It has been said by some that “Sansevierias are the ugliest plants known to man.” You know who you are. But hopefully, I’ve changed your mind. I love Sansevierias! There are so many different species and cultivars. There are some new cultivars that have come out in the last couple of years, and I was the first in line to buy them. I think the reason they have received such a bad reputation is that they are usually seen in a dark corner, covered with dust, and usually flopping over from too much water and not enough sun. A well grown Sansevieria is a different picture. They have stripes, spots, variegations, and their spiky character is outstanding. I hope I can change your mind, as well.
The Sansevieria, a succulent, comes from Eastern South Africa, where it grows in arid grasslands. It was named after Raimond de Sansgrio, Prince of Sanseviero. There are upright kinds called Mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant, and bowstring hemp, as some are used for fiber. There are also shorter rosette forming types called bird’s nest Sansevieria. ‘Golden Hahnii’ is one of my favorites.
Sansevierias are known as one of the hardiest, impossible-to-kill, easy houseplants. They are usually stuck in the darkest corner of the house and expected to just survive. But if you place your Sansevieria in bright light, you would be amazed how well they will grow. This is especially true for some of the more variegated types which actually need more light to keep their variegation. Example: I had one in the corner of my kitchen. It got bright light but not direct light. It started to get thin and floppy. I decided to move it into my sunroom where it does get some direct light in the afternoon. The plant started adding leaves and it is full and beautiful now. Remember, these plants are from South Africa. They grow in the grasslands, so have some full sun. The more sun they get, the better they will look and grow. Sansevierias grow from underground rhizomes. If given good light, Sansevierias can grow so prolificly, the rhizomes can break the pot they are growing in.
Another great thing about giving them bright light is the flowers they send up.
What’s even better? The flowers are sweetly scented!
How do you grow this beautiful plant? Make sure that the soil you use has excellent drainage. If Sansevierias are over watered, they rot and flop over. Speaking from experience, I will tell you that rotting Sansevierias SMELL HORRIFIC! Yuck! I’m just letting you know. Do not over water them! (Note: Remember. Always water every plant until water runs out the bottom. Never let the plant sit in water. Then, don’t water the plant again until it needs it. In the case of the Sansevieria, it may be months before you water it again, depending on the light and temperature. Always check your plant before just watering it willy nilly or on a schedule.) Of course, if they are in really bright light, they will need more water than if they are stuck in a dark corner. This is usually true of all plants. Also, keep your Sansevierias warm. They would rather not be in temperatures lower than 50 degrees. They especially hate to be cold and wet. See. Plants are more like us than we know. Nobody likes to be wet and cold. Of course, we probably won’t rot and fall over, but there aren’t any guarantees.
Sansevierias are even used in containers outside for the summer. What a great “thriller” for the middle of your arrangement.
This ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ is planted in the ground in the middle of a flower bed at Kingwood Center in Mansfield, OH.
How about this living wall?
This is an amazing plant family and I hope I’ve changed your mind if you also thought it was the ugliest, most boring houseplant ever. Just don’t relegate it to a dark, dusty corner. It certainly deserves better.