Sansevieria makes an excellent choice for houseplants. They are perfect holiday gifts for someone living in an apartment or condominium, or those who like a bit of greenery but not the fuss of routine plant care. It might be fun to build a small gift collection of these plants by scouting out new kinds at Roanoke Kroger’s, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Townside Gardens and Greenbrier Nurseries intermittently have some of the more unusual cultivars in stock. There are plenty of local sources from which to choose.
Kinds of Sansevieria
There are 130 to 140 species and cultivars of Sansevieria. This means that there are numerous kinds from which to choose. Some display colorful foliage, variegation, or yellow or silvery-white stripes on leaves. There are two easy-to-find types called:
- “Mother–in–Law’s Tongue,” featuring yellow-bordered leaves, and
- “Snake Plant,” with green-banded leaves.
Most Sansevieria are grouped into one of three different size groups:
- normal or full size,
- medium size with wide leaves, and
- dwarf bird’s-nest size.
Tall and medium–sized decorative pots of Sansevieria grow well on floors while containers of the dwarf, bird’s–nest size make excellent tabletop displays.
The commonly available Sansevieria trifasciata formerly was used to yield a kind of hemp, a strong plant fiber used to make bowstrings. There are also over 60 decorative cultivars of Sansevieria trifasciata that include:
- ‘Hahnii Swirls’,
- ‘Laurentii’ – one of the tallest cultivars,
- ‘Silbersee’, and
- ‘Silver Hahnii’.
Sansevieria tolerates low light levels and irregular watering; during winter, they need only one watering every couple of months. However, they easily rot if overwatered. They will flower when exposed to bright light and routine light watering. These plants prefer warm temperatures and suffer when temperatures drop below 50ºF. They grow well in loose, well-drained potting mixtures or in sandier cactus–type soils. Feed plants with a mild cactus fertilizer during the summer growing season; do not fertilize in the winter.
“Plants, Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments,” a 25–year study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), found that this plant is one of the best for improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing commonly emitted household toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde.
How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office and Growing Clean Water : Nature’s Solution to Water Pollution, written by the study’s lead scientist B. C. Wolverton, are still available from booksellers.