A brief overview of the Sansevieria Fernwood
The Sansevieria Fernwood, also known as the Snake Plant (this is the name the article will use from here on in) is an aesthetically-pleasing plant that has gained the appreciation of plant enthusiasts and interior stylists over the years.
They are super resilient, tough little things that are native to Africa. They are often called ‘indestructible’ because it is thought that the only way you can harm them is by overwatering them (the downfall of many a plant).
The leaves of the plant are very distinguishable and are very pointy, emerald-green in color, and have a striped pattern on them.
They can grow to around 4 feet in the right conditions, and since the right conditions are easy to emulate, this plant has grown in popularity over recent years, along with many other houseplants.
In this article we are going to be exploring the snake plant in far more detail, telling you everything you need to know about the pointed green little guy.
The snake plant belongs to the Asparagaceae family. Its particular species is S. Fernwood. The genus is Sansevieria, although if you are using the APG III classification then you will find that they state the genus as Dracaena.
Let us explore the plant’s genus in more detail to see what we can reveal about our beloved snake plant.
The Genus Sansevieria
This genus is a group of plants that are native to three places: the two continents Asia and Africa, and the island of Madagascar.
They are flowering plants, in particular, making most species within this genus very popular all over the world. They are especially popular for their ornamental purposes.
As we mentioned in the previous section of the article, there is some overlap with the genus Dracaena. This is because a classification system called the APG III added several Sansevieria plants to the genus of Dracaena.
The plants of this genus are all unique and diverse. They are varying features that occur depending on where in the world they grow. For example, some plants of this genus are thin-leafed.
These thin leafed plants (also known as soft foliage plants) tend to grow in tropical, and even subtropical climates. The harder leafed plants can be found in very dry climates.
This is because the harder leaf plants have been able to adapt to their environment well to survive these dry climates and still get the nourishment they need from underground, as well as being more succulent with cylindrical leaves to take up less space.
The soft foliage plants on the other hand tend to have longer leaves that are thinner and more delicate, needing lots of water.
Names associated with the genus
Many different common names get associated with the genus Sansevieria. Many of these names relate to the shapes of the plant, in particular, the shape of the leaves.
The names may also take into account the patterns on the leaves. Because of their flat, pointed shape, many of them are named after the tongue:
- Devil’s tongue
- Snake tongue
- Mother-in-law’s tongue
Then there are other names:
- Snake plant
- Bowstring hemp
- Twisted sister
- Golden bird’s nest
- Spear orchid
- St George’s sword
… and many more!
Distinguishing features of the Snake Plant (Sansevieria Fernwood)
Next, we need to explore some of the distinguishing features of this beautiful plant. Of course, we told you early on in the article that it was pointed and green.
However, this description does not do it justice and so we must explore it in more detail. As we mentioned in our introduction, the plant can grow up to a maximum of 4 feet in the right conditions.
However, it is common to find snake plants between 2 feet and 4 feet. Of course, many will be much smaller than this, especially ornamental house plant varieties that have been bred to be smaller in size.
All of the leaves on the plant (and there are often many of them) grow with pointed tips, upwards and in many directions. They all grow from the base of the plant which can be seen as the plant’s body.
As we mentioned, the color of the snake plant is emerald-green. However, to say it is just green is to do the plant a huge injustice. The plant is striped and the stripes are often various lighter shades of green as well as yellow, yellow-gold, and brown.
The snake plant does flower, typically in spring. It is more common to find that an outdoor snake plant has flowered, though, compared to an indoor one.
The flowers of a snake plant ate very small and grow on a long stock that measures around a meter in total. The flowers are white or light green and resemble a lily.
The small is fragrant and sweet and has been known to attract pests because of how strong it is. However, it is rare to find a flowering snake plant if it is being kept inside, and so there is likely no need to worry about a pest issue.
It is thought that a snake plant only flowers when it is under continuous mild stress, such as when it is root bound (this simply means that it has grown too big for its pot).
Like many houseplants, the snake plant does better when it is being slightly neglected and is very hardy, producing these beautiful flowers when it gets too big.
Is the snake plant toxic?
In general, the snake plant (or Sansevieria Fernwood to use its proper name) is considered safe. That is, when used as a houseplant it is not likely to harm you.
