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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
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Coral’ is a semi-tropical plant native to West Africa. Where it’s native it grows in open grasslands and as a weed along roadsides. It spreads vigorously by creeping rhizomes that can grow below ground or just above the soil surface. It earned the nickname “viper’s bowstring hemp” due to the fact that the tough plant fibers were once used to construct bowstrings. It’s gained a lot of popularity as a houseplant due to its low-maintenance care requirements. It is low-light tolerant and requires infrequent watering, making it an excellent houseplant for the constant traveler or city-dwellers with low-light conditions. The NASA Clean Air Study found that this plant is effective in removing environmental toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene.
Sansevieria ‘Black Coral’ is an extremely tolerant and adaptable plant. It thrives in bright indirect light or dappled sun, and can even acclimate to a few hours of direct sun. Morning or evening sun is best, as intense afternoon sun can burn or bleach the leaves.
Though snake plants will grow best in bright light, they are quite tolerant of low light. Because of this, they are commonly found in offices and other spaces where there is not an abundance of light.
Snake plants prefer warm temperatures. Between 70 and 90 ºF is ideal. They will decline in consistent temperatures below 50 ºF.
Hailing from a native tropical environment, Sansevieria trifasciata can tolerate a moderate amount of humidity, though they do not require it. Plants that are given plenty of humidity, will need less frequent watering.
Snake plants are extremely drought-tolerant plants. They prefer to be watered thoroughly but infrequently. When you water your snake plant, fully saturate the soil and be sure to let it dry out entirely in-between waterings. If you are ever unsure whether or not your snake plant soil has dried out, wait a few days before watering. These plants thrive on neglect, and overwatering is the easiest way to kill them. If you are forgetful or a frequent traveler and away from home for long periods of time, snake plants are a great plant for you!
These plants grow best in a loose, sharply draining mix. A good quality cactus or succulent mix is perfect. You can also use regular potting soil, but bear in mind this type of soil is more moisture-retentive so you’ll want to adjust your watering schedule depending on how well your soil holds moisture.
Pumice stone, perlite, and orchid bark are excellent amendments to improve soil drainage and can be added up to 50%.
Snake plants are flowering plants, though they rarely bloom when they are grown indoors. The inflorescence is a long stalk that bears several small, greenish-white, sweet-smelling flowers.
Sansevierias do not require much fertilization. They will benefit from a light boost of nutrients during the spring and summer seasons when they are actively growing. Feed them with a balanced fertilizer diluted at a quarter to half strength.
Snake plants can be reliably propagated from leaf cuttings or from division. To propagate from leaf cuttings cut a portion of the leaf, and allow it to callous or dry out for several days. Stick the calloused cutting in soil and keep it very lightly moist. If you are able to provide it with a humid microclimate, that will help a lot as well. Depending on the conditions you provide it, it can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months to root and produce offsets. In general snake plants tend to be slow growers, so a lot of patience when propagating these is key. A second and faster way to propagate these plants is by division. Sansevieria reproduce asexually via underground rhizomes that send up offsets. These offsets, or pups, can be separated using a clean knife or garden spade and potted into their own container. If dividing a snake plant, allow the rhizome to callous over for a few days before potting into fresh potting medium. Keep the soil lightly moist or provide a humid environment to encourage rooting.
Snake plants are very robust plants and rarely fall victim to diseases or pests. The most common infestations experienced by these plants are scale. Scale can be an aggressive pest, but it can be controlled effectively by treating the plant with a diluted neem oil solution two to three times a week until the scale is eradicated. For small-scale infestations of scale, pests can be physically removed using a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Leaf spot is another issue that can plague snake plants. This disease is typically brought on by a fungus and sometimes by bacteria. It manifests as brown-colored spots along the stem that can be soft or mushy. Affected leaves should be removed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
Very little maintenance is required to keep these plants happy and thriving. They prefer to be root-bound and so can live in their pot for several years before repotting. As a rule of thumb, these plants should be repotted in a container that is 2”-3” wider in diameter, once every two to three years.
All parts of the plant are toxic to humans and pets. If ingested, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can occur. Keep this plant out of reach of small children and pets.
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