Sanseveria - Plant of the Month
Although known by some pretty harsh nicknames (mother in law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, snake plant etc…), the Sanseveria is probably one of the most adaptable and resilient plants around. Their structured, upright form looks great in a minimal space for a simple, clean look, as well as lending themselves to being grouped with other plants to create contrasting colour and texture.
As striking and easy to look after as they are, their main appeal is in their power to drastically improve air quality. Sanseveria effectively cleanse the air of harmful toxins found inside the home and increase oxygen levels.
Sanseveria tend to prefer bright light and warmth but are amenable to light or shade. Over watering, especially in winter, can be lethal for these plants so a warm spot will help your plant to dry out, which is a necessity between waterings. In the spring and summer you can use liquid fertiliser once a month to enhance growth but it’s only advised to re pot these plants every couple of years in the spring as the roots are healthiest when crowded. Instead, you can re dress the top of the soil with fresh compost when needed.
Propagation of a Sanseveria can be done by separation (taking the current plant out and dividing it into smaller plants and re potting) or from leaf cuttings. This is best done in Spring at the beginning of the growing season.
To propagate from leaf cuttings you must pick a young, healthy, fully grown leaf.
Select a pot with sufficient drainage and fill with a free draining compost (cactus soil is good for this), and dampen the surface with a mister.
Cut the Sanseveria leaf horizontally into small pieces (about 5cm each) and insert the lower edge into the soil about 2cm. It’s important to keep the cuttings facing the direction it was growing on the plant.
Water regularly to keep the soil moist and, as this is a tropical plant, try and keep the cuttings in high humidity and bright but indirect light until plantlets form. Once this has happened you can remove the plants from high humidity (take off any covering if you have done this to make a humid environment) and allow them to grow on until large enough to pot up individually.