Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Snake Plant, Bowstring Hemp

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Sansevieria trifasciata

How to keep them thriving indoors in Melbourne!

Please Note: The information below is specific to this particular variety. For more detailed notes on the general growing conditions required for all Indoor Plants, check out our ‘Growing Indoor Plants Successfully’ factsheet.

There are a few different species from the Sanseviera genus that are great indoor plants. The Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ is banded in yellow, the Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Zeylanica’ has green with silvery grey horizontal stripes, the Sansevieria Hahnii is a short rosette style plants, birds nest type and the Sansevieria ‘Silbersee’ has silver green leaves.

The Sanevierias are very tough succulents that performs well even in very low light conditions. Often seen recommended for bedrooms as it is highly rated as an air cleaning plant (NASA Indoor Plant Report, 1989) and it is one of the limited number of plants which absorb CO2 and release O2 at night using the CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) photosynthetic pathway.


In the warmer months, water after the top of the potting mix has dried out. In the cooler months, or in cool airconditioned environment, water only after potting mix has dried out, or if you see the plant drooping. Water until water runs out of the base, then make sure all water has drained away and the pot is not sitting in water. Over watering will make it rot. Always water the potting mix only, keep the water off the leaves to avoid fungal spotting.

Rainwater is best, but you can use tap water, ideally let it sit 30 mins to allow the chlorine to escape.


Ideally keep between 4C and 30C. Can cope with higher temperatures, but make sure not in direct light.

Temperature and humidity

Normal house temperatures suit Philodendrons. They like it a bit cooler at night and warmer in the day. Avoid cold drafts or pressing leaves against cold windows in winter. They do appreciate humidity so misting is beneficial or alternatively, you can put the pot on small stones or blocks to keep it raised, and fill the saucer or slip pot beneath with water. The water evaporates increasing humidity, but keeping the pot raised allows the free drainage essential to a happy indoor plant.


Fertilise in spring with an indoor plant fertiliser.


Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth if they get dusty.


No need to repot until the plant is virtually bursting out of the old pot. Ideally repot in spring, but any time except winter is OK. Let settle in for 24 hours after repotting to allow any root damage to heal over, then water in. Level of potting mix may lower as it settles down, top up if needed.

You can cut a single leaf off at the base and use it as propagation material. Simply cut it into sections between 5 and 10cm wide, allow the heal off for 48 hours, then stick into cacti and succulent potting mix and water in. When you cut the sections, take note of which side is up and which is down, and plant in the same way. Keep only very lightly moist. Spring is best, but autumn and summer are OK.


Leaf spotting

Often caused by a fungus when water has splashed onto the leaf.

Yellowing leaves

Commonly overwatering. If not floppy, let dry out, and they may recover.

Falling over in the pot

o Could be overwatering and it is rotting at the base. Remove any rotten leaves, and stop watering.
o Could be the plant is not receiving enough light and roots development is insufficient to hold up the plant – move to a brighter location.