Mother-in-Law's Tongue: How to Care for and Repot This Plant

Updated on April 4, 2018
Pot bound Mother-In-Law's-Tongue Plant
Pot bound Mother-In-Law's-Tongue Plant | Source

What You Should Know About Mother-In-Law's Tongue

The mother-in-law's tongue (sansevieria trifasciata) originates from West Africa. An evergreen with long, stiff, and vertical leaves that are dark green with light green bands, this is a beautiful plant to grow. It is sometimes called the snake plant, but don't confuse the two (Nassauviaserpens)!

Mother-in-law's tongue is a very popular house plant. Here are a few reasons why it could be:

  • Warm weather is its friend. It can be kept outdoors in warm climates.
  • If you live in a cooler part of the world, it's best as an indoor plant.
  • It is very tolerant to low light levels but equally as happy in sunlight.
  • Frequent watering is not required.
  • Absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides, it's great for improving indoor air quality.
  • Beginners can work with it, as it doesn't require much maintenance and grows quite quickly.
  • Occasionally this plant will come out in small white flowers usually when it is a few years old. How beautiful!

Learn how to split and repot your mother-in-law's tongue plant, along with a few general care tips to make your growing endeavors a success!

Splitting Your Mother-In-Laws Tongue Plant
Splitting Your Mother-In-Laws Tongue Plant | Source

How to Split Your Mother-In-Law's Tongue

Mother-in-law's tongue is easy to split when it gets too big for the pot. Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Remove the pot-bound plant. You will likely discover more young shoots hidden underneath the earth.
  2. Pull them apart by the roots, and don't worry about being rough with them. I haven't killed any yet!
  3. Depending on how big your plant is and how many new pots you want, you may want to do one of two things: plant each individual stem in a separate pot or plant some of the biggest ones in a large pot together. I have done both because I like some on the floor and the smaller ones on the window ledges.

Mother-In-Laws Tongue Plant In Small pots
Mother-In-Laws Tongue Plant In Small pots | Source

How to Care for Mother-In-Law's Tongue

Be warned, as these plants grow very quickly when they are happy. I have had to throw quite a few of them away in the past because I didn't have room for them all.

  • The best way to look after this plant is to ignore it most of the time. It seems to thrive on neglect.
  • Constantly watering this plant will rot the roots and eventually kill it. Watering once a month works for me. It's far easier to bring a dry plant back to life than an overwatered one.
  • Here is one word of warning: This plant is toxic if eaten, so it is best kept away from young children and pets.

Mother-In-Laws-Tongue Plant In Large pots
Mother-In-Laws-Tongue Plant In Large pots | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Ann-Christin


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      • christin53 profile image

        Ann-Christin 6 months ago from UK

        You might be over watering your plant they really don't need much water at all.

      • profile image

        Nancy 6 months ago

        my snake plant leaves bend over and are droopy, is the only word I can think for it. I've tried repotting in deeper in the soil and this doesn't seem to help

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 3 years ago

        That mother in law has a sharp tongue. Thanks for the advice.

      • profile image

        Jonni 3 years ago

        Short, sweet, to the point, FR-axeEEctly as information should be!

      • christin53 profile image

        Ann-Christin 5 years ago from UK

        Thost I'm glad you found my hub useful. It is rather a strange name for a plant :)

      • thost profile image

        thost 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

        Can't look at these plants without thinking of my mother in law. With your advice they should thrive. Thank you.

      • christin53 profile image

        Ann-Christin 5 years ago from UK

        Glad it made you laugh we all need one sometimes :)

      • harinarayan profile image

        harinarayan 5 years ago from Kerala, India

        very funny heading. Your topic attracts me, When I see the plant, make me laugh.voted up and interesting

      • christin53 profile image

        Ann-Christin 5 years ago from UK

        I think it's called that because of its sharp tongue:)

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

        Great tips on planting and taking care of MIL's tongue. Wonder why it is called so.