Sansevieria trifasciata
Common Name: viper's bowstring hemp 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Nigeria
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers indoors
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 10-12. In St. Louis, this is an easy-to-grow houseplant that tolerates a wide range of cultural and environmental conditions. It prefers warm, bright locations, but tolerates some shade. Protect from hot afternoon sun. Best grown in a well-draining potting mix. Water regularly during the growing season, with significantly reduced watering from fall to late winter. Do not pour water on the center of the rosette. Clay pots that are wider than they are high are often used to make sure this tall and narrow plant is stable and does not topple over. Indoor plants may be placed in shady outside locations in summer. Propagate by leaf cuttings or dividing offsets.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sansevieria trifasciata, commonly called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, is native to tropical western Africa. It is a stemless evergreen perennial that, with proper care, will last for many years. In its native habitat, plant foliage may rise to as much as 4’ tall, but is often smaller (to 2’ tall) on indoor plants. Erect, fleshy, sharply-pointed, sword-shaped leaves are deep green with light gray-green horizontal stripes. Leaves rise stiffly in a rosette from a thick rhizome. Small, fragrant, greenish-white flowers bloom on mature plants in spring, followed by orange berries. Flowers and fruit rarely appear on indoor plants.

Genus name honors an 18th-century Italian patron of horticulture.

Problems

Overwatering often causes root rot. Watch for mealybugs and spider mites.

Garden Uses

Good low-maintenance indoor plant.