Group of approximately 60 spe- cies native to Africa and India. Admired for their stiff, attractive leaves, which grow from rhizomes. Very popular as houseplants; can also be grown outdoors in mild- winter areas. Outdoors, they accept sun or light shade and just about any well-drained soil, tolerat- ing drought and even salt spray. Indoors, they do best in bright light but will accept dim light. Allow soil to go dry between soakings. For best growth, feed monthly in spring and summer with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Easy to root from leaf cuttings. Mature, pot- bound plants may occasionally bear spikelike clusters of fragrant flowers in spring or summer.
S. cylindrica. SPEAR SANSEVIERIA. Forms a rosette of three or four rigidly upright, unusual-looking leaves, each 24 ft. long and only about 1 in. wide; they are cylindrical, in dark green with lighter green horizontal bands. White or pinkish, 112-in.-long flowers.
S. parva. KENYA HYACINTH. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Rosette of 6 to 12 narrow leaves that grow upward, then arch out- ward; each leaf is 816 in. long and 121 in. wide. Leaves are medium green with dark green horizontal bands; flowers are pinkish white. Hardy to 25F.
S. trifasciata. SNAKE PLANT, MOTHER-IN-LAW'S TONGUE, BOWSTRING HEMP. The original brown-thumb houseplant, supremely tolerant of neglect. If you kill this one, better give up gardening and turn to macram. Dark green leaves with gray-green horizontal bands can reach 4 ft. tall, 2 in. wide; they are rigidly upright or slightly spreading at the top. Tiny greenish white flowers.
Few plants boast such colorful common names. The first one listed refers to the banded or mottled foliage, resembling the skin of some snakes; the second name comes from the long leaves, which are sharp and always fully extended. The third comes from the tough leaf fibers, which were used for bowstrings. Selections include the following.
'Bantel's Sensation'. Narrow, upright, dark green leaves heavily marked with irregular vertical stripes of creamy white.
'Black Star'. Short, broad leaves are dark green with a golden yellow rim.
'Golden Flame'. Leaves are somewhat broader than those of species. Each golden leaf has a central green stripe.
'Hahnii'. BIRD'S-NEST SANSEVIERIA. Dwarf to just 1 ft. tall, forming a vase-shaped rosette of short, broad, dark green leaves with horizontal silver bands. Good tabletop houseplant. 'Golden Hahnii' has leaves widely edged in creamy yellow.
'Laurentii'. GOLDBAND SANSEVIERIA. Similar to the species, but leaves have golden yellow margins. The most popular snake plant.
'Moonshine'. Broad leaves are silvery green, with faint horizontal markings and a thin edge of dark green.
'Robusta'. Like the species, but leaves are shorter and nearly twice as wide.
'Silver Hahnii'. Same shape and size as 'Hahnii', but leaves are silvery gray-green with faint horizontal dark green bands.
'Silver Queen'. New leaves are silvery gray-green, edged with a thin dark green margin; older leaves turn solid dark green.
'Twist'. Spiraling, twisted leaves have yellow horizontal stripes and broad, bright yellow margins. Grows about 14 in. tall.