Sansevieria trifasciata – Mother-In-Law’s Tongue

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue is a tall, spiky plant which looks like a cactus or succulent, but is actually of the Lily family. The thick spear-like leaves can reach a considerable height and are very erect. They are variegated, pale and darker green. Var. laurentii also includes cream in its patterning. The flowers are insignificant.


  • Growing season 16-21 °C (61-70 °F)
  • Temperature should be constant throughout the year. The plant cannot stand wide temperature changes.

Soil: A soil-less compost, with 10% added sand.

Where to position: In a light position out of direct sunlight, away from draughts and temperature changes.

Mother-In-Law's Tongue

Watering requirements: Lukewarm water to keep the soil just moist. Excessive water in winter is disastrous; the leaves rot at soil level and the plant dies. No spraying or humidity needed.

General care: If it tries to flower, pinch out the flowering stem, as it weakens the plant. Give a very dilute liquid fertilizer once monthly. Never risk over watering – in winter it needs only just enough to stop total drying out. Do not over-pot. Re-pot only when the plant forces it way out. Maintain an even temperature.

Rest: There is no clearly defined rest period.

When it looks sick:

  • Brown, striated areas along the leaf edges : Scorch by strong sunlight. They may also be due to under-watering. Keep it in light shade; water if the soil is dry.
  • The commonest cause of death has no symptom. Over-watering causes the leaves to rot below the soil surface. Never, never over-water this plant.

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