How to keep a San­se­vieria healthy

Amateur Gardening - - Pick Of The Very Best -

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

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