Sansevieria trifasciata: care - A practical guide

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

The plant scientifically known as Sansevieria, and in Spanish as mother-in-law's tongue or tiger's tongue and in English popularly called snake plantIt is from the Liliaceae family, native to Africa, Asia and especially New Guinea. This plant became very popular in the 1930s as a very hardy houseplant. It is a crass plant that tolerates drought and poor care well, the only thing that does not resist is excess water or extreme cold.

In this Green Ecologist article we reveal the Sansevieria Trifasciata care.

Varieties and types of Sansevieria

Within the Sansevierias some are included 60 or 70 species of plants rhizomatous perennials. Its Latin name is due to the Neapolitan prince San Severo, who played a role in the development of natural sciences. In general, its species can be divided into two types of leaves: flat leaves and thick leaves.

Best known sansevierias

  • Sansevieria cylindrica: This variety has leaves that reach up to 1 meter in height. Its flowers are milky white with pink tips that form a racemose inflorescence. In turn, this species includes multiple varieties.
  • Sansevieria trifasciata: it is the best known species. It has flat oval leaves that grow from the root zone. These are usually dark green in color and are separated by light transverse bands. The length of the blade ranges from 30 to 120 cm. And a width of between 2 and 10 cm. The Sansevieria trifasciata It is a plant commonly used for interiors and that stands out for its few pretensions. It is often called a pike tail.
  • Sansevieria laurentii: This species has ivory-colored lateral edges and scented flowers.
  • Sansevieria zeylanica: it has leaves between 30 and 60 cm long with white edges and white flowers that perfume the nocturnal atmosphere.
  • Sansevieria Fernwood 'Mikado' (Sansevieria hybrid): It is a species of succulent plant with round dark green leaves with a mottling similar to Fernwood. As the leaves mature, they curve outward.

Other species of Sansevierias

  • Sansevieria grandis, the largest Sansevieria
  • Sansevieria hyacinthoides or hyacinth
  • Sansevieria dooneri or Dunery
  • Sansevieria liberica or Sansevieria liberiana
  • Sansevieria kirkii or Kirk
  • Sansevieria gracilis or Graceful Sansevieria

Location and climate for Sansevieria trifasciata

This plant is not demanding as to where we are going to place it and, as we will see later, it is popular both indoors and outdoors. Does not require much light, being able to grow without problems in the shade, although if it gets a few hours of direct sunlight a day it will grow stronger and faster.

On the other hand, Sansevieria does not have any problem with high temperatures and tolerates drought well, but does not support cold or excess humidity. Unlike many other plants, if you place it near the radiator at home it will be more than happy. In any case, try to find a place away from the drafts, which does not carry well.

If you grow it in a pot, it is imperative that it has drainage holes and that you change it when the plant has outgrown, which will normally happen every year.

Irrigation of the Sansevieria trifasciata

As with most succulent plants, the important thing here is never to overdo it. If you fall short with the waterings of your Sansevieria you will see that the leaves deflate and dry slightly, but they will recover as soon as you give them water again. If you water it too much, on the other hand, the plant will become noticeably weak and run the risk of being attacked by fungi, which could be fatal. Wait for the substrate to be dry in its first centimeters deep before watering again, especially in cold months.

Here you can read more tips on How to water succulents and When to water plants.

Substrate and compost for Sansevieria trifasciata

Sansevieria, like all plants that do not tolerate waterlogging, needs a light and porous soil or substrate, with a drainage as best as possible. If you prepare a mixture with equal parts coconut fiber and worm humus, you will get a soil that is very rich in nutrients and of great lightness. Add a good handful of perlite and vermiculite and you will also have excellent water retention properties, ensuring that your plant remains in the best condition.

Do it like this, and you will only have to worry about adding some more vermicompost or organic fertilizer when the hot months begin. If you buy prepared fertilizer, use one for green plants or cacti. The years that the Sansevieria has not grown enough to transplant it, remove the first 3 centimeters of substrate from the pot and replace it with a new mixture rich in nutrients.

Caring for Sansevieria trifasciata outdoors

As we have mentioned before, this plant is very grateful and its care is not very complicated. For growing Sansevieria trifasciata outdoors follow these tips:

Light and location

To grow the mother-in-law's tongue plant outdoors, keep in mind that it is not a plant that requires a lot of light, so it can also grow in the shade without suffering. If it is possible that the plant receives some few hours of direct sunlight a day, it will be able to develop stronger and with greener leaves.


Regarding the risks, it must be borne in mind that this plant stores water in its tissues, so it should be watered from time to time, with plenty of time. It is a plant that fears excessive humidity, so the soil between waterings will have to dry out. In case the leaves turn yellow, watering should be reduced. With once a month in winter and autumn and every fortnight in spring it will be enough


The ideal temperature for this plant is between 16ºC and 30ºC, but it is sensitive to temperatures below 14ºC. For this reason, it resists summer well, but in winter it should be avoided that it is at a very low temperature.

Caring for Sansevieria trifasciata indoors

If on the outside it is easy to take care of it, on the inside it is too. Follow these directions about caring for Sansevieria trifasciata indoors:


Since Sansevieria is a warm weather plantHaving it inside the house is a good option to keep it at a good temperature (between 16-21ºC) in the coldest climates. When we have it indoors, it is a light-loving plant, so it should be placed in a well-lit area, but avoiding direct light rays.


In relation to irrigation, as we discussed previously, it must be very moderate, without actually providing it with enough water to rot. If you notice that its leaves are wrinkled, inclined or bent, it should be watered. On the contrary, if they become a mess or are greasy, the waterings should be spaced.

Pot and fertilizer

These plants do not require large amounts of soil, but if we place them in a pot, the length of the leaves must be taken into account and more soil must be added so that they are well supported, as the plant needs a pot with good support, as well as a good drainage. They don't require too much fertilizer, either, although it's okay to apply cactus fertilizer to them once a month, which will make them grow stronger. If the leaves are observed to fall, they should be pruned. You don't have to straighten them, just remove them and remove dirt. It is convenient to transplant them to a larger pot once a year or to one of the same size but renewing part of the soil.

Reproduction of the Sansevieria trifasciata or mother-in-law's tongue

The Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant, tiger's tongue or mother-in-law's tongue can be multiplied by two methods:

  • Play by division: it is the easiest way to spread it. Simply cut the rhizome with a few leaves with a knife. In addition, the suckers that appear next to the base, can be planted in pots to have new specimens. Sansevieria trifasciata, the best known, can only be multiplied by division, since the cuttings cause them to lose their ornamental yellowish margin.
  • Reproduction by cutting pieces of leaf: cut leaves into 5 cm long pieces and let them dry for about a week so that the cuts heal. Grow in a porous substrate rich in nutrients, in a warm place, without neglecting the watering. From its base originate the new stems and roots. You can improve the chances of survival of the new plants by moistening the lower part in rooting hormone, which you can make yourself at home in an ecological way.

If you want to read more articles similar to Sansevieria trifasciata: care, we recommend that you enter our category of Cultivation and care of plants.

You will help the development of the site, sharing the page with your friends
This page in other languages: