Through the Garden Gate: Behold the Snake Plant
Published 10:25 am Saturday, November 11, 2023
Many years ago, everyone’s front parlor had one. It sat in a dark corner in that cold, seldom-used room where it was definitely out of sight and out of mind. Dust collected on its leaves. The soil in its container was ancient and probably devoid of nutrients. The poor thing was seldom watered and yet it clung to life, not thriving, but not dying either. What was it? The snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Dracaena trifasciata; formerly Sansevieria trifasciata).
I had forgotten about the snake plant until this summer when I saw a tall, glossy one by my neighbor’s front door. And it was blooming! She casually remarked that she’d had it for ages and that it bloomed every summer. She simply kept it inside during winter and, then in late spring, repotted half the plant in fresh soil and put it outside by the front door. Simple.
Who knew that the snake plant bloomed! Since then, I’ve learned that the snake plant is the trendy new house plant that’s purported to improve the feng shui of a room and even to work as an air purifier. According to NASA, the previously much maligned snake plant can remove various toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene, from the air. Using Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, a special type of photosynthesis, the snake plant also continues to take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen at night. Only a few other plants do this.
As our grandmas knew, the snake plant is easy to grow. Plant it in soil that drains readily and use a sturdy container that won’t tip