Sansevieria,Mother-in-Law's Tongue


Sansevieria, the Air Purifier Succulent.

Mohter-in-law's tongue

Even since  we were kids, we had been familiar to see Sansevieria everywhere, the boring blade-like succulent that usually humbly grew  in a crowded pot or unexpectedly spread wildly in our patio under less care and attention.  It is so easy to grow that in Ausralia, S. trifasciata is even currently considered a weed.  Not only neglected, this plant is also given dreadful names,   “Snake Plant”,  which is due to  its variegated scale-motif colors of dark green, light green, white and yellow,  and  another horrible - but more accepted- name,  ” Mohter-in-law’s Tongue”, which is named after its bladelike shape leaves.

Sansevieria as Air Filter.

But this humble plant regain its popularity in 1999,  when after a 25-year research, NASA revealed that Sansevieria has an excellent capability of absorbing 107 unknown air pollutant including carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide.   Another study by Wolverton Environmental Service found that Sansevieria, the Mohter-in-law’s Tongue, absorbs formaldehyde, chloroform, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene. Thus Sansevieria does the job of purifying the indoor air.

There are about 15 plants that NASA recommended as pollutant absorber plants, but Sansevieria is apparently to be the most ideal, as this plant is easy to grow, has a  long life  time with excellent capacity to absorb many household toxic airborne pollutants and convert them to harmless substances. A study find out that Sansevieria can absorb up to 80%  air pollutant. Putting 2 potted mature Sansevieria can clean the air pollution of a 100 sqft room. Another virtue of Sansevieria is it also has  CAM metabolism (crasulaceaen acid metabolism);   release oxygen to the air at night, despite of consuming it like other plants commonly do.  This makes Sansevieria ideal to be used as indoor plant, as a natural way to fight the Sick Building Syndrome.

Considering the kind of toxic airborne substances  this Mohter-in-law’s Tongue can absorb, by using Sansevieria as indoor plant you will be saved from wide range of health risks such as,  irritation on skin and eyes, dizziness, weakness, euphoria, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory diseases, tremors, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, paralysis and unconsciousness.

Many proved that Sansevieria does not only absorb the indoor pollutants, it also eliminate bad odor. So in case you buy new furniture still with strong adhesive smell, or you just painted the wall, or your room constantly smells bad, 2 pots of  mature Sansevieria probably can  free you from suffering undesired odor.

How to grow Sansevieria.

Sansevieria trifasciata is a species of Sansevieria, native to tropical west Africa from Nigeria east to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are around 130-140 species and cultivars of Sansevierias. Many of the cultivars are variegated forms and there are over 60 cultivars of Sansevieria trifasciata alone (Wikipedia).  Sansevieria, the Snake Plant, the Mohter-in-law’s Tongue, is a very tough, durable and easy to grow plant with high tolerance of low light, rare watering and poor soil conditions, that make it ideal for busy people or anyone who tends to neglect his plants. This plant is also ideal to be caltivated in the area under water crisis condition. However it will not endure cold or frost and not suitable for outdoor growing in the area that is exclusive of USDA zone 10+.   Generally Sansevieria thrives best  at 55 to 75 F degrees.

It is so easy to plant Sansevieria, that once you plant it in compost soil - whether in pot or in ground -, you will  see it thrive well and start sprouting new shoots soon. However if you want the best appearance of the long leaves coloration, position the plant under light exposure. It is often said that, as occurs with other succulent family, the main problem in  Sansevieria cultivation is overwatering, so be sure to have a well drainage soil and moderate watering to keep the roots from being rotten. Water only once or twice a week during winter.

Propagation of Sansevieria.

sansevieria seeds

The most common propagation of  Sansevieria is  by dividing the rhizome. Lift the plant, find rhizome with new shoot and remove it by cutting through the flesh between the new tip and the parent plant. Than plant the new cutting in a different pot or ground filled with compost . Snake plant can also be propagated from seed, but this will take a longer time and need more care. Most types of Sanseviera can also be reproduced by leaf-cuttings, but this won’t work with the variegated forms.

The problem in Sansevieria Cultivation.

The early sign of rot roof is the base part of the leaf becomes soften and can easily detach.  If find your sanseviera appearing this sign,  lift it from the soil. Remove the spoiled root and all rotten stems, then wash the plant, especially the bottom part to clean up any bacteria or germination left from the rot. Left the plant dry by its own and you can re-plant it again in fresh compost.

Sansevieria is widely known as a heat-loving plant that can easy get rot if  being overwatered. In winter they are best left dry, but in warmer climate, water will not cause any problem to this plant.  In my tropical area, Sansevieria is even commonly put in a vase, grown  with just water !  We particularly  put the vase in the living room, in the office, and other places that we cannot avoid smokers. It probably can thrive the same way in your area. All you need is some know-how to avoid  the plant get rot.


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One Response to “Sansevieria.”

  • Chung Hornshaw says:

    Not to be in the know most of the time, I tend to hate posts about this topic increasingly more but since you are writing it in style also as in your own way, i gotta say this really is really 1 of those great post to bear in mind

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