However, they are mildly toxic if they are consumed, either by a human or an animal. Ingestion of the leaf of a snake plant can cause numerous poison-related side effects such as swelling of the tongue, mouth numbness, vomiting, nausea, and more.
For this reason, if you have a pet, child, or vulnerable adult that has been known to have a penchant for nibbling on things they are not meant to such as plants, it is best to either avoid the snake plant in your home or keep it somewhere they cannot get to – bear in mind that whilst a vulnerable adult or child may not be able to reach it if it is up high, many pets can and will attempt to (we’re looking at you, cats!).
Can a snake plant purify the air?
Like all members of the Sansevieria genus, the snake plant is known to have air-purifying properties. This is why it is so hugely popular as a houseplant.
They are thought to be able to convert carbon dioxide into the air, even if they are not in the sun. They can also remove other harmful chemicals and toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
They make a great addition to any home, for this reason, particularly city apartments and other areas where there are high levels of pollution. They also make great bedside plants for this reason.
How to care for your snake plant
As we have already made clear in this article, these hardy little plants have a reputation for being difficult to kill. However, that does not mean that you should just leave them to rot!
You still need to provide at least a minimum level of care to them for them to look as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as they should. To properly explore the ways you should look after them, we should explore different elements of their care in separate sections.
Watering your snake plant
The water requirements of a snake plant are low and easy to follow, making this a great plant for beginners or those plant parents that are known for neglecting their green children.
There is no exact science to it and usually, a simple plan of action includes watering it once a week, or when the top layer of soil feels dry.
In the winter these needs decrease even further, but keep checking on your plant for signs of dryness (dry soil, brown tips, drooping) as that will be able to tell you when it needs some hydration.
Remember, they thrive under neglect, and so provided you don’t overwater them they will be fine. Overwatering can be fatal, with any water that gathers at the bottom causing root rot.
Do they need sunlight?
Snake plants need indirect sunlight. That is, they should not be left to bask directly in the sun’s rays. Place them in a bright room where sunlight pours in but not directly in the path of the sun.
They can tolerate shade if needed, meaning they cope well in the winter when there is less sunlight. They even do well in artificial light, making them a great office plant!
How about their soil and fertilizer?
The best type of soil for your snake plant will have a pH level of 6.1 to 7.8. For this reason, a good choice is to buy a cactus soil mix. These are readily available all over the states.
The soil should allow for excellent drainage and should be loose as opposed to being tightly packed in. Fertilizer is a great idea for your snake plant and they will certainly appreciate the extra nutrition.
You can use them by following the instructions on your chosen fertilizer, using it once a month in the spring and summer months.
The best temperature and humidity for a snake plant
Snake plants are accustomed to dry conditions and climates and so in terms of humidity, they don’t need much. High humidity and moisture can cause leaf rot, fungus, and root rot. However, what they do like is warm weather.
These plants thrive in warm temperatures from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure they are kept away from drafts and cold areas in your home in the winter.
Do they need a specific pot?
Ensure their pot is large enough so that they do not get root bound and that the roots and rhizomes have enough room to thrive. Too small of a pot and you will not get adequate levels of growth and the plant will be unhealthy.
Their ideal growth zone
For those green-fingered folks who take note of ideal grow zones, the best USDA growth zones for the snake plant are between 9a and 11. If you are growing them outside then this range is larger, ranging from 4a to 11.
How to propagate a snake plant
There are several different ways to propagate your snake plant. Our favorite method for this particular plant is leaf-cutting using the water propagation method. To do this follow out steps below:
- Using a clean, sharp knife cut off a healthy fully-grown leaf
- Select a clean jar and fill it with clean, freshwater. Mineral water is preferable if possible but you can use tap water if you have to.
- Place the cuttings in the jar ensuring the cut end is submerged along with a good portion of the whole leaf (around a quarter of it will be fine).
- Change the water at least once a week, and even more frequently if it gets dirty or murky.
- You will soon see roots begin to sprout and the cutting can then be potted
There you have it, our comprehensive guide on the snake plant, also known by its majestic name Sansevieria Fernwood. As we are sure you will agree, this little plant is tough and durable, as well as being an attractive houseplant.
Its reputation of being indestructible makes it a great plant for beginners looking to dip their fingers into the world of plants. Remember, follow our care guide and you will reap its air-purifying and aesthetic benefits for years to come.