The genus Sansevieria belongs to the asparagus family, as do the aloes and agaves that grow in a similar way. 70 species of Sansevieria are known, the majority of which are native to Africa. They conquered the world a long time ago – the botanical name of the genus honors Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, a horticultural patron who lived from 1724–1772. In subtropical countries, overgrown Sansevieria are part of the landscape, in southern Florida they are planted as hedge, in southern Europe there are many types of Sansevieria in gardens and parks that are not native there.

Sansevieria trifasciata comes from Central Africa (Nigeria, Congo) and, along with S. cylindrica, S. francisii, S. parva (Kenya hyacinth), is one of the most popular Sansevieria species almost everywhere in the world (in India and other subtropical countries the species already overgrown). Not without reason: Sansevieria trifasciata is just as easy to care for as the dragon tree, ivy tree, rubber tree, green lily and zamy tree; Indoor plants, with even complete beginners, have no problems. Because the really modest care requirements are not difficult to meet:

Care of the Sansevieria trifasciata

The bow hemp delights carpenters because it goes along with almost everything:

  • Sansevieria trifasciata thrives wherever there is a little light
  • It grows faster in bright locations and also develops more beautiful leaf colors
  • May be placed on the balcony in summer
  • Get used to the blazing sun carefully
  • Pour sparingly, you can forget about it
  • Too much water that is not quickly removed from the coaster can damage the roots
  • If the thermometer drops below 15 ° C at night, the Sansevierie should be turned on
  • Temperatures below 12 ° C are harmful, the comfort zone is between 18 and 28 ° C
  • When the roots slowly creep out of the pot, S. trifasciata needs to be repotted
  • In cactus soil, good potting soil, poor garden soil, which is loosened up with sand, pine bark, seramis, expanded clay
  • Pre-fertilized soil contains enough fertilizer for the bow hemp
  • Enrich your own soil mixes with some cactus fertilizer in the growing season
  • Cultivate normally in winter
  • The variety of S. trifasciata varieties delights collectors, but the care remains basically the same
  • However, variegated forms do not tolerate dark locations as well

If you don’t drown the plant, let it freeze to death, and wait until it has blown up its pot before repotting (which the Sansevierie doesn’t do anything, it just needs a new pot), this frugal houseplant will grow for decades without to make a fuss. In doing so, it can be quite high and quite large.

The extent depends on how much the planter allows it to spread; the sword-shaped, upright leaves grow up to about 1.5 meters in height. Despite its modest demands, the Sansevieria trifasciata does a lot for “its people”:

Powerful air purifier

NASA has scientifically investigated the air cleaning qualities of indoor plants and published the results under the title “NASA Clean Air Study” in 1989. According to NASA, the bow hemp (Sansevieria trifasciata Laurentii was examined) can break down harmful trichlorethylene, benzene, xylene, toluene and formaldehyde from the air in the living room.

The carcinogenic trichlorethylene can still be found in some “super cleaning agents” and in cheap textiles that are produced at the end of the world. Xylene is used in glue, resin, and synthetic fiber; Benzene and toluene come through the window as exhaust gases; Formaldehyde is found in cosmetics and many surface disinfectants (which poorly informed or death-defying people like to use for “hygienic cleaning” these days) and can outgas from plywood or chipboard, floor coverings, furniture and textiles.

The bow hemp reduces all of these really toxic substances in the air, which means that a single plant (every 9 square meters, NASA recommends) could save you from developing all of the nasty environmental diseases that these substances are believed to be involved in.

Healing effect

Bow hemp can potentially do even more for you if you read up on its healing benefits. Sansevieria have been used in African countries for the treatment of various diseases since ancient times; the raw drug against snake bites and inflammation obtained from Sansevieria trifasciata is so popular in South Africa and tropical America that it is almost always sold out.

Various phytochemical analyzes have since confirmed that bow hemp really has interesting healing properties. Saponins are probably involved in this healing effect, because of which Sansevieria are quickly branded as “poisonous” in not very in-depth review articles as a precaution. Many saponins are actually not healthy, from green areas on potatoes and tomatoes as little as from Sansevieria, but Sansevieria are very rarely cooked and eaten in large quantities. For more details on the poison, see “Sansevieria cylindrica – Expert advice on care”.

Diseases, pests, malformations

“A Sansevieria does not get sick”, would be a fitting saying, but only for freely growing Sansevieria who know their enemies and know how to defend themselves.

In a German apartment, the Sansevierie does not necessarily know the enemy; therefore she cannot always defend herself. If you z. B. if a sensitive and perhaps sick neighboring plant is “thundered” with bacteria when you buy it, they can eventually be successful. Then sometimes with a terrible end, because the pathogens hollow out the plant from the inside without being noticed. Such Sansevieria have to be pruned down to the healthy core, mostly the rest of the plant can only be used as cuttings.

Sansevieria are also not protected from “original German pests” that spread on winter-weakened plants. But they can be showered off perfectly, so spider mites and aphids can simply be disposed of in the sink (make sure that you do not soak the root area too much). Stubborn small animals or their remains can also be removed from the leaves with soap and spirit, spraying with non-toxic anti-pest broths does not affect Sansevieria.

