How to keep a Sansevieria healthy
QWhat is this plant, please, and how should I care for it? Bill Carlton, via email
AIt is a Sansevieria, but is unusual in having narrow, slightly rounded leaves rather than the typical flat and broad leaves. However, the markings are very similar, as is the care required.
Sansevieria are tolerant of a certain amount of neglect, but will look better with a little bit of care. The following will help you get the best from your plant:
■ Temperature: average warmth, approximately 60-75°F (15-24°C) and no lower than 50°F (10°C).
■ Light: Sansevieria or mother-in-law’s tongue is well known for coping with both direct sun and low light conditions. The ideal is bright conditions with some sunlight and some shade.
■ Watering: because this plant is a succulent it stores water within its foliage, so it is not necessary to keep the soil damp. During the growing season, water when the soil becomes dry to the touch, but during the winter you should only water once a month. Be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the roots and base of the plant to rot.
■ Compost: use a common well-draining cactus and succulent potting mix.
■ Feeding: during the growing season, feed with a diluted cactus and succulent or houseplant fertiliser once a month.
■ Re-potting: Sansevieria does not enjoy being repotted very often, so repot only when the pot cracks from growth. They’re best potted within a clay pot that can crack once maximum growth space within the pot is used.
■ Humidity: average house humidity is advised, but this easy-going plant can happily tolerate dry air conditions and draughts.
■ Propagation: propagate by division when repotting or when you see enough plant growth. You may also remove offsets that appear near the base of the plant or propagate 2in (5cm) leaf-tip cuttings. Dividing the plant seems to be the most successful approach.
Sansevieria will thrive in sunlight and shade