Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Snake Plant aka Mother In Law’s Tongue ( Sanservieria trifasciata )




I planted these Mother-in-law’s tongues out into the yard late last summer. While they can handle a few hours below freezing occasionally, long or repeated frosts will kill them. They died back to the ground last winter and didn’t re-appear until June.

Flowers are tiny, white and grow in bunches on long stems. The plants will grow 4′-5′ tall.

They prefer light shade. Mine only get a small amount of dappled sunlight early and late in the day.

You should go easy on the water, especially during the winter they are prone to rotting. They will do just fine during droughts and can be kept almost as dry as a cactus for short times once established.

While a very short, occasional light frost doesn’t hurt them the repeated, long hard freezes we had last winter took them back to the ground. In mid May they finally started to re-appear but I think I lose about a third of them.

Occasionally you may find a leaf that is damaged. I just cut off the damaged part of the leaf and leave the rest. The rest of the leaf often will do quite well after trimming.

These will fill in and form a thick, dense border in time. So if you are planting them, leave at least a foot between them for future growth. These make a nice background border for smaller plants.

Propagate by division. Once these plants get too big, you can dig them up or take them out of the pot and divide them. Use a very sharp knife to slice the plant into sections giving each section a clump or more of leaves and as much roots as possible.

Or you can just remove a leaf, cut it into 3″ sections and plant each section in soil – being sure to keep the top up and the bottom down same as it was growing. Keep the soil moist but not wet until you see new growth, then slowly taper back the watering until you are watering them only when dry. Replant them then.

These plants were once used for the purpose of making bow strings.