If a Sansevieria has been permanently damaged, this will become noticeable at some point in the growth shape and indicate a need for action:

  • Discoloration of the leaves (too light, pale, too dark, wrong color), mostly due to over / undersupply of nutrients
  • Over-supply through fertilizer, under-supply through root damage or compacted soil
  • Repotting in new substrate helps against compacted soil, root pruning + recovery time against root malformations
  • Too much (continuously) watering or pathogens can cause rotten spots
  •  These can be cut out in a correspondingly favorable location
  • However, the scars can be seen later if the entire leaf is not removed
  • Also transfer the Sansevierie to drier soil and water more carefully in the future
  • Since infections can be involved in rotten areas, pay attention to increased hygiene when trimming
  • Corking (light spots with a clear edge) is caused by dead leaf skin
  • Caused by injuries / cuts, but also by too much heat or cold
  • There can be a lot behind it: sunburn, burns (on a lamp or its warm light cone) or cold shock (balcony night in autumn, poorly insulated windows)
  • Can be cut away if the location is favorable, but this also causes stains (scars)
  • You can also stick with it, these “individual characteristics” do not harm the plant
  • Locations that were too cold for a long time often caused constrictions in the growth area at the top
  • They only disappear when the leaf is removed, but they do not harm the plant any further

Basically, it’s always the same: if you cultivate a plant more often, you will initially try to rescue every leaf spot, right through to the cut. At some point you have developed a feeling for how irrigation and fertilization are to be adapted to the individual plant and have decided which pruning leads to visually acceptable results for you. Everyday greenery willing to grow, like the Sansevieria, has a big advantage: If you no longer like the growth shape or the plant’s joy in growth, you don’t need to worry, but simply pull new Sansevieria out of the healthy part of the child who has crashed:

Propagation of the Sansevieria trifasciata

Multiply by dividing
Sansevieria form a dense network of roots that, depending on the quality of care, sooner or later bursts its pot (and literally, Sansevieria should also create in clay pots). Then they have to be repotted, and with this repotting of houseplants, root care should also be taken as soon as possible. Because indoor plants do not have a cubic meter of soil around them that is sufficiently deep, but sit day in and day out in the same cramped potty in which the roots have to survive. With quick repotting in between, the loose soil is simply replaced with new soil, with correct repotting more happens:

The plant is carefully freed from the pot, then the roots are freed of as much old soil as possible (especially if the substrate is commercially available without preparation), by carefully shaking the roots. Then the root ball is cleaned under a gentle, lukewarm jet of water, then it should be carefully! are ventilated, then malformations and developments are cut away. The root ball has to be loosened a little anyway, otherwise you won’t see very much.

When the Sansevieria has grown very large and has developed a stately root ball, you can now go a step further and divide it up when you repot. This sharing is best done with your hands and with a lot of feeling: Both above and below in the root area, the weakest points must be felt where the plant can finally be pulled apart. Patient carpenters can do this with almost no damage to the plant or root. Depending on the size, it can be divided once or even more, each “new” Sansevierie obtained in this way is now potted in its own pot.

Propagate from side shoots on the bottom of the pot.
Original Sansevieria trifasciata and many other Sansevieria constantly spread to the side with new root shoots . If you can cut off such rhizome shoots and potted them, you will get a new Sansevieria very quickly or, with the potting, you will actually have a new Sansevieria trifasciata.

Cut off the small shoot so that as much plant tissue as possible from the root area is on it and not on the mother plant and care for the newcomer like the large Sansevieria; when new leaves appear at the top, the roots have already developed satisfactorily.

Propagate by leaf cuttings
Takes a little longer, but you can keep growing new Sansevieria every now and then: You need a piece of healthy leaf hemp (from a rotten or dried up plant) or a single leaf from an undamaged leaf hemp. The piece should be a few inches long, the leaf is cut into finger-length pieces. The interface should dry out a little, because Sansevieria cuttings usually happen in their home. Then the cutting can be put in the poor, loose soil and placed in a bright, warm place.

The substrate should only be kept slightly moist until the cuttings have developed roots. This can take a while, the cutting with the leaf tip is usually the fastest because it contains the full growth program. The other pieces can be quite tough, but don’t lose patience, Sansevieria have roots in the African steppe where a piece has fallen.

Propagating from seeds
Genetically complete Sansevieria can of course also be propagated from seeds. Another prerequisite is that the Sansevieria trifasciata have flowered, that the flowers have been pollinated and that berries with seeds in them have developed from the flowers. The seeds are then removed from the ripe berry, the pulp is washed off. Then the seeds are allowed to dry briefly before they are sown on sterile, slightly moist substrate. After a little soil has been placed over it for attachment, it is best to place it in a room greenhouse in a warm place and moisten a little if necessary.

If your Sansevieria has flowered and you like to deal with plant propagation, you are welcome to test the seed propagation, it does not involve a lot of effort. In this area, however, there are some imponderables that can stand in the way of the company’s success: If you have not acquired the Sansevierie from a specialist retailer, but “somewhere when the opportunity arises”, you cannot be sure that you will get genetically complete Sansevieria (they will industrially propagated in all possible ways that do not necessarily have much to do with plant rearing as we know it and does not always take the complete genome of the species with it).

If every insect in that apartment is followed with lethal injection, the chances are slim that the flower has been pollinated. If the environmental conditions are just slightly unsuitable, either no flowers will develop or the seeds will rot after germination. So don’t worry too much about seed propagation (or a lot more thought than can be described here, if you want to start breeding Sansevieria), there are the easier and safer ways outlined above to find new ones To come to Sansevieria.

The Sansevieria trifasciata is one of the simplest and most rewarding houseplants and is of benefit to its owners in several ways. It is easy to propagate and, with its many different cultivars, it can equip a large apartment with living, green jewelry all by itself – anyone who loves indoor plants but does not yet have Sansevieria trifasciata should change that as soon as possible.

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