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Mother In Law's Tongue

August 31, 2016
Mother In Law's Tongue

Mother In Law’s Tongue goes by lots of different names –officially it’s the Sanseveria, to some it’s the Snake Plant, the Tiger’s Tail, bow string hemp, or even devil’s tongue, but most commonly in Australia, they are known as Mother’s In Law Tongue.

The most common variety of the plant is the Sanseveria Trifasciata laurentii – its leaves are 30 – 45cm tall, dark green in colour with some marbling & the distinctive yellow outlining the leaf.

How to care for Mother In Law’s Tongue Indoors

Sanseveria can live indoors or outdoors equally happy, but here’s our guide to keeping you Mother In Law’s tongue plant thriving indoors.

The good news is that this is a very easy care indoor plant, which makes them perfect for someone who is either starting out with indoor plants or isn’t particularly confident with plants.

Tolerant to Low Light

While they like well lit areas and can even stand bright sunlight, the Mother In Law’s Tongue is still very happy living in a low light environment. They will grow more slowly with less light but this can be a bonus for the novice plant person who doesn’t want to have to re-pot.

Tip – if you are moving your Sanseveria from a low light position to a very bright position with direct sunlight, try to do it slowly, gradually exposing the plant to more light otherwise the leaves may burn.

Plants Week1 04

How to Water a Mother In Law’s Tongue

There are some really simple rules for watering your Mother In Law’s Tongue to make sure that it thrives:

  • How do you know when to water it? Dig your finger into the soli – if its dry about 2 cm down then its ready to be watered.
  • Give it a good soaking and let all of the excess water drain away. But what does that actually mean? For a Mother In Law’s tongue planted in a 19 – 26cm pot give it approximately a litre of water. Water the plant outside or over the sink and let any excess water drain away. Don’t let the plant sit in a saucer of water – it will rot.
  • In winter water it really sparingly. Sanseveria’s grow in summer & they don’t need the water in winter.
  • In Summer they’ll need a little more water and this is the season to fertilise, if you want to. They are very hardy plants though, so don’t feel obliged!

Best Temperature Conditions

Lets just say it again - these really are a hardy plant. While they’ll thrive between 18 and 27 degrees, they are very happy outside of this range too. They don’t really like the cold, but as long as they aren’t in a really cold draft, and not heavily watered they will get through winter just fine.

They are happy in Summer too – while they might need a little more water, as long as they aren’t suddenly moved from lowlight to bright, direct sunlight they’ll be happy too. Leaf burn can happen in really hot & bright conditions.

And they don’t need any particular humidity.

Air-Filtering Qualities for your home or office

And finally there’s one last advantage of keeping a Mother In Law’s Tongue plant – they are great at filtering the air. They absorb up to 107 different toxins – all nasties that are much better removed from the air that you are breathing.

If you're loving indoor plants and are looking for tips on caring for other gorgeous indoor plants, check out our other plant care guides here!


Thanks very much to Ruth from Fowlers Flowers , Clifton Hill, for sharing her practical tips on keeping you Mother In Law’s tongue plant looking healthy.

Thanks so much to the lovely folk at Frankie & Coco in Hampton, Established for Design in Malvern East and Zachloe Lifestyle in South Melbourne for so kindly loaning us some of their beautiful planters for use in this shoot.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you are ready to start building your wishlist of products, then be sure and check out our Pots for indoor plants range.

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Last updated on 25/6/18