Yes, the Sansevieria is a succulent that belongs to the Agavaceae family. These plants have long, sword-shaped leaves that are thick and fleshy and can retain water for the plant to use in the event of drought. This means they are able to survive in warm and dry weather better than most houseplants.
There are some Sansevieria varieties that are popular houseplants, like the snake plant, that people lovingly refer to as the “unkillable plant” because of its ability to survive the most extreme conditions and neglect. These plants are perfect for novice gardeners looking for varieties that are easy to care for.
In this article, we will discuss more about Sansevieria plants and their proper cultural care.
So, if you are thinking about adding one of these to your collection and want to learn more, just keep reading.
What is Sansevieria?
Sansevieria is a plant group consisting of over 60 species. Most of them are native to Africa and are adept at surviving in the hot, dry climate of that continent. These plants are low-maintenance, tolerant of low light conditions, and do not need to be watered often.
In fact, they are more sensitive to overwatering than anything else.
Is Sansevieria a succulent?
Yes, the Sansevieria is a succulent that belongs to the Agavaceae family. Succulents typically come from hot, dry climates and have thick, fleshy leaves that are capable of absorbing and storing water for use in the event of drought.
Because this plant was designed to tolerate drought and hot climates, it does not do very well in cold temperatures.
The kind of light that Sansevierias like best is bright and indirect. If these plants get too much light, especially direct light, their leaves can burn and the edges will turn yellow or brown.
If you think your plant is getting too much light, transfer it to another spot where it can get shade for a few hours each day, and water it if the soil looks very dry.
Sansevierias can tolerate low light conditions, but it is still best for them to get lots of light because it makes their leaves more vibrant.
If the plant does not get as much light as it needs, it will become pale and droopy because it can no longer produce the chlorophyll needed for its survival.
If you suspect this is the case with your plant, you need to transfer it to a sunnier spot so that it can start photosynthesizing adequately again.
If you are keeping the plant indoors, keep it near a north- or east-facing window because these windows let in the right kind of light. If the only available window in your home lets in light that is too intense, you can still keep the plant near it, but you should place a sheer curtain over the window first to diffuse the intensity of the light.
If you live in a place where there is little to no natural light for months at a time, you can help the plant out by using a grow light.
The Sansevieria is typically watered once a month, or every four weeks.
If in doubt about whether or not to water your plant, it is best to check whether the soil in the pot has dried out completely. This can be accomplished by feeling for dryness in the top two or three inches of soil, and then checking the soil at the bottom of the pot via the drainage holes.
If the soil appears and feels dry, thoroughly water it until you see excess water draining out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.
If there is a saucer beneath the pot that collects the dripping water, empty it after each watering. If you leave the water in the saucer, this can result in symptoms of overwatering.
Because the Sansevieria is a succulent, it is more susceptible to overwatering than to underwatering, and the damage sustained from excessive water is far greater than the minimal damage caused by underwatering.
The leaves of an overwatered plant will turn yellow, then brown, and will become soft and mushy to the touch. The more water they absorb as a result of the excess water in the soil, the heavier they will become, causing them to droop from the added weight.
If you do not resolve an overwatering issue quickly enough, the plant can develop root rot. This is a condition caused by prolonged exposure of the roots to waterlogged soil, so that they are unable to completely dry out between waterings. The roots will eventually drown, and will then be vulnerable to attack by fungi and bacteria in the soil. These pathogens will exacerbate the rot and accelerate its spread throughout the plant, potentially resulting in the plant’s death.
If you believe your plant is overwatered, immediately stop watering it and allow the soil to dry out completely. Try to place the plant in an area that receives plenty of light so that the light and heat can help the soil dry faster.
To determine whether the plant has root rot, you must remove it from the pot and inspect the roots.
After removing it from the pot, thoroughly wash the roots to remove any remaining soil. Proceed with caution, as the roots will be fragile in this state.
Inspect all of the roots, and if any have turned brown or black they are rotten and must be removed. Cut away these rotten roots with a sterile knife or scissors until only healthy, white roots remain.
Place the plant on a dry surface and allow the roots to air-dry for several hours.
Fill a new pot halfway with fresh succulent potting mix, place the plant in the center of the pot and cover the roots with more soil.
Place the plant in a spot that receives bright, indirect light.
Avoid both underwatering and overwatering your plant by developing good watering habits and understanding how to adjust them according to changes in the weather, season, and climate.
If you are able to collect rainwater, this is the most cost-effective and ideal type of water to give your plant. If not, you can use distilled or filtered water to ensure that no minerals from tap water make their way into the plant’s soil. While the effects of minerals in tap water may not be immediately noticeable, they accumulate over time and can result in a salt buildup which may be detrimental to the plant.
