Thursday, January 22nd, 2009...11:17 am
Taking Care of Your Mother-In-Law’s Tongue Plant
“]TheGardenLady received this question from Donna:
I have a that is turning yellow. I have had it for over ten years and it’s been in the same pot since. It has always done well, but here recently it is becoming sick. There hasn’t been any change to it to cause it. Any suggestions?
Since you say that you have had your Sansevieria Trifasciata plant, commonly called Mother-In-Laws Tongue or Snake plant, for over 10 years, I doubt that you have a gold variety like`Vandal Gold`, a Sansevieria that I have read about but do not know where to buy.
And I am amazed that you have a plant or anything that hasn’t had any change in all that time. There is nothing in TheGardenLady’s house that hasn’t changed in 10 years- including TheGardenLady.
Are you sure that you haven’t been overwatering your plant by watering it too frequently or moved the plant to a different window? Change can be outdoors. Has a shrub in front of the window outdoors, but directly in front of the place you keep the plant, died and been chopped down so that more sun is coming through to shine on the plant?
About the first problem, overwatering: Sansevieria hates, hates, hates having wet roots. They can get a problem called root rot easily especially when they are kept indoors . TheGardenLady had a big pot of Sansevieria that a young artist admired. So TheGardenLady gave the pot to the artist who painted pictures of it. After a year, the plant started dying. TheGardenLady suspected root rot. She suspected that because the young artist watered her plants every week; in one year too much water had been given to the Sansevieria. Its roots never had a chance to dry out. These plants are so easy to care for because they love drought – love it. So if you forget to water it, when the plant is indoors, you will have a happy plant. I have read that you can forget to water it for 2 months during the winter. It wants its soil dry. TheGardenLady has found that, though Sansevieria can be grown in Sun or part shade, hers enjoy just light when it is indoors; and the less sun, the less water it needs.
Also, the Sansevieria does not want fertilizer. Too much nitrogen in a fertilizer is not good for the plant.
However, if you haven’t overwatered your plant and you have the same amount of light that you have had for 10 years, don’t worry if the plant doesn’t look well because the Sansevieria plant is the easiest plant to repot. Perhaps your plant doesn’t have enough root soil after 10 years. Get some inexpensive potting soil and repot the sad plant in a cleaned pot with the new soil.
When TheGardenLady took the pot of Sansevieria home, the plant that the young artist was fretting over, it had root rot. You can tell if it is root rot when the leaves come off easily at the soil level and the rotten root stinks and is mushy – this is a culprit that is easy to identify. Throw the rotten parts away – there is no saving those mushy plants and the root rot can spread. Take the plants that are not rotten and repot them shallowly in the new soil in a clean pot. TheGardenLady had so many Sansevieria plants in that original pot even after throwing away those with root rot, that she missed one plant that was just lying on top of the soil with the roots touching the soil. In the fall when TheGardenLady brought the Sansevieria indoors, she found that the plant just lying on the top of the soil was also thriving.
TheGardenLady takes her Sansevieria plants outside in the spring when the leaves are on the trees and puts them on her deck that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. She doesn’t water the plants all summer unless there is a really bad drought. The Sansevieria gets moisture from the rain. Sansevieria thrives in more water outdoors because it is brighter than it is indoors. In the fall the Sansevieria plants are brought indoors. They happily sit in a north or west window.
Let TheGardenLady and her readers know how your plant turns out.