Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mother In Laws

As in Mother In Law Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata).  Native to West Africa.  We have found that exposing them to sun makes them more yellow.  These two get about four to six hours of sun per day, so they're a little greener.  We had two.  Now, we have three (one is hiding).

Back in January, these two were one.  We decided to split them, for a couple of reasons.  First, it was getting too big for the pot it was in.  Second, this particular plant was in the garden and planted by my in-laws.  It was not in a good spot, and was not happy.  After a few years, it only had about four spindly leaves (I think those are referred to as leaves, although, I'm sure there is some technical term for them).  We yanked it out and potted it.  The second reason for splitting was to return a part of the plant to my in-laws out in the Temecula Valley.

For the longest time, these two looked terrible.  I thought we had done something wrong, since all we did was yank it out of the pot, my wife grabbed one side, me the other, and we pulled.  Split.  One in a new pot, the other back into the old pot, both with all new soil.  Then today, I saw this...

New growth!  Holy crap, we did something gardening like!!  Only one of the two pots is showing spuds, leaflets, or whatever they're called.  However, the other pot looks healthier, so I'm guessing new growth is just around the corner.  We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now.  Next up for splitting this fall...our salvia.  I'll have to post pictures of that soon.  It's the size of a fully grown polar bear.  It's truly huge.  In the meantime, we will simply enjoy something that actually appears to have worked.


  1. I so need to move my mother-in-law's tongue plant outside. It's obvious that it needs more sun. Mine is hanging on ok, but not looking as good as yours and I've had it for a number of years. I want shoots or sprouts too. This is definetely something gardening like. I'll let you know if mine improves outside.

  2. Those only grow as houseplants here. I remember pointing one of those plants out to my husband and telling him what they were called. He took it as an insult to his mother (who I actually really like).

  3. Its called Mother In Laws Tongue for the sharpness of its leaves. It can be used in rituals to remove the 'evil eye'. Which has nothing to do with the mother in law I assume.

  4. Sherlock, I should have included a picture of the third, as it stands about three feet high and is threatening to split the pot.

    Catherine, I sometimes chuckle everytime I say its name. Its other common name, snake plant, isn't any better.

    Shayla, that's excellent advice. I had a friend who was from Israel who told me his mother used to spit on him when she thought someone gave him the evil eye. I have no idea what that has to do with mother in law tongue, I just thought it was funny.

  5. If you wanted to, you could divide almost each leaf into a separate pot. And although they are succulents they grow , in the wild, in dappled shade under shrubs. So prefer afternoon shade (not sure about your climate, I don't think in US zones?)

  6. Someone laughed at me years ago when I called this plant Mother-in-Laws tongue...they thought I made it up (they had some other name for it, that I forget now). Glad someone else calls it that too! Congrats on the new growth!