Last updated on August 25th, 2023 at 12:34 pm
Sansevieria whitney, also known as sansevieria trifasciata whitney or sansevieria silver flame snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, or warneckii, is an easy houseplant to grow. With proper care and propagation techniques, you can enjoy this elegant plant for years without having to repot it or worry about buying more.
If you’re new to houseplants and want to add some greenery to your living space, sansevieria whitney might be the perfect option. Native to tropical Africa, this easy-to-care-for plant has grown in popularity over the years, making it an excellent choice whether you’re growing it at home or purchasing it at the local nursery or garden center.
Also, if you’re new to taking care of plants, don’t worry, sansevieria whitney is an excellent choice for newbie gardeners! Unlike other plants, this particular type of sansevieria doesn’t require bright sunlight or frequent watering, and it will thrive in a wide variety of growing conditions.
Here are sansevieria whitney care and propagation tips to get your plant started off right in its new home.
Origin and distribution
Sansevieria trifasciata whitney, or Sansevieria whitney was first described by W.J. Hooker in 1895. Its common name honors George E. Whitney (1843-1924), an American horticulturist who introduced it into cultivation in 1892.
Although it’s sometimes called mother-in-law’s tongue, that nickname belongs to another plant entirely.
In fact, you can tell your friends that mother-in-law’s tongue is a misnomer because all parts of Sansevieria are poisonous if ingested. If you have small children or pets, it is better to keep the plant out of their reach!
Sansevieria whitney propagation
Keeping a Sansevieria plant can be as simple as just picking up a plant from your local home and garden store, or you can grow one from a cutting. There are three ways to propagate your Sansevieria whitney: cuttings, leaves, and rhizomes.
Sansevieria whitney reproduces primarily by rhizomes, so that’s where we’ll focus our propagation efforts in this piece. Rhizome pieces should be about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide with several roots attached. Plant them horizontally, about 2 inches deep in potting soil or peat moss. Water thoroughly after planting; they need consistent moisture to thrive.
Be sure not to overwater! Once they begin growing new shoots, fertilize once every two weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer (such as 10-10-10). Make sure not to overfeed your plants! Too much fertilizer will cause leaf burn and yellowing. You may also want to consider using a low-nitrogen liquid houseplant food.
This is especially important if you use tap water, which tends to have high levels of nitrates. When watering your Sansevieria whitney, let it drain well before placing it back on its stand or table. Overwatering is a common mistake made by novice growers, be careful!
Sansevieria whitney care information
When you’re just starting out with sansevieria silver flame snake plant, it is vital to provide it with adequate lighting and watering. This means placing your plant where it will get at least 4–6 hours of bright indirect sunlight each day and watering so that your soil remains slightly moist (the potting mix should be evenly damp to touch). It also means bringing in your plant before temperatures drop below freezing, as Sansevieria whitney is not frost-tolerant.
Sansevieria whitney is a popular houseplant because of its ease of care and tolerance to wide ranges of light and temperature. While it can be grown outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, keeping it indoors is better for its overall health. It should be placed in indirect sunlight with temperatures between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sansevieria whitney prefers low to medium light, so look for a place with indirect sunlight or light shade. If you need to move your plant around often, choose one that can tolerate lower light; if you don’t have a lot of space, consider an indoor-only variety. Sansevieria whitney also does well in terrariums. If you want to use it as a houseplant, make sure it has sufficient humidity and enough water. A pebble tray is ideal for providing humidity; make sure not to overwater.
If you have sandy soil or cactus mix in your yard, dig a hole and add some of that to your potting mix. This will help improve drainage. If your environment is naturally wet, consider using sand or perlite in addition to your regular potting mix.
These materials are light and porous, which makes them excellent at wicking water away from plant roots. When choosing a potting mix, try to find one that has both perlite and vermiculite or another type of aggregate added. Vermiculite helps retain moisture while also allowing it to drain through easily so your plant doesn’t get too soggy.
Be sure to keep your sansevieria whitney watered, but don’t drown it. When watering, use a watering can or a watering pot, sansevierias hate getting their leaves and roots wet. Before watering, allow any excess water to drain out of their pot. Otherwise, you risk rotting your plant’s roots.
