Sansevieria, also known as mother-in-law-tongue (for its sharp leaves) and snake plant (for its sinuous shape) is an easy-to-care-for houseplant that thrives on neglect, as ironic as that sounds. The scientific name comes from the Prince of Sansevieria in the 17th century. It is exceedingly tough and will grow almost anywhere. The spiky sword-shaped leaves of the species "Sansevieria trifasciata" grow from 18 to 30 inches tall and are dark green with a lighter green or yellow margin. There are over 50 named cultivars, some as short as 4 inches.
Plant Sansevieria in an all purpose potting soil. A sturdy, deep pot is essential, since the roots are strong and can even break a pot in their effort to spread through underground rhizomes. Consider a colorful container to brighten the severe look of the leaves.
Remember to keep the leaves clean and dust-free, particularly since you will probably not be watering the plant often. Cleaning the leaves not only keeps them attractive, it allows the plant to take in the maximum amount of light. Protect the tips of the leaves from breakage.
Allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings. Overwatering is the number one cause of problems with sansevieria; the plant may be able to go as long as two months without watering in the winter.
Avoid getting water on the crown of the plant. If leaves flop or are loose, remove them immediately, since this is a sign of overwatering and rot.
Place the plant in an exposure with moderate light for best growth and coloring. Sansevieria is very adaptable, however, and will survive in almost any exposure from dim light to full sun.
Fertilize the plant sparingly. Too much fertilizer will cause it to quickly outgrow its pot.
Propagate sansevieria by placing a leaf (in the case of dwarf varieties), or a portion of a leaf (in taller varieties), about an inch deep in potting medium. Cuttings will produce one or more plantlets within several weeks.
If you are rooting only a leaf portion, remember which end is up, otherwise it will not root.
Note that some variegated varieties do not come true when propagated by leaf cuttings. If you want your new plant to have the same coloring, divide the root stock and repot instead.
Place sansevieria in a sheltered outdoor spot over the summer, if desired.