Mother-in-Law’s tongue aka snake plant, sword plant or Sansevieria trifasciata is a name of a plant with thick and stiff attractive foliage. I think it is some kind of succulent as they hold a lot of moisture. The cultivars that are available in markets are the variegated Sanseviera trifasciata such as S. ‘Hahnii’, S. ‘Laurentii’.  S. ‘Compacta’, S. ‘Goldiana’ etc. Some are long sword like, and others are dwarf.

It is said that these plants are native to Africa such as Zaire, Congo or Nigeria. As tropical plants, mother-in-law’s tongue thrives in warm to hot climate and can be kept as in-door plants. Place the plant near a sunny window as it needs good sunlight to grow well.

We have S. ‘Laurentii’ which has long variegated foliage and the other one is S. ‘Hahnii’ which is a dwarf variety. In the place where I bought these plants, I saw a sign telling people that they should not over water. I was a bit surprise as I remember many years ago that these plants grew wildly all along the edge of a smelly and dirty creek behind my auntie’s place in Central Java. They grew and flower well there so close to the water. Now, here in Australia they told me not to over water! But I guess, in the tropics the plant may tolerate soggy condition.

During my younger years, my family never grew these plants in Indonesia. Somehow they reminded us of the dirty and stinky stagnant creek. Ha, ha! Here in Australia, Sansevieria has been popular in the last few years. It is considered as a modern plant that suits modern landscapes and decors. It is tough, easy to grow both outdoor and indoor, either in gardens or in containers. Though people grow mother in law’s tongue mainly for the beautiful foliage, but it also has quite nice flowers, long spike of little white or greenish white blooms.

  • Sansevieria trifasciata – common names: mother in law’s tongue, snake plant or sword plant
  • Tropical plant – tolerate heat and semi tropical climate.
  • Can be grown in the garden in warmer climate or in pots outdoor or indoor (prefer sunny window position).
  • Moderate watering, keep on the dry side during winter.
  • Rich and well drain soil.
  • Liquid fertilizer during warmer months.
  • Best propagation by division.
  • Purifies indoor air.

Update Nov.18, 2013:

These are the two plants today / three years later:

Sanseviera laurentii

Sanseviera hahnii