How to grow and care for mother-in-law’s tongue or sansevieria?

There are plants that are not only beautiful and easy to care for, but also beneficial to health. In this context, sansevieria is defined as an ornamental and purifying plant that any beginner can make thrive in a flat or garden. In addition, there are so many varieties that it can be a collector’s item.

Due to its great adaptability and beauty, the sansevieria plant occupies a privileged place when it comes to ornamental plants. However, because it is on NASA’s list of recommended indoor plants, its popularity has increased. This recommendation is due to the fact that several studies describe it as a plant capable of absorbing substances that are harmful to our health and can be present in any home, including: benzene, trichlorethylene, xylene and formaldehyde.

If these have not been enough reasons for you to consider growing it in your home, in the following lines you will be able to learn more about this peculiar plant, how easy it is to provide it with the necessary care and have several specimens in a short time.

Other names for sansevieria

Due to the elongated appearance and patterns of its leaves, which are reminiscent of the lines on a tiger’s mantle, Sansevieria trifasciata and its other varieties have received numerous names, some of the most common are: cow’s tongue, tiger’s tongue, mother-in-law’s tongue, cat’s tongue, tiger’s tail or Saint George’s sword. For this reason, if you want to acquire one, you may have to order it using one of these names.

On the other hand, its scientific name sansevieria pays homage to Raimondo di Sangro, who was a man of science and an Italian prince of San Severo.


Every year, more varieties of this plant appear, due to its popularity. However, the most common are:

  • laurentii
  • Cylindrical
  • future superba
  • Trifasciata

indoor care

There is a lot of good news for gardeners who want to experiment with sansevieria. The care, to begin with, is basic and is described below.

temperature and lighting

The mother-in-law’s tongue plant is not very picky about the amount of light it needs to survive. In fact, it can thrive in shady or brightly lit spaces . However, if you want to see it bloom, you will have to find a place where the sun’s rays can reach it at certain times of the day, without being totally exposed to them.

On the other hand, due to its origin, it is not a plant that can survive in climates below 13 degrees and prefers warm environments that range between 18 and 27 ºC. Thus, try to store it in winter if frost usually occurs in your geographical area.

Substrate type

In order for the mother-in-law’s tongue to have a space adapted to its needs, you must provide it with a substrate that allows water to pass through without puddles. Sandy soil or with a certain amount of rocks could be a good option, you just have to add a little humus to the composition so that it has nutrients and can absorb them.

Similarly, if you plant it in a pot, you should make sure to drill several holes in the bottom of the pot, so that the water drains well. In general, a container of between 10 and 15 cm will be enough for you to distribute your rhizomes correctly.

Another quality that lovers of sansevierias appreciate is that they are very good at growing in cramped conditions, so you could have a plant with many leaves in a more or less compact pot, which is very decorative.


Due to its low humidity requirement, you won’t have to worry too much about watering mother-in-law’s tongue, especially if you keep it indoors. In addition, it is a plant that is not affected by calcareous water, so tap water, supplied once a week, will be enough to cover its requirements.

In winter, you can space out your watering even more, letting the soil dry out completely before watering again.


The mother-in-law’s tongue plant is also not demanding in terms of nutrients. It will be enough to apply a little fertilizer once or twice a year on the substrate. You can choose worm humus or any other type of fertilizer. It is best to apply it at the time of greatest growth, that is, in spring and summer.


It is normal for the cat’s tongue plant to form dense thickets and the leaves to be pressed against each other, if it is not transplanted. If you have chosen to put it in a pot, it is best to change it every 3 or 4 years to a larger space or take advantage of this moment to divide the plant and have a new pot. We will explain the process in the next section.

mother-in-law tongue spread

The tiger’s tongue plant can be propagated very easily, by means of cuttings or by sectioning parts of its leaves. If you decide to use cuttings, you can choose one of the young shoots of the plant (they are usually on the edges). Use a sufficiently sharp and previously disinfected knife to cut the rhizome that joins it to the mother plant, making sure to keep a bit of the roots. In this case, you will only need to place the cutting in a new pot.

If you don’t have a cutting available, you can take one of the leaves and section it; always insert the section that pointed towards the ground, originally, when the leaf was attached to the plant. You should regularly water the pot and wait a few weeks for the roots to appear. At this time, you can now place the new plants in their final place.

Interesting data

Although not grown for its flowers, mature mother-in-law tongues are capable of producing beautiful white or yellow scented inflorescences. In this sense, if you have a sansevieria, the flower will eventually appear in late summer, after you have cared for it for several years.

Finally, we want to mention that it is advisable to keep dogs and cats away from the leaves of this species, since they can be irritating to them if they ingest or handle them.

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