If all you have is tap water, fill a large container with it and let it stand for two days to allow the fluoride and chlorine to dissipate, after which you can safely use the water on the plant.
Make sure that the water you give the plant is lukewarm, because if it is either too hot or too cold, it could shock the plant.
Sansevierias like to grow in soil that is well-draining, loose and airy. They grow in sandy soil in their natural habitat, so it is best if you can mimic that.
You could use commercially available cactus or succulent potting mix, but you can also make your own if you want to. To do this, use regular potting soil and add components that will make the soil more well-draining, such as perlite, pumice or coarse sand.
Well-draining soil lets any excess water flow right through, rather than sitting in the soil.
The pot you use is also important in keeping the plant happy and healthy. It must have drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to escape, thereby decreasing the chances of overwatering and root rot.
Keep the temperature around the plant between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is pretty much the temperature in most homes, so this should not be a challenge. If the plant is grown outdoors and you live in a place where the winters can get quite cold, you should bring it inside when the outdoor temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods.
Even though the plant can survive in pretty much any level of humidity, be it completely dry air or the most humid room of the house such as the bathroom, it is best to keep it in an area where the humidity is stable at around 40 to 50 percent.
Just make sure that the plant is not kept in constantly high humidity with poor air circulation, because this environment can encourage fungal growth that will damage the leaves.
You only need to fertilize the sansevieria once a month, during the growing season. Use a fertilizer designed for succulents and only use it at half-strength.
The fertilizer should be low in nitrogen, and you should take care not to give the plant too much because this can lead to soil toxicity from a buildup of excess minerals.
Do not fertilize the plant during the winter, because this is when it requires the least nutrients and minerals from the soil.
If you think you may have given your plant too much fertilizer, you can flush the excess out of the soil with a lot of water.
The easiest and most common way to propagate a sansevieria is using leaf cuttings from the parent plant. This is the method most widely used by home gardeners.
To start, you need to choose a leaf from the parent plant that is healthy and vibrant in color.
Using a sharp pair of sterile scissors, cut the leaf at a 45-degree angle, about one inch above the base of the plant.
Place the cutting on a dry surface and cut the leaf into equal sections, each about two to three inches long.
So that you do not become confused about which ends of the cuttings are the tops and which are the bottoms, you can make markings on them. It is important that you place the bottom end of the cutting into the soil when you plant it.
After sectioning the leaf, place the newly-cut sections in a warm, dry place and leave them for five to seven days so that they can dry out and callus over.
After this time, the cut ends should have calluses and there should be white nodules on the ends, from which the new roots will sprout.
Prepare a large, one-gallon plastic container and fill it with succulent potting mix.
Water the potting mix until it is all soaked and the excess water has drained from the holes at the bottom of the container.
Insert the leaf cuttings into the soil so that about an inch of each one is buried under the soil.
There should be enough space between the cuttings that they are not crowded.
Place the container near a window that lets in bright, indirect light and allows good air circulation.
Water the cuttings once a week, or whenever the top inch of soil has dried out. Do not overwater them, because the roots can be affected by root rot no matter how small and young they are.
After four weeks, check on the progress of the root growth by gently digging around the base of the cutting and looking for roots. You can also gently tug on each cutting and, if you feel resistance, that means the roots have anchored well. You can then transfer the new Sansevieria plants to their own pots and care for them as you would a regular Sansevieria.
Mealybugs and spider mites are two commonly-observed pests on Sansevieria plants. Both of these pests damage the plant by sucking the sap from its leaves.
These pests are small and can be difficult to spot, so it is tricky to catch an infestation in its early stages. The bigger the population becomes, the more noticeable they are and the more damage they will inflict on your plant.
You can use a strong stream of water from a garden hose to knock the pests from the plant. If you only see one or two pests, you can also pick them off with your hands.
You can also spray rubbing alcohol directly onto them to kill them, or soak a cotton ball with neem oil and use that to wipe the affected areas on the plant.
If certain leaves are heavily infested or damaged, you may just have to cut them off and dispose of them properly.
While you are treating the plant for pests, it is best to keep it isolated from your other plants so that the pests do not spread.
Repeat your chosen treatment method every three days until you are sure that all of the pests have been eradicated.
Yes, Sansevieria plants are succulents that belong to the Agaveceae family. They have large, fleshy, sword-shaped leaves that can absorb and store water for use in the event of drought. Like most succulents, they can tolerate different and extreme living conditions that most other houseplants cannot.
They are low-maintenance, very easy to propagate, and perfect for people who are just getting started with gardening and want a resilient plant.
Give them bright, indirect light and water them when the soil is dry to the touch. They prefer well-draining soil, warm temperatures, moderate humidity and fertilizer only during the growing season.
Image: istockphoto.com / ByronOrtizA