Also, avoid overwatering; if you notice your plant leaves are yellowing or wilting, it’s probably being over-watered. To test whether your plant needs more water, stick your finger in its soil up to your first knuckle. If it feels moist at that level, give it some more water. If not, let it dry out a bit before giving it another shot of water.
Over-watering or under-watering is one of the most common mistakes people make when caring for their Sansevieria whitney. It’s important to keep a careful eye on your plant to ensure that it is receiving just enough water. Using regular water with a little bit of fertilizer mixed in, water your Sanseviera whitney lightly but regularly, about once every week or two.
Although it’s not necessary to fertilize a sansevieria whitney, applying fertilizer every few months can make your plant more vigorous and healthy. Fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), so look for a product that has these ingredients in low quantities.
Sansevieria thrives best in moderate temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t want to place it near a window that receives direct sunlight, but it does well near a south-facing window. Never expose your plant to freezing temperatures, but it can survive brief dips into cold weather if you bring it back inside quickly.
Many houseplants, including Sansevieria whitney, love high humidity. If you’re unable to increase your home’s humidity naturally with a humidifier or by running a hot shower on a regular basis, fill your sink with water and place your plant’s pot in it. Allow at least an inch of water to rise above the plant’s soil line.
The ideal humidity range is between 40 and 60 percent. If your home’s humidity falls below 30 percent, place a small humidifier in your plant’s room. You can also place a tray of water beneath your plant to raise its moisture level.
Sansevieria whitney are upright plants and, as such, will benefit from pruning. Removing spent leaves encourages new ones to grow in their place. These leaves can be used to propagate new plants.
When to repot
Most people don’t need to repot Sansevieria plants, but they can be repotted if you want a larger plant or one with more lush leaves. Typically, Sansevieria whitney repotting occurs when you see new growth sprouting from between the leaves and roots. This indicates that your plant has outgrown its current pot size. You should also repot your Sansevieria every two years or so to refresh its soil with new nutrients.
Sansevieria plants will experience periods of dormancy, during which they will slow their growth and may even stop growing completely. If your Sansevieria has entered dormancy, you can encourage new growth by placing it in a spot with as much natural light as possible (but no direct sunlight) until you see new leaves emerging. Then, slowly introduce it to lower lighting conditions. Be patient; it could take up to two years for your plant to fully recover from dormancy.
Flower & fragrance
Sansevieria whitney flowers don’t bloom like other houseplants. You might be able to get away with never watering them if you can resist their delightful fragrance. All Sansevierias have a soft, pleasant scent—even older plants will give off that funky fresh air smell. And while they may not serve as a beautiful centerpiece, they make great floor plants or desktop displays because of their bold, distinctive leaves and pretty fragrances.
Sansevieria whitney grows slowly, but once established they don’t need much care. In fact, too much water and fertilizer can cause root rot and leaf burn, which is something to keep in mind. For a healthy Sansevieria plant with no signs of stress or leaf burn, it should be watered once a week during warmer months and once every two weeks during colder months.
Sansevieria whitney is mildly toxic, so it is best to keep out of reach of children and your pets.
USDA hardiness zones
Sansevieria whitney thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12. If you live outside of these zones, you can still grow sansevieria—it just might not survive as long. If you’re growing your plant indoors, it’s important to keep it near a sunny window with indirect sunlight.
You should also consider using a grow light to help supplement natural sunlight and ensure that your plant receives at least 12 hours of light each day. This will help prevent brown spots from forming on its leaves and encourage healthy growth.
Pests and diseases
Because your plant is indoors, it’s exposed to a number of common pests and diseases. Luckily, Sansevieria are resistant to most major threats; however, there are some problems you should be aware of. For example, overwatering or low light conditions can lead to root rot (also known as overwet soil syndrome).
Sansevieria is also subject to scale and mealybugs. Both of these pests can be removed by wiping them off with a damp cloth or spraying them with insecticidal soap. For more severe infestations, use a pesticide labeled for indoor use on houseplants.
Additionally, spider mites may be problematic depending on your indoor environment. If any of these issues occur, take action immediately by moving your plant to brighter lighting and letting its soil dry out between waterings. If you suspect that something more serious is going on with your Sansevieria, consult an expert, your local garden center will have experts who can help diagnose any problems.
Sansevieria whitney is an easy-to-grow houseplant that can reach up to 4 feet in height if given enough space. With moderate care, sansevierias have a reputation for living for up to a decade and beyond!