Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Coral’
Botanical Name — Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Coral’
Common Name — snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp
Plant Family — Asparagaceae
A semi-tropical plant of West Africa, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Coral’ grows along roadsides where it originates. Where it grows naturally, it occurs in open grasslands. Viper’s bowstring hemp spreads rapidly via creeping rhizomes which can grow just below ground or just above the surface of the soil. The tough plant fibers were used to construct bowstrings. Many people choose to have this plant as a houseplant due to its low-maintenance care requirements. Its low-light tolerance and the fact that it requires infrequent watering make it an excellent choice for people who frequently travel or who live in low-light environments. This plant was proven to be effective in removing environmental toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene by the NASA Clean Air Study.
Plants of the Sansevieria ‘Black Coral’ family are highly tolerant and adaptable. They thrive in bright indirect sunlight or in dappled shade, and they will even thrive in hours of direct sunlight. Although snake plants grow best in bright sunlight, they are quite tolerant of low light too. Morning or evening sun is best, as sunlight in the afternoon can burn or bleach the leaves. Due to their efficiency, they are commonly installed in offices and other dark spaces where there is a lack of light.
Since they are native to tropical environments, Sansevieria trifasciata can tolerate moderate amounts of humidity, though they do not require it. They thrive in temperatures between 70 and 90 degree Fahrenheit. Humidity increases the need for plants to be watered, making them less dependent on irrigation. Water Snake plants are highly drought tolerant plants. The snake plant prefers to be watered thoroughly but infrequently. When watering, be sure to fully saturate the soil and let it dry out completely between waterings. Wait a few days before watering your snake plant if you aren’t sure whether or not the soil has sufficiently dried. Those plants thrive on neglect, and over-watering leads to death. When you are frequently away from home due to travel or a forgetful individual, snake plants make a great plant for you!
It is best to use a loose, well draining mix for these plants. A good quality cactus or succulent mix is perfect. It is fine to use regular potting soil, though now you have to remember that it is typically more moisture-retentive, which means you need to adjust your watering schedule based on how well your soil holds moisture. Additions of pumice stone, perlite, and orchid bark can help ensure better drainage of the soil and can be added up to 50%.
Even though snake plants are flowering plants, they rarely bloom when grown inside the house. The inflorescence is a stalk that bears small, greenish-white, sweet-smelling flowers.
The Sansevieria does not require much fertilization. However, in the spring and summer seasons, when the plants are actively growing, they do need a light boost of nutrients. You should use a quarter to half strength fertilizer with a balanced fertilizer.
Almost any snake plant can be propagated either by cutting leaves from live plants or through micropropagation. By cutting the leaves cut them into segments, and allowing them to callous for few days. It will be much better if you can keep the calloused cutting in a very lightly moist microclimate, and also if you can provide moisture to it in a humid microclimate. It can take several weeks to several months for snake plants to root and produce offsets, depending on the conditions you provide them with. Snake plants tend to be slow growers, so patience is a must when propagating these.
In addition, division can be a better way to propagate these plants since Sansevieria reproduces asexually via underground rhizomes that produce offsets. The offsets, also known as pups, can be removed and potted in their own container using a clean knife or garden spade. If you are dividing a snake plant, you need to let the rhizome callous over for a few days before potting into fresh potting mix. Keep the soil lightly moist or provide an environment that encourages root growth.
Plants of the snake plant genus are robust and rarely fall victim to diseases or pests. A scale infestation can be one of the most problematic for these plants. Scale can be aggressive and destructive, but it can be controlled effectively by treating the plant twice a week with a diluted neem oil solution until the scale is eliminated. Leaf spot is another issue that can plague snake plants. For small-scale scale infestations, it is good to use rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip to physically remove the pests. A brown or mushy spot can appear along the stem of plants infected by this disease, typically caused by a fungus. Affected leaves should be removed to prevent the spread of the disease.
The plants require very little maintenance to stay healthy and happy. They prefer to be root-bound so can live in the same pot for several years before repotting. As a rule of thumb, these plants need to be repotted in new pots every two or three years, in a container that is 2”-3” wider than the plant.
Plants are toxic to humans and pets if ingested. If swallowed, they can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These plants should be kept away from children and pets.