieties kept as houseplants in the UK, the vast majority of them only need to be watered once every few weeks. Around a small cup for each watering should be more than enough. Owing to the blistering heat of their drought-prone native countries, these plants tend not to be too demanding when it comes to hydration. This being said, be careful not to love your snake-plant to death – overwatering can quickly upset these plants and cause leaves to droop and discolour. For optimum health, a dose of a generic houseplant feed every few months can help to ensure your plants have access to key nutrients. 

There’s just so much to enjoy about being the proud owner of a snake-plant. From the boundless variety of leaf-patterns, shapes and tones; to the exotic and often tongue-in-cheek names of the various species in the genus (Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, we’re looking at you). Adaptable, easy-going and spectacularly unfussy; whether you’re planning to include a Sansevieria in a terrarium or use a larger one to brighten up your living space, you cannot go wrong. 


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