Not Your Mother-in-Law's Snake Plant

The Rare Blooms Keep Coming

Sansevieria (technically now Dracaena, see footnote), sometimes called mother-in-law's tongue (for reasons we refuse to delve into), aka Snake Plants, have been popular for decades and for good reason. These plants are work horses - they're great for new plant parents who don't quite know what they're doing, can survive neglect in a dark corner of your office, are an essential plant in any plant collection, and still entice hardcore plant connoisseurs. There's nothing too difficult about their care but maybe if you do everything right and you're really lucky yours will bloom too!


Watering: Just how much neglect can these plants take? As much as any plant we know (we're not encouraging that, we want you to love your plants). These plants require infrequent watering - every few weeks - and like to dry out in between. Feel the soil; it should be completely dry to the touch. The watering frequency will of course vary depending on time of year, sunlight, soil, etc.


Light: Snake Plants are also one of a few plants that can tolerate almost any light condition. Of course no plant can tolerate darkness, but these plants can survive in shade, bright light, and anywhere in between. The more sunlight they get the quicker they will grow and the happier they will be, but if they get too much direct outdoor sun they can burn. What is their ideal setting ? Like most houseplants they love that bright indirect light.


Fertilizer: Fertilize during the growing season with a succulent fertilizer.


Location and Temperature: Snake plants like the temperature to be above 50 degrees and can be moved outdoors in the summer (being mindful they're not getting too much direct sun).


Varieties: Some varieties get tall enough to become a beautiful statement plant, others stay small and offer one-of-a-kind growth or stunning color. The diverse and unique options make these plants a favorite for houseplant collectors as well as beginners. (Moonshine, Whale Fin, and a mature Zeylanica Sansevieria are on this authors wishlist!)


Propagation: The plant grows out from rhizomes which mass together and multiply as the plant gets older, meaning the plant will start to put off new babies, known as pups, that you can divide to make more plants!


Ok, but how do I make it bloom?: Unfortunately, there is no easy answer for that. From what we've read, when a snake plant blooms it means it is stressed and attempting to put out seeds in case it dies (a little dramatic because we're only talking about a mild and persistent level of stress here). It may not be a coincidence that our blooming Snake Plant was moved onto the balcony this summer and the blooms appeared within weeks. The increased light certainly helped. Maybe there is something special about the Snake Plants sold at Painters that makes them bloom? One thing's for sure - the blooms are lovely and smell magnificent!


Even if it doesn't bloom we're certain you will love your Snake Plant - did we mention NASA has certified it as an air purifying plant?


*Sansevieria have technically been reclassified under the genus Dracaena but for simplicity we have chosen to use their more recognizable name.