Upwardly Mobile : Sansevieria

Sansevieria, more commonly known as Snake Plant AKA Mother-in-law's, Devil's, or Djinn's Tongue, is named for the blade-like shape of its leaves.

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Sansevieria among the americanas in a Burle-Marx garden:


The erect, up-growing leaves make an excellent sharp punctuation or dramatic contrast to billowing mounds of soft grasses, low growing succulents, etc. It also provides shape to pots and planters, a sharp bed accent to the heroic agaves, or an assertive border.

When NASA was looking for plants best suited for purifying the air of long-term manned space missions, Sansevieria proved nearly ideal. Research proved it could absorb 107 different air pollutants including monoxides of carbon and nitrogen and formaldehyde.


This native plant of West Africa was used as a protective charm to ward of evil, bewitchment, and the effects of the evil eye. Sansevierias can easily be grown from cuttings or by dividing the rhizomes. Plants require well drained yet moist soil. Test the soil by inserting a bamboo shish kabob skewer into the soil and check after a week by pulling the skewer out. If it is dry down to the bottom inch it's time to water again. If it's still moist higher than an inch wait another day or two and check again. Water deeply and let go for 7-14 days between waterings. This will encourage roots to grow deeper and allow the plants better stability.


For those with a predisposition for flora abuse Sansevieria is nearly ideal again: It's drought and low light tolerant, durable, compatible with a variety of soil conditions, and handles neglect like a monk.

Because of the upward growth of the leaves, it's also an optimal feng shui enhancer. This from the Wiki page:

Some believe that having Sansevieria near children (such as in the study room) helps reduce coarseness, while others recommend placing pots near the toilet tank to counter the drain-down vibrations.


Sansevieria comes in a variety of color variations including light and dark greens, with yellow "snaking," and bluish silver. Well suited for an exotic, tropical accent.