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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      • profile image

        Paige Seppanen 

        3 days ago

        Can you cut or trim the stalks from the snake plant I have some that are over a foot tall?

      • profile image

        KELLY L LICHT 

        8 weeks ago

        love this plant , I grow mine and seems as though every year I give some offsprings to the mother in law to be friends of mine with a card that I have made up saying things like this.:

        Welcome to being a mother in law with this gift of " mother in law plant" or "snake plant". this plant is to remind you as you care for it to not be the snake in your childrens new lives.

        it is called mother in law plant to me because of its sharp and sometimes twisted tongue

        requires minimal visitation or care ( almost never needs watered)

        this plant like mother in laws learn to survive being ignored most of the time and is almost mpossible to kill !!

        welcome to the world of mother in laws... try to defy the odds !!

      • profile image

        Gary Jeroy 

        2 months ago

        I am going to admit it. I am going to be 68 years old and have always loved these in my grandparents yards. So ;today for the first time I bought my own mother-in-laws plant. I will wait a few months or a good month before I tear it apart and make many more. I have the thank the writer of this story for all the easy steps on keeping it alive and happy. Thanks so much..

      • christin53 profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann-Christin 

        3 months ago from UK

        I would split it up and repot as it sounds like it is getting too big.

      • profile image

        June 

        3 months ago

        My snake plant is bending over, do i need to repoy?

      • profile image

        Doreen Coldwell 

        3 months ago

        I said to my husband I'd like a motherinlaws tongue his answer was you've got one

      • christin53 profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann-Christin 

        4 months ago from UK

        I would always water plants after re-potting.

      • profile image

        Anna Buena 

        4 months ago

        After repotting, should I water it? Fertilize?

      • profile image

        Manuel 

        4 months ago

        After repotting, how long does it take for new shoots to grow and fill in the pot?

      • christin53 profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann-Christin 

        4 months ago from UK

        Living in the UK I've never grown these outside. If it were me I would dig it up separate all the new growth which I would then replant. You could try replanting any parts of the mature plant that looks healthy.

      • profile image

        Eek 

        4 months ago

        My mlk has flourished in the Texas ground for 4 years. This winter hurt it. While there are little ones shooting up, what do I do with the dead big leaves? Some are still OK.

      • christin53 profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann-Christin 

        11 months ago from UK

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

      • profile image

        Nancy 

        11 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 imageAUTHOR

        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 imageAUTHOR

        Ann-Christin 

        6 years ago from UK

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

      • harinarayan profile image

        harinarayan 

        6 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 imageAUTHOR

        Ann-Christin 

        6 years ago from UK

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

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        6 years ago from Dubai

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

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